Here at Kemp Bros. Construction, a 123-year-old general contracting company, our identity is rich in local history and family traditions. It’s a heritage derived from our commitment to caring.
However, we have a unique challenge. Unlike companies who produce products at a central plant location, our products (construction of new buildings) are produced at our clients’ selected locations. We have a main office headquarters, but our business operations are decentralized throughout Southern California. With every new contract, we set up field production facilities wherever the project takes us.
So how do we cultivate our culture in a decentralized working environment?
Before I answer this, I must consider exactly what our “culture” is and how we communicate it among our team members, clients and prospective employees.
What is Kemp’s culture?
In some ways, our culture has been shaped by our founding service statement of “Doing what we say we are going to do.” When generations before us have worked to keep our company promises, our culture signifies how we operate.
I think of our culture as a positive energy that infuses our organization with purpose, direction and hope. It is our culture that manifests itself in the admirable behavior of our leaders and employees alike. It’s a unique combination of caring vibes you can feel and that our team members truly appreciate. Our culture prioritizes what’s most important to our continued success: The well-being and tireless commitment of our people.
Who’s responsible for upholding our culture?
It is the duty of our operations leadership, project managers and our support staff to bring Kemp’s culture into the jobsites. And in the same way laughter can be contagious, so is our team’s sense of service commitment. Once introduced at mobilization and project start-up, pride in our culture takes hold and influences our field production activities, inspiring progress and jobsite success.
How do we establish culture across teams?
The biggest challenge to cultivating our culture in a decentralized work environment is communicating our priorities effectively. Below are some ways we connect our people and emphasize our values:
Sometimes it’s in honoring our annual traditions that we make the most progress among infusing our culture to team members. Whether it’s birthdays, anniversaries or holiday parties, there is no end to the variety of ways Kemp chooses to celebrate how important each individual is to our culture. The biggest event of the year is the Kemp holiday party. It gives Kempers a chance to come together and celebrate our wins as a company.
In those occasional low moments of project-wide fatigue, we rely on a tradition that never fails. We act on sage words spoken by one of the original Kemp Bros. who said, “There’s nothing a good barbecue won’t fix!” In homage to his genius, we frequently host barbecues at our job sites for a family-style luncheon. It’s an opportunity to bring everyone on the job together and to remind them of our common purpose. It’s not magic, but it boosts morale and there is no better time to reinforce the importance of cooperation in working together than over good barbecue.
- Social Media
Working in silos on different job sites can leave field workers feeling disconnected from the overall progress of the company. Not only do we share big company wins, new employees and project updates, but we encourage friendly competition across teams by hosting contests, the favorite of which is our holiday decorating competition.
- Road Shows
We are very disciplined in our routine of taking our culture to our job sites to ensure it remains relevant and important to our many team members. To ensure our satellite teams maintain a level of work ethic worthy of Kemp, our leadership team conducts “Road Shows.” Leadership team members work their way across each site to discuss ethics, processes, and the non-negotiables of working at Kemp. Employees are even given cards with these non-negotiables printed on them to keep in their wallets.
- Service Projects
Our service projects are one of the most important ways we come together. Whether volunteering with the Restless Hearts Foundation, building schools for orphans in Africa, or teaming up with the OC Rescue Mission to build a home for homeless teens, our service projects give our employees a unified purpose.
How do we ensure our culture remains a priority?
Throughout Kemp there is a deep sense of commitment and obligation to honor and preserve our culture. A culture developed through generations of owner integrity and employee hard work. Together we have built, earned and celebrated our construction business success. It is our culture that each employee is invited to enjoy, maintain and responsibly protect.
Our positive corporate culture is certainly worth fighting for and deserves to be preserved and expanded upon. We challenge all company stakeholders, leadership and employees to recognize, appreciate and respect the unique sense of identity that’s been established at Kemp.
Although we are reluctant to change what isn’t broken, we also realize we must be willing to adapt so our culture continues to represent, motivate and inspire the next generation of team members and company leaders.
As the company continues to grow and evolve, the bigger challenge before us is this: What attitudes will our new hires bring to the company and will their priorities transition smoothly into the culture we cherish and have worked so hard to build. We are confident we will always be successful when we honor our people and inspire them to exceed our expectations.
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