It’s taken a global pandemic and unprecedented labor shortage for many companies to think differently about workforce retention and company culture. TKG, however, has been putting employees and their families first since they opened their doors in 1997. Yes, that sounds like corporate jargon, but it’s truly central to TKG’s work culture and why I decided to work there more than 17 years ago.
I met Geoff Karcher in April 2005, when TKG was still in the Belden Village “glass tower.” I had a fussy one-year-old boy at home (who is now a delightful freshman in college!) and was looking for a job with flexible hours, close to home, that still allowed me to use my marketing/communications skill set. I worried I was asking the impossible, fearing I would have to switch careers or bite the bullet and accept full-time work.
My two previous employers would not budge on part-time or work-from-home arrangements. In fact, I left a high-paying “dream job” because of it, as did two other female coworkers. It took us leaving – along with a slew of women to follow – for that company to eventually change its policy. Of course, in today’s business climate, it seems absurd to watch top employees walk away, but it was a very different story in the early 2000s.
When I interviewed with Geoff, my expectations were low, even though I knew I was probably a good fit otherwise. I sheepishly asked if he would be open to me working 3.5 days/week. To my shock, he was like, “Sure, let’s try it out and see if it works.” And it did … I went on to work at TKG for over eight years, while also adding two more boys to my family. It was a perfect fit for that period of my life.
TKG was not only flexible in my scheduling, but allowed me to grow professionally and give back to the community through board/committee service. During my time at TKG, I helped launch various events and seminars, spoke at conferences, learned SEO, went on video shoots and wrote lots of copy for clients. I’m most proud of the work I did toward the end of my time at TKG, writing content audits and creating content strategy for some of Stark County’s premier employers.
I also became involved as a YP volunteer with the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, which (long but cool story) ultimately led to the position I hold today as VP of Events & Marketing Strategy for the Chamber and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. My job at TKG was the first place I began to make community connections in Canton – connections that continue to serve me well, and hopefully the same can be said in reverse.
Some of my best memories, however, happened outside of work. We had LOTS of fun at our company cook-offs, happy hours, camping trips and Christmas parties. It’s an essential part of the TKG experience. Even better, I met some amazing and talented people who are friends to this day.
This is not to say that working at TKG was a breeze. We had a young staff, which came with its own set of challenges. On the marketing side, I felt the pressure of constantly working to set TKG apart as a hip, easy-going, fun and unique voice while still sounding professional. Also, we had to be disciplined. I would occasionally see a new employee spending too much time at the pool table and knew they weren’t grasping the “work hard/play hard” mentality. High-quality work was always the expectation.
TKG recently held a bash to commemorate its 25th anniversary. What struck me was just how many former employees were there to help TKG celebrate. So many familiar faces from over the years! That’s one heck of a testament; we “alumni” are happy to come back and celebrate TKG’s ongoing successes.
I am eternally grateful for Geoff’s foresight into what company culture could and should be. It was a gift to be able to do what I loved professionally while balancing that with precious family time when my kids needed me the most.
Cheers to 25 years and many more, TKG!