4 The record articles

ALL4, 10 Years, Take 2

Posted: April 2nd, 2012

Author: All4 Staff 

OK, my turn now, hopefully everyone reading this won’t think we are the most narcissistic organization on the face of the earth but all of the Principals wanted to write a blog post and Bill got to go first.  We have all learned a ton of stuff about how to run a business, how not to run a business, how to communicate, how not to communicate (still taking our lumps there!), etc. over our first 10 years.  The thing that sticks out to me is how much time is spent focusing on the present and the future; mostly the future.  It is very rare that we ever look back and in thinking about writing this blog it became apparent to me how hard that is.  That said, here goes.

My role has always been a little more slanted towards our internal stuff – operations, recruiting, and creating and living a “best in class” culture.  From the jump, that is what ALL4 was always all about for me — consulting is about people, they are the lifeblood.  In former lives I remember hearing things like “Clients hire us because of the {insert Company Name here} ‘brand’ and the {insert Company Name} is bigger than any one person.”  We at ALL4 felt that in the consulting business it was never about “the brand” or “the Company”; “the brand” is the people (Kristin is on her way up to punch me now).  I always felt that if our clients feel that ALL4 has good people that help them, then we will succeed.  I think we have been successful because we have good people.  A best in class work culture is one of the components to attracting and retaining good people.  We have had a lot of laughs, many challenges, and put in a lot of personal time over the past 10 years to help get ALL4 both off the ground and where it is today. Here are a few of my “memorable” “ALL4 culture” moments for 10 Years (I only picked one each year so please do not take offense, I could have picked several but I didn’t think anyone would read a 12 page blog post):

  1. 2001 (OK I cheated and added a year): The name ALL4 is created by Dan Holland essentially by default — it truly was the least confusing or offensive of our options.  Immediately our first clients got blocked by their IT group by typing in www.all4.com which turns out to be a XXX site.  Lesson #1 — type in all possible combinations of your name in a search engine before deciding on a final name.
  2. 2002: First day of business is March 25th. Dave Chetkowski, our first employee, shows up, thank god.  Our Internet Service Provider does not, and we spend the next 3 months sharing a single 100 ft phone line to check e-mail and log on to www.all4.com (Haha, just kidding!).
  3. 2003: We hold one of our first recess events in the summer.  It is a miniature golf tournament.  It is about 90 degrees but over 100 degrees on the velvety Astroturf greens of Putter Falls.  The battle is tough and only the strong survive.  Egan is finally overcome with heat exhaustion on the 15th hole and his daughter has to help him to his car to get him back to the office.  We almost lost our “Big Toe” that day.
  4. 2004: We get lucky (not the first time, good fortune is a big part of any business plan).  A great group of three talented consultants all become available and we hire Kristin Gordon, Roy Rakiewicz and Tom Wickstrom over a span of 3 months. Their impact is huge and essentially allows us to increase our size, knowledge, and consulting experience virtually overnight.
  5. 2005: We amp up our recess activities to a whole new level. In May we have our first Paintball outing.  Having employees brandishing guns and firing rounds of Paintballs at your head gives one a whole new perspective…and interpretation of what it means to be “best in class”.  No pain, no gain. This was pain.
  6. 2006: Our first “big” retreat is held in Philadelphia.  Somehow the nighttime festivities conclude at a bar called “Drinkers” — let’s just say a few folks (or just Kristin) had a hard time answering the bell for the Saturday morning 7AM meeting.
  7. 2007:  Our annual summer event is our “Crabfest.”  Colin takes the 2007 Crabfest to a whole new level by deciding to go shirtless for the rest of the evening following his stint in the dunk tank.  I think the picture tells the story.
  8. 2008: Phillies win the World Series and ALL4 loses $10,000 in a day as half the office attends the parade.  ALL4 named to the Inc. 5,000 “fastest growing companies” list for the first time.
  9. 2009: Financial crisis is in its full glory.  Clients going bankrupt.  Projects cancelled.  Other consulting firms are laying off and contracting.  Generally a pretty ugly year…  We grow market share and in size.  RIP Marvin Gregory 8/20/1942 – 8/20/2009.
  10. 2010: Ranked as the No. 1 Environmental Consulting Firm to work for in the United States by Civil Engineering News.  I had never read Civil Engineering News but I just cancelled my Sports Illustrated subscription and it’s now my “go to” magazine.  I gave John, Bill, and Dan a lifetime worth of “material” to use against me as I flubbed the “acceptance” speech in a big way.  Rumor has it the video exists somewhere but I am not going to advertise it.  Southern Regional Office in Columbus, GA opens! 
  11. 2011: We take our 10 year anniversary Holiday Party back to the place where we had our first – Buddakan in Philadelphia.  Great night, awesome to see 60+ people there vs. 12 in year 1.  Brandie is the big winner as she takes home the iPad in the Holiday Gift Exchange which ended prematurely with Bob and Chuck wrestling on the floor for the adult SpongeBob footie pajamas.
  12. 2012: 10 Years, we still are taking care of clients, working hard, laughing with one another and thriving.


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