Building a Team by Building the Community

Many organizations have the ability to show support through monetary donations, but Elzinga & Volkers involves each of its more than 200 employees—not just leadership—in the giving process. In a recent team-building exercise, the Holland, Mich. based company, which recently celebrated its 72nd year in business, surprised staff with a trip to downtown Grand Rapids where employees were grouped into teams and assigned a local nonprofit organization serving a population in need. Each team interviewed the executive director of the organization and toured its facility. Upon returning to a central meeting place, each team had to “pitch” its assigned nonprofit to a panel of judges, who then awarded a share of $6,000 to each organization based on the team’s presentation. 

In addition to hosting unique activities like this one, Elzinga & Volkers, which serves clients throughout the United States and Canada, has been recognized several times for its commitment to the community. Not only has the company been named the Elite Winner for Community Initiatives through the 101 Best and Brightest Places to Work organization, it also recently received the “Playful Company Award” from the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for its leadership in service, plus recognition from the United Way for its employees’ support of the annual campaign.

“As communities grow through new development and construction, so does our business and our opportunity to give,” says John Parker, vice president of project development. “Community service is also a trait that we look for in new employees. One of many dimensions that we rate in potential employment candidates is their involvement in activities outside of work and outside of themselves.”  

Elzinga & Volkers’ annual events include the United Way Day of Caring, Habitat for Humanity Build Days and meal preparation for Kids Food Basket. In 2017, Elzinga & Volkers plans to keep up the commitment to these programs, as well as evaluate any new service opportunities that may come up via recommendations from the company’s Community Initiatives Committee, made up of five to seven employees who rotate positions annually. Company leaders closely follow the recommendations of th employee-led team. 

“Whether it is volunteering at church, their children’s school or for a nonprofit, a heart for community service reflects the type of people we want on our team,” Parker says. 

Maggie Murphy is digital editor of Construction Executive. For more information, email, visit or follow @ConstructionMag.