Team Building 101

What’s good for employees is good for customers, too
Team Building 101
John Raring, right, environmental division lead with Greenfield Services, and Mark Jones, left, a driver with Greenfield Services, excavate with a Vac-Con hydroexcavator truck at the Port of Tacoma in Washington.

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Before Jacob Sabin started his own company, Greenfield Services in Puyallup, Washington, he’d never heard the term “corporate culture.” But he picked up on the concept pretty quickly and it’s made a big difference for his young company, established in 2013.

By promoting a team atmosphere and going the extra yard for employees, Sabin has developed a loyal base of employees, which leads to minimal turnover, increased productivity and a high level of customer service. He preaches teamwork all the time; it even receives prominent mention on the home page of the company’s website and the domain name of the company’s email address is “goteamgreenfield.”

It all started by asking another business owner a simple question. “I noticed that a local trucking company always keeps its good drivers for a long time, so I asked the owner what he does to achieve such low turnover,” Sabin explains. “He told me you always have to put your employees high on the priority list. It can’t be all take — you’ve got to give some, too.

“You have to build a culture where everyone feels like they’re on a team, working together,” he adds. “It’s not ‘him’ and ‘me,’ it’s ‘us’. I know it sounds kind of cliche, but it’s true…we try really hard to work as a team and take care of each other.”

What does that mean in real life? As an example, Sabin points out that he’s pulled shifts for up to 36 hours so an employee could attend an important family event. He also cites an instance where supervisor Nick Watkins filled in on a job when another employee had a last-minute family emergency. “We had to leave the yard at 3:00 the next morning, and Nick showed up at 2:30 to work as a laborer on the vac truck, even though that’s not what he normally does,” Sabin says. “He made it happen.”

Sabin says he does other things to engender employee loyalty, such as pay competitive wages and give raises as often as possible. “There’s a lot of things we can’t do for people because we’re a small company, but there also are lots of things we can do.” Like pay for an employee’s honeymoon. Or buy parts for an employee with a broken car and have the company mechanic perform the repair. Or let employees borrow company vehicles and other equipment when needed.

“I’m blessed with a really cool opportunity to create an environment that’s positive and uplifting for employees,” he says. “I spend more time at work than I spend with my wife and kids, so I want to make it enjoyable and hire people upon whom I can depend.

“I figure that if I do everything I can to take care of my employees, they’ll do everything they can do to take care of our customers,” he concludes. “After that, hopefully the money follows.”

Read the profile on Greenfield Services.


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