The values of your corporate culture will always determine your performance success no matter what industry or field you’re in, Mustang Engineering co-founder Paul Redmon told Mays faculty and students gathered in late April. It’s that philosophy that helped his oil and gas engineering services firm grow over the past 20 years from a $15,000 startup with 35 employees to a $500 million grossing firm with 3,600 Mustangers worldwide.

And it’s that vision and drive that earned Redmon the Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship’s Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, which he accepted in late April during a management class. He told students that how you instill people-oriented values and encourage servant leadership will always impact the bottom line. Such philosophy has made Mustang one of the fastest growing—and the 5th largest—energy services engineering firms in the nation.

“When our focus is on giving and helping others, we are energized,” Redmon said. “This is the heart and soul of servant leadership. There is no tangible way to evaluate it, we can’t do a cost-benefit analysis here, but when you get your culture right people will be passionate. The results will be performance and profit.”

Redmon, a 1976 magna cum laude Aggie civil engineering graduate, founded Mustang with partners Bill Higgs and Felix Covington in 1987. By 1989, Mustang was already known for its quality of life and engagement with workers; that’s the year the Greater Houston Chamber of Commerce recognized the firm with an Innovate Houston award for people. It continued to put people first as it was growing—making the Houston 100 list of the fastest-growing companies four years in a row by 1993.

Mustang’s commitment to employees goes above and beyond the two dozen family and service events the company sponsors each year. Its founders were among the first in the business to share ownership with employees, giving 30 percent of the company to its people in employee stock options.

People may get values and a sense of belonging from family, school or religion—but they all go to work, Redmon said. And that’s where the personality or soul of the company, established by its leaders, becomes a touch point for impacting employees above and beyond the workplace.

That, Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship Director Richard Scruggs told students, is the lesson they should take home with them.

“Paul Redmon just said it best: Everyone works somewhere,” Scruggs said. “You are the future leaders of business and it’s your chance, if you take it, to shape the values and shape the culture of your employees, your country and your company.”

The Conn Family Entrepreneurial Leadership Award, established in 2000, is named after the former president and chair of Conn Appliances, Inc., Carroll Conn, Jr., and his wife Dorothy. The award honors those entrepreneurs who have the courage and the vision to launch companies that make a lasting impact on their communities and among their employees.

— Staff Reports