Braselton, GA—Despite the challenges of the current COVID-era pandemic, DCO Commercial Floors President Curtis Blanton was determined to host an in-person kick-off meeting to bring all their employees together, a chance to mark the achievements of the past, reflect on their current challenges and discuss how they could use those experiences to improve and shape the future.
“We do a lot of meetings either all or mostly virtual,” Blanton said. “This was an event where our entire team needed to be fully engaged as we reinforced our core purpose, our core values and top goals. This is where it all starts, everything else is lost without it. My vision for the company, our core purpose, and our culture are only discussed in person in this company. Those conversations simply don’t happen on a web call. Important conversations happen in person.
“Many companies,” he added, “don’t realize that they risk losing their culture during this time of a virtual mindset. Going virtual just becomes the easy answer.”
The solution for a meeting with over 100 employees actually turned out to be quite simple: if restrictions and safety only allowed meetings of 25 people in person at a time, then they were determined to do the same meeting five times over. “There is always a way, and sometimes it is the simplest answer you do not think about. That’s part of how we continue to push ourselves and our limits,” Blanton said.
So DCO Commercial’s solution was to literally go big for this year’s event. The event was held at the Chateau Elan Conference Center where the company rented out the 5,000 square foot ballroom, normally capable of holding 400 people –pre-COVID– and used the space to social distance groups of 20-30 people at a time. The meetings were held over a two-week period and stayed lively and entertaining, filled with guest speakers, town hall sessions, workshops, post-event training sessions, and just as important, some much-needed social time. The lineup of guest speakers included Mark Bischoff, President, CEO of Starnet, and Mick Holly, Flooring by The Numbers. The Keynote Speaker —Wally Adamchik, Fire Starter Speaking – Consulting —delivered a powerful message to the Installation and Field Operations teams on Leadership vs. Management.
Preconstruction Director Summer Brittain pointed out that “our employees also need time to connect and socialize with each other outside of work. That is an important and many times overlooked part of team building that maintains trust and relationships. We are a social group and that is part of our culture, part of what makes us unique. We haven’t come together like this in almost a year.”
The idea of the revamped kick-off meeting was inspired by DCO Vice President Jesse Tranel, who felt the company needed to align their people as they turned the corner into 2021. Tranel said “it’s easy to get into a rut when you feel like you’re on an island, especially with the field and office. Everyone needs to understand each other’s perspective and it was time to get the team in the same room.”
Still, the safety of the team comes first for DCO so they had to plan accordingly, careful not to overlook important safety measures.
Additional engineering controls and safety measures were put in place, including social distancing protocols, using well-ventilated and open ballrooms, and maintaining the direction of traffic flow. The company focused on risk assessments and mitigation, as well as personal responsibility and decision-making to navigate through the pandemic.
The larger space allowed for multiple means of entry and exit and gave attendees the room to spread out during breaks avoiding congestion. Seating one to two people per 8-foot banquet table with large aisles between each row and limited group size was also key.
Attendance was not mandatory, as employees were given the option to attend in person or to attend virtually, but the vast majority, in percentages similar to pre-COVID events, chose to attend in person. All the meeting sessions were live-streamed for those not in attendance.
In previous years, the normally one-day event was designed to present the Leadership’s strategic message to the organization. By hosting smaller groups of peers, leadership was able to target their message more specifically to each day’s audience.
DCO Director of Business Development Luke Canup was very pleased with the results. “The smaller setting allowed for more personal interaction and feedback which helped the entire team feel invested in moving forward for the new year.”
Canup said the presentations were more interactive by the group and provided a hidden collaborative benefit for the entire organization. “The format of these meetings really created the buy-in we were wanting. Everyone had an opportunity to voice their opinions and the feedback we got was terrific, and the dialogue was great. Our content and message were unscripted and natural which took out the formality and made everyone comfortable.”
Blanton admitted it was certainly much different from previous meetings. “We had to work five times harder to achieve our goal and remember our commitment to do ‘whatever it takes’ to achieve that goal,” he said, “but the result was that the meeting format produced a better outcome that DCO will learn and grow from in the future.”
In the end, the kick-off for each session was phenomenal and gave each department a better understanding of the direction and goals of the company. The DCO leadership team was able to convey the exciting things th at were in store for the coming year.
According to Blanton, “the camaraderie was exhilarating. It may be a new work structure, but it brought us back together again and reinforced this year’s theme of serving the customer as ONE organization.” As we continue to grow, working with everyone like this in smaller groups, it allows us to keep the small feel of a family company.”
THE 2020 SALES PUSH
Going to Market as ONE, became the serendipitous result of the 2020 end-of-year sales push.
To make up for sluggish second-half sales, DCO Commercial promoted a sales contest that was anything but traditional. The firm created an incentive that engaged all employees to achieve sales and revenue targets. Taking 120 employees with all parts working together, from sales to installation, we were able to turn the dial as one. The final push to collaborate as one team helped DCO to finish the year with positive momentum and an understanding of what they could do collectively as ONE.
While company revenues in 2020 slightly exceeded industry performance, 2021 revenues are expected to grow by 45%. The company doubled its backlog in 2020 and revenue projections for 2021, including all divisions, are more than $100M.
The fourth-quarter push was so successful that DCO Commercial finished off the multi-meeting event with a red-carpet-style celebration. The firm’s highest team contributors, their spouses, and leaders of the company were invited to be in attendance. The rest of the team enjoyed the show from the comfort of their living rooms as the evening awards ceremony was streamed to YouTube. The awards ceremony was co-hosted by Curtis Blanton and Luke Canup. Guests were greeted and interviewed by Summer Brittain as they entered the red carpet. Pre-show commentators were Jesse Tranel and special guest Andre Gien. Team members recognized on stage during the awards ceremony were Joe Pryor, Amon Deuley, and Channing Carruth.
“The awards show was meant to be fun and reinforce our message,” Blanton added. “The tech ramp-up in the last year helped us develop new capabilities and we discovered people could watch it on TV like a major event you would see on a network. I never thought we would be airing during prime-time television hours and our employees really enjoyed watching it with their families.”
Blanton realized the challenge he had given his team paid off in ways he hadn’t originally considered.
“The truth is it took a global pandemic for us to realize our true capabilities. We should have been doing this years ago.”