“We invest a lot of money in making sure that our engineers and our investigators can properly take care of our client’s needs — and that we can maintain our brand and our reputation as a top-flight provider of technical services,” he says.
It’s not uncommon to train somebody for 12 to 24 months, on depositions, client communication, file documentation, etc., before he or she independently handles projects.
Committed and engaged
It’s critical to never compromise your hiring standards, Baker says. There’s a reason why people say: Surround yourself with great people.
S-E-A also is 100 percent employee owned, which increases commitment and a shared sense of responsibility.
“I would say it’s been the best form of governance that we’ve had,” he says. “We’ve been privately owned. We’ve been publically owned, and now we’re a limited liability company and it’s by far (the best). By giving your employees part of the business, it gives them a higher level of commitment and interest in making sure things get done.”
All employees have a mentor, and everybody is generous with their time, helping others do the right things and be prepared, Baker says.
The employees are engaged, partly because there’s such diversity in the work. There’s a mixture, for example, of being in the office, writing reports, and being out in the field investigating an accident.
Baker says S-E-A gives its staff independence, the professional responsibility to manage their own schedules.
“We’re a professional company — we hire professionals, and we expect them to behave like professionals,” he says.
And if you’re not doing your job, it will reveal itself. You can only hide for so long, Baker says.
The company also tries to balance the expectations of the people entering the workforce with those who have been with S-E-A for 30 or 40 years.
Its new headquarters has a mix of private and collaborative spaces. Baker says the newer workforce likes the latitude of being able to work where they want. As long as they are working smart and working hard, you can try to accommodate everything.
“We’ve got incredibly bright people. We’ve got incredibly driven people. And it makes my job significantly easier,” he says. “I don’t ever really feel like I ever come to work — I know it’s cliché — but I love what I do, and I think everybody else does here as well.”