Awards program fosters “ownership culture” at Plano-Coudon

What does a rain event, unsolicited e-mails and a ‘penguin walk’ have to do with growing a successful business?

IMG_0059At Plano-Coudon Construction, each embodied an example of the com
pany’s ownership culture and was honored with an Ownie Award.

Co-founders Brett Plano and Ryan Coudon initiated the Ownies in early 2015 as a way to demonstrate what an ownership culture entails in everyday work life and to reward employees who exemplify that culture.

“Whenever you introduce a culture into your company, it is about a three-year process to successfully ingrain that culture in your people,” Coudon said. “You can’t just talk about it once and expect it to happen overnight. You have to keep following through.”

Coudon and Plano deliver that follow-through with practices such as the quarterly company update meetings. During those all-hands gatherings, company leaders discuss company financials, backlogs, other key performance indicators, new business, lessons learned, and practices that make companies successful.

They also follow through with the Ownies. Awarded to a select number of employees each quarter, the Ownies provide specific demonstrations of how employees at all levels of the company can perform like company owners and generate real business benefits.

Ownies have been awarded to:

  • a carpenter whose commitment to customer service triggered multiple e-mailed compliments from clients and even some additional business;
  • an office manager who cleaned, shopping and catered to guests in order to set an impressive stage for a meeting with an important developer;
  • a project manager who stepped up to assume a Board of Directors position on an industry association;
  • six project staff – from laborer to project executive – who rushed to a job site late one night to secure the property and bail water off a roof in the midst of a rain storm; and
  • a member of Plano-Coudon’s accounting staff who, during an unusually icy winter, found a safety tip about how to avoid falling by ‘walking like a penguin’ and forwarded the information along to company leadership in an effort to keep workers safe at construction sites.

“One of our carpenters was transitioning from one job to another when he realized that the schedules collided,” Plano said. “He wanted to make sure both jobs got done and done right, so he worked 32 hours that weekend. He didn’t make a fuss. We didn’t even know about it until we saw his time card.”

Jane Cantor received an Ownie within a year of joining Plano-Coudon. The company’s new controller, Cantor started work in February 2015, right at the onset of tax season and the beginning of the company’s highest volume year to date.

“She didn’t skip a beat. She handled the learning curve probably faster than normal, took on all these responsibilities and, through it all, was the most positive person in the office. And positivity is one of our core values,” Plano said.

Cantor keeps the Ownie Award certificate on display beside her desk.

“It’s nice to be recognized for something you are doing,” she said. “The whole ownership culture here and the company update meetings where they tell us what is going on – the good, bad and indifferent – makes you want to be part of this company even more and contribute to its growth.”