May 3, 2011
As part of our ongoing series featuring past Torch Award recipients, the BBB’s National Center for Character Ethics is pleased to shine a spotlight on Peebles Creative Group, a strategic marketing and design firm located in Dublin, Ohio.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Drive thy business or it will drive thee.” As Doug Peebles, Peebles Creative Group’s founder, worked late one night alone in his office, Franklin’s famous quotation couldn’t have been more applicable. The year was 1997, and his growing to-do list brought him to a logical conclusion, “I need help.”
“At the time, I was being driven,” Doug shared. “The business was only a couple months old, but opportunities came quickly and soon there was a lot of work that needed done. I went from wondering where our revenue would come from to needing to add employees much quicker than I had ever anticipated.”
Looking around the office that night, “humble” would have been the best description. “I feared it would be difficult to attract the caliber of employee the work demanded,” he remembered. What came next established an exciting future for the young company.
Doug started typing into his computer a list of things that he had always wanted as an employee. Things like: being allowed to excel at his job; being encouraged to explore and take chances; working with people who had high standards and wouldn’t accept substandard performance; and having his loyalty returned by the employer.
He also added the types of things he was looking for as an employer: Employees who were focused on the client; a feeling of family; and the chance to lead an ethical company… more than just fair and honest… one that promoted integrity and would in time become a source of pride.
“What I typed into the computer that evening became our Statement of Values,” Peebles shared. “It was the first real tangible expression of my previously stated goals. Up until then, the way I summed it up… I wanted to do good work, with good people, make good money, support some good causes along the way, and not go to hell doing it… was more personal than useful. I now had something I could use.”
The document was put to use immediately. At the end of an interview, he handed the newly created Statement of Values to each employee prospect and said, “This company is still an infant… I believe it will grow by honoring these values. If there’s anything here that you don’t agree with, this isn’t the right place for you.”
Eventually, employee prospects became employees and employees became team members… all credited the Statement of Values as being a big reason for deciding to
join the firm.
The Statement of Values occupies the center spread of the company’s employee manual, but it’s not just a center spread. It is part of the work life at Peebles Creative Group.
“As we were growing, we would meet annually to discuss the Statement of Values,” Peebles said. “If we believed something was missing, we would add it. If something on the list wasn’t being honored, we would discuss either doing a better job or removing that item from the list. Most of the time, the group agreed to keep the item on the list and worked to improve in that area.”
Then, in 2005, Peebles Creative Group was awarded the BBB of Central Ohio’s Business Integrity Award. Now known as the BBB Torch Award, the award is given to central Ohio organizations whose business practices and related activities in the community exemplify the BBB’s mission and principles.
“The recognition impacted us in two ways,” Peebles remembered. “First, we were honored and pleased. When you make a conscious decision to do business the right way, the road often appears more difficult. There were shortcuts we could have taken, but we never did. Of all the awards PCG has received, the BBB Torch Award remains the most meaningful.”
“Then, we felt pressure,” Peebles added. “We realized that the recognition resulted in even more responsibility. We weren’t worried about becoming unethical, but I did want PCG to become even more intentional in its commitment to doing the right thing.”
In pursuit of this intentionality, a questionnaire was distributed to team members to measure the firm’s performance related to the Statement of Values. The values receiving the top score received a unanimous ten out of ten rating: Stay focused on the client; and be fair and honest; keep the promises you make and promote integrity.
It would be easy to oversimplify the results… Peebles Creative Group focuses on its clients and it does what it says it’s going to do. But, it’s important to recognize that many areas receiving high scores represent things that wouldn’t have occurred naturally if leadership hadn’t first taken the initiative to communicate the importance of those values.
“I have no doubt that the process of documenting our values was the single most-defining moment in PCG’s now 14-year history,” Peebles added. “Our Statement of Values provides PCG with a professional framework within which to work, think, make decisions, and act consistently.”
You can learn more about Peebles Creative Group’s philosophy, clients and service offering at peeblescreativegroup.com.
Doug Peebles is President/CEO of Peebles Creative Group, has participated in both the BBB Center for Character Ethics' President's Forum and Advanced President's Forum, and is a member of the BBB Center for Character Ethics' National Program Committee.