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Culture: The Foundation of PenChecks Success

by | Jan 17, 2024

Here we are at the end of another very successful year for PenChecks. 2023 will be another year of record company growth for us in every key financial metric. But, the thing I’m most proud to announce is that PenChecks was once again recognized as a Top Workplace in San Diego by the San Diego Union-Tribune for the third consecutive year.

This award is driven to a large degree by our culture. The way we treat our employees, the benefits we provide, the collaborative work atmosphere, and opportunities for growth are foundational pieces of how we run the business. We strive to create an environment where people want to work, and we challenge our employees to bring their best to work every day. We set the bar high for performance, and when our employees achieve top results it continues to drive their expectations. It reminds me of my early days with the company.

I went to work for PenChecks when the business was still in its early stages. The family business atmosphere was a big draw for myself and other employees, and I quickly realized the company offered an opportunity to do things nobody else was doing. The business was just beginning to recognize its potential and embracing the critical role technology was going to play to facilitate processing in the future. We correctly realized we could only make it work by leveraging software tools and the internet to process high volumes of business. It wasn’t long before PenChecks became known as a thought leader and innovator of new benefit distribution solutions.

As CEO of PenChecks my #1 priority has become helping us build an outstanding company, one where people with the right skills and values will seek us out for great opportunities and an awesome place to work. I reiterate to our employees all the time that we can’t create a company where everyone will become CEO or even a senior VP. But I believe we can build a company where people feel they are part of something good, where they are respected, appreciated, supported and have opportunities to grow. In our society most workers spend more waking hours at work than at home. Our goal is to create a work environment that gives our internal stakeholders meaning and purpose. We do that in two ways:

  1. Being a company that makes a positive impact in our industry and thus the world, and
  2. Being a company that intentionally invests in and prioritizes the growth and support of our employees in a multitude of different ways.

Hiring Professional Talent

With most entrepreneurial owned and operated businesses there comes a time when the company needs professional management to take the business to the next level. PenChecks has been successful in its continued transformation to a fintech service partner by embracing professional talent from both inside and outside our specific industry. In order to get where we want to go, we have to derive and embrace value from managers with experience and expertise in areas we have not explored before.

In the past 15 months alone, we have been fortunate to land three insanely talented professionals with significant track records of success in areas we need to make an impact in the financial services space.

  • Alexandra Gerritsen, Chief Operating Officer – responsible for increasing efficiency and profitability by removing waste, developing cross-functional teams to improve company-wide communication and collaboration, and strengthening the culture of accountability in all areas of the business.
  • Ron Kaplan, Senior Director of Product Management – responsible for product management, driving product innovation/strategy, and increasing product performance and customer adoption to new products and services.
  • Brian Furgala, Senior Director of Retirement Services Strategy – responsible for leading PenChecks’ strategic direction by identifying business opportunities and working with product management, marketing, sales and executive leadership to implement the opportunities that best align with our long-term objectives.

These professionals have already made a critical impact on our people and our culture by bringing their own expectations of what they can do and how to do it. Many times, they expect more of everyone else, which immediately starts raising expectations throughout the organization.

Additionally, in just the past year we have hired a number of incredible new individuals on our Sales Team. What is most impressive and flattering to me is we did not seek out these individuals. They came to us wanting to work for PenChecks based on what they knew about the company and relationships they had developed with some of our long-term personnel. High-level operators won’t work for a company they don’t believe in. The fact that we are now attracting people of this caliber indicates how far PenChecks has come and where we are headed.

Staying True to Our Values

Executives and specific personnel are often brought into a company to introduce new ideas and challenge the status quo. These were certainly key elements in the decision-making process with all of our new hires. However, when it comes to our culture and values there are certain things we don’t want to change. When looking to change the status quo in certain areas, we need to determine which old ways we can let go of so our new hires can do what they do best, and which elements we should never let go of, so the company can keep doing what it does best.

Two of our four foundational, deeply held core values are Trust and Innovation. Allowing employees to have the freedom to innovate, especially the professional operators we’ve brought in who know how to build new systems and processes, has been wildly valuable for PenChecks. But, it’s critically important for us to understand and embrace the fact that this only works if we’re able to build bi-directional, trusting relationships so our teams can thrive while still honoring our sacred values.

Our people understand that we have a unique opportunity to do something great with PenChecks. As CEO, I feel immensely grateful every day for all of our stakeholders and their efforts. The collective gratitude we share for this opportunity is a big driver of our performance and a key component of our success. As long as we keep building a coveted and protected culture that fosters the flexibility to be creative and relishes in serving others, PenChecks will continue to thrive in special ways.

Spiro G. Preovolos
President and CEO, PenChecks Trust®


PTCA-2024003

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