Businesses grow for a variety of reasons, but Geotechnical Consultants Inc. has expanded because its executives treat employees with respect, and they, in turn, build lasting relationships with their clients.
Although David Caprio was named president of the Westerville-based company just last year, he has been with the company for 15 years, not unlike many of his co-workers. Anniversary pins abound at the geotechnical engineering and environmental consulting firm, which also has offices in Boardman, Ohio, and Charlotte, N.C.
“We tend to give people at all levels a lot of responsibility and allow staff to make decisions,” Caprio says. “This makes them feel like they are part of the company and truly contribute to company growth.”
The 86 employees of Geotechnical Consultants Inc. have grown revenue from $6.4 million in 2004 to $8.4 million last year.
Smart Business spoke with Caprio about how he stays true to his staff members so they remain devoted to his company.
Q: How have you grown your company?
We have very loyal staff members who understand what we’re trying to do for our clients, and we are loyal back to them. We support their endeavors, on a personal level and on a business level. We believe in training, education and family.
In return, they are very loyal to us. They support us with their efforts, and they promote our company. Having a staff that believes in what the company does and portrays that to the client is really important.
Q: How do you create a staff that believes in your vision?
We keep telling them it’s all about service and doing a good job for the client. The client is our bread and butter.
We have a very open company with an open-door policy. Anybody can talk to anybody in our company and get advice on a professional level. If people have personal issues, we’re behind them, and we support them.
Q: How do you support your staff?
Education is really important, and it’s important to give people that opportunity. People come to us and say, ‘I’d like to take this course,’ so we work with them on that and encourage them. If they’re smarter and if they’ve got more knowledge that positions them to do their job better, we’re behind it.
Another thing we do to support our employees is at the end of the year, when we look at the revenue and the financial statements, we give a lot of money back to the employees. Every employee in this company gets bonuses twice a year, participates in profit-sharing and has an opportunity to buy stock. Those things help promote a loyal staff.
We have two parties a year, and at the summer picnic, we have given pins for five, 10, 15, 20 years of service. People come here, and we can’t get rid of them. I’m saying that jokingly, but to see 10-year or 15-year people here is not unusual because it’s a great place to work. We treat them right personally, and we treat them right financially because those are two things that are important to them.
We don’t work people to death here. Overtime is not a requirement for the professional staff. People know they have a job, and as long as they do their job, the company’s profitable and the client is happy, that’s what matters.
Q: How do you communicate your open-door policy to your staff?
We’re not a company of people who sit in cubicles and stay there eight hours to do their job. We’re a very interrelated and interactive company. I walk around the office all the time and talk to everybody.
My office literally does not have a door on it. When I was named president, this was my space, and I never changed because I like where I’m situated in the office.
I started as an engineer, so I had a relationship with a lot of people, and there was no reason for that to change. People have learned to respect the work I did, so they understand me professionally.
They know me as a person. I’m pretty level-headed professionally, and they know I’m not one to put the company in a position of liability.
Q: What advice would you share with other leaders of fast-growing companies?
The only thing I’ve regretted is handling a situation wrong. When a situation arises just like you do with e-mail sit back and think about it before hitting the ‘send’ key. Make sure it’s a good decision, and also think about it from a staff standpoint.
How will this decision affect other people? In the end, if you make a mistake or have wronged somebody, you’ve got to be able to admit it and change it.
We’re all people doing the best we can, and executives should treat everybody with respect and know that employees are no different than we are. That puts it all in perspective.
HOW TO REACH: Geotechnical Consultants Inc., (614) 895-1400 or www.gci2000.com