Editor's Letter: A Fighting Chance
One of the true honors of being the editor of this magazine is getting to tell some of the genuinely inspirational, deeply personal stories and experiences that shop owners are generous enough to share with us. Recently, I had one of those conversations, talking with a shop owner about a Recession-era expansion gone wrong, and the following five years that nearly ended the business, causing plenty of wreckage in the process. There were several moments during that conversation that moved me but something he said at the end, while reflecting on the lessons learned, really stuck with me:
“Back then our culture wasn’t strong enough to let the team in. I think today, they’d fight with me. Actually I don’t ‘think’—I know.”
He said that last line with real conviction, the kind that can only come from having a team that’s experienced adversity together, and triumphed.
In recent years, “company culture” has become a buzzword so ubiquitous that, at times, it’s borderline lost all meaning. And I get that. Working on your culture is hard, and sometimes it can feel very fruitless. When there’s so much to tend to in a given day, worrying about whether your employees are having fun at work doesn’t always feel very high on the to-do list. But that shop owner’s remark boils down exactly why culture is so important: when the going gets tough, will you have people fighting alongside you?
It’s with that thought in mind, that we set out once again to find the shops with some of the best workplaces and culture in the industry. Although this is our second year putting out the call, the nominations couldn’t have been more different this year. Story after story about how employees had helped each other out, how the boss had kept the lights on, how, despite the drop in business, the team managed to come together and give back to the community.
It certainly made choosing four businesses to profile for the Best Workplaces feature difficult, but also all the more valuable. There are plenty of reasons why the four chosen shops are successful, but a strong team is undoubtedly the foundation. Adversity can reveal true colors, and I hope that in your shop, what came to light last year was just as gratifying as what our Best Workplaces honorees described.