In business, there are many milestones that warrant celebration. A contract with a brand new client is exciting. The completion of a project is satisfying. A long-time employee’s work anniversary is something to cheer. This year, however, marks a special milestone for Urban Engineers – our 60th year in business. To recognize this achievement, we are sharing the first of four blog posts to reflect on Urban’s work culture, the homegrown-approach to cultivating staff, employee dividends, and our vision for the future. Please read on to learn about who we are as an organization, and who we want to be in the years to come.
“An office used to be a thing you went to for a certain number of hours a day; now, work is an entire plane of existence.” - Amanda Mull, The Atlantic
Ten years ago, we celebrated Urban’s 50th anniversary by showcasing the projects and people who had made Urban, Urban. The firm’s leadership at that time was preparing to retire and complete the transition of ownership to employees. Urban would not be bought out by another company; instead, employees who had put in the hours and effort to make Urban a success would own the firm in the form of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, and leadership would be accountable to an elected board of directors.
For much of the firm’s first half century, Urban’s culture grew organically by project-driven teamwork. Our culture rewarded anyone who valued transparency, accountability, and consistency. Each employee has been empowered to take ownership in their ideas and work with their colleagues, chipping in to work whatever hours were necessary to see projects finished and clients happy. There was an understanding that infrastructure was necessary to American success. Each employee’s contribution to a project was important.
Over the last decade, and as we approached our 60th anniversary, Urban has developed a more inclusive culture. A culture with a foundation in the pride of ownership, delivering consistently competent work, empowering employees to lead professionally, and giving flexibility to employees to integrate the demands of life. Urban wants to support employees regardless of personal circumstances or goals. A strong, diverse culture comes from empowered employees who value their work but can also pursue and support what is important at home.