01 Nov Finishing strong: Owners’ Day 2022 caps off Ownership Month
On Friday, WithersRavenel’s 370+ employees converged on the Chatham County Agriculture & Conference Center for Owners’ Day 2022.
Owners’ Day is an annual event hosted by WithersRavenel for its employees to celebrate and strengthen the firm’s culture of employee ownership. The event combines informative presentations, friendly team-based competitions, and plenty of opportunities for staff from different departments, offices, and roles to connect in person.
Employees traveled from our nine North Carolina offices and from remote locations across the U.S. Southeast, Midwest, and Northwest. While co-founder Tony Withers was regrettably unable attend, co-founder Sam Ravenel was active throughout the event, connecting with staff and participating in team-building activities. Frank Gozzo and Cal Hackeman, two of the firm’s three independent Board members, were also in attendance.
As has become the custom, President Jim Canfield kicked off the event with a warm welcome and introduced the theme of Building Our Strengths. Jim shared some of his own lessons about identifying, understanding, and engaging the strengths of our unique teams, as well as the wisdom of leaders from all walks of life.
Frank Gozzo spoke briefly on behalf of the Board of Directors. He explained the role of the board in company governance and the rights and responsibilities of employee-owners as shareholders.
The special guest speaker this year was Chuck Smith, PLA, the Vice President of Planning & Development at Preston Development Company. Preston is the lead developer for Chatham Park, a 7,000+ acre development underway in Chatham County, the home of our event venue, and the largest project WithersRavenel has been involved with to date.
Chuck described how the project will increase the population of Pittsboro by 55,000 to 60,000 new residents through the creation of neighborhoods, retail plazas, medical service centers, schools, churches, parks, trails, and more. He also shared how the construction at Chatham Park has already begun to reflect the project’s five pillars of Innovation, Connectivity, Quality Design, Healthy Balance, and Stewardship.
Following Chuck’s keynote address, the WithersRavenel Executive team gave a series of presentations on company initiatives and accomplishments. Highlights included a review of successful client and employee experience programs, a preview of the firm’s 2023 strategic goals, and the role of funding and asset management in bringing together and amplifying the successes of our various practice areas.
After the seriousness of these presentations, it was time for a little levity. If there’s one thing WithersRavenel employees love (besides free food), it’s trivia. The ESOP Communication Committee, which was responsible for organizing the day’s activities, brought back the highly successful Family Feud-style trivia game that first debuted during Owners’ Day 2020.
Employees divided into teams named for our six Core Values and went head-to-head on prompts like “Name a reason someone might move to North Carolina” and “List something a golfer keeps in their bag besides clubs.” While there were no questions about college sports teams—those are far too controversial—there was near-universal agreement that #1 thing in the office that makes too much noise is none other than John Ihnatolya.
Members of the Executive team had the honor of announcing the recipients of the 2022 Cornerstone Awards. The Cornerstone Awards are an extension of the firm’s Core Value Awards (CVAs), which recognize employee excellence through the demonstration of the WithersRavenel’s Core Values throughout the year. CVAs are given out based on monthly peer nominations; CVA winners are form the pool of nominees for the Cornerstone Awards.
After a group photo, employees enjoyed a delicious catered lunch accompanied by our house band, the WR Revenuers. The WR Revenuers include Chris B. Johnson on rhythm guitar/lead vocals/lead guitar/backing vocals, Matt Grzebien on lead guitar/lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Matt Crawford on bass guitar, and Austin Pote on drums.
In the afternoon, the Core Value teams tackled a challenge that put their collaboration skills to the test: a miniature golf course design and play challenge. Each team built a series of mini golf holes using donated food items and common office supplies, and then teams fielded a group of putters to play an 18-hole round. Like typical mini golf, the goal was to get the lowest combined score, but unlike a typical course, the components of this one were donated to CORA Food Pantry, the local nonprofit food assistance program in Chatham County.
The day closed with a review the ESOP valuation process and share price reveal, where the Executive team unveiled the value of our stock for the most recent plan year.
Owners’ Day 2022 was a welcome return to celebrating our company achievements all together in one place, and an example of one of the many rewards of being a 100% Employee-Owned company.