It’s not even 9 a.m, and employees at Specialty Incentives in Denver are already chatting at their morning powwow, a hallway meeting COO Danlyn Iantorno instituted about six months ago as part of a plan to better communicate with employees.
On today’s agenda at the five-minute meeting are a few business issues (a new employee in accounting is introduced and a billing snafu is rectified) and a few that that are less business-focused but equally important. “Tomorrow is the USA World Cup game, so everyone get their red white and blue on,” Iantorno says. “Don’t worry, we’ll figure out how to get a TV in here somehow.” It is also announced that one employee will be leaving early that day to attend the KISS/Def Leppard concert, which brought some snickers from the crowd.
Iantorno and the company’s two partners, along with president Drew Davis, have been looking for ways to keep the communication lines open with employees—and make them part of the decision-making process—as the company continues to grow, mainly through smart acquisitions. Two years ago, the company purchased LW Barrett, which added a number of salespeople, including some who are in their 80s, along to the company. Another recent acquisition brought in several other new salespeople.
“We have a very diverse group here,” said Iantorno, noting that Specialty’s employees range in age from 25 to 89. “We’re trying to grow smartly, and we want employees involved in helping the process go smoothly.”
It’s a process that the company’s employees fully support. One seasoned saleswoman who joined the company a few years ago immediately came in and took over the catalog room. “It was a mess, and I asked if I could organize it to my liking. They gave me free reign,” she said.
Another staffer suggested that the company expand its small, drab lunch room and to make it more attractive. “We realized they didn’t want to spend any time in there, and instead were eating their lunches in their car, watching the traffic go by,” said Chris Beyer, a partner at Specialty. “That was no good.” So the company blew out a wall of the area, added bigger windows, spiffed it up and called it “The Bistro.
“Now it’s a place people want to actually eat in,” Beyer says.