Interviews | October 05, 2021
Shamrock Thrives With a Positive Culture
What comes to mind when you hear the words “culture club?”
For some people, it refers to only one thing: the new wave band responsible for such hits as “Karma Chameleon.” For employees of The Shamrock Companies, however, culture club means something entirely different.
“Our culture club is made up of eight or 10 or so employees. They meet monthly, and they always have something planned,” explains Bob De Garmo, Shamrock’s president.
These plans might involve an employee appreciation kit with all the fixings for ice cream sundaes being distributed to every worker at Shamrock. It might also involve the members of the culture club recording themselves singing “Happy Birthday” and embedding the recording into countless “That Was Easy” buttons to be distributed to workers on their birthdays.
Alternatively, the plans might include putting socks and jackets under the corporate Christmas tree to donate to the homeless.
We believe employees need more than just a good job with a great company.
—Bob De Garmo, President, The Shamrock Companies
The point is, Shamrock’s culture club is always working to find ways to recognize the company’s employees and celebrate their accomplishments. That focus is part of Shamrock’s wider emphasis on its employees and the working atmosphere. De Garmo credits Bob Troop, Shamrock’s founder, chairman and CEO, with setting a company-wide example on how to treat others.
“We believe employees need more than just a good job with a great company. They want something more than that,” De Garmo says. “That’s why we have our 40 Ways to Create Awesomeness.”
The 40 Ways to Create Awesomeness program features — as the name suggests — 40 different action points, suggestions, attitudes and reminders for Shamrock’s employees. They are built around the four pillars of Shamrock’s culture: the individual, the team, the customer and the community.
“A typical 40 Ways when it comes to the individual would be ‘Choose your attitude before you walk in the door every day,’” De Garmo says. “When people say, ‘I’m choosing my attitude. I’m going to make it a great day. I’m going to find a way to make somebody else’s day,’ that’s an individual thing that can be really powerful.”
The other Ways to Create Awesomeness are similarly built around Shamrock’s four pillars. Every month, Shamrock features a different Way and asks for nominations of employees who embody that particular way the most. The employee or employees nominated for that month then receive company-wide recognition for their efforts.
Training and Commitment
Shamrock’s emphasis on its employees is not just limited to recognition of achievements. The company strives to strengthen its employees’ skill sets and put them in the best possible position for career and personal growth. De Garmo again credits Troop with setting the tone for an atmosphere of entrepreneurialism across Shamrock. Under Troop’s vision, the very best sales talent possible is equipped with the very best platform possible to maximize the chance of success and build experience in business.
“We provide a platform for them to be as successful as possible, to be in an environment that’s very similar to running their own company,” De Garmo says.
As part of that vision, Shamrock has developed blended training boot camps for its sales employees. The programs are designed to help people who have strong sales records but might not have an extensive background in the print and promo world.
“If you can take an employee who doesn’t have industry experience and get them up to speed in six months instead of one year, that makes a big difference — not just in the ROI from the new person, but in that new person wanting to stay with it,” De Garmo says.
To that end, Shamrock offers about a dozen different boot camps to train its sales staff in fulfillment, technology, efficient leveraging of the supply chain and more. Between the training programs, culture club initiatives and general commitment to employee happiness, development and well-being, Shamrock has built up a loyal workforce, with the average employee tenure clocking in at more than 13 years.
Programs, Not Products
It helps, of course, that Shamrock is constantly looking for new ways to grow. De Garmo says the company’s roots are in print, but Shamrock has expanded over the years to cover more segments — like packaging, promo, apparel and digital marketing. The company’s ever-present focus on finding new revenue streams means Shamrock is constantly growing and its employees are not stuck in one rut. While all the expansions have paid off for Shamrock, De Garmo singles out digital marketing as an especially important avenue for growth.
“More than half of our sales team has gone through 50-plus hours of digital marketing training, which includes multiple certifications,” he explains. “It’s a pretty complex world. There are lots of moving parts, there are lots of different strategies and options, and budget is always going to come into play.”
But Shamrock knew it wanted to be able to sell in two ways: offline (print, direct mail, packaging, promotional products and apparel) and online (websites, videos, search engine optimization, content marketing and more). So, the company fully committed to digital marketing, knowing that any kind of halfway approach would not be good enough. The commitment means Shamrock is now able to sell programs rather than just products.
"Our approach is to take the print and the promo and wrap a little technology and a little fulfillment around that and turn it into a program," De Garmo says. "I think none of us like when you're just quoting on a print job. That's no fun. But when you can really set up a system that better serves your sales teams and your employees and makes life simple for your customer, that's fune. That's when you become a partner instead of a vendor."
De Garmo adds that Shamrock is always looking for the next improvement or advancement it can make. He believes companies that never adapt will find themselves in trouble sooner or later and that the best way to protect yourself against crises is to grow as the industry and economy grow.
Progressing With PSDA
Shamrock was previously a member of PSDA, but the company ultimately let its membership lapse for a while. Recently, however, several factors contributed to De Garmo’s decision to rejoin the association. One of these factors is PSDA’s determination to adapt along with the industry.
“Our industry has changed quickly, and I know that PSDA as an organization is probably talking right now about how they can evolve to meet the changing needs of their members,” De Garmo says. “I’m excited to see how PSDA evolves to meet our needs.”
De Garmo was also intrigued by PSDA’s training programs, specifically Print Basics. He heard about PSDA’s training programs from one of Shamrock’s supplier partners, who also happens to be a PSDA member. The partner’s praise of PSDA’s training programs piqued De Garmo’s interest, and Shamrock ended up sending four of its newer sales representatives to the Print Basics session in late August.
Networking was another factor that attracted De Garmo to PSDA. He is looking forward to connecting with fellow members in the months to come and would be interested in attending PSDA events in the future if his schedule allows.
“So far, so good,” he says. “I’ve met nothing but nice people, and I’m excited to see where it goes!”
De Garmo and 2,990 other members take advantage of all PSDA has to offer. Interested in joining them? Find out more about membership.
Business/Growth Strategies Company Culture