The experience of being a mentor and/or being mentored can be transformational. The privilege, and responsibility of mentoring is understood and practiced at Cripe – both internally and externally. Sharing lessons learned and professional acumen serves not only our staff but our community.
Cripe employees understand the importance of paying forward and serving the communities we build.
This practice and belief coincides perfectly with National Mentoring Month in January. Our CEO and Chairman, Al Oak, embodies Cripe’s dedication to not only mentoring, but community service as a whole. Al is a current Big Brother through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. He is currently serving as a “Big Brother” for the third time; this time sharing mentoring responsibilities with Max Wurster, Assistant Project Manager, Wurster Construction, and former Cripe team member.
In 2019, Oak was honored with the Community Mentor Award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana. He is a role model for all employees in his dedication to our community. For Al, mentoring as had a significant influence on his life. He says, “For me, mentoring has been both impactful and gratifying. It is also a significant opportunity for personal growth.”
Another annual event has come and gone looking a little differently than it did last year. Founder’s Day is hugely important at Cripe, but 2020 made us get creative with how we celebrated the birthday of our Founder, Paul I. Cripe.
Last year, we merged our Day of Service with Founder’s Day to create a day full of philanthropy and team building.
Like so many events in 2020, Founder’s Day was virtual this year, but that does not mean it was any less impactful or fun. Going virtual also meant that we were able to learn more lessons than we might have learned otherwise.
A huge lesson that Founder’s Day in 2020 taught us, is that above all else we must always persevere. Just because there were obstacles, did not mean that we were going to cancel the event or miss an opportunity to gather as an entire company.
No. Instead of giving up, we went to the drawing board and came up with some unique ways to celebrate.
Members of our senior leadership team dropped off goody boxes to employees’ homes (masked up and six feet apart of course). The boxes contained snacks to enjoy during the virtual celebration, some new branded gear for everyone and much more!
We recognized new hires, promotions, retirements, and those who had phased into their vested employee-ownership. 2020 may have slowed some things down, but we were able to grow as a firm and welcomed many new faces and congratulated our colleagues for their hard work and achievements. The directors of architecture, civil engineering and land surveying gave updates on the efforts of our different service lines and encouraged us to keep working hard through the end of 2020 and beyond!
Another recognition was the winner of the Ila M. Badger Community Service Award.
Cripe does not give out many awards throughout the year, so the Ila M. Badger Community Service Award is very important to the firm and highly anticipated. It is awarded to an employee who has done exceptional work within our community to make it a better place. Our winner this year, Christy Villas, was surprised at her home with a check from the Cripe Charitable Foundation that she can give to a community service organization of her choosing.
Last year, on our Day of Service we volunteered as a company with Million Meal Movement. This year, it wasn’t possible to gather with that many people, but two new initiatives, introduced by Fred Green, were created to ensure that our philanthropy efforts continue to make an impact.
The first was the rollout of eight additional hours that each employee will receive beginning in 2021 in order to volunteer. Employees will be able to take paid time off to pursue philanthropic and community service initiatives of their choosing. This will allow Cripe employees to make an impact in our communities even if we are still unable to gather as a large group and complete a Day of Service together, though of course we hope that isn’t the case.
The other initiative came in the goody boxes that were dropped off to employees. During the Founder’s Day program, everyone was told to remove the envelope labeled “Pay it Forward 2020” and open it at the same time.
Inside was $40. Employees were instructed to use that money to pay it forward in any way they saw fit. It could be through a cash donation to a cause they care about, using the money at a locally owned business to help keep them operating through this difficult time, or anything else Cripe employees might judge to benefit their communities.
Many of our employees have already “Paid It Forward” and below are just a few examples:
- Giving extra tips to food and grocery delivery drivers
- Donating to Wheeler Mission
- Donating to cosmetologists and other service workers who have been affected by quarantine regulations
- Donating to Gleaners Food Bank and other food pantries
- Donating to girls sports groups
- Purchasing cold weather clothing items and donating them to PourHouse
- Supplying pet food and other necessities for animal shelters
- Purchasing gifts for children in the foster care system who are not currently placed in a home
- Giving it to their children who then decided to donate it to Make-A-Wish
- Donating to Angel Tree so a young boy could have sports equipment for Christmas
- Donating through a church to help purchase a gift basket for two sisters in the ICU
- Purchasing a Christmas gift for their mentee who doesn’t usually receive anything
- Donating the money, along with a sink and other tools and supplies, to a local family who needed a bathroom renovation completed, but didn’t have the means
- Purchased grocery gift cards for local families in need
- Secretly purchasing an ice cream treat for a young family with a handicapped member
Many of our colleagues are keeping their Pay It Forward money handy, knowing that they will be called to use it in a way they hadn’t expected or hadn’t planned out, such as at a restaurant or in line to buy groceries.
Even though we couldn’t gather and work on one large community service project as we have in year’s past or participate in Founder’s Day festivities in person, Cripe was still able to make a big impact on our community and celebrate the achievements of the past year!
- Advocate – noun – a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
synonyms: champion · upholder · supporter · backer · promoter · proponent
At Cripe, we take the above definition very seriously. First and foremost, we are client advocates. With new and returning clients, we learn their unique stories, histories and needs for each and every project. We do this whether we’ve worked with that client on multiple projects or if it’s the very first one. We don’t have cookie cutter responses that fit every client.
Through our project management model, the Cripe Way, we schedule meetings throughout the entire process because we know that needs can change. Communication channels are always open between Cripe and the client.
We are advocates for our clients by maintaining positive working relationships with our elected officials and community agencies. Cripe not only believes in relationships with our clients, but also with other entities that can make the processes smoother for our clients and ourselves.
Recently, we were contacted by a past client to assist with solving a civil engineering project problem. For context, this past client already had an architect, civil engineer, and surveyor. In other words, there was no immediate motivation to help solve their problem. However, because of our belief in advocating for our clients past, present, and future, we used our network and positive relationship with the local utility department to assist this past client and were able to reach a solution that assisted them and ultimately advanced their project.
We are advocates for our clients in that we maintain positive relationships with our subcontractors, allied professionals and even our competitors.
Another recent example would be being contacted by a client to submit a proposal for a project that we could not assist them with at the time. We referred the client to a competing firm who was able to submit a proposal and complete the work. In the broader view of things, this was a win. Similarly, we have been contacted on more than one occasion to quietly support strategic partners with survey, civil and architectural services while being sensitive to their client relationship.
We are advocates for our community and clients in the causes we support. We like to support those groups that support our community. A few examples include the Cripe Hob Nob Policy Intern Scholarship we give in partnership with the Indy Chamber and our CEO’s involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Not only have we done work for the latter organization, but our CEO and other members of our staff have participated in the program as mentors.
At Cripe, as Employee Owners, our advocacy extends to our teammates, which is illustrated from our culture and a firm belief that in taking care of our people we provide the best service to our clients.
Our vision statement says it all, Cripe is an award-winning Indiana MBE multidisciplinary design firm. We are problem solvers, servant leaders and client advocates. We listen to understand in order to consistently deliver high quality design solutions.
Our two first clients in 1937 are still our clients today.
Yes. You read that right. We have had our first clients remain loyal clients for 83 years. Here at Cripe, we think that means we’re doing something right.
There are so many things that go into making these lasting partnerships happen. Paul I. Cripe built an outstanding foundation all those years ago and we’re proud to say that we continue to build on these foundations, update them to serve the needs of existing and new clients and utilize new technologies to meet the ever-evolving and modern demands of the various industries we serve.
To maintain such long-lasting client relationships though, Mr. Cripe understood that there was a bigger, more holistic picture than just delivering innovative design solutions. He created core values which included, Accountability, Integrity and Community Service.
He turned those values into a blueprint comprising of The Cripe Way, Cripe Leadership Model and Cripe Charitable Foundation. These all still stand today in order to best serve all our clients across our internal departments and external market sectors and industries.
The Cripe Way is many things, but overall it embodies the quote Mr. Cripe liked best: “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” This simple saying is known by every single employee at Cripe and they live it every day with every client and their colleagues. The Cripe Way is a project management tool that we live by at Cripe so that we can serve our clients without having details fall through the cracks. Above all else, it stresses the importance of communications and meetings with clients so that we know exactly what they’re looking for, schedules to keep everyone on track, quality control along the way to ensure efficiency and understanding not only our client’s businesses, but their perspectives as well.
The Cripe Leadership Model is more of an internal structure that we use to measure how well our employees are doing across several markers that we find highly important at Cripe. These values range from professionalism to living Cripe values. Checking in like this and having important conversations about internal performance ensures that we are giving our absolute best to our clients. Our employees are always willing to learn and grow to continue to best serve not only the clients, but their colleagues as well.
If you’ve been following us or reading our blogs, you know how important community service is. With the establishment of the Cripe Charitable Foundation, we’ve donated over a million education focused dollars, our employees volunteer over 65 hours per year on average and our employees support over 132 community organizations of their choosing. We are invested in our clients of course, but that goes so much further that providing design solutions. We’re invested in improving the communities in which we live, work and play and those communities include our clients, their businesses and even their families.
83 years after Mr. Cripe laid the foundations, employees are still living by those values and that’s why we can proudly say that we’ve had a few of the same clients since our founding in 1937.
1937 seems like a long time ago and it really was. Cripe had a simple beginning as a survey firm. It was not the firm of 2020 that it is now, providing architecture and civil engineering in addition to the original survey services. And those services just skim the surface. We’ve expanded into medical equipment planning, real estate services, interior design work and so much more.
83 years may seem like a long time, but we haven’t stopped moving and growing and expanding into new services and market sectors. Over those 83 years we’ve done projects from airports to college campuses to parks to hospitals. We’re not stopping there either. In the last few years, we’ve increased our focus on re-purposing previously standing spaces and sustainability.
Don’t be alarmed when you see that Cripe has been in business since 1937. It doesn’t mean our business practices are stagnant. Our employees and leadership are constantly learning and bettering themselves as architects, engineers and surveyors. Continuing to educate ourselves is so important and continuing to enhance our practices with new technology has made us the firm we are today and the firm we are continuing to grow into.
The foundation of our company laid out by Paul I. Cripe is still strong underneath the new practices we’ve utilized. To this day, our company culture revolves around the principles laid down by our founder.
Mr. Cripe understood that to holistically serve our clients, delivering innovative design solutions was not the whole picture. He believed a firm must embody the core values of Accountability, Integrity and Community Service. This valued blueprint brought into being The Cripe Way (Accountability), Cripe Leadership Model (Integrity) and Cripe Charitable Foundation (Community Service).
Every team member knows the story of the watch. In the early years, Mr. Cripe pawned his prized pocket watch to meet payroll. The watch – a living reminder of true servant leadership and accountability– sits in our CEO’s office today. When Mr. Cripe said, “If It is to be; it’s up to me” – he meant it – and so do we.
What does this mean for you? Whether you are a client, a partner firm, a community partner or anyone else know that our celebrated project management skills that were set down from the beginning and sharpened over time will get the results you want. Our staff, comprised of lifelong learners, will get the job done no matter what obstacles, known or unknown, come their way.
We understand that we are part of a community bigger than ourselves. We give our very best to each project, knowing that it will enhance the community whether it is a college campus, skate park or medical office building. We also know how important it is to give back to those communities in which we work, live and play. As a company we participate in many philanthropic events a year, going so far as to dedicate one whole day a year as our Day of Service. In addition, we do a Giving Tree holiday drive that benefits a family in our community and our interns choose a philanthropic organization and organize events and fundraisers to benefit that organization over the summer they spend at Cripe.
It doesn’t stop there. Cripe employees are so active in the community on their own that we host an award ceremony to recognize the change these employees are enacting in their communities and it’s always hard for the committee to choose just one winner each year.
83 years is a very long time. But we’re not frozen in time at Cripe. Each and every one of those years has brought us to new heights in the design services we offer and our community impact. We couldn’t get to those heights if it weren’t for the very solid foundation laid down in 1937 by Paul I. Cripe. Here’s to the next 83!
The end of a year is often a time to look forward to the coming year and all the changes that could come with that new year. It is also a time to look back on the past year and the traditions that have stood for a long time.
At Cripe, we have many traditions, but we seem to really pack them in at the end of the year. From community service to spending time with our colleagues and celebrating their achievements there is a lot going on from November to Christmas.
This year, we merged a couple of traditions. In mid-November, we combined our annual Day of Service with our Founder’s Day Celebration.
The day started with the intention of packing 10,000 meals at Million Meal Movement. It quickly became apparent that we were going to accomplish that goal early. By the end of our allotted time we had packed nearly 13,000 meals, blowing way past our original goal.
Following our morning of community service, we went to TopGolf to enjoy good food and the company of our colleagues. Before the friendly competition could begin, we celebrated those of our coworkers who give so much back to their communities. It was a hard decision for the judges to choose between so many people who do so much. The prize for one dedicated winner is the Isla M. Badger Community Service Award, an award that was established in 1987 by the Cripe Charitable Foundation and which awards $1,000 to the 501(3)c of the winner’s choice.
This year there were nominees who serve their churches, their local pet rescues, tutor homeless students, volunteer with the young community of aspiring architects, and so much more. It was truly inspiring to see how much impact the Cripe family has on their communities.
After that, the golfing began!
Once the celebrations were over, we set out on the important annual work of our Giving Tree initiative.
Each year we pick a deserving family who is experiencing some extenuating circumstances around the holidays and we provide them with gifts and necessities to lighten their load.
This year, we worked with Andrew J. Brown Academy to select a family and find out what they most wanted and needed this holiday season. We had a kick-off discussion at our monthly Cripe Huddle and then it was off to shopping. Within a few days, there was no room left under our office Christmas tree as everyone made contributions to the family.
When it was time to deliver the items to the family’s house the week before Christmas, it took several cars to do so. The family was beyond grateful and hearts were warmed at Cripe when the exchange was retold by the few that attended.
Our traditions are what make us unique, what bind us together as more than just coworkers. After a year of working hard and achieving goals within the office, we understand the importance of stepping back and focusing on serving others as well as spending time outside of the office with the people we spend our time with in the office.
Tomorrow we’ll look forward to the New Year, but today we’re going to think about the past year and the impact it had on us all.
Happy New Year from the Cripe family to you and yours!
Giving back to the communities we live, work and play in is very important at Cripe.
This month, we’ve kicked off our season of giving by hosting a representative from United Way of Central Indiana at this month’s Cripe Huddle. This organization embodies so much of what we stand for at Cripe and also donates funds to many of the organizations we are involved with.
“United Way of Central Indiana fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of every person in our Central Indiana Community.” That quote comes from information on the United Way’s Basic Needs Fund, which provides the essentials of food, shelter, health and transportation to the most vulnerable living our community.
Our employees have served as volunteers and board members and others have received valuable training through United Way programs. In short, we are so thankful for the relationship we have with this incredible organization.
Our season of giving begins with participating in the United Way workplace campaign, where Cripe team members are able to give financially. That money will go the United Way’s three new Impact Funds:
- Basic needs – Helping the most vulnerable in our community
- Family Opportunity – Supporting the whole family on a path to self-sufficiency
- Social Innovation – Sparking new ideas to break the cycle of poverty
These Impact Funds have been created in order to help ALICE, which stands for:
Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed
These are people who hold jobs that are critical to the success of the community, but they are barely surviving paycheck-to-paycheck.
If a monetary donation isn’t right for you, your time is just as valuable as money. The United Way has so many volunteer opportunities that speak to the interests of almost everyone. Some programs include ReadUP Tutoring, Moment to Movement, Tax Prep Volunteering, and Disaster Response Reception Center Volunteering. There is truly something for everyone, so please consider donating in whatever capacity you can. Every little bit makes a difference for our vulnerable neighbors.
United Way of Central Indiana kicks off our season of giving, but stayed tuned to our social media channels and website in the coming months as we participate in Cripe’s Annual Day of Giving, this year at Million Meal Movement and Giving Tree, a 36 year tradition or sharing the holiday spirit with others.
For more information on all the ways we give back throughout the year, visit our “About” page and scroll down to the Com
munity Service section.