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.
This year, Owners’ Day was held in downtown Raleigh at the Raleigh Convention Center. Employees traveled from all six North Carolina offices, and a few remote employees even made the trek from out-of-state to be at the event. Sam Ravenel, a co-founder of the firm, and Frank Gozzo, one of the firm’s three independent Board members, were also in attendance.
The day kicked off with a welcome message from President Jim Canfield, who introduced the theme of Collaboration: Giving, Growing & Creating Together. Jim described his vision for collaboration at WithersRavenel and shared quotations from some of his favorite leaders about teamwork and success.
WithersRavenel was then treated to a surprise visit by a representative of the Carolinas Chapter of The ESOP Association. Russell Carter, a chapter member and a Benefits Consultant with ESOP firm Scott Insurance, presented WithersRavenel with the Carolinas Chapter’s ESOP Company of the Year award. The award honors a company that actively participates in the employee ownership community and that demonstrates a dedication to The ESOP Association’s vision of employee participation, wealth creation, and individual dignity and worth.
Following the presentation of the ESOP Company of the Year Award, the WithersRavenel Management Team delivered the first ESOP distribution check since the company became 100% Employee-Owned. Recipient Greg Strickland, WithersRavenel’s ninth employee, was on site to receive the ceremonial check.
The Management Team also gave a series of presentations on company initiatives and accomplishments. Highlights included a review of successful projects from the previous year, an overview of the firm’s 2020 strategic goals, and a preview of client and employee experience programs planned for the upcoming year.
Members of the Management Team had the honor of announcing the recipients of the 2019 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 celebrating company achievements and individual excellence, it was time for a little good-natured competition. Employees divided into teams named for the five Core Values and went head-to-head on a Family Feud-style trivia game, with answers taken from employee surveys. The game was played in two rounds and moderated by motivational speaker and Steve Harvey look-alike Rufus Stephens. Questions like “What food item are you most likely to find at a company potluck?” and “Which branch office would best survive the apocalypse?” had even the most staid employees cracking a smile.
In the afternoon, the teams tackled a challenge that put their collaboration skills to the test: a plastic brick building competition. Guided by workshop facilitator Evan Carroll, the teams built a series of self-supporting structures designed to hold a tennis ball, with the goal of having the tallest structure. Teams quickly exceeded expectations as the towers climbed to more than nine feet tall, though there were a few collapses along the way. Everyone was reminded of valuable lessons about setting expectations, seeking clarification, communicating clearly, and working effectively.
The day closed by recognizing employees who have given 5, 10, and 15 years of service to WithersRavenel, as well as awarding the trophy for the winner of the Owners’ Day activities, Team Integrity.
Owners’ Day 2020 was a resounding success and an example of one of the many rewards of being a 100% Employee-Owned company.