Written By: Amy Hrdlicka
What does being a GISinc employee owner mean to you? After pondering this, both as ESOP Communications Committee Chair and as a 10-year veteran of the company, I came up with the word “longevity.”
Longevity is defined by Merriam Webster as “a long duration of life” or “long continuance” as in service. This sums up my feeling towards being an employee owner perfectly. We at GISinc tout our core values as the guiding principles behind every transaction we make:
- Working Passionately and Inspiring Others
- Candor and Openness
- Respecting Others in our Pursuit for Excellence
- Being Intellectually Relentless
- Self-Initiative and Honoring Commitments
At my very first All-Hands Company meeting in Birmingham, the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) was revealed – Be the premier GIS firm to work for and with. What does this mean?
“We will change the way people see the world, not only in the work that we do, but in how we do it. We believe that when the right people with shared values and philosophies work together for the right reasons, something very special happens. All employee owners, clients, and partners will be personally invested and engaged in our shared work. This passion will ignite profound change as people experience the power of location technology to create clarity and connectedness, and will establish GISinc as the standard by which others are measured.”
I knew from the moment this was unveiled, that I was committed to making it happen. This is not accomplished overnight; premier firms take years to build. As long as the powers that be were willing to keep me working, I was willing to strive for that goal. I see it happening with many of our Federal, State & Local, and Enterprise clients today and know that I made the right commitment.
Our company founder, Dale Dunham, said one of the original reasons he had for “going ESOP” was employee retention, people stay longer if they know they have a stake in the business, and that the business has a stake in an individual’s success. We have definitely improved our employee retention rates since then! When I started there were 30 people at GISinc, and today there are over 160. Good thinking Dale!
So retention is one aspect of longevity here at GISinc for me; the other is the idea of “life” and our core values of passion and inspiration. To me you can get by and stay somewhere a long time without having the “life” that makes a person say they truly love their job. My job is not always a dream come true, there are bad days with the good. Even on the bad days, though, I know that those core values can drive me at all times. I believe that if I work passionately, it inspires others to find that same passion, which is where the LIFE really comes out. Our passion captures new and returning clients, it leads to teams driving a project to success, it is the foundation for innovative ideas that help grow our business to the next level, and it gives us all the life we want. After all, we take that paycheck home to our families and our life outside of work.
Longevity is sticking it out over time, and being part of the life of the company…..that is what being a GISinc employee owner means to me.
A few answers from other employee owners:
Kourtney Reynolds, Geospatial Analyst, Bureau of Land Management Support
“Taking life by the horns and weathering the storm together.”
Parker Badders, Senior Geospatial Analyst, Range Managers Toolkit
“Being with the company pre-ESOP, I have been able to see the ESOP start from 0 and grow to the great benefit that it is today. The quarterly bonuses we used to receive, although were nice, has been exceeded with the value gained through the ESOP. I smile every time I open my ESOP statements. The company leadership definitely made the right decisions, as usual, when thinking of the future and wellbeing of the company’s employees. It’s good to know that doing a job well not only benefits me, but all other employees as well. Pride and loyalty to the Company is of paramount importance to me. This was tested several times during my first 10 years with the company. I was presented with several job opportunities during that time, but trusted in the plans and successes of the company, and was convinced that staying with GISinc was always the way to go. As RFMSS administrator for the past 10 ½ years, I was in my comfort zone, and highly successful in that position. However, there was a risk of staying in that position and not being a part of GISinc in the future. Was not looking forward to possibly having to leave the company at some point. Fortunately, I was offered a different position that would alleviate that risk. So here I am, still with the company, and looking forward to many more years with GISinc.”
Bridget Perry, Federal Geospatial Project Manager
“I have jokingly said to people that my relationship with GISinc is the longest one I have ever had. When I really stop to think about it, aside from family and a handful of college friends, it is true. I have been working with GISinc for nine years, almost a quarter of my life! A lot has happened over the course of those nine years at GISinc, for my career, and my personal life. GISinc has grown with me and I have grown with them. When I started, GISinc had about 35 employees and was a privately held company. Today we are 145 strong and have become 37% employee owned. When I started, I was a full time Senior Geospatial Analyst hoping I could live up to that title. Today I am a part time Geospatial Project Manager supporting a wide array of project and companywide activities.
For me, being a GISinc employee owner means mutual commitment and flexibility. GISinc has supported my life’s journey over the course of the last 9 years. My husband’s job has had us relocate several times; GISinc has been flexible so I could take my job with me and work out of a home office. After my first son was born, I came back to work in a part time capacity so I could focus more of my time on being a mom. When I needed more maternity leave with my second son, GISinc told me to take as much time as I needed. This showed their commitment to, not only me, but my family as well. GISinc has asked me to jump in on projects, proposals, recruiting and more so I jumped into these new tasks fortifying my commitment to them. GISinc has always been there for me and in return I am here for GISinc. I look forward to continuing my journey as an employee owner well into the future!”
Ry Ginsberg, Senior Geospatial Analyst, Range and Training Area Management - Marine Corps Installations West
“It means that I can make a positive contribution to my company. Since becoming an employee owner, I have felt my contributions to the company more valued by management and fellow employees. I have felt more dedicated, motivated, and proud of the work I do for my clients and other employees.”