Glenna and Steve Standish, founders of Standard Utility Construction in Fort Worth, have been in business since 1984 but rarely seek the spotlight.
They have built a thriving electrical contracting service business over the years and now employ about 475 workers around the state.
But the couple recently stepped into the spotlight, accepting an honor from one of the organizations they have supported for many years: The Longhorn Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
The couple have been volunteers, troop leaders and donors, and they continue to work with the scouting organization. This year the Longhorn Council, which serves youth in 24 counties, honored the Standishes with the 2023 Distinguished Citizens Award. Along with their support of scouting, the couple was honored for their contributions as North Texas citizens and business leaders.
“Scouting is built on principles familiar to all of us, such as growth mindset, teamwork and self-discovery — and its lifelong benefits are visible through the lives of people like Glenna and Steve,” said Wendy Shaw, chief executive officer at the Longhorn Council.
Steve Standish said they began the business with one service truck, working as subcontractors.
“We were too small to be the primary contractor, but we slowly began to grow,” he said. “We were raised to work for what we wanted and quitting wasn’t an option. A lot of it was just determination that it would work, and, I don’t know, we just did it together,” he said.
The tipping point for the business came when they received a contract with one of the largest electric suppliers in the state.
“That was when we really knew we were on our way, not that there weren’t still challenges,” he said.
With the business growing, Glenna Standish, who had always handled the back office part of the business, was formally named president in 1995. A female leader in the contracting business was rare then and remains so today, she said.
Steve Standish advised businesses looking to grow to decide on their core values and stick with them.
“There have been plenty, plenty of times where we’ve seen companies make the wrong decisions,” he said. “We’ve always stuck to what we believed was right. And I think that’s enough.”
He also said that companies should be careful about choosing the right clients, vendors and suppliers.
“Make sure that their core values are aligned with yours,” he said. “We’ve seen other competitors that start out and they just take the wrong path. And they’re not around.”
The company’s 475 employees are also expected to uphold those core values.
“We get drug tested just like our employees. Everyone is accountable,” said Glenna Standish.
Those employees are key to the company’s success, the Standishes said. In 2005, they built their own training center.
“You can come into our industry and not have any experience at all and in five to six years, you can be at the highest level of technical ability,” said Steve Standish.
The company has several employees that have been with them from 25 to 35 years. They are now looking to add another 150 more.
“It’s not easy to find the right people, but we need them,” he said.
The couple got involved in scouting as their kids were growing up and as they were building their business.
“After our kids moved on from scouting, we were approached later on about helping on the board and helping with some of their fundraising,” said Steve Standish.
The couple particularly like to support a Boy Scout program that reaches out to inner city youths.
“It’s what we love to do,” said Glenna Standish.
About the Distinguished Citizens Award
The Longhorn Council’s Distinguished Citizens Award Dinner is a 30-year tradition that honors Tarrant County individuals and organizations that reflect the organization’s values of character, citizenship and community service. Past recipients of the Distinguished Citizens Award include Ross Perot Jr. (2022), Doug Bratton (2021), Neils Agather (2019), Carl Ice (2017) and Dee Kelly (2014). The Standishes were honored at a ceremony on Oct. 17 at the Hilton Fort Worth.
Bob Francis is business editor for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.