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What Makes a Great Culture

Field has been in the news a lot lately.  Field is a distributor of fasteners and other ‘C’ commodities to the OEM market.  They are the best in the industry at providing ongoing cost reduction through both technical support services and inventory management systems. 

Field Culture

While their services are certainly something to boast about, it’s another aspect of their business that is getting all the recognition as of late. Over the last few years Field has been recognized as a Great Place to Work because of its culture. Field ranked #8 overall on Fortune’s list of Best Small Companies to work for in 2015 and this year marks the second year in a row that Field has received the honor of being named on Fortune’s list as one of the Best Workplaces in Manufacturing and Production.  After all these years, how has Field created such a unique Culture and how do they maintain it?

The biggest factor in any company culture is the people, and to get great people you need to hire people who possess the qualities you want in your culture.  If you ask any company who has been recognized as a Great Place to Work they will all say the same thing; the foundation of the culture is their people, and the foundation of the company’s success relies on their culture. So hiring for fit becomes more important than hiring for skill. While skill is important in the hiring process, the team at Field firmly believes that you can teach individuals about fasteners, marketing, or anything that has to do with their position, but you can’t teach someone the Field Core Values, and that is where it all starts.

Field has significantly changed their approach to recruiting over the past 4 years, which has led to an overall improvement in the culture, team strength, and business results. The focus since 2012 has been an ever-increasing emphasis on finding candidates for employment who fit Field’s Core Values and demonstrate the importance of building relationships that are inherent to its Mission Statement. By placing a higher priority on these key components of the culture, Field is able to add higher caliber team members as the company grows.

Tim Firm Director of HR states, “We are very deliberate when it comes to Field being viewed as a ‘preferred employer’ and a great place to work.  Our efforts really begin with our commitment to recruiting and hiring for cultural fit.  Yes, skills and experience are still very much a consideration but adding talent that already possesses our Core Values of Integrity, Commitment, Teamwork, Innovation, Flexibility, and Fun as part of their personal and professional ‘DNA’ enables Field to be a very special place to work and to choose as one’s career home.  The relationship-based theme of our Mission Statement, ‘To have everyone who interacts with us, love us’ motivates us to seek those who embrace the importance of customer service and who have demonstrated their willingness to serve and care about others as evidenced in their work history and their involvement in community and family based activities.  As a result, our customers benefit, our suppliers benefit, our community benefits, and our team members not only benefit, but are committed to ensuring that what we have at Field is very real and worth making a priority.”

Field culture

Every Field Team Member lives the Mission Statement and owns the Culture and has a responsibility to protect it, enhance it, and promote it.  Often times before a prospect will become a customer, they will participate in a company tour to meet the team and experience the Field Culture. The tour involves Team Members from every functional area at Field meeting with the prospect, asking questions about their objectives and figuring out, with the prospect, how Field can meet their needs. About 75% of prospects who come to visit Field end up becoming a customer, and the majority of those customers say it was the uniqueness of the Field Culture that helped them make the final decision.

“Our team is focused on the enhancement of our culture as we grow to $100 million and beyond,” states Field Chairman, Bill Derry. “We are passionate about the importance of the Field Culture and we are committed to protecting and refining it. Our team is the reason we have earned the Great Place to Work recognition and the reason why our business continues to grow over 6 times the industry average each year. By adding new Team Members who share our Core Values will only help us to continue to improve our already great Culture.”

Hiring the right person is indeed the foundation to the Field Culture success, but that is only one element of a much larger picture that helps enhance the great Field Culture. The Leadership Team at Field has created an environment where Team Members feel empowered and comfortable questioning the status quo and challenging processes. Encouraging the team to provide feedback and not worry about titles, results in Field continuing to find new ways of doing things, and as an example, has resulted in Team Members at Field finding over $1.8 Million in Lean Savings over the last few years.

The Leadership at Field is committed to transparency and there is no better example of this commitment than the Leadership sharing the quarterly financial performance with the entire Field Team. The Quarterly P & L Review is conducted by Field President, Jim Derry, and presents a breakdown of sales, expenditures, and profits so every Team Member remains fully engaged in the success of the company. In true Field fashion, questions and feedback are strongly encouraged during the review.

Field culture

Another aspect that helps makes the Field Culture strong, is cross functional training. The Field Development Program is a training program that is aimed at preparing newer Team Members for their position in a technical role (sales, engineering, quality) or a business role (sourcing, account management, human resources).  The program runs anywhere from 6-24 months depending on the experience of the individual. Each new Team Member completes rotations in each functional area at Field.  For those not entering a Field Development Program, Field still cross trains all Team Members in every aspect of the business to give them a well-rounded, fully developed knowledge of each functional area. As such, team members are given latitude to impact the direction of the business by being able to handle anything. Having a team that is cross-trained makes them feel empowered to make well-informed decisions without requiring a series of approvals.

“Field’s culture is based on achieving our Mission of having everyone that interacts with us Love us!   The culture has evolved over the years as we’ve added new team members and expanded our capabilities,” says Field President, Jim Derry.  “We strive to create an environment that allows our Team Members to flourish by empowering the team to make decisions.  We share a series of deeply held Core Values that guide our behaviors and actions.”

The Field Team is deeply committed to following their 6 Core Values, and to put those Core Values into practice Field has created 30 ‘Fieldamentals’ that describe the daily behaviors that bring their values to life and make their mission real. The Fieldamentals have helped create a ‘shared language’ for the entire Field Team. The team can look at any situation and identify a Fieldamental that can guide their behavior.  All Team Members across the globe are taught the Fieldamentals and it helps Field create a consistent culture throughout the organization.

A formal peer to peer recognition program called Field Rocks focuses on the Field Core Values and underscores the significance of the Field Culture. Team Members formally recognize their peers for going above and beyond. Field Rocks is another global initiative to help enhance the Field Culture.

To further live to the Field Mission Statement, Field also provides up to a week of paid time off for those who volunteer at a recognized 501(c)(3)organization. This paid time off is in addition to a Team Member’s paid vacation. For the past 9 years, Field has had 100% employee participation in giving financial support to the United Way, even as the team has nearly doubled in size during that time.  Field also has numerous team members each year, who read to children through the United Way’s Page Turner Program. For the Field team it’s not about simply sending a check though, it’s about getting out there in the community and volunteering to help make a difference. Perhaps the best example of Field’s commitment to the community is their support of the Rockford Area Habitat for Humanity.  During the summer of 2015 Field provided the financial support for a home build and nearly the entire Field Team took part in the construction of the home.

Field culture

One last example of Field’s ongoing commitment to creating a Culture that is a great place to work is the promotion of balance between work life and family life. While ‘Flexibility’ is a Field Core Value, it is most certainly not a one-sided Core Value. While many companies believe in flexibility on the part of their employees, at Field flexibility is a two-way street. When Team Members find themselves choosing between a work day and a special event in their family life, Field does not want anyone to miss those special occasions and so Team Members go knowing there are those times when business needs arise and they may have to work late or come in early to get the job done. Field also offers an onsite fitness center which can be utilized by Team Members and their families so as not to create additional time away from home. Many Team Members choose to work out in the early morning or lunch time and take advantage of the onsite locker rooms with showers to maximize their time at work and not detract from potential time with family.

These are just a few of the many highlights that make up the Field Culture. As Field continues to grow, the goal is to maintain and encourage an entrepreneurial feel: to allow people closest to the action to make decisions to continue to want to empower people and make sure they have the right tools; and continue to recognize the action of Team Members as contributors to the success of the business. Even while growing, it is critical to keep doing the things that make Field unique: from celebrating the addition of a new team member with a welcome lunch, to having a reception to congratulate team members on the birth of a child: and being able to engage in a variety of team and family activities. It is important to remain transparent, to ensure that leadership is always accessible, and to make sure  the Field team continues to feel they are valued. The benefit of a great culture is the great team that serves as the life blood of that great culture. Field is a much stronger business and a great place to work as a result.

Author: Christy Behnke

Marketing Team Lead | Field

***This article originally appeared in Threaded Media online magazine in the March/April 2016 issue.  Threaded Media is no longer in existence.