CAM Integrated Solutions believes its strong employee culture creates better results for its energy clients.
Craig Pierrotti has seen it happen countless times: Engineering firms start reaching the end a project and employees start jumping onto other projects, unnecessarily in most cases, in order to maintain their utilization and protect themselves from the mass layoffs that often accompany the completion of oil and gas projects.
“When the oil and gas market was booming, the mindset inside many engineering firms was to sell man-hours,” Pierrotti says. “Their primary focus was simply to sell as many man-hours to clients as possible.” While that model may have been profitable to these companies, it created poor company cultures, bad working habits such as camping on projects, and certainly was not in the best interest of the clients.
Headcounts at engineering firms can fluctuate drastically depending on the current workload with employees feeling like they are just a number. There is no feeling of job security, no company loyalty, and an uncomfortable work environment. Often times, projects would suffer as a result during the waning phases as employees were more concerned about their next project than finishing their current one.
After experiencing this themselves as well as repeatedly hearing the same story from colleagues in the industry, Pierrotti and his co-founder, Mitch Stamper, decided it was time to change this mindset as they began to formulate ideas for their own engineering and project solutions company, CAM Integrated Solutions, where Pierrotti currently serves as the chief executive officer and Stamper as the chief operating officer.
CAM’s business model is based on the establishment of a family-like internal culture with its employees while developing long-term relationships with clients. CAM’s core values include fully understanding its clients’ goals and strategies, recognizing and adapting to their changing needs as projects develop, continuously earning their trust and confidence, and honoring all commitments. For CAM, it is not all about man-hours – it is about delivering quality work as efficiently and safely as possible.
“We want our employees to become a true partner with our clients to ensure the completion of their projects in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible, even if that means a reduction in our scope of work,” Pierrotti says.
“Developing trust and long-term relationships is not only beneficial to our clients to retain continuity, but it also helps us minimize the major peaks and valleys in our workload,” Pierrotti says. Rather than continuous employee fluctuation, CAM strives to retain all of its employees and simply transition them from project to project. In fact, in three years CAM has lost only 2 percent of employees to turnover – an incredible retention rate in the industry.
CAM’s model is possible because it concentrates on being a true solutions provider with its employees fully immersed in the culture and delivering to their core values. “We wanted to build a uniquely experienced and dedicated execution team consisting of talented individuals with strong backgrounds in full field development, engineering, construction and field operations working for the end-users,” Pierrotti says.
“Clients often believe they need much more than they actually do,” he continues. CAM works with clients to find ways to reduce the scope and cost of their projects while still fulfilling the requirements and accomplishing their overall goals.
Scaling back the scope of projects not only helps reduce the budget but it also enables CAM to pursue an aggressive construction schedule. The company follows a “10 percent rule.” Based on the finish date provided by the client, CAM’s project managers are challenged to beat that delivery date by 10 percent. “Since the formation of CAM, we have maintained a stellar track record for providing value, delivering high-quality deliverables, and completing projects on schedule and on budget,” Pierrotti says.
That attitude is representative of the co-founders’ upbringing in the oil and gas service industry as blue collar workers. Pierrotti and Stamper want CAM to embody the same sensibilities and dedication to hard work they developed early in their careers. A copy of CAM’s core values hangs in every employee’s workspace as a reminder of how employees should honor their commitments to customers and treat each other with equal respect.
The company’s founders strive to set that example every day. “CAM is like a family; we are all on the same team, supporting each other and working towards the same goal,” Pierrotti says. “It’s amazing to see CAM’s core values personified.” This past February, the National Association for Business Resources named CAM one of Houston’s Best and Brightest Companies To Work For for the second consecutive year.
Winning Through Culture
Pierrotti and Stamper found themselves in a challenging market in 2015 as they developed a business plan and culture blueprint to set CAM apart from other EPCM firms in the oil and gas industry. The company was founded at a time when energy companies were universally cutting back on investments and new projects in response to the downswing in oil prices. “Many people were very skeptical of us starting a firm at the end of 2015 with $20 [a barrel] oil,” Pierrotti says.
Despite those market obstacles, CAM has had substantial growth and success from the start with increasing revenue the first two years. Now in year three, as clients have really taken notice of CAM’s unique internal culture and project delivery approach, the company is on track for its best year yet.
Maintaining culture and core values with rapid growth can often complicate operations and put companies at risk of compromising the standards that led to their rise in the first place. However, CAM is determined not to fall into that trap and has developed a proprietary internal resource management tool which allows it to manage the appropriate workforce for all active projects while maintaining scalability and forecasting for future growth.
CAM is now ready to spread its philosophy and culture in other segments of the industry to augment its engineering services. In January 2018, it launched CAM Field Solutions, focused on construction management, inspection, survey and right of way. CAM is also actively working on the addition of fabrication capabilities, which will further enhance its ability to offer turnkey solutions to its clients.
Regardless of CAM’s continued growth and success, Pierrotti ensures that CAM will never deviate from the model that has gotten it to the point it is today.
“This is a very competitive industry with many qualified engineering firms for our clients to choose from, so at the end of the day I firmly believe it’s your culture and your people that make the difference, break the ties and drive your success,” he says. “And, therefore, our philosophy will always remain that when you’re hired at CAM, you’re hired for life.”