Features

Luis Machado – TopBuild 

Safety is the No. 1 goal for construction company lawyer 

For Luis Machado, safety is his number one concern. And while he isn’t wearing a hard hat or tool belt or driving a work truck, he understands that for TopBuild to continue as one of the construction industry’s leading installers and specialty distributors of insulation and related building products, a safe work environment is crucial.  

Luis Machado | Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary | TopBuild 

Luis Machado | Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary | TopBuild

“The vast majority of our employees are out in the field, so we want to make sure they’re healthy, successful and working,” Machado tells Vanguard during an interview in March.  

As the Daytona Beach, Florida-based company’s vice president, general counsel and secretary, Machado greatly influences how the company’s employees in the field— approximately 14,000 employees, including a group of insulation installers nearly 9,000 strong—work to bring insulation solutions to TopBuild’s customers.  

In his role, Machado emphasizes openness, transparency and camaraderie within the company across functions and operations. An open-door policy facilitates easy communication and problem-solving, creating a culture where continuous improvement is encouraged.  

As TopBuild expands its presence and influence, Machado’s role remains important in navigating the increasingly complex legal landscape while ensuring the company delivers on its strategic commitments to profitable growth, ethical compliance, continuous improvement, and inclusivity. 

The most important asset 

One avenue by which TopBuild grows is through acquisitions, and TopBuild has honed its core competency of integrating new companies into the broader business family.  When a new business is brought under the company’s umbrella, training new employees on the TopBuild safety standards is one of the first things that happens.  

Delivering and installing insulation are physically demanding jobs and often occur in a place without air conditioning. Machado admits that many people can’t meet the job’s physical demands, but the company does everything possible to make the work environment safe. 

Luis Machado | Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary | TopBuild 

“From providing protective equipment and rigorous and continuing training to having drinking water readily available, our local leaders are focused on supporting their safety and comfort on the job, ” Machado says. “If someone can succeed within the first six months, they’re likely to stay with TopBuild long-term.” 

To further emphasize safety, the company incentivizes managers to prioritize safety and provides daily safety reports to every executive and manager. Safety is discussed at every meeting, including board meetings,  and TopBuild rewards good safety performance at all levels. But it’s the unique culture of safety that sets TopBuild’s approach to safety apart in the industry—they make it personal. 

“Everyone on the executive leadership team and in a leadership role is deeply involved in understanding safety incidents to prevent future occurrences,” Machado explains. “The ultimate goal is for everyone associated with TopBuild to return home safely to their families each evening. Our leaders focus on a personal relationship to safety that really does improve outcomes.” 

Meeting the construction industry’s recruiting and retention challenges, TopBuild offers all employees a full suite of benefits, including healthcare, and a friends and family referral program provides a bonus for employees who bring a retained new hire into the company. 

Managing all the risk 

TopBuild is a publicly traded company that leans on Machado’s experience as it organically grows its business operations across North America and through mergers and acquisitions.  

When a new company comes into the fold, Machado and the legal department work closely with the highly experienced integration team to take steps to integrate the new business, including reviewing existing policies and procedures, looking at staffing and customer data and providing resources for a smooth transition.  

“The time it takes to get integrated depends on the size of the business we acquire. If we buy a company with one location and a dozen employees, it happens quickly. A bigger acquisition takes more time to get everything up to speed,” Machado says.  

Machado says TopBuild doesn’t immediately change everything when buying a new company, but a few things happen immediately. The new company gets added to TopBuild’s enterprise resource planning system to ensure that the acquired business has access to TopBuild’s systems, supply chain, human resources documents, payroll platform and safety standards, and ensure financial reporting is complete and accurate.  

During this process, acquired businesses continue operating as they did before the acquisition while a learning and improvement process occurs. Maintaining a focus on local empowerment is key to the success of the TopBuild acquisition model, where every location can chart a path toward growth in the ways that make sense for their local market.  

At the same time, scaling best practices is a benefit of the network of local operations TopBuild has built, so in addition to providing systems and safety training, TopBuild seeks to learn about the practices that made the acquired company successful and to share those practices across its entire network.  

“We always look for improvement opportunities and often find them when we acquire a business – that is part of what makes them an attractive acquisition target,” says Machado. 

Discovering a love of law 

Machado was born in Cuba on December 3, known as Doctor’s Day in the country a short distance from Key West, Florida. Because he was born that day, his grandmother said he would be a physician when he grew up—and he almost was.  

“I studied pre-med until I realized during my junior year that it wasn’t the career for me,” Machado recalls. “I decided to pivot and got a degree in literature because I love reading and understanding how people think about things. But it was a tough conversation to have with my family. 

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Machado was dating his now wife and knew he needed a career to eventually settle down and have a family. He had worked for several years selling photographic equipment in  New York and Connecticut. He says it was fun, but he wasn’t making much money.  

“I knew I wanted to work in business and was either going to get an MBA or go to law school, and I decided on law school because, at that time, lawyers were having an easier time getting hired,” he says.  

After earning a JD from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Machado spent four years in private practice and over 11 years in-house for JohnsonDiversey then and Wrigley. He was senior vice president of legal for Limited Brands and vice president, general counsel and secretary for CTS Corporation for five years each before joining TopBuild in August 2020. 

Looking back, Machado says he always wanted to work to help businesses grow, thrive and provide for employees. And that is exactly what he’s done throughout his career.  

With retirement in a few years, Machado considers life after the law. While he has traveled a lot for business, that is very different than traveling for pleasure.  

“I want to go to Paris with my wife,” he says. “We’ve both been there, but not together, and I’m looking forward to those experiences with her.” 

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2024 Edition here.

 

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