Case Studies

Jason Stone – Green Country Interiors

Green Country president finds fulfillment working with friends

For more than 40 years, Green Country Interiors has provided Oklahoma’s largest commercial contractors with services including exterior and interior framing, drywall, acoustical ceilings, exterior insulation and finish systems, stucco and plaster.

But for Green Country’s employees, the work is more than just a job; it’s like hanging out with extended family.

Jason Stone | President | Green Country Interiors

“We have employees that have been with the company for 40 years,” says President Jason Stone, who joined Green Country in 2000. “The average tenure of a current employee is 10 to 15 years. It’s more family than employer-employee relationships—when you get to work with somebody for as long as we have, that’s where things tend to go.”

That’s not to say it’s easy work. But it is satisfying in a concrete way: After a day’s labors, Stone says, his employees can step back and see the physical fruits of their efforts. And after several months’ time, they can look at a newly constructed or freshly rehabbed building and know that they helped put it together.

Be it a commercial construction job—for which Green Country builds its own scaffolding—metal stud framing or drywall installation, Green Country does a little bit of everything: corporate offices, casinos, universities, restaurants, hospitals, churches, even an aquarium. Founded in 1979, the company has grown to over 500 employees and upwards of $50 million in revenue over the past four decades.

Apprentices become journeymen

As the company looks to expand, Stone and his partners are keeping an eye out for people with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. Green Country recruits from high school to trade school to the collegiate level, and the company draws workers from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter how much construction expertise they have, Stone says; what matters is whether they’re going to fit in with “the family.”

“We can teach somebody how to frame and hang rock and run ceiling grid and do the stuff that we do, but it’s hard to teach somebody work ethic,” he says. “The trade itself can be taught; personalities are hard to mold.”

Along those lines, Green Country takes great pride in its apprenticeship program, in which trainees are placed with a seasoned journeyman with 10 to 15 years of experience in the trade. It produces more sure-footed workers than training programs where newbies train alongside inexperienced peers, Stone says—and an experienced journeyman will know about common pitfalls and produce an apprentice who makes fewer mistakes.

Jason Stone | President | Green Country Interiors

“We’d never say we’ve perfected the processes, but we’ve got a pretty good program where we can bring along an apprentice to a journeyman level in a shorter period of time,” Stone says. “With the variety of projects that we do, they have the potential to gain the experience in three to four years.”

From the outset, apprentices are learning on the job, doing the kind of work that beautifies a town’s skyline or makes employees glad to go to work. And they can rest assured that the fruits of their efforts are not going to disappear or get knocked down anytime soon—years from now, their children will be able to walk by and admire their handiwork. Like the Oklahoma State University Commons, a high-ceilinged, airy space complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and a fireplace. Or the Oklahoma State Capitol project, a five-year complete historical renovation which will be there for many years to come.

Formalizing the career ladder

Lately, Stone has been working on creating a more structured career path with two formal avenues for potential employees to take: the field operations route and the management route. If they decide they want to pursue the former, they can become an apprentice journeyman and train with a veteran. If they start to excel in administrative and management tasks—or even if they want to start there—they can become a management trainee.

“Some guys just aren’t meant to sit in an office,” Stone says. “I know I’d rather be out on a job site observing the day-to-day progress of the project. And there are a lot of people like me out there.”

While there is some book learning required to climb both ladders, Stone says there’s much more on-the-job training and mentorship involved. And although the construction industry requires a willingness to work hard and get dirty, it’s good money—Stone says that last detail sometimes gets lost amid other concerns.

“We are seeking people who want to work hard and learn on the job,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to see progress from your daily endeavors and live a great lifestyle.”

Jason Stone | President | Green Country Interiors

Green Country is the largest employer of drywall tradesmen in Oklahoma, and its reputation brings in more business. If a general contractor needs to send 100 workers to a job to fast-track its progress, Green Country has the manpower to cover that.

“I can’t think of another company out there that’s been around as long as we have,” Stone says. “We typically do the majority of big work in the state.”

Through all the intense training and hard labor, Stone and his partners, Tim McGuire and Paul Hannagan, never forget that they’re working with friends.

And Green Country’s workforce has a lot of fun together when they’re not on the job. The company has treated employees to dinners out, hosted tailgating events and sponsored hunting and fishing trips. Stone and his partners even bought an entire section of seats at a baseball game and invited the whole team out for a day at the ballpark.

In other words, it’s not your typical company picnic.

“The family atmosphere and the camaraderie are the most fulfilling parts of being on our team,” Stone says. “We gather after work often enough that it doesn’t feel forced. Like I said—it’s a family atmosphere.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. V 2023 Edition here.

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