#1 Large Company & Overall Winner
Cedar Rapids | Skogmancompanies.com | 2nd time on list | 2nd as #1
“Skogman is a family company – not just because it’s family-owned, but because everyone is treated like family.”
“The company really wants their people, their ‘family,’ to be successful in everything they do.”
“The owners treat you like a family member.”
These are just a handful of the 100-plus comments Skogman Companies’ employees submitted in nominating the company for the CBJ’s Coolest Places to Work.
The family atmosphere, combined with team spirit, approachable leadership team, commitment to the community and a new office, propelled the multi-tiered company to the overall coolest company this year.
Founded in 1947 with Skogman Homes, the company is run by the fifth generation of the Skogman family, along with 180 real estate agents and more than 100 employees. There are four companies under the Skogman umbrella, including commercial and residential real estate, new homes, insurance and property services.
“The Skogman family has always treated agents and employees as an extension of the family, which leads to a greater sense of unity and commitment to one another and the business itself,” said Jeff Janssen, vice president of marketing at Skogman Companies. “There is no red tape, and employees are empowered to make important decisions.”
Skogman takes pride in its footprint in Eastern Iowa over the past seven decades, building such established neighborhoods as Stoney Point, Northbrook, and Bowman Woods in Cedar Rapids.
The company broke ground Aug. 31 on its latest Cedar Rapids-area residential development, Prairie Landing, located on C Avenue NE just north of Robins Road. Skogman Homes’ first entirely new, large-scale residential development in almost 20 years in Cedar Rapids will include 279 residential lots on 80 acres of agricultural land.
“We are very excited to launch this large-scale, diversified residential project,” Hunter Skogman, president of Skogman Development Corporation, said in a release. “Prairie Landing will appeal to a diverse group of home buyers, including first-time home buyers, custom home buyers and multi-family buildings. In addition, the project will anchor growth for the C Avenue extension area.”
The construction of Prairie Landing will take around 10 years, Mr. Skogman said. The company hopes to build on between 15 to 20 lots per year. By the end of the plan, the development should hold 80 five-unit townhomes at the north end and single-family lots at the south end. Each lot will range from 1,414 to 2,832 square feet.
Adapting to market conditions
By the time the devastating derecho ripped through Eastern Iowa on Aug. 10, 2020, the Skogman staff had already adjusted to the way the COVID-19 pandemic had changed how employees conducted business. Employees set up remotely in March 2020, communicating with each other and clients through tools like Zoom and social media.
“The company learned that employees can be effective working from home because employees are committed to the family and the business,” Mr. Janssen said of the challenges of the past year and a half. “For Skogman Realty, we learned just how powerful social media can be as our agents adapted quickly to offer things like Facebook Live videos to walk through homes when open houses were not possible. Our agents also began offering virtual tours via social media as a way to continue to connect buyers and sellers.”
Most employees had returned to the office when the hurricane-force wind storm knocked out power in Cedar Rapids for days and caused widespread damage to the area.
Similar to the beginning of the pandemic, the staff went into crisis management mode and were back in the office serving their clients just days after the storm. Team members also took time to help each other cope with storm damage to their homes and volunteer in the community where they live and work.
“Giving back to the community has always been important to the Skogman family. The family encourages employees to be active participants in their community,” Mr. Janssen said. “In fact, Skogman agents and staff maintain membership affiliations with more than 100 community, charitable and service organizations in the Corridor.”
New normal, same culture
The Skogman staff had been in their brand-new headquarters in downtown Cedar Rapids for just about six months when leaders sent them home to work remotely in March 2020 due to the pandemic.
The three-story modern building at the corner of First Avenue and Fourth Street SE, where the former location existed, includes more open, flexible space, several conference rooms, multi-person team offices, comfortable spaces for employees to gather and take breaks such as The Kafé on the second floor and outdoor seating on the corner of the building.
“Our new office building with the open concept allows for more collaboration with co-workers. I can’t explain the feeling when you walk in our office; it just feels like home,” an employee commented in the Coolest Places to Work nomination.
Despite being vacated from the new building for a time last year due to the pandemic and derecho, agents and employees are back at the office. However, most are working with a hybrid schedule, splitting their week between the office and home.
“This has allowed our employees and agents to stay connected with each other to maintain our important family culture while remaining as safe as possible during the pandemic,” Mr. Janssen said.
Making all employees at every level feel welcome and valued is a core priority of the company.
“The Skogmans realize that none of the businesses they operate could be successful without every member of the team contributing at a high level,” Mr. Janssen said. “As a family-oriented business, managers know that being approachable is critical to the success of the business. Every team member at Skogman has a voice that is respected and encouraged, and employees and agents are always involved when change is implemented in the organization.”
The employees recognize this inclusion and appreciate the confidence in their abilities.
“Everyone is so willing to help each other; those in leadership positions are full of humility and kindness, and they make an effort to make each individual feel important and heard,” an employee commented in their nomination. “As an employee, you can truly feel the care the company has for you and the community.”