5 Lessons from a Growing Company Culture

Let’s begin with a story: in a municipality on the outskirts of St. Louis about 3 years ago, an ambitious CEO took over a direct marketing company. He had dreams of creating a company culture that went unmatched throughout the land and inspired employees near and far. He believed in the idea of creating enjoyment and fulfillment at work and he began his mission by reading heaps of books to educate himself and his loyal subjects. From there, he implemented programs, encouraged associate-run committees and scheduled monthly activities to keep his people happy, healthy and engaged. And everybody lived happily ever after. The end.

Well, not exactly. However, most of the above tale is in fact true, and it’s something we are very proud of here at Gabriel Group. Although our company culture is relatively young and still growing and developing every day, we’ve already learned some important lessons along the way. Continue reading below to take a look at some of our favorite takeaways we’ve picked up so far throughout our journey.

  1. Insert buzzword here: Transparency

We know, we know…we’re sick of hearing it too. “Transparency” has become overused and beat to the ground when it comes to culture building, but as cliché as it has become, it’s still vital to keep in mind. Closed doors and office whispers are no way to promote trust and pride in an organization – so break the pattern and stop letting it happen. One way Gabriel Group combats this is by holding a weekly All Company Meeting every Monday morning in order to get everybody together in one place where we discuss financials, upcoming events and company news. Most importantly, leadership opens the floor to anyone who wants to contribute or ask questions. Creating this environment on a weekly basis has made a massive difference in associates feeling heard, valued and a part of the bigger conversations.

  1. Actually commit to your core values

There is a good chance that all of us have been a part of an organization at one point or another who spouts language around their core values – but at the end of the day, it seems like hypocrisy is missing from the lineup. And hey – nobody is perfect, including us. However, this major disconnect can lead to huge issues if not addressed properly, including turnover, resentment and potentially total business collapse. At Gabriel Group, our core values (Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart and Fun-Loving Attitude) are a part of daily conversations when it comes to our business practices, successes and especially our failures. Let your core values truly be your guiding path – even if it’s scary – and believe us, it is. Holding ourselves accountable is a daily struggle, but worth every second when we can look back and see the exact road that led us to where we are today.

  1. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate

Come visit Gabriel Group for a day and you’re sure to hear at least one person say, “When’s the next party?” We take Fun-Loving Attitude seriously when it comes to commemorating accomplishments, holidays and especially each other. From Thirsty Thursdays to 12 Days of Christmas and monthly Associate Appreciation Luncheons, we make it a point to bring all of our associates together and take time to simply enjoy what we do every day. The result? Associates who celebrate you back. Whether it’s on Glassdoor or in our “What’s On Your Mind?” opinion box, we receive amazingly positive feedback about the efforts we put forth to make Gabriel Group a great place to work. And don’t forget the bonus of having fun at work every single week without fail!

  1. Differentiate between perks and culture

A big mistake companies can often make is focusing too much on flashy perks while ignoring the way employees feel day to day in their positions. Many times, updated office spaces, unlimited beverages and Ping Pong tables can shroud larger bottlenecks that are plaguing an organization’s culture. The fact of the matter is is that free beer doesn’t create open lines of communication between departments, just as good intention doesn’t automatically increase revenue. Be deliberate about what you offer to your people and make sure you’re not sending mixed messages between the extras you provide and the culture you are fostering. Some perks at GG include a one-month sabbatical after 6 years, one paid volunteer day a year and the ever-popular free popcorn in the breakroom (sometimes less really is more).

  1. Never underestimate the power of giving back

Research shows that more and more job seekers, particularly millennials, value prospective employers who make a conscious effort to give back to their community. Of any tips or tricks that you take away from this article, pay attention to this one. Gabriel Group participates in an internal Pay-It-Forward program where each year, associates vote on one local nonprofit organization to raise money for. Our goal has continued to increase to $15,000 for this year’s nominee, Missouri Veterans Endeavor. More than luncheons, activities or new initiatives, it’s safe to say Pay-It-Forward fundraisers are everyone’s favorite part of our culture at GG. The generosity we see from our associates when it comes to giving back to our partner organizations every single year continues to blow us away. Point blank: buy in to charitable giving and you can’t go wrong.

Our story here at Gabriel Group is not unique or uncommon – but what we do know is that it’s special to us. The last few years have been irreplaceable as we have found our footing and have continued to progress towards the culture we aspire to grow here at GG. The biggest lesson we can share with you is short and sweet – enjoy the ride. There will be amazing ups and there will be disheartening downs, but if your heart is in the right place to create a place where everyone is excited and proud to be, your happily ever after might not be as far off as you might think.

To learn more about GG’s culture, call us at (314) 743-5700 and ask for Kelsey!

Gabriel Group Announces Corporate Restructuring

Gabriel Group is proud to announce that it has implemented a handful of organizational changes in order to better align the company’s goals with the needs of its clients.

Charlie Pitlyk, formerly Executive Vice President, has been promoted to President, CISO, where he will continue to evaluate production capabilities and maximize revenue while also overseeing business operations and ensuring that the company-wide security program is implemented effectively.

Steve Koch makes a move from Vice President of Account Management to Vice President of Sales, where he will shift his focus to overseeing the sales team in addition to developing strategies that will identify marketing opportunities and planning for new project development.

Crystal Glaenzer and Kim Brown have both advanced to the role of Director of Account Management, where they will oversee day-to-day interaction with nonprofit and corporate customers, respectively. Ashley Dalton has also been named the Director of Client Solutions, where she is responsible for facilitating new business processes while reviewing and improving existing client projects.

The biggest change of the transition comes from the creation of an entirely new Gabriel Group department: Agency Services. Renee Durnin, CFRE will lead the new division that will be responsible for cultivating and executing creative strategy, including overall campaign development and graphic design. Traci Basden, CFRE also joins the Agency Services team, transitioning from her role in sales to Senior Fundraising Strategist in order to serve as a liaison between Gabriel Group’s nonprofit account management team and their clients to develop successful fundraising campaigns.

“We are thrilled about the new direction these changes will take us in the future,” says CEO, Dave Hawkins. “Our leadership team feels very confident about the adjustments that were made throughout the company in order to create a more client-focused structure that will best support both Gabriel Group and its partners moving forward. We can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Gabriel Group Begins Compliance Process to Achieve SOC2, HITRUST-CSF Certification

Gabriel Group is proud to announce that it has officially began conducting a substantial audit that will measure the company’s print and delivery management systems relevant to security, availability, confidentiality and processing integrity. Upon completion, scheduled for September 2017, Gabriel Group will be SOC2 Certified, aligned to the Health Information Trust (HITRUST) Alliance Common Security Framework (CSF).

The HITRUST CSF is a comprehensive and certifiable security framework used by healthcare organizations and their business associates to efficiently approach regulatory compliance and risk management. The purpose of this process is to create a common security baseline of validated security controls that encompass many well-known standards, including HIPAA, ISO, COBIT, PCI and NIST. Gabriel Group will be one of the first marketing companies in the country to have attained SOC2, aligned to HITRUST when the audit is completed later this year.

“We are very excited to begin our journey towards SOC2, HITRUST-CSF certification,” says CEO, Dave Hawkins. “This progression is not only huge for us as a company, but will be extremely beneficial to our clients – especially in the healthcare and financial services industries. First-rate data security is our top priority when it comes to every single organization that we work with, and having this industry-recognized accreditation to add to our arsenal will be a big step towards achieving our goals.”

“Gabriel Group is proud of our commitment of complying with the most highly renowned controls and standards in the business in order to assist our clients in the best way possible. The future looks bright for us as we continue our mission towards attaining our certification.”

Missouri Veterans Endeavor Chosen as Gabriel Group’s 2017 Pay-It-Forward Recipient

Gabriel Group is honored to name our next Pay-It-Forward recipient as Missouri Veterans Endeavor (MOVE-STL).

Missouri Veterans Endeavor is a nonprofit organization that provides long-term supportive housing and comprehensive services to veterans and their family members. MOVE-STL was established in 2012 and currently houses 30 veterans, 16 dependents and 9 children while providing a wide range of services including case management, employment assistance, job training, sobriety support and permanent housing.

Since 2013, Gabriel Group has chosen a St. Louis-area charity for our Pay-It-Forward efforts in order to make a bigger impact within our immediate community. Associates participate in many different fundraising opportunities each month with a goal of raising a total of $10,000 for our nominated group by the end of the calendar year. At the beginning of the following year, we then present a check to our partner organization in honor of our clients in lieu of a traditional Christmas gift. 2017 will kick off with a bang as associates get ready to vie for a festive Mardi Gras raffle basket and an upcoming opportunity to participate in Bring Your Dog to Work Week.

Over the past 10 years, Gabriel Group has funded a spring water aqueduct in the Dominican Republic to help provide children with safe drinking water; built four double-family homes for families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti; funded a new classroom at an early childhood education center in Zambia; provided food and clothing to an orphanage in Mozambique; supported relief efforts following the tornado in Joplin; helped local St. Louis children suffering from abuse or neglect; partnered with an organization close to associates’ hearts after losing one of our own to ovarian cancer; and fought homelessness and hunger in the St. Louis area.

As our charitable giving efforts have continued to grow tremendously over the years, we are happy to report that our associates are refreshed, motivated and ready to make 2017 our biggest year yet with MOVE-STL as we focus on our latest mission to support local veterans. To keep tabs on everything we’re doing to assist this inspiring charity, follow us on Facebook as we inch closer and closer to our goal every day!

 

Gabriel Group Associates Pay-It-Forward by Honoring Clients with Charitable Giving

Pictured above: Melanie Ortmeyer and Dave Hawkins of Gabriel Group; Darie Gordy, Shelter Case Manager, and Jacki MacIntosh, Executive Director, of Loaves and Fishes for St. Louis; and Arthur Kerckhoff of Gabriel Group

For the ninth year in a row, Gabriel Group has chosen to donate funds to a charity in lieu of giving a traditional Christmas gift to clients. In 2016, associates selected the group Loaves and Fishes for St. Louis as the recipient of our Pay-It-Forward initiative. Loaves and Fishes is a nonprofit organization who serves those who have been struck by economic hardships, providing them with food, shelter and support to help them realize self-sufficiency.

Fundraising occurs throughout the year and is supported by a variety of events and activities. Ideas for 2016 included Paint and Sip nights; washers, pool and table tennis tournaments; and multiple potluck luncheons. Through the hard work of our Pay-It-Forward Committee and the generosity of the entire Gabriel Group family, we were proud to present a check for $15,000 to our friends at Loaves and Fishes on January 23, 2017 – beating our goal of $10,000 by 50%.

To date, Gabriel Group has funded a spring water aqueduct in the Dominican Republic to help provide children with safe drinking water; built four double-family homes for families in earthquake-ravaged Haiti; funded a new classroom at an early childhood education center in Zambia; provided food and clothing to an orphanage in Mozambique; supported relief efforts following the tornado in Joplin; helped local St. Louis children suffering from abuse or neglect and partnered with an organization close to associates’ hearts after losing one of our own to ovarian cancer.

We look forward to continuing on our journey to help those in need as we shift our focus in 2017. Make sure to stay posted via our Facebook page to be the first to know what cause we choose next!

 

Gabriel Group Names George Miller, CFRE as Senior Fundraising Consultant

Gabriel Group is thrilled to announce the addition of George Miller to its team as Senior Fundraising Consultant. George will be responsible for developing result-oriented direct response fundraising campaigns using his expertise in major gifts and planned giving.

Before coming to Gabriel Group, George worked at Operation Smile as Vice President of U.S. Development. During this time, he managed an integrated development plan for major giving, planned giving, special events and corporate relations; cultivated leadership donors; and led the development team to significant revenue growth. George has also worked in the nonprofit fundraising arena at The Pursuant Group, Pi Kappa Alpha Foundation and Delta State University Foundation.

CEO Dave Hawkins says, “We are pleased to welcome yet another seasoned and highly successful fundraising professional to our team at Gabriel Group. George has proven his development skills and knowledge and will significantly enhance our fundraising capabilities.”

He continues, “The work we collaborate on with our nonprofit clients is not only a large part of our business, but something our associates are incredibly proud of and passionate about. We think George will fit right in in that regard, and we can’t wait for him to start making an impact.”

George holds an MBA in Management in addition to a BA in Finance from Delta State University. He obtained his CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) certification in 2007.

He enjoys staying involved with his community as a Deacon at Life Fellowship Church and serving on the boards of both the Delta State University National Alumni Association and Desoto Grace Ministries. In his free time, George can be found playing tennis and spending time with his wife and three children.

 

Postal Rates to Change on January 22nd

The United States Postal Service has announced new postal rates that will take effect on January 22, 2017.

A summary of eligible changes is outlined below.

  • First class stamps will increase in price from $0.47 to $0.49 while meter prices will decrease from $0.465 to $0.46. This will account for a $0.03 difference in price per piece as opposed to a $0.005 difference per piece that has been seen in previous years, making metered mail a bit more appealing.
  • Commercial and nonprofit marketing mail (formerly standard mail) will also increase by approximately $0.003 per piece, which accounts for about a $3 increase per 1,000 mailing pieces.

For your convenience, our Gabriel Group Postal Rate Chart is available to you for download. Click here to view and save the PDF.

Alphabet Postcard Campaign Notches Fourth Award of 2016

Pictured above: Dave Hawkins, Kelsey Wuertz, Traci Basden, Nancy Crum and Art Kerckhoff

Gabriel Group is proud to announce that its acclaimed Alphabet Postcard Campaign was named the winner of the Campaign: Two or More Pieces category at the ME Show Awards on October 6, 2016. The ME (Marketing Excellence) Show is presented by the St. Louis Chapter of the Business Marketing Association and is the only awards showcase in St. Louis solely dedicated to the recognition and celebration of top-notch business-to-business marketing and advertising.

The Alphabet Postcard Campaign continues an impressive streak of award-winning accomplishments throughout 2016. The Gabriel Group alphabet series was recognized as the winner of both the PCC Pony Award presented at the 2016 Printers & Mailers Conference in June and two Awards of Excellence at the 2016 IABC St. Louis Quill Awards in September in the Marketing Communication and Graphic Design categories. As a marketing effort, the campaign has brought in a total of twenty-two highly qualified leads and six new accounts to Gabriel Group. The newly acquired clients are expected to bill a combined $770,000 in their first year, which accounts for a return on investment of over 4,600%.

 

A Place for “Thanks” in Business

636021188777521701-1839553156_thank-you

The business world is one filled with high stress, bureaucratic decision-making and impersonal interactions, not to mention one that operates on the ruthless phrase “dog eat dog.” It’s easy to forget we’re all human in the midst of the latest crisis or the monotony of day-to-day tasks. But the fact of the matter is that each of us run on – no matter how hard we try to suppress or ignore them – emotions. Although the stigma to leave our feelings out of the office rages on, they do directly connect to a universal willingness to build meaningful relationships and an eagerness to be appreciated. Thanksgiving brings to light this reminder once a year, but by making it a part of your everyday routine, you will notice not only a difference in your relationships, but also in your overall experience and quality of life while at work. Clients, donors, co-workers – they are all worthy of sincere thanks not only around the holidays, but throughout the year. The importance of acknowledgement and recognition to the many people we interact with at the office can make a major impact on the lives of those who surround us, as well as our own. So are you ready to buy in?

Clients

The individuals and organizations that both B2B and B2C companies provide services for are on the top of this list for many reasons. Not only do partnerships aid in keeping both parties in business, but the amount of trust that is put in each other’s hands is undoubtedly humbling. The act of acknowledging your clients’ choice to step away from their own marketing efforts, or whatever it may be, is huge. This decision is not only scary for them but also extremely difficult. This concept is what drives businesses forward to provide exceptional customer service and develop a relationship fundamentally built on gratitude. Whether tasked with organizing sensitive customer information, handling creative direction or sending even one piece of mail, for that matter – the relationships that are fostered should not only be a priority, but a passion. Thanking clients on a regular basis with surprise treats on a holiday, customized birthday cards or a short and sweet quarterly appreciation email are among multiple outreach efforts that speak volumes when it comes to showing that you’re especially thankful when it comes to your customers.

Donors

Donating to a cause that is close to someone’s heart is one of the most sensitive and generous acts of kindness a person can perform. Why shouldn’t your thankfulness be communicated the same way? Larger nonprofits can quickly get bogged down by thousands, if not millions, of donors every single year. It is so easy to get overwhelmed while trying to stay focused on the next donation that hasn’t even come in yet. But creating and following through on a donor thank-you program is incredibly important when it comes to retention and establishing a lifelong bond. Maybe your CEO carves out an hour each week to get on the phone with your top donors, or your strategy includes a sentimental and personalized thank-you card to every single person who contributes to your organization. Whatever it is, showing your donors you love them back is a fundamental part of the nonprofit world where donors openly give their time, money and heart to supporting your mission to better the world.

Co-workers

This one might seem like the most obvious, but it is oftentimes the most difficult. We all know the statistics on the number of hours we spend at the office versus our own home; the reminder of thanking our second family while at work can often slide down our to-do list as quickly as it landed there. Having thank-you notes handy whenever something big or small happens around the office can be an encouraging kickstart to turn a small mission into a regular habit. But more than anything, real and genuine conversations – whether with a manager or with your work BFF – undeniably makes the most impact. The next time you sit down to craft yet another quick reply “Thank you!” email, try making the effort to walk down to your co-workers desk in order to create a more personal and meaningful experience instead. Taking for granted where you work is one thing, but taking for granted the people who make your life easier on a daily basis is another thing entirely. Make sure to reach out, connect, and share your appreciation with your teammates on a regular basis.

Balancing a sense of reality and productivity in the workplace is a challenge we all struggle with. Many times it is hard to step out of our latest mindset to gauge a broader sense of not only if we feel appreciated, but if others are receiving the appreciation they deserve as well. It’s a tough concept to keep in mind with the craziness of life always getting in the way, but it is so incredibly important in the broader scheme of things. Living a life and working a job where thanking others for their contribution to your own personal cause – no matter how small – tends to keep the chaos at bay and gratefulness at the forefront of your mind. This Thanksgiving, make it a point to continue the pattern of recognition and thanks everywhere you go – particularly where you do business and with the people you work with. All in a day’s work, right?

On that note, thank you so much for reading our blog! You are one of the many things we are grateful for here at Gabriel Group. We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family this Holiday season.

Your Friends at GG

3 Major Benefits of Outsourcing Your Strategy Development

When it comes to knowing your business inside and out – you’ve got it covered. Knowing exactly how to implement the right strategy to reach your goals…that’s where we come in.

We all know the saying “he who yells the loudest gets heard.” But the fact of the matter is most of us are guilty of diving into the day-to-day chaos and channeling too much energy into tackling the most pressing business challenges at hand, even though 9 times out of 10, these matters simply aren’t the most important issues we’re facing. Seems about time to reevaluate, doesn’t it? Your marketing efforts are undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of your business operations. While you take ownership over your organization’s branding, vision and end objectives, why not solicit some extra help to handle all of the details on your way to success? Here are three reasons why:

  1. Expertise

The B2B industry is booming with thought leaders, seasoned professionals and true experts. These people are the real deal. The bigger picture of B2B service offerings can usually be understood pretty easily, but the details – the creation, development and implementation processes – aren’t quite so easy to grasp or understand, nor do they necessarily need to be. We all have our niches of expertise. Why take time away from your priorities when you can call upon some of the best minds in the business – whatever your needs may be?

  1. Full-service partnership

Strategy is just the beginning. At Gabriel Group, we help you develop the perfect idea, and then we put it into action. Print on demand, fulfillment, fundraising, or even a combination – from start to finish, we walk though every step with you in order to assist in creating the best end product, and most importantly, the best experience that you could have imagined. We’re more than a vendor when it comes to your business needs…we’re a true partner that you can rely on, day or night.

  1. Get back to doing what you do best

There are always going to be bigger crises that you and your team should be attending to. You can rest assured knowing that everything is taken care of regarding your marketing support when stress runs high. Deadline change? No problem. Last minute project? Bring it on. We believe that no matter the situation, keeping perspective on what’s really important is what makes us a difference maker: serving you throughout every challenge, opportunity and circumstance.

Working hand-in-hand with you to achieve results is what Gabriel Group does best. Our strategy is a simple one: to make you happy and foster a growing relationship that is based on trust, respect and success. Hear from some of our biggest fans here to get a taste of what it’s really like to work with us. After all, our customers really do know best.