Case Study
Business Smart: Sasser Restoration

Sarah Cook, a supervisor at Sasser Restoration, has been a steady force for thousands of people at the moment when they need someone the most.

Sasser Restoration, based in Whitsett, NC in Guilford County with offices in South Carolina, California and Texas, sends teams to communities across the country after disasters like hurricanes or fires to clean and mitigate damage. In fact, Sasser’s mission is to be the helpers in times of need so that people and communities can restore and rebuild their lives faster.

As a Sasser employee on and off since 2011 (with a bit of a break to work as a nurse), Sarah works in the mitigation area of the business. That means she’s personally helped home and business owners across NC clean and assess the damage to their homes and buildings.

“No matter how small or large the loss or damages, we are there in a moment’s notice to help people put their lives back together. At times the work can be very physical, but the end result outweighs the hours and physical work,” she says. “Knowing that we help people get back to normal everyday life is rewarding.”

Sasser started as a high-end homebuilder in the eastern triad area of North Carolina but pivoted during the 2008-09 financial crisis to focus on disaster mitigation and environmental remediation, with a focus on serving the healthcare, manufacturing, food processing and multi-family industries. 

Sasser is striving to be an industry leader, says partner Houston Summers, which not only includes “being an industry leader in the ways in which we care for those that are quite literally putting homes, businesses, hospitals and the like back together… but it’s also about serving each and every team member to ensure that they are as happy, healthy and productive as possible.”

That’s why Sasser has worked hard to incorporate family-friendly policies into the business model – many of which have not traditionally been available in the construction or restoration industry.

“We believe our employees – regardless of whether they are paid by the hour or are salaried – should have access to the same basic benefits,” Houston says. “This is especially true of benefits that support the health and well-being of them and their families.”

Houston Summers, Partner

Most recently, the company rolled out two new policies: a flex time off policy and a parental leave policy. All of Sasser’s 45 employees – hourly and salaried – can now take four weeks of paid maternity leave, one week of paid paternity leave or one week of paid leave for adoptions or foster care placements. Employees also have access to traditional paid time off and accommodations for return to work or to handle child care responsibilities for roles that do not require in-person work.

Only about 12 percent of workers in the construction industry have access to paid family leave – half the national average of 24 percent of private sector workers across all industries.

Further, only 12 percent of workers in the lowest 25 percent of wages, which includes most hourly workers, have access to paid family leave. Sasser’s employees are split about 50/50 between salaried and hourly workers, Houston says.

“We believe our employees – regardless of whether they are paid by the hour or are salaried – should have access to the same basic benefits,” Houston says. “This is especially true of benefits that support the health and well-being of them and their families.”

Last year, Sarah learned she was pregnant. This is her first pregnancy at Sasser but third pregnancy overall, and she’s experienced both miscarriage and the loss of her two-year-old son due to a tragic accident. So Sarah, who is due in June, feels extra cautious and worried about ensuring she and her baby remain safe throughout her current pregnancy. She asked to be removed from the field due to her high-risk pregnancy and health problems she’s going through during this pregnancy. 

“I felt it wasn’t safe, crawling in the crawl spaces, being around chemicals, or the hard, physical labor,” she says. Sasser granted the accommodation.

While she’s still stressed about the pregnancy, Sarah is thankful to be out of the field for her health and the health of her son. And when her baby is born, Sarah looks forward to taking the four weeks’ paid leave to be with her child.

“Family is everything,” Sarah says. “The first year of your child’s life is the most important. I know that I chose to get pregnant… but it means everything to have that time.” She’s also glad that the paid leave will help ease the financial burden of taking time to care for her newborn.

Sarah says she does wish the leave was closer to six weeks, when her doctor will clear her to return to more physical work. But she is thankful for the new policy and for her work at Sasser.

Houston says he knows that working on family-friendly policies is part of a “continuous improvement” process.

“Sasser is strongly committed to improving our business, our processes, and our benefits as we serve some of the most important organizations in our state and around the country in their time of need,” he says.

Houston says continuously looking for new ways to be family-friendly has helped to attract, retain and care for Sasser’s employees.

“We often say at Sasser that we are not in the business of restoration, but rather in the business of paying mortgages and buying groceries,” he says. “What we mean by that is that our primary goal is to support our people, and in turn, we will have built an organization together, full of mutual trust and respect, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Sample Benefits:

  • Health, dental and vision insurance
  • Paid time off for vacation or sick leave 
  • An additional four days of paid flex time for personal leave
  • Paid parental leave