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Larry Barton: Strang designs a culture through listening and learning

From the Shining stars: Meet the Madison area's Top Workplaces series
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As a 54-person firm drawing together the elements of architecture, engineering, interior design and planning, Strang Inc. aims to design innovative solutions that reflect its clients’ cultures and strategic missions.

Larry Barton, chief executive officer of the Madison-based firm, talks about creating a strong culture at Strang:

Larry Barton


What are the key drivers of employee engagement at Strang?

Listening, transparency and inclusion.

Employee engagement starts by listening, understanding aspirations, challenges, and — especially during a pandemic — fears. This is done in both casual and structured ways such as with confidential surveys, reviews and mentoring. Equipped with this understanding, open communication and transparency builds the trust which forms the foundation of a relationship between employees and leadership. Lastly, including employees in strategic planning and corporate direction creates alignment. Think of this as an employee-inspired corporate vision aligning career aspirations with the organization’s mission.

In a creative field, how do you stimulate new ideas and keep that creative spark alive?

At Strang, it is not just that creative spark, but a flame that burns inside each of us. Creativity is part of our corporate DNA. We are all designers, innovators and problem solvers, whether engineer, architect, interior designer or other specialist. Our diversity of expertise brought together under one roof feeds our curiosity and creative nature. We learn from each other and challenge one another to provide our clients with the best possible solutions, setting aside time for ideation, research and development, and experimentation.

What keeps you coming to work every day?

To be honest, I love working. As an architect, I get to collaborate daily with talented co-workers and amazing clients. It is humbling to see the positive ways in which our projects are impacting society. During the pandemic, I have split time between working from home and going into the office. Maintaining a routine has been important. I wake up early, exercise, shower, dress for work — even if working from home — and begin my day. The flexibility and variety of work environment has been a pleasant surprise for me.


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