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It’s been almost a year since we’ve had in-person, in-office gatherings with our coworkers and quarter one is usually a time when we’re gathering and celebrating a ton at Cripe. We gather for a pancake lunch, chili cookoff, St. Patrick’s Day, and March Madness just to name a few.

If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that we can still have fun and celebrate in the midst of COVID-19. It just takes some ingenuity and creative thinking.

Luckily, our Talent + Brand team has creativity in spades!

At the beginning of quarter one, every single employee received a box of fun which held all things necessary to hold a close to normal three months of festivities!

In February, we kicked off celebrations with our annual pancake lunch to celebrate Fat Tuesday. Each employee received pancake batter mix and a Mardi Gras mask and beads to get in the mood! Once the pancakes were made, we all joined together on Zoom to share secrets to making the best pancakes, Lent challenges (we have someone who isn’t going to go to the grocery store or out to eat until the food in their house is gone), and an all-around good time!

We had some new additions, as we’ve been working at home with new “co-workers” for the past year, but it was good to see how much some of the Cripe kiddos have grown as well as some furry faces who were just drooling over the delicious breakfast foods.

A signature feature of our Fat Tuesday pancake lunch is the King Cake. Don’t think it didn’t happen just because we weren’t together in our office. A few lucky winners had the word “baby” written on the bottom of their pancake mix and won gift cards!

The following week has been our chili cookoff for a very long time. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to host our normal crew of judges and competitors, but employees were treated to chili fixings and once again we got together virtually to enjoy the fellowship of our coworkers.

In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day, employees were given scratch-off lottery tickets to try their luck. We haven’t heard of any big winners yet, but maybe the 17th is the actual lucky day!

This year has been unique and difficult in many ways, but in other ways it has only caused us to grow stronger, more resilient, and to realize the importance of connection. At Cripe, we’re not letting this pandemic get in the way of our celebrations and the fun we have as a group. We’ll keep getting together however we can to enjoy each other’s company and keep the hope up that we’ll be together in our office for all of these celebrations next year!

Cripe was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in Indiana. This 16th annual program was created by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Best Companies Group.

This statewide survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the participating employers in Indiana with the leading workplace cultures. The list is made up of 125 companies.

“We have many tremendous employers in the state, so it’s great to see more and more companies take part in this effort to evaluate their workplace cultures and gain the recognition they deserve,” says Indiana Chamber President, Kevin Brinegar. “These companies consistently demonstrate to their employees how much they value their contributions.”

To be considered for participation, companies had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

– Be a for-profit, not-for-profit business or government entity;

– Be a publicly or privately held business;

– Have a facility in Indiana;

– Have at least 15 employees working in Indiana;

– Be in business a minimum of 1 year.

“With the extreme and unexpected challenges of 2020… Company culture went far beyond the official benefits and perks to worker safety and taking job flexibility to levels that most couldn’t have imagined. All the employers honored should be especially proud to be on the list this year.”

Companies from across the state entered the two-part survey process to determine the Best Places to Work in Indiana. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Indiana, analyzed the data, and determined the final rankings.

The final rankings will be announced at an awards ceremony on Thursday, May 6, 2021, and then published in the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine after the event.

For more information on the Best Places to Work in Indiana program, visit www.BestPlacestoWorkIN.com.

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!

Cripe has been a part of the Stanley E. Hunt Real Estate Development Case Competition from the beginning in 2008. As Director of Real Estate, Al Oak and his wife Shary, oversee the creation of the competitions each year and the Cripe Charitable Foundation has supported the event since the beginning as well.

This year, Al Oak, Chairman + CEO, Fred Green, President + COO, and Denny Southerland, Vice President of Sales, were all judges for the virtual competition and Dennis McGuire, Vice President of Survey + Real Estate Services was a guest speaker.

Over 20 teams in the Real Estate Development & Appraisal class presented development plans for a former hospital site in downtown Bloomington, but only the top four were chosen to compete in the final competition.

This year, there was a tie for first place! Both the team of CJ Alexander, Cameron Hess, Wilder North, and Samuel Pittman, as well as the team of Dilan Rajpurkar, Michael Romanelli, Jeff Serbin, and Torin Siegel will receive a $1000 prize.

The Stanley E. Hunt Real Estate Development Case Competitions are one of the most enjoyable events Cripe takes part in and supports throughout the year and even though, much like many other events this year, it was a little different, it was a still a huge success!

There is a story in our office that every employee knows.

It’s the story of the pocket watch. Our founder, Paul I. Cripe, was a man of integrity and placed that value as the backbone of his company. He knew that he couldn’t expect his employees to do things he wasn’t willing to do and he couldn’t expect them to produce their best work if he wasn’t willing to do the same.

Cripe was founded in 1937 and even if you’re not a history buff, you know those were hard times for our nation economically. Our founder wasn’t exempt from these hard times.

There were several instances where the money just wasn’t there to handle payroll and so Mr. Cripe would take his beloved pocket watch and pawn it so that he could pay his employees. He would later go buy it back when money came into the company, but it wasn’t a onetime occurrence. He repeated that cycle several times to ensure that not only his company, but his employees were able to survive through economic hardship.

83 years ago, Paul I. Cripe taught us what it meant to be a true servant leader and to be accountable to an enterprise he started and the people he had hired. we carry that with us today.

In our office, we talk often about the pocket watch. It now sits in our CEO’s office as a reminder to all who see it that they work for a company that, from the executives all the way down to our newest entry level hires, walks the walk.

For our clients and our partners, it means that we carry the quote “If it’s to be; it’s up to me” into every project and meeting. Cripe employees aren’t going to wait for someone else to take charge or to do the work. They are going to take responsibility on a personal level to do the very best job they can do for every project on which they work. They know that they must be accountable to their clients, partners and colleagues and that it starts with them.

Nearly every one of our values has stemmed from this mentality of accountability. We pride ourselves on a project management system, the Cripe Way, that prioritizes taking charge and being in communication with clients and partners. Communication is a great way to remain accountable. Our employees know that it is crucial to remain on top of ever changing client wants and needs as well as external requirements. They’re not going to sit back and let information come to them. If they did that, they might miss something crucial. No. They’re going to be proactive and get the information and answers they need to ensure that our clients and partners have as seamless an experience as possible with Cripe.

 

Many things have changed over the 83 years since Cripe was founded, but many have not. Our company’s dedication to integrity and accountability have remained steadfast throughout the decades. Those values paired with our dedication to being on the cutting edge is what has allowed us to continue on in much the same way over the past few months, despite our uncertain times. Our workspaces and officemates have changed since we’re been remote, but our way of doing things, the very values that were set forth so many years ago, have not.

Accountability is a mindset, not a skillset and we thank Mr. Cripe for instilling that mentality into his company so many years ago.

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.

February 20, 2020 was a big day for Cripe CEO, Al Oak.

In addition to being recognized by Purdue University’s School of Engineering as this year’s Distinguished Civil Engineering Alum, he was also recognized by Mayor Joe Hogsett and the City of Indianapolis for his contributions to the business and philanthropic communities.

According to Mayor Joe, February 20th is now Alex D. Oak Day in the city of Indianapolis.

Oak had the pleasure of celebrating both of his most recent achievements with fellow staff from Cripe and ECO2 Technologies as well as former classmates and fraternity brothers from his days at Purdue’s School of Engineering.