‘Workship’ Veterans Still Helping Others In Their Jobs
Take your dog to work; enjoy casual Friday every day; “flex” your work schedule and get to know your co-workers through outings of paintball, Nerf battles and glow-in-the-dark mini golf. To that mix, add the fast pace of ever-evolving Web technology, and you have Forte Interactive, a West Palm Beach company hiring self-starters from Palm Beach Atlantic University.
“We see ourselves as like a mini-Google atmosphere,” said Robert Anderson, executive vice president and co-founder of Forte. He graduated from PBA in 1994 and founded Forte in 1999 with Clay Williams, who is now president and CEO. Providing website design and custom software for its growing list of companies, Forte Interactive now has 30 employees, and has hired eight PBA grads, plus numerous interns.
“They really throw their interns into the mix,” said December grad Kailyn Tyrrel. “They take the approach of teaching us by having us do the work, as opposed to only watching.” She was a graphic arts major, and benefitted from her classes in design, including Web design. As an intern, she designed home pages for Forte’s customers, and began working full-time last month.
If an intern winds up staying at Forte for over year, “that’s really a roadmap to a full hire,” Anderson said.
Slade Sundar, COO at Forte Interactive, identified the attributes that those PBA students likely have demonstrated to make the leap to full-time: “being a self-starter and self-learner, a willingness to take any role to help the team succeed and personality.”
“We have a unique and personality-rich culture,” said Sundar, “and as a result, we gravitate towards adding people who contribute to that environment.”
Anderson harkened back to his college days and PBA’s program of community service as he spoke about Forte Interactive’s many nonprofit customers. He said the Workship experience from his own time at PBA “really kind of catapulted us into the nonprofit industry.”
Through the nonprofit customers, “The work I’m doing is helping people help other people,” said Mike Carman, Forte senior development manager. He graduated from PBA in 1993, and came to Forte in 2004. Carman had worked for Web-related companies, but had moved into a government job, which he found too slow-paced. By contrast, he found Forte fast-paced, with lots of teamwork, problem solving and “new challenges all the time.”
With Anderson as the “chief endurance officer,” Forte has developed a niche serving organizations that sponsor races. Anderson is a three-time Ironman and avid marathoner, and he’s encouraged a fitness culture within the company. Employees have an in-office shower to use after taking workout breaks, and free, in-office yoga twice a week. Workers who exercise are more productive and have more fun, Anderson said.
“There’s lots of fun that goes on,” said Tyrrel. She’s enjoyed getting to know the “cool people,” which, according to Forte’s blog, is number 11 of the 11 reasons Forte is awesome: “All the events, activities, jokes, cahoots, etc., wouldn’t be possible without having the thing that makes Forte really great, which is the awesome people.”
As the Chief Operating Officer of Forte Interactive, Slade leads marketing, operations, human resources, and product development, while overseeing a staff of Millennial employees.
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