When you think about great corporate cultures, your mind likely jumps to, you know, all the brands that corporate culture consultants, speakers and thought leaders tend to focus on: Zappos. Starbucks. The Container Store. Southwest Airlines. Generally companies with great B2C (retail) customer service or at least, like Pixar, high consumer visibility.
But company culture is just as important to companies in B2B, which are more likely to fly under the public radar. Here’s a nifty example of a company in the B2B arena with a carefully and intentionally constructed corporate culture. The company is BlueGrace Logistics, a company that you’ve never heard of and may never again. What they are is a logistics company that helps North American businesses move their freight in what they claim is “the simplest and smartest way possible.” They’ve been on the Inc 5000 in both 2012 and 2014 (a list of the fastest-growing companies in America), and also–and they seem just as proud of this–on the list of Best Places To Work from 2011 through the current year.
Here’s my interview with BlueGrace CEO Bobby Harris.
Micah Solomon Often it seems that discussions of corporate culture focus on B2C companies like Zappos and Starbucks. But you’re a meat and potatoes B2B logistics organization. I am fascinated by what you have done to create a culture. Can you share several of those things with me?
Bobby Harris, CEO, BlueGrace Logistics It certainly isn’t as common to see culture so prominent in a B2B company but I still haven’t figured out why it isn’t. Having a great culture addresses so many of the core things you need to succeed at running a hyper-growth company. The culture is meant for everyone including the customers but most important are the employees and the internal energy. When we put our employees first and they in turn take care of the customers, it always works.
Here are a few things we really stress:
Hiring: The best trick for enhancing culture starts with the hiring process, we’ve become very good at finding the culture fits.
Peer-to-peer recognition (money!) and mentoring: Our workspace is very open and almost always executives are on the floor (I’m writing this from an open cubicle myself). We stress peer-to-peer recognition and allow employees to give each other $50 bonuses when they see fit, paid by the company. Everyone gets a mentor for the first 6 months and then they go into an executive forum that focuses on anything the employee’s desires including personal growth outside of work. We discuss core values and our forward vision weekly and the team knows where we are headed.