‘The Layton Way’ and How Layton Builds Its Strong Philosophy to Grow

What really set Layton Construction apart from other firms is its philosophy called ‘The Layton Way’, which focused on the values of predictable quality results.
Layton Construction staff at the job site
Courtesy: Layton Construction
By | 10 min read

Layton Construction is a nationally-ranked commercial contractor with proven experience in virtually every industry, including healthcare, retail, hospitality, manufacturing, distribution, education, office, industrial, detention, tenant improvement, and public facilities. Headquartered in Utah, the 1,000-person firm also has offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, and Tennessee.

Constructing a Quality “Family Business”

When Layton Construction founder Alan W. Layton sold the family business to his sons in the mid-1980s, he offered two warnings: First, never buy any computers — because they’re a waste of money; and second, never let ownership go outside the family.

“While my brother and I followed much of the advice of our father, in this case we disobeyed both pieces in a huge way,” said David Layton, who succeeded his brother, Alan S. Layton, as company president in 2004. In decades, the brothers brought on dozens of employees as part owners in the company, while becoming early adopters of innovative technology in an industry often slow to adapt. But even at the time this firm had more than 100 employee owners — 10% of its workforce — and 11 offices from coast to coast, Layton Construction is still very much the family business their father began in 1953.

Layton Construction has emerged from a Utah-focused firm to a national corporation with current projects in 26 states. Meanwhile, business-related banter around the family dinner table is as inevitable as it was a half-century ago. At his mother’s 99th birthday party, for example, or at a Utah Jazz basketball game with his son, David frequently finds himself drawn into conversations about the company’s latest projects. And though being always on-duty in the family business has it challenges, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s who we are, and it’s been a part of us all since dad founded the business 66 years ago,” he said. Central to that identity is a philosophy of doing business — what has come to be known as “The Layton Way” — that defines and guides the company.

That philosophy was mentioned in a letter which then-retired Alan Sr. sent to his sons in 1985. In the letter, he was distilled years of wisdom into 12 principles that have become the foundation on which the organization operates. “The company hallmark has been and should always be quality,” he wrote; and “Get involved with all employees. Let them know you care about their well-being.”

Alan Jr. and David took this advice to heart, building a company culture that encourages and empowers employees to make decisions based on those values of hard work, thrift, honesty and fairness. At times that has meant passing on a job or requiring a subcontractor to redo work until it meets the company’s core focus — predictable outcomes for customers.

Layton Construction staff speaks in women leadership panel
Courtesy: Layton Construction

Since transitioning from a small, family-held enterprise to a regional construction company to a national corporation, Layton Construction remains a family business — but with a much bigger family (nearly 1,000 employees). While David Layton knows he will likely be the last member of the Layton family to lead the business, he continues to code his family’s values into Layton Construction’s DNA and preserve its legacy into the future.

Following the Concept of “Constructing With Integrity”

As a ‘family business’, Layton was founded and remains grounded on principles of honesty and working in a safe and unified manner that achieves predictable, quality results. The concept of “Constructing with Integrity” perfectly integrates its values with how it runs business. This concept appeared in Layton by many ways.

First, integrity demands honesty. To Construct with Integrity, Layton has been always open and forthright, even when doing so is difficult. This firm believes that trust builds relationships that lead to success. That’s why this firm always tried to drive truthful conversations in order to create opportunities for better analysis and decisions.

Second, this firm identified safety is a core value. Constructing with Integrity means prioritizing safety above other considerations. The executive board here put the lives and well-being of their employees and associates are paramount. Whether on a jobsite or in the office, safety is always a top priority, and its safety record speaks for itself. Since 1993, Layton has earned both the Association of General Contractors (AGC) National Certificate of Commendation for Safety Excellence and the AGC Utah Chapter Outstanding Safety Award, every year. Also, since employee safety doesn’t end when the workday is over, Layton created the Layton Injury-Free Environment, or LIFE program. This program not only teaches employees to be aware of and deal with potentially dangerous situations at work, but it includes first aid, CPR and other training that teaches employees to focus on safety even when they’re not working.

a healthcare facility project completed by Layton Construction
Courtesy: Layton Construction

Third, Layton believes that Constructing with Integrity encompasses the condition of being unified and complete. It requires mutual respect, listening to understand, and collaborating with others both internally and outside the company. They also used collaborative virtual reality (VR) to streamline decision making and expedite going to build. Layton Construction was able to bring in medical staff unfamiliar with VR and immediately begin addressing room layout features—identifying ergonomic conflicts, and making changes to benefit both the patient and hospital staff. The changes addressed early in VR resulted in reduced RFCs, and enabled fabrication and building to start sooner, while reducing review iterations and increasing ROI.

Finally, this firm believed that project Constructed with Integrity will stand as a symbol of quality and first-class work long after the workers have left the jobsite. That is why they strive to deliver craftsmanship by planning, anticipating, and ensuring attention to detail. Layton takes pride in its finished product as an expression of its personal commitment to excellence and predictable outcomes.

Alongside its core values—honesty, safety, unity and quality—diversity remains crucial to this firm’s success and future as a leading contractor. Both within its company and among its supply chain, Layton is committed to equal opportunity for all. Diversity and inclusion advances its mission to drive mutual respect, listen to understand and operate with integrity.

Also, diversity and inclusion help this firm increase engagement and productivity by allowing all employees to feel valued and accepted, which drives innovation and success. It also helps Layton attract the best talent to work with them. It is proven that companies with a diverse workforce make better decisions. This company culture continues to enhance its diversity and inclusion practices and strategy through its strengthened metrics and training to shape a better workplace.

Utah Business’ CEO of the Year: The Recognition to Layton’s Effort

Utah Business’ CEO of the Year award is one that is coveted by CEOs across the state. Being home to the Silicon Slopes and several tech startups that includes major players like Adobe, Facebook, Instructure, Qualtrics, and more, earning this recognition is not an easy task. However, David S. Layton has proven himself as a strong leader that is much deserving to be part of this small, elite group of only 16 CEOs in the state.

Dave was nominated for the award before being chosen by the board for the recognition for his hard work turning Layton Construction into a well-known general contractor across the nation. He was awarded the honor in March of 2020.

Layton says what set the business apart from others by the strong culture of The Layton Way. Honesty, safety, and unity are key factors in how Dave conducts business and is what sets Layton apart as a stand-out general contractor.

Layton’s COO, Paul Drecksel, spoke to Dave’s daring yet confident leadership style saying, “If you looked at the company at the time (early 2000’s) and thought about the moves that were being made, you may have thought they were foolish or over the top, but they weren’t. They were brilliant.”

Dave prides Layton on being a place where employees can come to work and stay for a long duration of their career. He is dedicated to making employees feel like they are part of the Layton family and taken care of as such.

“If you go to the hall of fame in almost any sport and look for the athletes that have been recognized by their peers, you will find most of those athletes spent most of their career, if not all of their career, with one team” Dave said. “Layton is a winning team. Come and stay and build a hall of fame career.”

How Dave chooses to do business is evident in the merger with STO Building Group. He says a large reason why the company decided to go forward with the merger was to expand employees’ ownership potential in the business. Dave believes that allowing for sustainable growth like this will result in continuous predictable outcomes for Layton’s clients.

Layton Construction staff collaborate on projects
Courtesy: Layton Construction

The Merger with STO Building Group and Looking Forward

On December of 2019, Layton Construction announced that they would be merging with the STO Building Group to create the fourth-largest construction business in the country. According to Layton vice president Jeff Miller, who is in charge of the Boise office, the merger will open more doors for Layton’s Idaho operations.

“This merger provides more opportunities for our employees to continue working on amazing buildings where Idahoans live, work, play and heal,” Miller said. “Bringing together our experience with STO Building Group will result in more global construction experience coming to Idaho and Boise.”

Miller added: “This merger does not affect our employee count in Boise. We will retain all our staff.”

Having over 60 employees in the Boise area, Layton at that time had offices in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho and Tennessee. Some of Layton’s better-known building projects in the region include the Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise, the Boise Airport Terminal expansion, the Stueckle Sky Center at Boise State University, the Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City, and the Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.

New York-based STO Building Group is the 14th largest construction company in the U.S. according to the Engineering News-Record ranking. STO employs approximately 2,200 people. Layton, with its headquarters in Sandy, Utah, is ranked as number 44, with approximately 1,000 employees.

Layton Construction project managers at the ribbon cutting ceremony
Courtesy: Layton Construction

“Joining the STO family provides our customers greater support nationwide and our employees greater opportunities to grow professionally and personally. This is the next logical step in our evolution as a growing, successful company,” said David S. Layton, president and CEO of Layton Construction in a press release.

Layton Construction will retain its name, logo and cultural identity. Its leadership will retain an ownership position in the organization. The current senior executive team will continue to run the Layton operation.

“Layton is a terrific addition to our family of companies. … Their expertise will enhance the services we can offer our clients, such as their extensive, national portfolio of projects in the health care and industrial sectors,” said Robert Mullen, STO Building Group CEO. “Our ability to offer stock ownership to employees was another key factor in their decision (to merge with us). We are thrilled to have them join STO.”

The Bottom Lines

Layton Construction has once again proved that the firm’s value has been made from its philosophy in building best development environment for employees. By maintaining appropriate principles in operating, this firm has successfully marked its named in construction field with high-quality output.

  • As a Business Performance Analyst at EnvZone, Molly supplies clients with integrated marketing and sales campaigns into websites. By knowing exactly her mission is to improve clients’ business efficiency, she…