Photo courtesy of Linda Hawkins

In 2020, Kodiak Building Partners introduced a chairman’s award to recognize a business unit leader who exemplified the Kodiak culture while also delivering consistent above average performance throughout their business. The award honors current Kodiak chairman Paul Hylbert, who played an instrumental role in establishing the culture and operating structure at Kodiak.

Linda Hawkins, president of Dallas-based architectural door, frames, and hardware distributor AO Door, was presented with the inaugural award, chosen from a pool of Kodiak’s 27 operating company presidents. A selection committee composed of Kodiak’s senior leadership team selected Hawkins after evaluating financial criteria, overall implementation of the Kodiak culture, and criteria related to employee engagement and employee satisfaction.

“I am extremely honored to be the recipient of the first award, but beyond that very grateful to be a part of such a tremendous organization,” Hawkins told ProSales. “It truly shows me that [Kodiak] trusts our team and our process and our ability to operate the company.”

Hawkins and AO Door outperformed financially with respect to working capital management and profitability, ultimately driving the best return on invested capital among all Kodiak companies. Specifically, the business was among the top three when ranking accounts payable days and the top five in inventory days. Hawkins said the strong financial performance is the result of a collective team effort constantly monitoring expenses and working capital commitments.

“We aim to be thoughtful about any and every discretionary item which, over the years, has allowed us to develop a very efficient process,” Hawkins said. “We strive to train and develop our staff continuously to be among the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in our industry.”

While the financial performance criteria played a strong role in selection of Hawkins as the chairman’s award winner, employee engagement metrics and the overall organizational culture were critical in the selection process, according to Mike Flood, executive vice president of operations at Kodiak and member of the award selection committee. AO Door has the highest employee engagement score among the Kodiak family of companies at 94%, 200 basis points above the best-in-class industry rating. Flood said employees at AO Door are “empowered to deliver high-level customer service and given the opportunity to excel in their positions and advance their careers.”

“Linda is a genuine servant leader,” Flood said. “In a time when management books are written about empowering and enabling employees to be the best they can be, Linda exemplifies that theory and has been leading that way since before it was trending in the bookstores.”

AO relies on team gatherings as one way to foster culture, celebrating team members’ birthdays or anniversaries monthly, hosting cookout, pizza gatherings, or simple happy hours designed to allow the team to spend quality time together. In a “Best Places to Work Survey,” one AO Door employee described the company “more like a family than just a group of co-workers” while another said “the company not only cares for its customers greatly, but its employees just as much, if not more.”

“Culture is critical among a small team like ours, where each employee has a measurable impact on the success (or lack thereof) of the business,” Hawkins said. “We are fortunate to have the team that we do, and we do our best to make AO a home for each of them. That pays off many times over with a long-tenured staff of ambitious individuals.”

Hawkins joined AO Door in 2009 to help assist the previous owner with accounting and human resources responsibilities. Her role quickly expanded into overseeing the day-to-day internal operation and external vendor relationships. Hawkins was appointed vice president of operations in 2011 and when Kodiak purchased AO Door in 2014 she served as the primary point of contact for the transition and onboarding process. In October of 2019, Hawkins was appointed president of AO Door and manages daily operations while also working alongside each company department to ensure results are maintained and that the business continues to run smoothly.

“Since Kodiak acquired AO Door in 2014, they have always been very supportive of our business and the decisions we make locally,” Hawkins said. “They tend to acquire companies with a distinct operational and cultural ethos – one that recognizes employees as the backbone of the operation and promotes success from within. Kodiak makes every effort to ensure employees know they are supported throughout the organization.”

AO Door has a 50,000-square-foot facility and approximately 40 employees. The company primarily serves the Dallas market, but will go wherever their clients need their product and services, according to the company’s website.

Highland Ranch, Co.-based Kodiak Building Partners operates 81 locations across 16 states. The company serves general contractors, builders, subcontractors, remodelers, and DIYers. The specialty dealer ranked 11th on the 2020 ProSales 100 list.