When the team at Earthtones Design needed to move to a new headquarters, owner Justin Crocker wanted a place that employees would not only want to come to during the work week, but also on weekends. So, he literally bought a spot where employees can do just that.
Crocker, president, bought a 38-acre lot complete with a pool, a cabana and a lake with a dock to fish on. That’s where the 150 people employed at his Midlothian, Texas-based company, will be based, just outside of Dallas.
“At the end of the day we could have rented some office or industrial space that would have been pretty economical and saved us money overall but that’s not what we were after,” Crocker says. “We don’t just go to an office we are stuck in every day.”
That work environment resulted in 40 percent growth from 2015 to 2016, and Crocker says culture, in a roundabout way, was a big part in it. He credits the growth to his team serving clients at a high level.
But that service doesn’t happen without great employees, which he attracts and retains with his culture.
Crocker, who started the company with his wife, Christina, in 2003, says the base of his culture came from a question he asked himself: Would he want to work at his company in each position for the amount of money being paid?
You have to be able to put yourself in the employees’ shoes and think are they getting fulfillment from working here, he says.
Part of that is monetary, but the other part is culture. So, Crocker strived for a culture of respect. There’s no yelling at each other when something goes wrong and that goes from the management team to field workers.
“That starts with your management and once they subscribe to that, it will trickle down through your company,” he says.
And it makes him happy when he sees his management team giving fist bumps to crews before morning rollout.
“It sounds simple but just treating people the way you’d want to be treated in that position – that’s a major part of how to set a basis for a culture.”
But in the summer of 2013, the company was big enough where he could stop working in the field and really focus on being a CEO. He, again, asked himself what would make him want to work at Earthtones.
“I like to word it that I made a change … from being a manager who had employees working for him to become one that works for the employees.”
By the summer of 2014, with 50 employees, he felt the company had a culture he wanted, so it was time to go the extra mile with an exciting office space. In fact, Crocker says a new main office was long overdue.
“I’ve been so frugal in that department. One of the reasons we were looking was I felt we were really behind on what our office space was,” he says. “To me, it was old and dingy and didn’t reciprocate the work environment I’d been working so hard to set up.”
With a new office and a culture Crocker is comfortable with, he has seen improvements in hiring and retention with a turnover rate of less than 1 percent. In an industry where many companies can’t find field labor, Crocker has employees showing up at his doorstep ready to work.
Crocker says he is paying market value, so, while he spent money on the new office, he isn’t breaking the bank to recruit.
“We’ve been able to hire many new field workers in the last six months alone just based on reputation,” he says. “When our guys are out in the field and they meet other people with other companies, they’re telling them that they are well taken care of at this business.
“It takes longer to build that (culture) but you are better off in the long run if you can get to that point.”