Is there a Secret to Eastern Engineering’s Success?
Fifty years is a long time to keep a family-owned company in business. It’s a significant accomplishment to have survived and an even bigger accomplishment to thrive and expand into new territories after fifty years.
How is this possible? Of course, making good business decisions, watching industry trends, and keeping up with technology are all essential. Still, the additional part of Mark’s success is taking care of his employees and creating a culture where everyone works as a team.
An example of how he cares about his employees was shown at the beginning of Covid. Mark ensured that employees were safe by providing them with hand sanitizer, masks and disinfecting the offices. Safe at home and safe if they came to the office. If one of his employees tested positive for Covid or someone in their family had Covid, he would call them daily to ensure they were doing okay. How many companies can say the president called to ensure that they and their family were okay? In addition to taking care of 45+ employees, he kept the doors open for customers in all six locations. When employees could not come in, he and Dawn worked at that location so customers could continue to rely on Eastern Engineering. Their daughter, Emma, even left college and flew home from Florida to work too. As a result, employees felt important and valued, and customers were able to keep working too. Like many small business owners, the Langdons did whatever needed to be done to stay open.
In return, employees feel vested in Eastern Engineering’s success and felt like a valuable part of the team. There is harmony in working with the same people year after year. More than half of the 53 employees have been with Eastern Engineering for more than ten years. Remarkable!
Eastern Engineering Employee Stats
2 more than 44 years
6 more than 20 years
8 more than 15 years
3 more than 10 years
8 more than 5 years
13 more than 3 years
13 joined within the past 2 years
Some businesses are having trouble hiring reliable employees. Not Eastern Engineering. “It’s all in how you treat them so they will stay.” Langdon takes time to know his employees, their families, their kids, and even their hobbies. “It takes around five years for employees to understand how Eastern Engineering runs. After that, it’s a career. I call my employees team members.” A poster in the Service Department with Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines says: Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. “I live by this quote,” says Langdon.
His advice to family-owned businesses who have trouble hiring? “Treat people how you’d like to be treated. They’re too hard to find.”
Facing business challenges is nothing new to Langdon. Bob Langdon, the founder of Eastern Engineering, went in for surgery in 1999 and passed away unexpectedly one month later. Losing Bob was a sorrowful and challenging time for the family and the company. Mark, his son, was 26 years old when he took the reins at Eastern Engineering and said he was “nowhere near ready to run.” This month Mark’s son, Tyler Langdon, is now 26. “I can’t help but think about this with my son being the same age as I was.” Tyler and his daughter, Emma, both work full-time for Eastern Engineering, becoming the third generation to work in the family business.
Mark worked with his father and was reasonably knowledgeable about the business. However, he definitely needed more help as he accepted the leadership role for Eastern Engineering. Mike Carter and JL Lynn were good friends of his Dad’s, and Langdon says, “they took me under their wings to teach me about the business and I still talk to them every week.” The RSA was also there every step of the way providing support, information, and everything they could to help him succeed.
A Trusted Friend
Another key relationship to the company’s success is the friendship between Mark Langdon and Tony Dargo, who is the Director of Sales and Technology.
“We grew up three houses from each other and my dad coached our baseball team,” Langdon says.
Dargo had a career as an occupational therapist, but during a fishing trip in 2002, Langdon persuaded him to change careers and join Eastern Engineering. He started as a sales rep the following year and became Director of Sales in 2014. “Once Tony took over this position, the company started growing quickly,” Langdon says.
Tony is a charismatic leader. He motivates and inspires the sales team, marketing manager, sales coordinator and software technology manager who all report to him. Tony is a good communicator, and his teams will tell you that, “Tony always has time to listen.” Each person feels like an important part of the group and can share ideas and feedback.
He has created a unique atmosphere between sales and marketing. Each person works together and helps each other. There is a genuine team spirit where people encourage each other.
Tony has a gift of being an interesting storyteller and when combined with his incredible knowledge about printers he quickly builds trust with customers. He makes selling look easy.
An early adaptor to email marketing, he leads the strategy for email campaigns that create engaging customer experiences. After building a strong brand identity, marketing in new territories allows customers to learn quickly who Eastern Engineering is, and how they can help their business.
He provided direction for the new website design and functionality. Making the website intuitive and easy to navigate. Tony saw how important reviews are and leads the charge for everyone to help by asking customers for a 5-STAR review. This change literally took Eastern Engineering from zero to hero on the website’s google ranking.
“The Langdon family is fortunate to have Tony in our lives and at Eastern. In my opinion, Tony is the best in our industry!” Langdon stated.
In 2001 the company adopted eDistribution, a digital planroom developed by Lynn Imaging. Today the two companies co-own the system. Eight years later the companies partnered to develop eComm, a construction information management software. Tony was an integral part of advancing and developing Eastern Engineering’s technology platforms. These digital products propelled Eastern Engineering forward and provided an advantage by being the first in the industry to offer these services online.
“Today eComm competes against Procore and other construction software companies,” Dargo says. “We have our own developers and direct code based on our customer requests. It’s all with the goal of keeping it easy and simple to use.
Where This Family-Run Business Is Going
Mary Langdon, Mark’s mother, retired as CEO in late December 2021. Dawn Langdon assumed the CEO role after working for Eastern Engineering for more than 27 years. She has extensive business and leadership experience and keeps all six locations running smoothly. Mark and Dawn are a successful husband and wife team who plan to continue to expand the family business.
Today, when you ask Langdon “how’s business,” you get a one-word answer: “Phenomenal.” Eastern Engineering has tripled in size in the last seven years.
How Do 50 Years in Business Feel?
Langdon can sum it up in one word: grateful. He knows he wouldn’t be where he is today without his family, friends, business relationships, and employees. Fifty feels good.
Eastern Engineering by The Numbers
- Founded in 1972
- 50 years in business, and the third generation is in the business
- WBE certified company
- 6 locations in 4 states
- Authorized dealer in Canon, Oce, KIP, and HP sales and service
- Largest HP PageWide dealer in the U.S.
- 50 employees
- eDistribution™ digital plan room
- eCommunication™ Construction Management Software