Kline Electric employee owners celebrate a memorable year.
Since the company became 100% employee-owned, Kline Electric has made a point of celebrating the team responsible for its success—the employee owners. This past month the employees had even more to cheer about.
“We do an event every year to announce the annual stock valuation,” says Kline President Shane Kline. “We feed everyone and have some kind of games and giveaways. It’s a chance to get our entire team in one place.”
With over 200 team members in four locations, that’s not an easy task, especially in a field where there’s always work to be done and a project—or 2 or 12—going on.
“Everyone shares in our success because everyone’s an owner, and we want to celebrate the hard work everyone’s put into that,” Kline says.
This year’s festivities recognized even more than the rising stock value. “We finished our new building and moved into it last month,” Kline says. “So this celebration was the first time a lot of our team have been able to tour the building.”
The new facility, Kline Headquarters, houses the corporate office staff, freeing up the original building for the Des Moines team. “We were getting pretty crowded at the original space, and we had the land here, with room to build. Now that we’re in, everyone is kind of wondering how we all managed to fit in the old building together,” says Kline.
The company is rapidly expanding beyond the Des Moines area, with two other offices in Iowa and one in Omaha. According to Kline, “We opened our Waterloo location three years ago because of projects we had going with one particular builder. Since then, it’s just continued to grow.”
He says those builder relationships have been key to the company’s expansion. Increased work in the Cedar Rapids area resulted in a second location in the eastern part of the state. And a long-term relationship with D. R. Horton led to the Omaha office.
Those satellite locations have been organic outgrowths of the Kline concept. Each time the company set up a new office, it’s been led by a current Kline team member. “We do things a very specific way, and we want every Kline Electric location to operate with that same culture and philosophy,” Kline says. “The guys leading those new locations then hire local people and train them.”
Kline says the company has opened up the management opportunities to qualified team members each time a new location has been proposed. “The fact that we’ve had great people willing to relocate to get these separate offices going is a reflection of the company culture we’ve developed. These guys have recognized that we’re offering them a chance to move up and get more leadership and management experience, and they’re eager to do that.”
That enthusiasm is contagious. He says new hires at each location are amazed at the Kline difference. “They come in for interviews and find out that working for us isn’t just a paycheck. We provide a clothing allowance, we offer an apprenticeship program, and every employee is part of the ownership program on their eligibility date. It’s a career focus, not just a job.”
Managing each branch individually while nurturing a corporate culture is one of the reasons the company invested in the new building. “This new office space allowed us to separate the Des Moines management team from the corporate team. And it provides space for corporate activities that we didn’t have room for in the original building,” says Kline.
In addition to corporate offices, the new building offers meeting spaces, a small gym that’s available to the entire team, and a classroom for the company’s newest venture, Kline University (see “Kline University”).
“The apprenticeship program is a very big investment,” Kline says. “But we realized that with the way the job market is right now, and if we want to make sure our employees are not just licensed but highly skilled in every area of the business, we needed to be overseeing that education in-house.”
They say if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. At Kline Electric, that’s just the right way to do business. And based on the results Kline Electric continues to see, that’s something to celebrate.