I really enjoyed meeting Jeffrey Lyon of GVA Kidder Mathews. I drove down to the GVA Kidder Mathews headquarters to interview Jeffrey for the video we are making for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s annual “Best Workplaces” Award. GVA Kidder Mathews is a very successful commercial real estate firm with 9 offices in Washington, California, and Oregon. They have over 400 employees. I sat down with Jeffrey Lyon to talk about why his company has been successful and why the employees voted them as one of the best workplaces. Jeffrey talked about how proud he was of his team. He talked about the unique culture of his organization, where everyone works hard and together to help clients be successful. He talked about the unique character of his team and how they have pulled together and succeeded even in turbulent times. He said that he is very proud to work for GVA Kidder Mathews and that he was very optimistic about the future. Recently Jeffrey Lyon was recognized by Ernst & Young at the “Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2009 in the Real Estate category. I enjoyed meeting Jeffrey and I learned a lot.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I went down to the Lane Powell offices in Seattle to interview VP Chusk Riley for the video we are making for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s annual “Best Workplaces” award. Chuck Riley did a super interview. He talked about the incredible culture at Lane Powell and how they really focus on core values with their clients and their employees. Lane Powell is one of the oldest and most successful law firms in the Northwest. It was started over 100 years ago. Today Lane Powell has over 300 staff and over 150 attorneys. Over the years many of the Northwest’s great judges once worked with Lane Powell. Chuck said that one of the secrets to success at Lane Powell is total committment to the local communities. The culture of the company is focused on coming up with new ideas about ways the firm can help people. He talked about how the employees dedicate time and money to helping the food banks and Habitat for Humanity and the United Way. I could tell that Chuck was very dedicated and proud of his team at Lane Powell. He also was very proud that his employees would have voted Lane Powell as one of the “Best Workplaces” in Washington.
I could not stop thinking about my interview with Kurt Carlson of Propel Insurance. He really impressed me with his interview. I had driven down nto Tacoma to meet with Kurt as part of a video we are making for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s annual “Best Workplaces” Award. Kurt’s company Propel Insurance was a finalist this year. Kurt told me how the company started many years ago and how they recently had changed their name. He told me how they nurtured the culture and about the incredible character of his team. Kurt started talking about all the many things that his company has created to help inspire a positive workplace. I was definitely impressed. In addition the normal medical benefits and 401ks, Propel had created several recognition awards and parties to inspire team mates to look for and find heroes among the team. Their goal is to recognize and focus on the positive things that people do everyday to help others. They try to catch people doing things right. I was inspired by the enthusiasm of Kurt Carlson and his huge goals for the future. Kurt talked about how he has learned a lot from his mentors including friends he has made at the YPO, Young Presidents Organization. Propel definitely seems like a great place to work and I can see why they were nominated by their employees for an award.
I drove over to the Seattle offices of Turnstyle, a fast growing Graphic Design firm. I was there to interview the leadership team of Turnstyle because they were finalists for the annual Puget Sound Business Journal “Best Workplaces in Washington” award. I was immediately impressed with the Turnstyle team. The office had a great receptionist, but as I looked around it seems that I could see almost the entire staff in one big loop of view. The offices had lots of people but they weren’t in cubicles or offices. It was one big room, with the leaders and regular employees all working hard on their computers. There was a very positive buzz in the air. I set up my camera, lights, and sound equipment in a small office of someone who was out that day. I interviewed Matt, Steve, and Ben individually, and then all together. My goal was to find out why they were nominated as one of the Best Workplaces and to find out their secret to success in business. I quickly learned that these leaders were a great team. Each partner had specific skillsets that when put together equalled an unbeatable match. They told me how important their culture and values were to the fundamental success they had achieved. They talked about how every member on the team was like friends, so they valued taking time off together for an event or even just a drink. They thought it was worthwhile shutting down the entire office to go have a fun time together. They talked about how important relationships with clients and the employees meant to them. They told me how they believed in trust and integrity and diversity. Matt, Steve, and Ben were so enthusiastic that I felt enthusiastic and energized, too. These guys were very creative and fun, but I could tell they took their business very seriously and would go the extra mile to find creative solutions to a project.
I first met Bob Berntson a few years ago when I interviewed him and his partner Greg Porter for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce “Eastside Business Awards.” Today I was interviewing Bob for the video we are making for the Puget Sound Business Journal on the “Best Workplaces in Washington.” Bob is a great person to interview because he has a subtle sense of humor. He reminds me of Harrison Ford because when I interviewed Harrison Ford he always did subtle jokes about himself, and Bob does the same thing. Bob talked about the unique culture they had at Berntson Porter CPA and the many ways they try to nurture that culture. He said that Values are extremely important and that his team had terrific character. He said that they have a “Fireside Chat” several times a year to help keep everyone in the team on the same page about where the firm was going and how they were going to get there. Bob said that he is very lucky because he has some terrific mentors who have helped him over the years. Bob said he loves his company and all the people on his team. Bob said that he felt like a very lucky man. He said that one of the key foundations of their focus is on community involvement and that his team really loves helping others. I really enjoyed my interview with Bob and feel I learned a lot.
I met Dave Coffman in downtown Seattle at the Coffman Engineers office. Dave Coffman is the CEO of Coffman Engineers. He is a real character. I was interviewing him for the Puget Sound Business Journal video about the “Best Workplaces” finalists. Coffman Engineers has been around for over 30 years now. Dave talked about how he started the company 30 years ago in Bellevue, then expanded to Alaska and now they have coverage all over the Western US and do work all over the world. Coffman Engineers has a great track record, with several large long-term clients including Nordstroms. Dave talked about his focus on integrity, honesty, and dependability. He talked about the culture he has tried to nurture over the years. He said that several of his people have gone off to start their own companies and he is proud that he has been a mentor to so many and that his team voted Coffman as one of the best workplaces in Washington. Dave told me he really cares for his people. He said the secret to their success has been their people and their belief in diversity. I really enjoyed meeting Dave Coffman.
I drove down to Tacoma to meet the CEO of Columbia Banking Systems, Melanie Dressel, for a video we were making for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Columbia Banking was a finalist for the “Best Workplace” award. Melanie did a great interview. She talked about the reasons her company has been successful in such a challenging business climate. She said that the culture of the organization and the focus on the values of customer service and treating people right were paying off. She said that her philosophy is to hire good people and you will succeed. She said that every employee goes through a boot camp to make sure everyone understands the culture and values. Melanie proved to be a very strong leader and I learned a lot from our interview. Thanks, Melanie!
I drove over to Renton to interview Marty Schillaci for the Puget Sound Business Journal’s video for the “Best Workplaces” Award. Marty is the CEO of The Resource Group (TRG). As we entered their office we were greeted by a team of very enthusiastic people with giant smiles on their faces. We met Marty and he led us to a really nice conference room with a very unusual conference table. It was like a real tree laying sideways. Actually was part of a tree and it was quite impressive. We talked about the table for a while and then I set up my camera and lights and sound equipment for the interview. Marty Schillaci is a great leader. He talked about how he started the company over twenty years ago by helping companies understand and use their database softwares. Over the years TRG has become one of the most successful and enduring partners with Microsoft. Marty talked about the unique culture that his team has created. He talked about the very important core values that have always worked for him. He talked about the character of his team in good times and bad times. He talked about the importance of taking care of your employees and your clients. Years ago Marty worked for Boeing and he talked about how proud he is of the TRG success story. He started the company in his living room and now he has a lot of employees. Marty expressed the importance of education and learning. He said you always have to be learning to keep up with the fast pace of today’s life. I really enjoyed my interview with Marty and I learned a lot!