Since October of 1999, Strat Property Management Inc (Strat) has provided residents of California and Texas with quality multifamily housing and self storage options. Founded by Randy Strauss and Don Clauson, Strat has stayed true to its roots – valuing culture and community above all else and, in turn, providing the best customer service possible.
Every team member, from assistant facility manager to C-level management, has contributed to our company culture. This participation and success developed over many years and had its fair share of obstacles along the way.
We didn’t realize it then, but if a company’s culture isn’t real, it won’t work. The confluence between the individuals in a company, the business they are in, leadership’s direction, and where in the country they live all influence the development of culture.
Navigating this complicated landscape has taken the better part of two decades, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. The lessons we learned and the experiences we shared made us the tight-knit, community-focused company we are today.
During the early years of the millennium, our culture was very similar to other real estate companies of the time. We were acting naturally without a lot of deliberate thought as to what kind of culture we wanted to build or how we were going to build it.
Our company culture was characterized by traditional management structures and hierarchical thinking. The vast majority of decisions were made from the top down. This dictatorial style made for quick decision making and fit the needs of our young company.
During a summer in the mid-2000s, members of the team attended a seminar that explored the ways in which a company impacts its employees as well as the surrounding community. It caused us to have an epiphany that helped give our company culture direction.
Why couldn’t this company be something that not only made money, but actually changed people’s lives for the better?
Lucky for us there was a natural culture of service and leadership most of our team already lived daily. We were (and still are) fortunate to have a team that was inspired to build something bigger. This seminar and the epiphany it generated gave us our first road map to creating a real, deliberate company culture.
Not long after, our team was searching for further guidance developing our company culture and came across the book “Fish! A Proven Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results” by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul and John Christensen.
Fish! tells the story of Mary Jane, a supervisor at a financial services company, who is put in charge of the most underperforming department. Faced with a toxic company culture as well as problems at home, Mary Jane is at first distraught and convinced she will fail and lose her job. During a walk through Seattle’s Pike Place Fish Market, Mary meets a fishmonger who teaches her how to create a culture of high morale and performance despite negative circumstances.
This book became a cornerstone at Strat. Every new team member was given a copy, asked to read, and provide thoughts as to how the lessons in the book translated to our work in property management. The results were positive, immediate, and profound.
By finding a book that was already in line with our budding company culture, we were able to further develop into the kind of positive, high performance company we wanted.
This deliberate structuring of our company culture was the foundation for developing something unique to our organization, something our team could not only learn from, but influence every day.
When a group of people get together for a common cause, that’s when real change happens!
In 2014, the executive team went on a retreat with the goal of putting down into writing our core values. We wanted to deliberately choose guidelines drawn from real life actions and experiences. It was a time to refocus, trust and openly communicate who we are, who we wanted to be and how we were going to get there.
It was decided that our dream, our vision, was to be supporters of a more awesome life. We are achievers and conquers. We don’t wilt in the face of adversity; we solve problems. We plan, we dream, we innovate. We are a group of multitalented individuals who have come together to make this world better. We celebrate diversity and we thrive on the spirit of possibilities. We work hard and we play hard and we figure out how to make it fun.
As a result of this retreat, we created the following acronym:
Today, every office displays a poster that prominently displays our commitment to our our values. Our team created STRATitude and continues to live and evolve our values through first hand experience every day.
Charity is not expressly part of our core mission, but it is a big part of who we are. We don’t keep track of how many 501c3’s we help with units. We don’t do things with tax breaks or publicity in mind. We just have a passion to help people.
Charity work helps us make our culture real. The most important aspect of any culture is to live it, to really believe in a cause or mission. This belief can be contagious if it is authentic. The “stop what you are doing to help someone else” mentality that we have as a company is rare.
By giving our team ownership of their facilities and encouraging them to use their positions to strengthen the community, we are creating a network of individuals who work to make their neighborhoods a better place to live. We encourage our team to pursue causes close to their hearts, not because it’s an obligation or “the right thing to do”, but because we are passionate about creating a better world. Serving our brothers and sisters in the community is an honor.
Developing company culture is a job that never ends!
At this stage in Strat’s development, our focus has expanded from simply growing our company, to growing the next generation of real estate professionals. By promoting from within, we plan to cultivate Strat’s leadership team to take on new, exciting projects.
We believe this next generation of leaders will take the mantle and grow our company culture to an extent we never thought possible. It is our hope that these leaders take an active role not only in Strat as a company, but in the communities we serve.