Founding Partner of Manassas, Virginia-Based Healthcare HVAC Company Reflects on Ten Years of Challenges and Growth
To CEO Josie Geiger, “Believe It!” is so much more than just a tagline for BION. It’s a motto she lives by every day, starting in the beginning of her career in construction as an administrative assistant for a local subcontractor. “One of the project managers at my first job told me that I had to believe in myself and in what I was doing,” said Geiger. “I only worked with him for a few years, but it goes to show that you never know what you might say to someone that could really impact their life.”
It was clear from early on in her career that Josie had a passion for the construction industry and a talent for project management. However, after nearly two decades in the industry, Josie had noticed a few things that didn’t seem right. “It used to be common to see construction crews treated like they were disposable,” she said. “These men and women are very talented tradespeople – craftsmen. They are the heart of the construction industry. It seemed like there had to be a better way.”
Later on in her career, Geiger met her soon-to-be business partners, Don Ripley, John Fitzgerald, and Dwayne Hardbower, working at a different contracting firm. Each of them had at least 20 years of experience in the industry before choosing to start BION. “This is what we’ve done our whole careers,” noted Geiger. When the time came to take BION from the drawing board to the real world, Josie led the way. “My partners say it was as if they were standing at the edge of a cliff trying to decide what to do. Then I ran by, grabbed their hands and said ‘C’mon boys we’re doing this!’”
What started at the kitchen table in Josie’s townhouse quickly moved to its own space in fall 2008, and within two months grew to 11 employees. “A lot of people say you should crawl before you walk, and walk before you run,” said Josie. “We never really ‘crawled’, we just hit the ground running.” Soon after they started running, Geiger handled numerous internal challenges, such as creating and implementing a business structure from the ground up.
The partners faced other challenges as well, like building a solid reputation in their niche market, healthcare construction, and growing their workforce. “Our reputation was earned through the hard work and dedication of each of the partners and every member of our staff. Eventually, our clients began to specifically ask for us to work on their projects,” Geiger stated. “We treat each healthcare facility as if it’s an extension of BION. We want to be an asset to that facility and contribute to its success.”
Since then, Josie has helped BION grow considerably, adding departments for Human Resources, Accounting, Warehouse and Logistics, Safety and recently the Service Department for emergency work, maintenance, and testing. The company also boasts nearly 100 employees, each hand-picked by Geiger and her leadership team. “It has always been about the people,” she said. “I still meet with the majority of our employees myself for their annual reviews. We listen to our people, give them opportunities to grow and opportunities to help us improve. Our employees are not just a number to us, they are family to us – they are BION. We work hard to make sure that their compensation and benefits are above the norm – not because it’s trendy, but because they deserve it.”
Of all the milestones BION has reached in such a short time, the most surprising would be the Subcontractor of the Year Award in 2016. They achieved this award while working in a niche market after only seven years in business. This award, received at the American Subcontractors Association of Metropolitan Washington Subby Awards Gala, was chosen by General Contractors based off of the quality of projects and safety of the workers. “That all goes back to our culture and our people,” noted Geiger.
Looking back on the growth and success BION has achieved since 2008, it’s clear that Josie has never lost faith in her abilities, the abilities of her partners and their vision for the company. “You have to believe in what you are doing. You have to believe in yourself,” she said. As a Chief Executive Officer, Josie Geiger is proof that belief in yourself, hard work, and good character are keys to success. As a woman in the construction industry, she is an inspiration to those who dare to pursue their passions to the fullest, regardless of popular opinion. To other women in the construction industry, she has this advice to give: “You are an asset to the team because of your knowledge and experience, just like everybody else. There will be challenges, but it’s what you do about them that makes a big difference. Just believe in yourself, know your stuff, forget the other drama and get the job done.”