Kudela & Weinheimer staff showing their support for the Houston Astros.
VISION, from page 7
give freedom, when that kid flags, you need to step in. For example, our San Antonio office was struggling. We had an employee here who wanted to help as he was originally from that area. We moved him there and now the office is doing great. Failure is usually due to inexperience, so we mentor as much as possible. TZL: They say failure is a great teacher. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn the hard way? TK: Letting managers do their own thing without enough oversight. Also, not listening to complaints. We’ve had people complain about managers for one reason or another and did not take them too seriously. It turned out they were right. TZL: In one word or phrase, what do you describe as your number one job responsibility as CEO?
experience, and innovation and/or recruiting to find qualified resources? TK: Recruiting for landscape architecture is difficult. There’s not a big pool to choose from, so we work closely with universities and have developed relationships with some key schools. For example, we have a great relationship with Purdue and hire interns who tell their classmates and so on. We also teach on campus. Trying to find that five- to 10-year person is the most challenging. We do a great deal of professional networking, and encourage employees to spread the word too. We have a reward program where if an employee referral is hired, a finder’s fee of a couple of thousand dollars is provided. It makes for good chemistry. TZL: When you identify a part of your business that is not pulling its weight in terms of profitability or alignment with the firm’s mission, what steps do you take, and what’s the timeline, to address the issue while minimizing impacts to the rest of the company? TK: If something is broken, you need to jump on it and fix it. Much like a kid who you want to be independent and “We did not have flexible policies on working from home or other locations. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our firm has had to rethink the structure of our office. The health of our employees is paramount so K&W was immediate on implementing the work-from- home arrangements.”
TZL: Diversity and inclusion are lacking. What steps are you taking to address the issue? TK: We’re pretty diverse. It’s a niche profession so we work with many foreign students in university programs and support them in getting their visas. We have a large number of women here too, so I think we’re well balanced. TZL: A firm’s longevity is valuable. What are you doing to encourage your staff to stick around? TK: Professional development is very important. We maintain awareness that they’re people and not machines. We have a good track record with our employees and have minimal turnover. It’s all about being flexible and working together. Oh – and there are tacos too.
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THE ZWEIG LETTER MAY 4, 2020, ISSUE 1343
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