Bill Cumby – W.S. Cumby Construction
William S. Cumby III, or Bill, as he is known, spent a lot of time around his father and grandfather, a duo who started the W.S. Cumby Construction company in 1981 when Bill was just an infant.
But while Bill knew all about the work his dad and grandpa did, he says he never foresaw a career in construction. And his elders didn’t push it.
“I was involved in the construction industry at a young age, even working in the basement of our house when I was just a year old,’ Cumby says.
Cumby now serves as president of his family’s construction company, based in Springfield, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, a role he assumed in 2019. He joined the organization in 2016 as a vice president after spending about 15 years in the real estate industry, gaining valuable experience in real estate finance and investment.
W.S. Cumby has always focused on serving clients with a purpose, such as nonprofits, independent schools and higher education institutions. With about 70 employees, the company’s primary focus is construction management and growing the business.
Projects that mean more
From the beginning of any project, the Cumby team focuses on its three core values: integrity, partnership and commitment. Clients bring Cumby into the fold at the outset, and the company helps deliver for the owners through the entire process.
“We weigh in starting the design process, helping with laying out costs and a budget, plan a construction timeline, bring it subcontractors through a competitive bidding process and ultimately deliver a completed project on time and budget,” Cumby says.
For Cumby, the owner’s goals are of utmost importance, and the company conducts itself accordingly to meet them. He recognizes construction is difficult but strives to persevere and deliver a high-quality product.
One of the unique aspects of W.S. Cumby Construction is its close relationships with subcontractors. Cumby values these partnerships and knows the expertise and capabilities of his subcontractors. These relationships allow for a transparent and competitive bidding process, resulting in market pricing and healthy competition among all trades.
These relationships allow the company to go “big-game hunting” when it comes to seeking projects. Cumby isn’t looking to just take a job for the sake of making money—he says the company looks for projects that can have a real impact on the client and the community.
One example is the work underway to build a new campus for the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Upper Gwynedd, Pennsylvania. The project includes a new student life center that will house a chapel, worship space, classrooms, cafeteria and more, and a new dormitory and renovations to an existing dorm. It is scheduled for completion in July 2024.
Giving back to the community is a company goal. W.S. Cumby’s relationship with Williamson College of the Trades, a short drive from its headquarters in Springfield, highlights its mission.
“The students are from lower-income and economically disadvantaged households, are they are trained in carpentry, masonry, electrical work and more,” Cumby says. “We have over ten alumni currently working for us.”
Looking to the future
While W.S. Cumby Construction primarily operates in the Philadelphia area, its geographical footprint extends to a radius of about 2 to 2 1/2 hours from its office. Cumby prefers to be present at job sites to maintain a tight network and establish client relationships, particularly in the independent school and higher education sectors.
The company values word-of-mouth referrals and repeat customers, emphasizing the importance of its advertising and marketing efforts. They strive to be at the forefront of clients’ minds and ensure that their average tenure for important roles is high, indicating the loyalty and dedication of their employees.
Looking to the future, W.S. Cumby Construction is focused on grooming the next generation of leaders within the company. They actively seek growth opportunities for their internal employees and remain laser-focused on their expansion plans. Cumby has teenage daughters, but he isn’t sure if the family business will be their chosen path.
Cumby’s younger brother, Adam, works for the company as a project manager and estimator, but overall, Cumby says he hasn’t thought too much about a transition plan to the next generation yet.
“We are fortunate to have several talented superintendents and employees around my age and younger, so the business should be in good hands for many years to come,” he says.
The family business
Cumby says he takes pride in the familial atmosphere W.S. Cumby Construction has fostered in its four decades of operation and recognizes the importance of shared values and goals within the organization. He did not initially plan to work for the family business, but he joined the company in 2016 after realizing how important and significant carrying on the family legacy was to his father and grandfather.
He is proud of the loyal employees who have spent many years with the company—several decades of experience—and Cumby knows showing employees that they are appreciated and valued is crucial.
There are regular team events and staff meetings at job sites so on-site employees can be involved and traditional office workers can see the boots on the ground. A monthly award is also given to someone who personifies the company’s values—the previous winner gets to award it the next month.
“Receiving the award from a peer really resonates with people, and the $500 gift card doesn’t hurt,” Cumby jokes.
The coolest thing about Cumby’s job is seeing the reactions of people working on the ground and the people whose projects the company is completing. Recognizing the effort, showing employees they are important and sharing a goal amongst everyone in the organization keeps Cumby’s customers returning.
“We retain our talent because of how they are treated, and we have repeat clients for the same reason,” Cumby says.
Now, as Cumby works on grooming the next generation of company leaders, he’s doing so with a laser focus on growth—both internally and externally. Under his leadership, W.S. Cumby Construction continues to grow and expand, and his dedication to his personal and professional life reflects Cumby’s commitment to leading the family business with integrity and passion.
“We believe in creating partnerships and projects that have a lasting positive impact,” Cumby says. “To see the impact our projects have on the community and to know the tireless effort and teamwork that went into the work is what makes this so fulfilling.”
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