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BizVoice Magazine Features TGC After Earning 4th Consecutive Best Place To Work in Indiana Ranking

May 13th, 2022

The Garrett Companies is pleased to announce it has been featured on the Indiana Chamber Rankings for 2022 Best Places to Work in Indiana for the 4th consecutive year! Coming in at #15 in the medium sized company category (75-249 employees), The Garrett Companies keeps the same ranking it had held in 2021 (#15). TGC is the only multifamily development/construction company in the top 15 of this year’s rankings.

As a four-time honoree of this recognition, Matt Ottinger with BizVoice Magazine recently sat down with TGC's Chief Operating Officer, Matt Griffin to uncover the strategies behind the company's enduring success. Read the full article below.

“Several companies on the 2022 Best Places to Work list have emerged from the tumult of the past two years and maintained admirable workplace cultures. They offer insights on what they’ve learned and the practices implemented that appeal to today’s employees.

Tech turn
The Garrett Companies, a Greenwood-based development company, was already in transition before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in early 2020. “Given how technology had changed the landscape even over the last 10 years, we were integrated into a model where we had to be set up to control remote teams,” explains COO Matt Griffin. “We had remote job sites and remote employees working those job sites. We had been in a phase to create an office environment where they could be managed from a central hub. “It gave us a head start in dealing with what COVID did to everybody else at the time,” he adds, noting the company had just integrated Microsoft Teams as the pandemic began. “Even people in the same building would call in on Teams because it allowed them to have all their data handy.” Gibson, an employee-owned insurance, risk and employee benefits firm headquartered in South Bend, was also in a better position than some to adapt. “Two or three years prior, we put a disaster recovery plan in place and everyone had laptops and we migrated away from desktops,” explains Nicole Fallowfield, director of administration. “When we realized it would last longer than a few weeks, we ordered more equipment for people to have in their homes, like more monitors, a desk or a nicer work chair in some cases.”

New game plans
For Donovan CPAs and Advisors in Avon, it wasn’t just how business was done that was impacted by the disruption. “When the (Paycheck Protection Program or PPP) loans came out, we told everyone that we’ll stop preparing tax returns in 2020 and we’ll help our business clients with these loans because it’s really important,” recalls Jeff Donovan, managing partner. That wasn’t just an audible on the firm’s mission, but on short-term revenues as well. “That impacted cash flow and it happened at a time when cash flow was supposed to be picking up,” he adds, noting PPP loans wouldn’t be billed for a while after – if at all. An extension of the April 15 tax deadline also “threw a wrench in our plans,” Donovan notes. “We attack tax season sort of like a football team would attack a game plan,” he outlines. “You’ve got to be nimble – but normally they don’t move the goalposts like they did with the April 15 date. But in the second year we kind of anticipated it.” For West Lafayette-based Indiana Professional Management Group (IPMG), a statewide provider of case management, care management and wraparound facilitation services, finding a way to meet the needs of its clients was paramount. The organization works with Hoosiers with intellectual disabilities, the aging population and those with mental health issues, according to CEO Karen Brummet. “People count on us to check on them and come to their home, but that wasn’t a good idea (when COVID began),” she remembers. “And our staff goes from one stop to the next and are around people all day long. “From our clientele’s perspective, everybody was okay with doing it differently,” she adds. “We got creative. We even met outside. We still wanted to see people and it was important to figure that out. We’re all about people and relationships.”

In with the new
The workplace itself now certainly looks differently than before for all – and new hires are coming into interviews with expectations. “Flexibility is number one on their list,” Griffin reports. “They want to manage their personal lives and work lives in a way that best suits them. It’s a top three request of every person we interview.” An outward focus is also critical as many younger workers are looking at the larger picture. “More people are asking about community involvement and asking what we’re doing from a diversity, equity and inclusion standpoint,” Fallowfield points out. “Three years ago, I wasn’t getting those questions from candidates, so some of that is due to some of the social things that have been happening around the country.” New challenges have also arrived. Finding qualified talent can be a difficult task. Furthermore, supply chain issues and material costs are impacting the construction industry, among others – and all industries are feeling the pinch of technology and other demands as the cost of doing business continues on an upward trajectory. “The cost of IT, liability insurance and cybersecurity insurance are going up,” Brummet quantifies, noting reimbursement from the state remains the same, thus putting stress on her company’s budget. For some, a future-focused approach and not resting on laurels remains imperative. For instance, The Garrett Companies has added to its repertoire of benefits with a program to pay college tuition for the dependents of employees. “If you work with us for at least six years, you become eligible for up to $100,000 of secondary education reimbursement for your dependent,” Griffin relays. “It starts on years six and you get the full benefit on year 10.”

Opening up
Amenities are a great way to attract and keep talent. But sometimes old-fashioned communication is a tremendous tool as well. Donovan knows a thing or two about keeping books, but it’s the “open book” approach to communication that’s being well-received by staff. “One of the things that goes a long way toward retention is being open and having a lot of transparent dialogue,” Donovan emphasizes. “We’re pretty open with the finances and who will succeed me as managing partner and other succession plans … the folks here like that and knowing what’s going on. “I’ve started a weekly newsletter,” he adds. “I had no idea that would be so important or well-received so I won’t stop doing them because I’ve had so much positive feedback.” But face-to-face interaction does have an irreplaceable value. Griffin states, “We’re noticing some of our more junior employees looking to take the next step in their career may be missing some critical pieces of that cross populating of learning because we don’t have as much collaboration as we used to have. “So we’re finding ourselves in a place where we want to encourage being face to face.” The company wants to remain flexible and not “strong arm” employees to come in. “We’ve tried to create a ‘student union’ and have more events and reasons to gather and really be selected and targeted on what days people will be in the office,” he shares. “We encourage people to be together without forcing them to be together.” For IPMG, communication is integral to its services, so checking in with direct reports, not just clients, became a point of focus. “People felt isolated in their personal lives and their work lives,” Brummet concludes. “It’s important in all fields, but in ours it’s very important. We do what we do because we love people and want to make a difference.”

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See the full list of 2022 Best Places to Work in Indiana:

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