Harrison Street Real Estate Capital LLC's employees say they thrive in the firm's fun, energetic culture in which people genuinely care about each other.
“Our company culture is awesome. We're young and have the work-hard, play-hard mentality,” said one employee of the real estate money manager that focuses on the education, health-care and storage sectors. “Senior management cares about providing employees development opportunities.”
When he heard these comments and a few others, Christopher Merrill, Harrison Street's co-founder, president and CEO, beamed like a kid opening a Christmas present.
Firm executives are “controlling” over whom they bring in to the firm, he said, looking for people who have a lot of energy and creativity and a good work ethic.
Harrison Street, Chicago, invests in its employees. The firm has had an internship program since it was founded in 2005. Undergraduates in the Midwest get summer experience working in all of the firm's departments. Senior managers often hire one or two as full-time employees at the end of the summer, Mr. Merrill said.
All employees, when they join the firm, have their caricatures posted on the wall of the firm's break room; Mr. Merrill's shows him golfing.
At the annual holiday party — open to the firm's 75 employees and their spouses and significant others — groups of employees perform skits.
Harrison Street offers its employees major perks like professional development opportunities and good benefits.
The firm pays 90% of medical insurance premiums for employees and their families, and there is no deductible. Plus, maternity and paternity policies include 12 weeks and two weeks of paid leave, respectively.
The firm also offers smaller perks such as picking up the cost of dinner and a cab for employees who work late. The break room also includes two pingpong tables and loads of free snacks.
“We have pingpong tournaments almost every night,” Mr. Merrill said.
Two of the firm's co-founders — Michael Galvin and Christopher Galvin — are grandsons of the founder of Motorola, and links to that company run from the name (Harrison Street was the site of the company that became Motorola) to professional development efforts. Firm executives offer Harrison Street University for employees, investors and operating partners free of charge. The program is patterned after Motorola University, a six sigma training program that teaches people to look for potential defects in systems and has an in-house staff that runs it, Mr. Merrill said.
Said one employee:” I enjoy the people that I work with, that my work keeps challenging me so I am able to grow, and I feel that upper management genuinely cares about me.”