Turner Technology 4/28/17 05/01/17 12:40:20 AM
From left, Scott Meyers, Rick Turner and Gary Bren enjoy a laugh during their open house last fall.
Values, People Drive Chamber Small
Business of the Month, Turner Technology
By Dan McCann
The Daily Record
As with all businesses, the “what” is important to the team at Turner Technology. It specializes in providing a full range of IT services – from consulting and software development to networking and managed services. But in this case, it is the “how” that really stands out.
“We’ve made a lot of business decisions that have nothing to do with pure business but reflect what we believe,” said managing partner Gary Bren who co-founded the company with Rick Turner just over 25 years ago.
Turner Technology, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for April, is an outfit guided by four key values, something it calls “The Turner Way:”
• We treat our clients and team like family.
• We elevate others’ success.
• Our actions transcend titles.
• We lead by example.
“When we started in January of 1992 in the beginning of its present form, we had four employees and eight clients, and we weren’t going to grow the business for the first two years. We wanted to make sure we knew what we were doing,” Bren said. “By our second anniversary, we had six employees and 30 clients, and we obviously weren’t doing the ‘no growing’-thing very well.”
Bren continued, “We started worrying about losing our values. We didn’t want to grow away from what we believed. At that point, we started ‘The Turner Way.’ Those values reflect the core of our DNA and what we’ve been doing since the day we started. They have played out in really significant ways that affect the way we work.”
Bren recalled a vivid example: A network engineer – with the company for two months – requested 6-8 weeks of unpaid leave so he and his wife could travel to Vietnam, stay in country for 3-5 weeks and complete the adoption of their son.
“We said we have a better idea – why don’t you take two months of paid vacation, go to Vietnam, pick up your son, come back, get a chance to become a family and then come back to work?” Bren Recalls. “As a short-term decision, that seems pretty crazy – but as a reflection of our value system, it was the only thing we felt we could do. And as a long-term investment, he was probably one of our most loyal and hard-working employees.”
The Turner Way extends to how the company treats its clients. Case in point, what Bren calls “The Flying Dutchman” of projects.
“There are times when no matter how well you plan a project, it doesn’t go according to plan.”
The story goes – a client had purchased a phone system on Turner Technology’s recommendation. After a complicated installation process, the vendor announced it was ceasing production of the system and ending support in several years.
“The client was justifiably upset,” Bren said. “We bought back the phone system for exactly what they paid for it and then we helped them negotiate for a more powerful system. We got them an incredible deal and then we installed the system for free. We could have done a lot less, but we used the situation to satisfy the client, learn from it and improve the strength of our team.”
He added, “What we’ve found over the years is, if you treat people right, whether it’s clients or employees, if you show people respect, you show trust and they know you’re doing the best job you can, you’ll get equal back from them.”
From an employee perspective, the numbers reflect the impact. Turner Technology has a less than 2 percent turnover rate. 2016 results of its annual employee engagement survey showed that 62 percent of its employees were “highly engaged,” 33 percent “engaged” and only 5 percent “disengaged.”
“The national average for those same numbers would be like 8 percent, 46 percent and 45 percent. We’re shifted very dramatically to the higher end,” Bren explained.
Bren runs day-to-day operations in Omaha. Rick Turner heads a company branch in his hometown of Holdrege, Neb. A third partner, Scott Meyers, joined Turner Technology – then Turner & Associates – in mid-1992. In conjunction with the company values, Turner leadership believes that transparency and trust are the cornerstones of a strong team.
“I have the entire company do a 360 review of me every year. I’ll share the results of what they told me – and I’ll have an action plan to address the things they think I should be focusing on. I think being transparent as a leader is important to engendering trust and respect. The fact that I execute on those plans shows that their input matters to me. And, if I’m willing to have people give me feedback and critiques that means they should be willing to give each other honest and fair feedback and critiques. That’s how we make a stronger team.”
Proud of their “people-driven culture,” company partners are making sure their people are part of the planning process as they look to the future.
“Our long-term plan isn’t to sell the business to someone else. It’s actually to pass it along to people inside the system, our staff. That way we know the values will be preserved. For us, it’s less about creating something that’s generating revenue. It’s more about creating something that works as a business but reflects values that we think are very important.”
For now, the focus is on growing the business and celebrating a period of big accomplishment over the last 14 months.
“We celebrated the 25th anniversary of our founding, completed a rebranding project, completed a major remodel of our space and became the first IT services company to win the BBB Integrity Award,” Bren said.
The team of 25 can add one more achievement to the list – the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for April.
“All of this is a reward for a quarter century of blood, sweat and tears. It’s a reflection of what we believe and how we feel, and it’s a reaffirmation that what we’ve been doing means something,” Bren said.
The Chamber award also takes into account the role the company plays in the community beyond serving its need for IT services.
“We believe that our responsibility to be an engaged partner doesn’t end with our staff and clients, it also includes the community we live and work in,” said Bren, who is an active member of the Rotary Club of Omaha.
Turner Technology donates approximately 5-6 percent of its annual revenues to charitable causes in the community.
“We also have a program called ‘Turner Helping Hands’ where, every two months, we volunteer as a group at various organizations around the community. These good works bring our team closer together, and we are a stronger team as a result.”
Guided by its values, Bren said the company is going to continue following “The Turner Way” to greater and greater levels of success.
“I see us being double or more our present revenue within five years. By 2021-22, we’ll probably have 45-55 people on staff and probably three or four locations. We’re going to grow mostly out west because our ethics and our values fit perfectly for central Nebraska. I think there are enormous opportunities for us out there.”
Learn more about Turner Technology at https://theturnerway.com.
United Republic Bank sponsors the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month award. To nominate a small business online, visit www.omahachamber.org. Nominees must be current Chamber members with 50 employees or less.