Audrey Garard loved working at Grooms Office Environments. She loved its family-first philosophy, tradition of service and commitment to being a locally owned business. She loved Grooms so much, after working there 10 years, Audrey, then Chief Operating Officer, and her husband, Jonathan, purchased the high-end commercial furniture dealership in 2015 from Olin Grooms. Grooms led the business with an intense focus on relationships, both with customers and employees, for 37 years.
“Valuing employees at Grooms was important really from its inception,” Jonathan says. “The previous owners valued people, valued family, valued relationships, more so than just money itself.”
The furniture company currently has 33 employees who work in its Springfield office and are offered flexible hours so they can be present for school activities, morning drop-offs and more, Audrey says. “We don’t take away from their vacation hours if they want to go to a school Valentine’s Day party or play,” she says. “And that flexibility breeds personal responsibility because they know that they’re given that freedom to be away, but they’re also expected to meet deadlines.”
At work, employees are encouraged to invest in each other. Quarterly reviews out of the office, with a provided lunch, encourage teamwork and mutual success, Jonathan says. “After we celebrate individual and team achievements, we’ll go bowling or to an escape room,” he says. “But our culture is centered around service, too.”
Each year, Grooms employees team up for company-wide and individual service projects. Employees raise money and collect donations for assisted living seniors each holiday season. For the past two years, the company gave $50 in Grooms Bucks to each employee to donate to a local nonprofit of their choice during Give Ozarks Day. These projects have led some employees to get even more involved—an annual office diaper drive for the Diaper Bank of the Ozarks led employee Amy Henson to join its board of directors.
“When we collect, donate and deliver items to seniors in need each year, we involve our whole team, even our installers,” says Jonathan. “We all deliver the baskets together, and that day is full of hugs and tears because of the difference we make together. There’s an impact on the lives we touch, and our employees get to be a part of that. That gives them a fuller life.”
The breakfast casseroles, birthday balloons and paying for job-related continuing education add up. But there’s a huge return on the company’s investment: more than 50 percent of its team has worked at Grooms for more than a decade, with nearly a quarter of employees working for Grooms for more than 20 years.
“The return on the investments we make in our company culture comes back 10-fold,” Jonathan says. “Our employees aren’t leaving; why would they? And when we do hire, it’s easier to find quality candidates, because people want to work here. If employees love what they’re doing, they show up every day, they give 110 percent, and they give us so much more than we could ever give them.”