Trading Places: Undercover Bosses

Five B.E. 100s CEOs who bravely stepped into their employees' shoes

G. Jean Davis, CEO, UNIBAR Services Inc. (Photo: Ara Howrani)

G. JEAN DAVIS
KEEPING CURRENT

“If you surround yourself with good people and provide a clear vision of where you want to go and what’s in it for them, you can be successful,” says G. Jean Davis, CEO of UNIBAR Services Inc. UNIBAR is a provider of meter reading, meter installation, and land surveying for utilities and cable companies.

She’s found success not only for her company, but also in training blue-collar workers and treating them well. “I am pleased when I see young people without a formal education develop. You bring them in, you teach them, they are eager to learn, and you look up one day and you’ve got an executive,” says Davis. “But I’m not soft. I want excellence, and there is no excuse for not doing anything when we’ve given you the resources to do your job.”

And when they do the job, Davis makes sure the company rewards them for it. After Hurricane Katrina, UNIBAR found shelter in dormitory housing for its Louisiana workers, bought them clothing, and asked utilities customer Entergy Corp. to pay them full-time for working as guides to people who came into the city. The company also invests in training workers to ensure that its 2,000 employees in 14 states learn the most current safety guidelines as the industry transitions to remote meter reading. “We give as much as we can to the employees,” she says. “They work hard for you if you treat them well.”

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