Why join TSEP? – Reason 5: Culture

Not only do people want purpose in their day-to-day work, but they also seek companies with an excellent culture. TSEP offers a work-life family, where team members respect, support, and like each other, and like the challenging, stimulating, and rewarding work we get to do.

Team Survey: Hear it from our employees.

At TSEP, we do annual, internal, anonymous team surveys to measure our culture, to know what we’re doing well and to know what we can improve. We put out a series of statements and ask the team to indicate if they strongly disagree, agree, are neutral, agree, or strongly agree. Each of these answers gets a points (1 for strongly disagree, 2 for agree, 3 for neutral, 4 for agree, and 5 for strongly agree). The following statements received agree to strongly agree from our team. We think this gives a good picture of our actual culture:

  • I understand the mission and goals of the company: 4.7.
  • I have a good working relationship with my co-workers: 4.7.
  • Employees treat each other with respect: 4.7.
  • My work is challenging, stimulating and rewarding: 4.7.
  • Teamwork and collaboration are encouraged and practiced: 4.7.
  • I am satisfied with the office perks I am granted: 4.6.
  • I enjoy working at the company: 4.5.
  • I feel determined to do my best work every day: 4.5.
  • I am proud to be a member of the team: 4.5.
  • I feel comfortable sharing my professional opinions at work: 4.5.
  • I feel welcome at company events, meetings, and social interactions: 4.5.
  • I see a clear link between my work and the mission and goals of the company: 4.3.
  • I’m inspired by the team to do my best work: 4.3.
  • My contributions to the company are valued and appreciated: 4.3.
  • I am given regular and actionable feedback to help improve my performance: 4.3.
  • The company pays significant attention to my professional growth: 4.3.
  • I feel encouraged to take initiative and find better ways to do things: 4.3.
  • The company work environment is safe and comfortable: 4.3.
  • I understand my benefits plan: 4.2.
  • Managers treat subordinates fairly and with respect: 4.2.
  • My manager treats me with respect and values my contributions: 4.2.
  • I have the tools and resources I need to best perform my duties: 4.0.

Team Culture: We are a work family.

One of the most attractive things about TSEP is getting to work around other interesting, intelligent, self-motivated, results-oriented people who want to grow professionally, do great work, make a difference in the community, and have a good time doing it. Each person is also unique, with their own personality, experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives. Some are very early in their careers, others are at their peak, others in-between. Some are from this area and grew up in rural Ohio, some originally hail from the city (Toledo, Columbus, Cleveland) and its suburbs.

TSEP is a tight-knit, supportive work family in a rewarding, fast-paced, and challenging environment. To stay connected, we gather daily in the morning for 15-20 minutes (we call it coffee chat), and we support each other when anyone needs help with work or is dealing with family or personal issues.

In our most recent team survey, there are lots of comments speaking to this point:

  • The team environment and collaboration both internally and externally is wonderful. I love the social, fun atmosphere of our group and thrive in the high level of group communication.
  • “My coworkers are great at their jobs and we support each other.”
  • “Team comradery – facing challenges and celebrating successes together, Creating an environment of success that builds confidence and creates excitement in tackling new challenges.”
  • “Overall, TSEP is a great place to work because the employees care about and support each other. Everyone’s well-being is a priority…TSEP does well organizationally because all employees trust and respect each other. It is nice to work somewhere you feel appreciated and have a shared commitment to support personal and organizational success.”

Team Members: Meet the crew.

David Zak has been doing economic development for 26 years, has managed for 17, and has led TSEP as President & CEO for 9 years. He is a leader in the state and has taken every economic development organization he’s been with to become one of the best in the country. One of the favorite parts of his job is growing and developing people, and outside of work, he loves spending time with his family, studying wine, and running trails. David has a master’s and bachelor’s from the Ohio State University in German but veered from the path of PhD and professorship when he discovered economic development in 1996 and found his “ikigai.” LinkedIn profile.

Amy Reinhart serves as the Director of Downtown Revitalization and has been at TSEP for almost 8 years. In that time, Tiffin has become one of the best downtowns in the state, and Amy has being recognized as Main Street Manager of the Year. What Amy loves most about her job is seeing the results of her work. Outside of work, Amy loves spending time with her family and being involved with organizations and causes that help the needy. Prior to coming to TSEP, Amy had never done downtown work before and has a degree in architecture from Kent State (1997). LinkedIn profile.

Carol Owen Kern is a senior Business Services Consultant with Seneca County Job & Family Services and became a full adopted member of the TSEP team focusing on adult-based workforce development since 2016 – in a unique partnership that exists nowhere else in the state. Carol has implemented state-leading efforts in apprenticeships, business outreach, grant funding, and career marketing. During the summer, you can often find Carol and her husband kayaking in local streams and rivers. Carol has a degree in Spanish and English from Ohio Northern (1991). LinkedIn profile.

Corrina Haynes is a newer member of the Team, joining us in the summer of 2021, as our first Operations Manager. Prior to TSEP, Corrina was a full-time administrator and victim advocate for First Step, a pioneer organization that runs the first domestic violence shelter built in Ohio. She still volunteers for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and loves to spend time with her family. Corrina is a summa cum laude graduate from TU in Business Management (2021). LinkedIn profile.

Adam Gillmor is the Development Coordinator responsible for Community Development, Entrepreneurship, and Rural Development. He is also our newest member, joining us in January 2022. Prior to joining TSEP, Adam worked in the Ohio Senate for two state senators and helped coordinate communications for the OSU Wexner Medical Center to fight the opioid epidemic. Adam loves to read and has a passion for ocean liners and policy. He has his degree in political science from the College of Wooster (2019). LinkedIn profile.

Ethics: We know what are values are and live them out.

Part of our culture is that TSEP takes ethics pretty seriously. Confidentiality is a must. Honesty is a must. Hard work is a must. Respect for the team is a must. Customer service is a must. As a 501c3 economic development organization, these and other basic values are assumed and non-negotiable.

In addition to these fundamental values, TSEP has four core organizational values that the Board of Trustees identified and chose at a Board Strategic Retreat in 2019 (out of about 30 that were brainstormed): collaboration, innovation, excellence, and fairness and inclusion. These are ways of thinking and behaving that define us and inform our strategy, our decisions, and our actions.

Collaboration finds itself in our very name (Tiffin-Seneca Economic Partnership), and it expresses itself most often in the strategic planning we do and the committees, volunteers, and partners we work with and manage. We currently have 70 members and supporters, 15 boards and committees, and 150 volunteers that work with us. We also solicit feedback from stakeholders, members, and the general public through surveys to inform our priorities and practices. Collaboration almost always takes longer, and it can be messy and sometimes challenging, but it works, and we believe it’s usually the best way to get things done. We don’t do things unilaterally or in a vacuum, we do it with others.

Innovation means we agree with Sam Walton when he said, “I have always been driven to buck the system, to innovate, to take things beyond they’ve been.” For us, innovation is the non-stop, continuous effort and vision to do things better, to make changes, to improve, to try out new and different ways of doing things. It’s a way of (professional) life, a quality mindset, a creative drive. We never settle for status quo. In 2021, we won the state award for Economic Development Innovation for the Tiffin & Seneca CARES small business relief grant programs which we set up in 3 weeks and ended up distributing $1.2 million to 186 businesses (watch video). This program is a great example of collaboration as well. That’s only one of countless examples of new, unique and innovative things we’ve done and we’re doing.

Excellence is our standard. It’s doing “A” level work. Work that oozes with quality, professionalism, and impact. It is the target we are continuously strive for. As someone once said, “Excellence is never an accident. It is the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction, skillful execution, and the vision to see obstacles as opportunities.” Every year, we go through a strategic planning process and develop our scope of work – our battle plan for the year – which details our strategy and defines what “winning” and excellence mean to us. Read our most recent Scope of Work here. Also every year, we put out an annual report, which details the fruits of our labor. We don’t always meet the goal of excellence in everything we do, but overall, we’re absolutely committed to and successful in attaining excellence.

Fairness & Inclusion in economic, downtown and community development takes many forms. Among other things, fairness means we work with and provide services to any legal business and project, even if some people might object to the industry, or company, or project. It means that we serve businesses of all sizes, such as start-ups and sole proprietorships, and not just the large manufacturers and employers. Inclusion means we want diverse voices at the table as we collaboration and act in ways to make that happen – from committees to our board. We strive to make sure all stakeholders are represented and have a voice.