Building Culture While You Build Your Company

The best thing about focusing on culture is that you get to decide what type of remodeling company you develop and/or work for.

May 31, 2007

Craig S. Durosko

Craig S. Durosko

Nineteen years ago, when Sun Design Remodeling was started, I would not have been able to answer any questions about our company culture. As we have grown to more than 50 employees and have seen double-digit growth year after year, a strong, positive culture is what we have strived to achieve and has made us who and what we are today.

Why focus on culture? For us, focusing on culture has enabled us to attract great employees, clients and vendors who share our values and embrace our vision. We found that the best thing about focusing on culture is that you get to decide what type of company you develop and/or work for. A positive culture can lead to a company that is purpose-driven, fun, efficient, energetic and clean — a place where quality work is achieved and where honesty is highly regarded.

A negative culture can lead to high turnover rates of employees, high error rates, unorganized processes, decreased profitability and a lack of customer focus. For us, a positive culture was the only option.

Culture is the foundation of any company. Ask yourself, what is your culture now? What are your company's predominant attitudes and behaviors? Is there a difference in what they are now and what you would like them to be? Some companies don't have far to go to get to a positive culture; others may have a long way.

At Sun Design, we have been working on obtaining and retaining a positive culture for years. When we had approximately 25 employees, we created a shared vision for the organization. We developed guiding principles that consisted of the actions that we had to take to achieve our shared vision.

Both the shared vision and the guiding principles were brainstormed as a team exercise determining what type of company we wanted to work for. The teamwork exercise created the initial buy-in. Recently, we created our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) for our employees to see where we were planning to be 15-18 years in the future. The BHAG created both excitement and commitment from the entire team, as the future looks strong and everyone felt part of a company that saw them as part of the growth.

We determined very early it was crucial to build and maintain trust in our organization so that we could have any conversation — even a difficult one. We created four targets to empower our employees to make decisions by: our core values, what we are passionate about, what we are best in the world at, and our financial target. We have also created a board of advisors from the department heads and recognized individuals in our organization. They are responsible for creating our strategic plan and holding each other (including the owners) accountable to achieve it.

You can't change a company culture overnight. For us, it has taken several years. I suggest you visualize the culture you want, create a plan, communicate it to everyone and live it. Keep in mind that if people in your organization are misaligned with your new culture, they will probably leave. Be prepared, have a plan ready to replace them and stay on track. The final outcome — a positive culture — will be worth it.


Craig S. Durosko

Birth Date: April 25, 1970
Company: Sun Design Remodeling Specialists
Location: Burke, Va.
Industry Involvement: NARI Metro DC Board Member and Education Chair
Favorite Business Book: "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don't" by Jim Collins
Best Advice I've Received: "You can't change anyone except yourself."
If I Weren't a Remodeler... I'd be unemployed
Hobby: Mountain Biking
Favorite Drink: Fat Tire Amber Ale
Favorite Vacation Destination: Mexico
Best Memory from Childhood: White-water rafting the Snake River in Wyoming
What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up: A weatherman

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