Chester Inc. is a hometown success story, with 75 years of history stretching across multiple industries: agriculture, architecture, construction, information technology, and more. That success comes from decades of talented, knowledgeable individuals helping the business continue to expand and grow in new directions.
Tony Hart, sales engineer, is one of those individuals. He joined Chester in 2017 after a chance encounter with then-owner Pete Peuquet, an old acquaintance of his.
“I’d ran into the owner of Chester at the time, Pete Peuquet, while I was out to lunch,” he said. “He’d been my basketball coach for AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] and middle school, and I grew up with his son, Drew [Peuquet]. He mentioned they were looking for someone in sales, so I decided to apply and go through the interview process.”
Hart, though not experienced in sales at the time, was an expert in engineering, and believed he could leverage that experience to hit the ground running and make a quick impact on the Chester’s architectural and construction team, a group that both designs and builds construction projects for clients as the single point of contact and responsibility.
“I’d worked as a consultant on major projects for a consulting firm, in more of a management and engineering position with manufacturing and steel facilities,” he said. “That allowed me, coming into a role that actually builds these facilities from the ground up, to see the full picture of what client’s needs are.”
Peuquet and the rest of Chester’s leadership agreed – Hart landed the job and proved everyone right. His role as a sales engineer means he works with clients from beginning to end, turning their ideas concepts into tangible project proposals, walking them through the various costs, explaining the building process step by step, and conducting site visits with them as the construction moves forward.
“There was definitely a learning curve, particularly with the estimating side with things like the cost of lumber or labor,” Hart said. “Once you understand that, it really opens your eyes to putting the whole project together, seeing it from a 20000 square foot overview of all the different pieces that need to fall into place. Every client is unique, so that process is a different for each one.”
Though Hart knew about Chester’s design-build philosophy when he signed on, he was still surprised to see it in action – and to see how dramatically it streamlined the construction process.
“We’re handling the architecture, engineering, and construction,” he said. “To a client, that really eliminates confusion and the worry of trying to coordinate all of these different needs. It cleans up the process and makes it so the client can always call one person and find out what they need to know.”
In the years since he started with the company, Hart quickly started to believe that the concept is the key to Chester’s continued growth.
“It’s just more organized and seamless,” he said. “I think the success of Chester really comes from that concept of being the one point of contact. We’re a small team, but very efficient.”
He said it's also helpful that every employee is empowered by a friendly, cooperative work environment.
“The interaction within our team is very hands-on at all levels,” Hart said. “I’m able to discuss with our CEO, CFO, vice presidents and project managers, architects and engineers. You always have the ability to ask questions and seek out answers from everyone, because that’s what lets you solve problems rather than thinking you have to do everything yourself.”
Nevertheless, there is an edge to the business because as with any construction firm, Chester needs to earn the right to complete a contract. That constant challenge proved to be one of Hart’s favorite parts of the job.
“Construction is competitive and it is a challenge,” he said. “Every day you come in to work, you’ll find something new to challenge yourself with. Construction is never perfect, and working together to solve problems is so rewarding.”
One thing essential to overcoming those challenges is building a strong, trusting relationship with every client, according to Hart.
“The relationships we build with our clients, their families, and their employees are extremely important,” he said. “Chester has a lot of repeat business. We build them something small to start, then they grow their business and become even more successful. Then, they call us back and we’re working on their next building, or the building after that. That kind of relationship is good for the community and the economic growth of the area, we’re not just doing business – we’re taking part in the lives of our clients.”
Hart’s job as a sales engineer culminates at ribbon cuttings, when clients finally get to see their projects – the futures of their businesses – come to life.
“When you cut that ribbon, it’s such a fulfilling moment,” Hart said. That’s a process a year or two in the making, the culmination of so much work and investment from the client. You know that it’s going to let them hire more employees, help the local economy, and provide jobs that will let families succeed.”
To learn more about Chester Inc., visit www.chesterinc.com.