Anne Behrendt, the new CEO of Doran Cos., said it’s not enough to meet the status quo when it comes to workplace policies. Companies must go beyond it.
So beyond a good health care plan, Doran, for example, gives new mothers 12 weeks of paid leave, and parental leave has now been extended to fathers, said Behrendt, winner of the Star Tribune Top Workplaces leadership award for midsize companies.
Behrendt took the helm from founder Kelly Doran in May when she assumed majority control of the design-construction-management company, which was founded in 2007. As far as how the company is run, not much will change, she said.
Since 2015, she has been chief operating officer, directing day-to-day operations.
Behrendt, 40, joined the company, one of the Midwest’s best-performing developers, as general counsel in 2011.
Doran, 61, who started the 200-employee company after leaving a commercial builder-management firm in which he was a partner, will continue as a developer and minority owner.
He has said a big part of Doran’s success is recruiting good people, treating them well, advancing them as the company grows, and sharing about half the profits.
There wasn’t a lot of profit to share in the early years, during the Great Recession and the immediate aftermath.
“Kelly was the sole owner, and he has always been generous in allowing the employees to share in the profit they create,” Behrendt said. “All full-time employees share in it. And I was part of that decision.”
Behrendt said Doran will grow by continuing to invest in employees as it expands its geographic footprint for multifamily housing beyond its primary market of the Twin Cities and Denver.
Doran employees in the Top Workplaces survey on leadership ranked Doran highly for employee consideration and also feedback and clear communications.
“It is very important to Kelly, [Chief Financial Officer] Ryan Johnson and me that employees know they are appreciated,” Behrendt said.
“We want to distinguish ourself as the market leader on all fronts, including compensation,” Behrendt said. “Profit-sharing is a no-brainer. And creating clear paths for employee advancement. And clarity around roles and goals for the company.”
As companies in competitive industries scramble to add paid maternal leave policies, Doran was ahead of the game.
“We did it when there were only 20 people,” said Behrendt, who received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her law degree from the University of Minnesota. “And we formalized it [as policy] five or six years ago.”
She’s also a mother, she said, and is sensitive to family-friendly policies, which are also backed by Johnson, who also bought part of the company in the May transaction.
Emily Goenner, a lead manager who supervises one of three architectural teams, joined Doran six years ago from a small architectural firm in western Wisconsin.
Goenner, 40, the mother of two elementary-age children, said she appreciates good pay, profit-sharing, plus a 401(k) retirement plan match.
“There’s also a huge amount of flexibility for me, as a mother,” she said. “I’m able to work from home when needed, such as on school snow days, and I can meet them on the school bus in the afternoon. My husband puts them on the bus in the morning.
She said the Doran workplace is fast-paced, “but we also have fun.”
Volunteering as a group or performing team-building activities are the norm.
“That helps us get to know each other across the company,” Goenner said.
Doran also provides growth opportunities.
For example, Goenner joined the company as liaison between Doran and third-party project architects that Doran has used, before moving into a supervisory role.
And after the leadership transition, Johnson promoted Rosanne Wolfe, a three-year accountant who was managing a team, to the role of controller, a new position for the growing real estate development organization.
Doran plans to expand into other geographic locations by year’s end. Its annual transaction volume has achieved about $500 million annually. The firm needs to ensure systems for sound accounting and financial reporting.
“As we have grown, our processes have become more complex, and this will allow me to direct the talent of our accounting team where it is most needed,” Wolfe said.
As controller, Wolfe will lead the accounting team in developing and maintaining accounting processes and procedures to ensure accurate and timely financial statement reporting across the enterprise.
Wolfe graduated from Dakota County Technical College with a degree in accounting. She has worked in property management accounting for over 20 years.
Kelly Doran said last month after the change of control that Behrendt and Johnson were standing right by him as the company has grown, “and we simply wouldn’t be where we are without their leadership and involvement.”