Top small employers focus on communication, trust


Successful companies with happy employees are often good to great at fostering a culture of teamwork.

That’s the case with the three highest rated small companies in this year’s American-Statesman Top Workplaces survey. Those companies are: BP3 Global Inc., Capital Strategies, a member of the MassMutual Financial Group, and Reilly Realtors, which ranked first, second and third, respectively.

BP3 Global, a business software and consulting company; Reilly Realtors, a residential real estate brokerage; and Capital Strategies, an investment advisory firm, all promote teamwork as a part of their culture.

Capital Strategies: ‘A lot of trust’

For some employees, suddenly becoming a part of a team can seem a little strange. That was the case for Jens Busch, a veteran investment adviser who had worked nearly his entire career in a one-man office near the University of Texas Office. When the firm he worked for reorganized into Capital Strategies a few years ago, Busch suddenly became part of a bigger team, one where workers regularly talked about the family atmosphere.

“I walked around the office and there was something there,” Busch said. “People enjoyed working with each other and working in the client’s interest. It was a very close-knit group of folks who really had their eye on the ball.”

Busch soon made fst friends and discovered he could rely on his co-workers. He rated the support staff that handled the crucial paperwork required in the investment industry as “impeccable.”

“It is huge handing off things I used to control myself and be sure they are handled well. It is freeing.”

He learned that different employees in the office had different areas of expertise, such as one expert in estate tax planning, who he refers some of his clients to.

“Sometimes we hand off clients. We do a lot of teaming. There is a lot of trust there.”

Investment advisers have a range of state and federal regulations they must follow.

One of the key resources in making sure that happens is Arnie Tovar, the firm’s senior compliance consultant who has worked there for eight years.

Tovar takes part in the recruitment of new employees, in the extensive training of newcomers and in continuing training to keep employees up to date as regulates evolve.

“The most important goal is protecting the client. That is why regulators have these rules,” Tovar said.

His job is made easier, he said, because of the full support he gets from senior management.

For investment adviser Kalli Allen, who has worked four years for the company, the friendliness of coworkers and willingness to help is part of what attracted her to the job.

“This is a serious business, but I enjoy coming to work in the morning. Seeing people you like is a huge benefit,” Allen said. “It is a very collaborative atmosphere here. I work on a team and I am surrounded by team members, who are very knowledgeable.”

After three decades in the business, Busch said he still gets a thrill out of helping clients get their financial lives and plans in order.

He says he is part financial adviser and part psychologist, because so many clients have fears concerning the handling of money and investments.

“I get excited about the work. You look at a client’s situation and say is there any way we can help them get there” to financial security.

“We are here to help people transform their financial lives to get to the destiny they want to seek.”

Reilly Realtors: Forward thinking

At Reilly Realtors, agents Sarah Biggerstaff and Kevin Haines said they chose the company because its owner and its staff gave them the tools they needed to build their careers.

The credit their brokerage for having a top-notch website that enables them to interact with clients through their personalized web pages. Agents use the Slack online team collaboration tool as an information resource for linking to other agents and the company’s staff workers.

“Slack is our brain trust. It’s a great tool if you have questions,” Haines says. “Reilly is very forward-thinking. They are always looking at what they can do to make the business better.”

Biggerstaff credits co-owner Michael Reilly with investing substantially in the website and other technology to make his agents more effective and efficient.

“Michael is very open to feedback,” she said. “He wants us to be happy. If we have an idea or want something changed, he is open to ideas and suggestions.”

And the agency is good at recognizing successful agents and rewarding them. Biggerstaff notes that her commission percentage with Reilly is higher than with other real estate firms she worked with or surveyed.

She likes the collaborative atmosphere at the firm, where the owner, staff and other agents freely offer advice and information when asked.

“I feel like I have become a better agent here,” she said. Biggerstaff was honored at a company banquet in January as a Reilly Realtor Rising Star and one of its top producers.

BP3 Global: Communication and culture

At BP3 Global, which makes business process management software for a wide range of clients, collaboration and open communication is a basic part of the culture. And that collaboration extends to customers too.

Carmen Galicia was an experienced consultant with the company who recently joined the software development team.

“I like the fact that they care about what you would like to do and the career path you would like to follow,” she said. “They ask you about it.”

And other employees are quick to help.

“We use (social media website) Slack to communicate with others,” she said. “If I don’t know something, there is always someone who offers help.”

“People are always willing to help,” said software developer Mark Van Aken. “They given everyone a lot of autonomy, but they don’t leave you stranded.”

Part of teamwork at BP3 involves listening closely to customers and working with them to make products better and easier to use.

David Bailie, who heads the company’s software development team, said BP3 emphasizes its culture when recruiting new workers.

“We look for a cultural fit,” he said. “If you are not interested in customer success, you will not fit in well with the rest of the company. You have to be a smart person who loves to work with other people. We are a big team and we always help each other out. It’s not just you and your job.”


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