We know our employees play a huge role in making Firmatek a great place to work. That’s why at least once a year, we invest the time, energy, and money to bring the whole team together under one roof at our San Antonio headquarters. The week is filled with meetings, team building activities, competitions, and social events. It’s something we look forward to every year.

We believe that it is important to bring our dispersed organization together. We have individuals working all over the country. Many of them work in the field or home offices on a daily basis and only interact with other members of the team via phone, slack, or video conference. Technology has made it much easier for us to stay connected as a dispersed organization. However, there’s no substitute for some in-person face time with your team. Our employees really do put their team first, one of our core values. But it is certainly easier to do that for someone who you’ve had a beer with, maybe even thrown some axes with. (This year we tried something new and went to an axe throwing place for team bonding, and it was a hit.) Bringing the team together to connect is the most important reason we do this once or twice a year. And it’s not just about our field team or even our larger operations team. The importance of these meetings is about bringing everyone together from Sales to Admin to Engineering to Ops.

“We are spread out all over the country. So getting everyone together for a week and learning about Firmatek’s purpose and our WHY is very important. It helps the morale and team comradery. It also shows how each individual has an essential role in our operation,” said Dallas VanZanten, Operations Manager.

Chris Mauldin, Operations Manager, presents his team’s innovation competition idea.

So how do we bring these meetings to life? How do we make it worth the money? The time? How do we get a diverse group engaged? How do we get them to believe it’s worth it? I wonder that every year. Often, at the end, I wonder if it was. There are inevitably things that people didn’t like, things they think we should do instead, activities that fell flat. It would certainly be easier to not do them or allow the teams to be siloed by where one sits in the organization. But that’s not the culture we want to cultivate at Firmatek.

Rob Wyssbrod, Firmatek COO, presenting his Firmatek brand board with team.

One of the challenges that we have found as we have grown beyond a predominantly field organization is how to engage the entire team – not just our field or operations team. When we started these meetings 5 years ago, we had 10 people and we were walking through and discussing our first ever Standard Operating Procedures. We, and the meetings, have come a long way. This year, we focused on communicating Firmatek’s purpose and brand with about 35 employees. It is something that is extremely important to our organization and also something that each person, regardless of their functional area, needs to understand and be connected to.

“Employees rarely get the chance to interact with their coworkers outside of the office, let alone the President or CEO of the company. Firmatek’s all company meeting provided the most in-depth understanding of the company’s purpose and our why. Being a new employee, this week-long company meeting provided me with supreme confidence because I’ve gained more insight into why we do what we do and was able to look around the room and see who I’m doing it with. I’ll go to battle with these guys any day,” said Henze Gustave, Drone Specialist.

Lauren Elmore, Firmatek president, trying her hand at axe throwing.

We engage through teams made up of members from different parts of the organization. We focused on personal purpose, as well as our company’s purpose and vision. We celebrated company values. We talked about our brand and some brands we admire. We celebrated standout performances and individuals. We showcased unique projects and new capabilities.

We also had dinners, happy hours, and social activities- like the axe throwing. These fun activities give us a chance to get to know each other outside of the work we do. The teams that formed throughout the week provided an opportunity to learn from people in different roles in the organization, and they gave us a chance to get to know those people, the way they think, and their strengths so that we feel more comfortable calling on one another throughout the year ahead. In addition, it gets us out of our silos and reminds us that each piece of the organization plays an important part in our ability to serve our clients.

So, was it worth it? I believe it was and will continue to be worth the investment. Hopefully, we will continue to make them better and more worthwhile every year.