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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!

Al Oak, PE, Chairman and CEO, is excited to announce the following executive leadership appointments.

Effective January 1st, Fredrick J. Green, AIA, NCARB, President + COO, will be promoted to Chief Strategy + Operations Officer. In his 15 years as President + COO, Fred has worked successfully to align strategy and vision with overall corporate performance and culture. Fred believes and lives the concept that “leaders eat last” and combines this with his laser focus on what needs to get done, keen strategic eye and passion for staff development and opportunity. As Chief Strategy + Operations Officer, he will continue to lead this organization focusing on our corporate strategies and operations, setting the bar high for staff and the firm as a whole.

Effective January 1st, Dennis McGuire, Vice President of Survey + Real Estate Development, will be promoted to President – Elect. Having over 33 years of Cripe survey operations and business experience has fueled his rise and role as a trusted advisor to both staff and clients. His demonstrated dedication and contributions to client service, firm growth, and our people throughout his career make him a natural choice to become the fifth president in our 83-year history. Dennis will report to Fred Green and transition to President in the second quarter of 2021.

We look forward to the vision and leadership that Fred and Dennis will bring to their new roles. We are certain of their abilities to move the company forward in its vision “To Be The Company Of First Choice – for strategic, trusted partnership through innovative solutions and proven stewardship of our people, clients, and communities.”

Cripe has met the formidable challenges of this year with vigor, flexibility, and momentum with great success. This is what it takes to have and maintain an award-winning, 83-year presence in the Indiana design community.  As Employee-Owners, we are proud of our commitment and service to our clients and to being lifelong learners. Sustainability is not only a service offering here at Cripe – but a requisite strategy to our firm’s vitality and legacy. Our founding values of Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Professionalism, Humility and Commitment remain steadfast and serve as the benchmark for any Cripe leader.

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!

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.

  1. 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.

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!