Ryan Gootee General Contractors was the first-place winner in the Small Companies division for Top Workplaces 2018, honored at a special event Thursday (May 24) at the Morial Convention Center.
Employees at the Metairie offices of Ryan Gootee General Contractors know right away when the boss decides that it’s time for everyone to put the workweek behind them. Every so often on a Friday, especially after a particularly hectic schedule, the company’s namesake jumps onto the office intercom with specific directions for the staff.
“Everyone, go across the street. We’re getting a beer!”
Hearing that, the employees cross Ridgewood Drive and belly up to the bar at Deutsches Haus. When they traverse the street, the staff is encouraged to leave behind the pressures that come with operating a fast-growing commercial construction company. Meeting project and proposal deadlines, keeping clients pleased and managing subcontractors provide enough stress, so there is a priority among Ryan Gootee employees to communicate effectively — until it’s time not to, like at Deutsches Haus, a company paintball outing or go-kart racing.
“When we’re not at work, there’s no talk about issues at work,” said Zack Oliver, an assistant project manager.
But during office hours, employees say the company thrives on communication, sharing ideas and – perhaps most importantly – constructive conversations about conflict. Being a small business is actually conducive to this atmosphere.
Kevin Sprehe, a project manager who’s been with the company eight years, laughed when he said he can usually hear any disagreements as they happen just down the hall. But there’s no problem that can’t be resolved with a frank discussion, thanks to the respect the leadership has for its employees, and vice-versa, he said.
The company has also been deliberate with its growth, Sprehe said, pursuing strategic projects rather than grasping for everything within its reach. In doing so, the management team has made steady strides toward scaling its size and sustained its progress over the years – a notable feat in the construction field.
Employees speak of a climate where all hands are available to assist with the workload, no matter what the need. Britton Grush, who handles marketing for the business, recalled when she was tasked with putting together her first client proposal. Although the company was hosting a fun outing for employees at the Fair Grounds, colleagues stayed behind to help her meet deadline. She said it confirmed her decision three years ago to work in the construction industry was the right one.
“I used to dread going to work. Here, I always feel like, even on very stressful days, I’m going to work with friends. I can always talk with someone … When the problems do arise, that’s what makes it easier. We have a great support system.”