Meet Blane Stoddart, President & CEO of BFW Group
Blane Stoddart, President & CEO of BFW Group
ABOUT BFW GROUP
Year established: 2010
Location: Philadelphia, Harrisburg, PA; Newark, NJ
Number of employees: 27
Notable projects or clients: Jefferson Health, The School District of Philadelphia
Years of partnership with LF Driscoll: 8
Tell us about you and your company.
I started a nonprofit community development corporation in West Philadelphia in 1991 to build affordable housing. We invested over $100M in the community and created over 100 permanent jobs. After 13 years, I felt I should go into the private sector and became a project manager for Pennrose, one of the largest multifamily developers in the area. But I was laid off during the recession and was crazy enough to try starting my own business. For the first two years we got little to no business. On January 2, 2012, I said that if the phone didn’t ring by 5:00pm, I would declare bankruptcy. At 4pm I received a call and my first big contract. Some people call it providence, some people call it a blessing. But we have not missed payroll since that day.
How did your partnership with LF Driscoll begin?
When I began working with LF Driscoll, I had two employees. They gave us the opportunity to work on a massive office tower project. By the time the project was done, we had 10 employees. Because of that project, I was able to pay off my debt and get a line of credit. It was the opportunity we needed to begin to scale and grow our business. Since then we’ve done 10 projects with LF Driscoll.
One of the most exciting benefits of our partnership with LF Driscoll is the diversity and inclusion council we created. We identified 22 minority-owned businesses that LFD can work with from project to project to provide the consistency they can build on. There’s no capacity without these opportunities. Capacity is having the financial wherewithal to purchase what you need in the marketplace, and these partnerships are helping provide that.
What else could the industry be doing to help and promote MWDBE-certified businesses?
LF Driscoll truly started a movement in the Philadelphia region, and many companies are now using that playbook. Through my experiences, I have changed my perspective from being a DEI advocate to being a relationship advocate. You cannot force people to work together unless they have a relationship. Think about the plumbing in your house. If it breaks and you don’t know a plumber, you call a trusted friend or family member. You don’t bid it out. You take the recommendation at its value, which is based on relationships.
If there is no opportunity for relationship building, there will be no inclusion. I don’t have to bid projects with LF Driscoll. We go into projects together as partners. I am on the team. Those relationships reap the most rewards.
Stoddart (center) with LF Driscoll CEO Mack Stulb (left) and Pride Enterprises founder, Craig Williams
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m proud that we’ve been able to live by our core values: honesty, integrity, teamwork, and equity. I’m also proud that 20% of our employees left their jobs to come back to BFW during the pandemic. We doubled our staff during COVID. That just shows me that we are creating value for our staff and for the marketplace.