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Welcome to my blog on company culture! I’m traveling the country visiting companies with great workplace cultures and writing about them. Why? Find out here.

Julia Kortberg

julia@touringwithpurpose.com

CV #25 Macro Connect: The IT Company that Plants Trees for their Customers & Donates +80 Hours a Month to Serve the Community

CV #25 Macro Connect: The IT Company that Plants Trees for their Customers & Donates +80 Hours a Month to Serve the Community

MACRO CONNECT AT A GLANCE

Founded: In 1997 by brothers Matt and Kevin Morin in Detroit, MI. Macro Connect offers affordable IT services to schools in the local Detroit, Michigan area.

Motto: Be excellent to each other.

Employees: 18 | Revenue: $2.3M

Core Values:

  • Honorable: we do what we say and we do the right thing

  • Inquisitive: life-long learners

  • Relentlessly positive: because attitude matters

  • Tenacious: when things get tough, we get tougher

  • Meticulous: attention to detail is paramount

  • Community-minded: a rising tide raises all ships!

Photo by Macro Connect. Pictured: Macro Connect team members renovates Hunt Street Station.

Photo by Macro Connect. Pictured: Macro Connect team members renovates Hunt Street Station.

LET THE TOUR BEGIN

Macro Connect is not your average IT services company. Beyond providing affordable IT Services to schools in the local Detroit, MI area, they care an extraordinarily amount for their community, customers, and team-members.

Their commitment to their community starts with their physical office space. They recently finished a 1.5 year renovation of Hunt Street Station, the former Third Precinct for Detroit’s Metropolitan Police Department for over 63 years. The decision to renovate the Third Precinct was driven by their desire to preserve a piece of history and expand development outside of Eastern Market’s district.

“Hunt Street Station’s location is important to us,” said Matt Morin, Co-Founder & CEO of Macro Connect. “We wanted to help expand the development of the city outside of Eastern Market. We are big believers in the City of Detroit. We always have been and I’m sure that we always will be because it’s an important part of our identity.”

Looking to provide opportunities in the neighborhood, Macro Connect opened Hunt Street Station coworking for neighborhood businesses.  “We want to offer affordable coworking for Detroit businesses,” said Community Manager, Alex Mayo. They currently have 30 businesses and more than 60 members coworking out of Hunt Street Station and are looking to get to full capacity of 100.

While visiting Macro Connect, I had the chance to speak with the following team members: Matt Morin, Co-Founder & CEO, Doug Marsh, Finance and Human Resource Director, Miguel Davis, Client Solutions Director, Chris Skurda, Consultant, Alex Mayo, Community Manager, and Anna DuCharme, Administrative Specialist. Here’s what I learned:

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard. Pictured: Hunt Street Station before it was renovated by Macro Connect to become their office space and co-working for local businesses.

Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard. Pictured: Hunt Street Station before it was renovated by Macro Connect to become their office space and co-working for local businesses.

MAIN TAKEAWAYS

1. Caring about Community: Donated Time Program

Raised as Eagle Scouts in Detroit, brothers Matt and Kevin Morin grew up giving back.  So it’s no surprise that over the last 12 years, Macro Connect has donated over 5,000 hours to the Detroit and metro Detroit community with their now 18 - person team.

This is largely because of the “Donated Time Program” that they launched in 2006, where they encourage team members to donate at least 5 hours a month to a cause of their choice using company time.

While they track all the volunteer hours between managers and team members, they don’t actively publicize how many hours each person has volunteered because they don’t want to incentivize volunteering for the wrong reasons. Instead, they casually talk about volunteering and passion projects during their weekly Friday stand up.

“We believe we are a community-minded company. We don’t tell people what to do or how to do it. What matters is that people participate.” – Matt Morin, Co-Founder & CEO

The leadership team also models the behavior they wish to see. “Matt and Kevin are both lifelong Detroiters,” said Client Solutions Director, Miguel Davis. “They both donate their time in community organizations and they foster an environment where it is expected to donate time and build community.”

The Macro Connect team is also very supportive of each other’s community causes. For example, when Administrative Specialist, Anna DuCharme, was working to coordinate the details for Relentless Detroit, an annual powerlifting event that raises money for families with children who are diagnosed with life threatening illnesses, five of Macro Connect’s team members showed up on the Saturday event to support her. As Matt Co-Founder, Morin shared, “If it’s important to our team, then it is important to us.”

Encouraging team members to donate their time is grounded in Marco Connect’s core value of being a community-minded organization and it also supports team member engagement. “People are more engaged when they can spend time doing other things at work,” said Doug Marsh, Finance & HR Director. “And as much time as our people spend volunteering, it’s worth it.”

Photo by Macro Connect. Pictured: Macro Connect bakes cookies for the community during the Winter holiday season.

Photo by Macro Connect. Pictured: Macro Connect bakes cookies for the community during the Winter holiday season.

2. Caring about Customers: The IT Company Who Asks Their Clients if They’re Watering Their Plants

Macro Connect goes above and beyond to show their customers that they care. “A lot of companies say that they are great because they provide excellent customer service, but to us it’s really important that we live who we say we’re going to be,” said Matt.

They show their appreciation through annual giving, such as sending teachers their specially roasted coffee blend, “Blended Learning,” at the beginning of each school year, as well as sending teachers a special gift for teacher appreciation week. However, they also host monthly brainstorming sessions to find ways to go above and beyond for clients.

Co-Founder, Matt Morin, and Client Solutions Director, Miguel Davis, brainstorm together by asking themselves two questions: 1) What’s going on in our client’s world right now? and 2) What time of year is it? From there, they make a list.

It was through this process that they came up with the idea to plant a tree in honor of an alumni of one of their clients who was killed. “We planted a tree in his memory at the school,” said Miguel. “It’s things like that that show the people we work with they aren’t just a paycheck to us. This is a partnership and a relationship that we’re trying to grow.”

“If you care about your clients, you care about their communities.” - Matt Morin, Co-Founder & CEO

Macro Connect’s client appreciation is intentionally rarely IT or service related. “It’s always a gesture that either reflects our culture or helps a customer in an area that they wouldn’t expect us to get involved in. Often, it gets tied into our donated time,” said Miguel.

“I think it’s important for our clients to see us as than more than just an IT company,” said Matt. “We very much feel that way. We might do IT services 9-5, or much later hours for emergency support, but at the end of the day, we see ourselves as community, not just people who fix things when they break.”

Photo courtesy of Macro Connect. Pictured: A Macro Connect team outing at the lake.

Photo courtesy of Macro Connect. Pictured: A Macro Connect team outing at the lake.

3. Caring about Each Other: Inside & Outside of Work

When I asked Macro Connect to describe their company culture a lot of their responses were about friendship. Many of Macro Connect’s team members have worked for Macro Connect for 10+ years.

“We’re all friends. I would do anything for them or their families.,” said Chris Skurda, a long-time team member and Consultant.

In formal ways, Macro Connect shows team members they care, by offering them Individual Development Plans, a $1500 stipend to spend at their own discretion for their own learning and development, and similar to Skidmore Studio, by recognizing team members at their weekly Friday debrief meetings with “gratitudes” and “WOW! Bonuses.”

Every Friday at 4:30pm, the Macro Connect team ends the week with a debrief. The debrief starts with gratitudes, which is an opportunity for team members to share thanks to one another. Following the gratitudes, the debrief includes customer updates, sales updates, and closes out by recognizing the ways in which team members have lived out company values, which sometimes includes a WOW! Bonus.

A WOW! Bonus is awarded to team members who have gone above and beyond for either a co-worker, client, or the community. Team members can nominate one another for a WOW! Bonus by emailing the HR Director with the answers to the following questions:

  1. Was the action significantly above and beyond what we normally expect from an employee? Why?

  2. Did the action help Macro Connect, a co-worker, client, or community? How?

  3. Did the action help our clients achieve breakthrough performance or demonstrate one of Macro Connect's core values?

  4. If these reasons don't pertain, why should we award this bonus?

Team members are awarded in front of their peers and awarded a $50 cash bonus on the spot.

“An example of a team member who received a WOW! Bonus was Chris Skurda, who was working on an implementation project at a school over the weekend,” said Matt. “When he got there, he realized that the water main was broken and that there was water gushing out and flooding the building. Instead of picking up the phone to call someone and report it, which would have likely led to further damage, he found a way to shut it off himself, despite the fact that it meant that he got soaked and needed to get a new pair of shoes.”

While a WOW! Bonus is a great way to formally show appreciation for team members, Macro Connect also shows team members they care in many informal ways.

For example, Co-Founder, Kevin Morin, is helping two team members implement the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) in their side business, so that they can run more efficiently. Another team member, is passionate about coffee, so the co-founders bought him roasting equipment on the stipulation that he roast coffee for their customers and community. Another team member loves music and so they’re talking about creating a music studio in the basement of Hunt Street Station.

“The management team does a lot to help others,” said Chris. “They help us focus, not just on doing well at the company, but in general. Not just here, but if there’s a project we want to work on or have time for, they encourage us to do that.” Taking an interest and supporting each other outside of work is what makes Macro Connect’s team members, more like friends.

As Chris summed it up, “It doesn’t feel like a company culture, it feels like my friends and I hang out and we do good work for people.”

CV #26: How Team 1 Plastics Lives their Championship Dream

CV #26: How Team 1 Plastics Lives their Championship Dream

Zingerman's:  There is No Hierarchy of Human Beings

Zingerman's: There is No Hierarchy of Human Beings