Turning Up The Heat on Company Culture

Written by: Brady Drake
Kirk Anton and Tricia Huson Barse Heat Transfer Warehouse Owners

Not many companies came through the pandemic unscathed by “The Great Resignation.” However, Heat Transfer Warehouse came close. The local company, specializing in heat transfer vinyl products and with other locations in Cincinnati, Ohio, Las Vegas, Nev. and Jacksonville, Fla., is in a much stronger position today than pre-pandemic.

Business is Booming!

Heat Transfer Warehouse, like many other companies, was left questioning what would become of their business during the onset of the pandemic. Initially, they did experience about a two-and-a-half-month downturn in business. However, they bounced back strong when the pandemic increased the number of DIYers and home crafters.

According to Heat Transfer Warehouse Co-Owners Kirk Anton and Tricia Huson Barse, they lost only five full-time employees over the course of the pandemic.

“We tried to really be proactive in our approach,” Anton said. “And that really started with a big increase in communication.”

“We would go on weekly video chats with our team and try to keep that line of communication open,” Huson Barse added. “Because we didn’t know what was going to happen. Nobody could. We had to really just double down on communication and culture.”

What does that look like?

From the very beginning of the pandemic, Heat Transfers Warehouse doubled down on communication and culture in a variety of ways, including:

• Finding the right seat – “We really like to analyze our employees and make sure we’re putting them in the ‘right seats on the bus.’ I think that’s one way we’ve kept employees here, is by putting them in the roles they’re supposed to be in and allowing them to grow and flourish in their roles. If they’re not succeeding, it’s kind of my fault. It means I haven’t given them the right tools or put them in the right spot.” – Kirk Anton

• Accepting their part in the journey – Antong and Huson Barse are adamant that they realize Heat Transfer Warehouse isn’t meant to be everyone’s place of work forever. They also realize that it’s their responsibility to see their employee relationships as a two-way street, meaning they’re working to help their employees reach their goals just as much as they’re helping the company reach its goals. They’ve even made a point of accommodating employees in trying to do this. “One of our employees knew she eventually wanted to live in the country,” Anton said. “Because we had the lines of communication open, she told us that. And we were able to tell her that we wanted to continue to be part of her plans when she made that move. Now she works for us remotely, comes in a couple of times a month and we were able to keep a really good employee.”

• Embracing change – Over the course of the last two years, Heat Transfer Warehouse added its sixth core value, “development,” which, of course, focuses on growth for employees within the company, but also changes in response to cultural shifts. For example, Heat Transfer Warehouse didn’t use to allow its employees to wear headphones while working. However, “we noticed that’s what the younger generation wants,” Huson Barse said. “And we want to keep our employees, so, we let them wear headphones now.”

• What if days – A couple of times per year, Heat Transfer Warehouse will have a day where everyone has the opportunity to present any idea, any question, any suggestion. “This has given us some of the best ideas in the company,” Anton said.

• Team building events – Once per quarter, the entire Heat Transfer Warehouse team will participate in one charity event and one culture event, which includes things like bowling, laser tag, etc. The Heat Transfer Warehouse team also has employees participate in mini culture activities every other week. This usually involves the team taking a break in the middle of the day and playing some sort of game.

The fishbowl – Every new hire, at every location, is subject to the fishbowl; a fun, get-to-know-you activity where the new hire sits in a room with a fishbowl filled with questions. The activity only lasts about 15 minutes, but in those 15 minutes, the new hire will learn something about each person in the room based on a question they draw from the fishbowl. This process is then repeated virtually so the new hire can meet all of the other employees all across the United States.

Testing the waters – In an attempt to ensure that they’re hiring the right people, Heat Transfer Warehouse will bring in prospective employees for test days. This means that the employee will work in the business for 2-3 days to see if they’re the right fit before getting hired.

“Overall, I think communication and culture have been the saving grace for us,” Huson Barse said.

Learn more at heattransferwarehouse.com

Share This Article
Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.