Passing the Kool-Aid.

The year was 1999. The country was still holding its collective breath for the impending doom that Y2K was sure to bring. A young Rex Ryan served as defensive coordinator for Kansas State. And a little movie called Fight Club taught us all that a club could be focused solely on fighting, as long as members didn’t speak of it. And I started my internship at Crowley Webb and Associates.

One of the first things I learned about Crowley Webb that they don’t teach you in college textbooks is that culture is immensely important. Culture? Huh? Having only worked previously as a dishwasher (who smoked cigarettes out the back door) at Early Times restaurant in South Buffalo and then as a stock boy (who smoked cigarettes out the back door) at Vix Deep Discount, I naturally had no idea what this concept of “culture” in the workplace was all about.

Luckily, it didn’t take long to learn.

I was fortunate enough to be at this agency when one-half of its founders, Joe Crowley, was still gracing our halls. In addition to conversations we had about Bishop Timon High School and Canisius College and South Buffalo, I learned a lot from him about this culture of Crowley Webb. I learned that folks here, comprising a tightknit group, genuinely liked one another. I learned that family was extremely important. I learned that hard work was something ingrained in this agency’s DNA, even though we were years from actually branding ourselves in this way.

Flash-forward 16 years. You bet a lot has changed here at Crowley Webb. We’ve shrunk and swelled to various sizes and now have an employee number that eclipses any we’ve had in our entire 29-year history. We’ve greatly expanded our digital repertoire. We have a patient recruitment division.

But in addition to my stunning good looks, one other thing has undoubtedly remained intact. The Crowley Webb culture of a hardworking, family-oriented company where people like each other. That’s pretty remarkable, if you think about it. Especially considering how much we’ve grown in recent years. It’s really a testament to all of our people who live it every single day, as well as our current ownership group who took Joe’s lead and continue to place such a high value on this idea of “culture.” How do we do it? What’s our secret? Read on!

Leading by example.
It sounds obvious and a little silly, but it’s true. Living the culture is everyone’s job from top to bottom. Early on, I saw folks on all levels here pitching in, doing whatever was needed to get a job done. It wasn’t something anyone did for any other reason other than it’s the right thing to do. We all have the same goal of serving our clients. They’re why our doors are open and why we have this praiseworthy culture in the first place. So each one of us pulling our weight is just what we do. Who wants to be the loser not buying into that? No one who works here.

Being selective about who we allow to walk these halls.
Sure, someone can be insanely qualified and the perfect candidate for a position on paper, but is he or she one of us? This is what we ask ourselves every time when hiring. That’s why we often ask someone back for two, three, four, even five interviews. We want to be sure a new person who comes into our tent isn’t going to upset the culture we’ve worked so hard to preserve. They have to live it, and we want to be 100 percent certain they can handle this weighty responsibility.

Spending time together.
Time spent working together isn’t always quality time together. So we make extra efforts to engage in activities like BOTS (Beer On The Stairs, for the uninitiated, monthly meetings where we share news and pleasantries over adult beverages), retreats, kickball games, family picnics, boat floats, Wine Nights (females only), Dude Weekends (dudes only), and the occasional happy hour, volunteer event, and Bisons game. We want to like one another, so being together is important.

I firmly believe that having a strong culture that everyone buys into makes for a stronger company. People want to feel like they’re an important part of something important. And when they feel this way, they’re happier in their careers. They actually want to come to work! And when they’re happier, they’re more productive.

This culture here at Crowley Webb is a big reason we’re now in our 29th year as an agency. And you bet it’s why I’m in my 17th here.