Owned by the Berry family, Wehr, which has been locally owned and operated since 1945, continues to be family-operated. The next generation of leaders at the Louisville, Ky.-based construction business plan to continue the Wehr legacy as set forth by the late Claude A. Berry, Jr.
“He left a legacy,” Brandon Berry, who heads up Wehr’s Central Kentucky office, said of his grandfather Claude. “He was a very different sort of guy. Money didn’t mean everything to him; not as much as reputation and character, and that was instilled in my dad and uncles.”
Edward Berry, Claude’s son and head of Wehr’s Florida market, said his father guided Wehr with four main facets in mind: superior customer service; a collaborative and honest relationship with each client; integrity; and valuing people, from employees to the entire community.
“My dad always told the story that when he built one of the homes he built in Eminence [Ky.], he got a call 11 years later,” Edward Berry said. “Obviously, the one-year warranty was far past, but dad went there and corrected a gutter that had gotten loose. That’s the type of service we try to provide to all of our clients.”
Edward is also charged with helping to usher Wehr’s new leadership into place, as many long-time employees are retiring or are nearing retirement. Instilling the values Claude Berry brought to the company is of the highest importance during that process.
“We want to work to foster relationships of trust,” he said. “Our word and our handshake is our bond. I can’t tell you the number of projects – multi-million dollar projects – we’ve started or done on a handshake.”
An example of how Wehr Constructors values people, aside from the many charitable and community projects it is involved with, is how it values its employees to the point of considering the Wehr organization a family of sorts. That’s where WehrOne comes in.
WehrOne, according to Wehr Senior Vice President Kelly Holcomb, is part a profit-sharing and part unity-building program, as every employee from the bottom up is part of the program. Based on the notion that, “We’re all a group, we’re all one,” the program is now in its second year and is being embraced by the company, Holcomb said.
He believes this is in part because it does take cues from Claude Berry’s lessons in how the business should be operated.
“We also want to make sure everything we do, we’re one,” Holcomb said. “We want to do what he would do. Three sons who work here grew up with Mr. Berry, so they have the same type of integrity that he does. Each employee is an important part of the whole organization. Everything we do here, we make it a family.”
Shawn Woosley is CFO at Wehr, having joined Wehr in 2004, and is an instrumental player in transitioning the company into the future with new leadership.
“Were slowly working on to the next step, the succession,” he said. But he stresses that Claude Berry’s vision will very much determine how these next steps proceed.
“He’s always kind of been the driving factor,” Woosley said. “His values, his ethics. We all see that as a guiding point. It’s a matter of: ‘Do the right thing, treat people like you want to be treated, and at the end of day, everything else will kind of work itself out.’”
Whether it’s tithing back part of the construction fee to a religion-based client such as a church, or having giveaways and events for employees, Wehr’s focus moving into the future is to simply observe and honor the past, and the legacy created by Claude A. Berry.
“Carrying on that same legacy is very important,” Brandon Berry said. “I know that’s the way we’ve been raised and how we’ve been taught to treat others. I think all the rest of the employees would echo that as well.”
Learn more about Wehr Constructors here.