Lake Monroe Firm Celebrates 20 Years

Mon December 20, 2004 - National Edition

Living up to a motto can be challenging and rewarding –– for both an individual and a company.

“Leaders by Performance” is the motto of The Briar Corporation in Lake Monroe, FL, and according to CEO Mike Good, having good employees following that motto has been the reason for the success and growth of the company during the past twenty years.

The Briar Corporation has its roots in Ohio, starting in the 1960s when Good’s parents started their own construction company.

In October 1984, Good bought the company following a brief professional football career.

“I was with the Dolphins briefly, and then the Rams called, but I decided to go into the family business,” Good said. “A few years later I bought the business.”

At the time of the purchase, the company had 12 employees, but that number has since grown to more than 275. The Briar Corporation now specializes in residential subdivisions with some commercial site development.

Back in 1986, Good and his wife, Bobbie, bought a house and used it as a home, office, parts department and a shop.

“We had to buy it as a house because we couldn’t get it financed as a business,” Good said.

Several years later they built an office building, and, in 1999, built the company’s current location. That second building is now leased office space; the first now serves as the office for BBM Inc.

“Briar handles the bigger jobs, anything more than a million,” said Good. “And BBM, which I own with Marty Pierce, does the grading and clearing jobs less than a million.”

There is more to Good’s operation than just two companies.

Over the years, The Briar Corporation has bought adjacent pieces of property and, last year, the company developed its own industrial park.

Good’s passion for stock car racing also has become part of the business. He owns his own team of several cars and a complete car-building and maintenance facility

The racing operation occupies only a part of the industrial park. They also have a luxury motorhome dealer, a pipe supplier and several other companies leasing space.

According to Good, Briar Corporation and BBM Inc. alone do approximately $70 million in business a year.

“Most of our work is negotiated. We work for most of the major residential developers around Central Florida and work primarily in the Orlando area,” said Good.

Some of the company’s clients include Brasfield & Goree, The Ginn Company, Moranda Homes, Williams Company, Colony Homes, Pizzuti, Taylor Woodrow, Beazer Homes, Centex Homes Centex Rooney, Park Square Homes, Pulte Homes, Engle Homes, Greater Homes and Hensel Phelps.

One of the things Good is most proud of is his employees.

“We like to control everything and that requires good employees. Bill Keck, our president, has been with me more than 18 years and we have a lot of employees who have been here more than 10 years.”

Good said he also is proud of the culture that has developed among the employees.

“I’ll occasionally hear one of our long-time employees telling a new employee who hasn’t done a job the best he could, ’That isn’t the Briar way,’” said Good. “We stress quality and our employees are part of that culture.

“When we are talking to a new client, the first thing we do is take him for a tour of our facilities and have him meet some of our people.”

Those facilities include a new office building, but Good said the shop impresses most people.

“We do most of the maintenance work on our equipment and have extensive facilities and people,” Good said.

The facility includes eight inside bays, four covered bays and a parts department with an inventory of more than $250,000 in shelf parts and equipment for its crews.

Briar owns most of its large and varied equipment fleet.

“We are not really wedded to a specific equipment dealership,” said Good. “We use Komatsu excavators, Deere loaders and graders, Ingersoll-Rand or Bomag rollers and Volvo off-road trucks because we feel they are the best for us. We rent equipment very infrequently.”

The company also owns an Agtek GPS system so its survey crews can stake ponds, inlets and centerlines by satellite. They also can check topographical maps and survey stockpiles much quicker and provide the data for their estimating department in the correct format to use in preparing bids or change orders.