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EXECUTIVE Q&A/ANNA STERN, TRI-NORTH BUILDERS INC. VICE PRESIDENT Builder stresses the importance of workplace culture
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EXECUTIVE Q&A/ANNA STERN, TRI-NORTH BUILDERS INC. VICE PRESIDENT Builder stresses the importance of workplace culture

From the Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces in 2020 series
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Tri-North Builders Inc. was founded in Madison in 1981 as a general contracting firm and has continuously expanded services to offer pre-construction, general construction, construction management, design-build, independent cost estimating and green-building consulting services.

How do you view the importance of corporate culture?In today’s job market, corporate culture is what differentiates your company from others, so I view it as extremely important. People have options available to them and they’re going to choose to go the workplace where they feel they are valued for the work that they do, and that’s more than just monetarily. But outside of hiring and retention, I feel it is important for any organization to embody their values. If you say you care about people, then that needs to start within your own business, with caring for your people. Corporate culture is how we demonstrate every day our commitment to our people and to our community.

What keeps you coming to work every day?No two days are ever the same, so that sure helps. It may be stressful sometimes or just plain weird, but that’s also what makes it fun. The stories we can tell (and look back on and laugh), and the building we can point to and say that we built. The clients, and the people. It all makes it worth it every day.

What’s your approach to keeping employees invested in their work?There are a few things. One, we have an employee stock ownership program, which means our employees are our owners. We constantly work to remind folks of that fact and strive for transparency as a result. The more people know about what is going on and why decisions are made, the more they think like employee-owners, which all results in them remaining invested in the success of the organization. We also constantly work on the concept of shared fate. Each department, each individual, each project team, they all depend on others within the company. When we understand how our roles impact the roles of others, it becomes harder to not do your best. Because you don’t want to actively do something that makes someone else’s life harder. It’s that human connection.

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