Investinet sits in the Greenville neighborhood of Poe Mill. Located beside a highway bridge and in the middle of a complex of seemingly endless manufacturing buildings, you can pick out the 8-year-old company’s facility because of the massive mural painted on its side.
The mural stands as a tribute to Investinet’s passion for its employees and its communities. With the help of Blank Canvas Mural Co., employees, their families and the community were invited to take part in a day of painting, food and fun.
While providing a tour of the building, Brice Smith, the founder and co-owner, points out the green space that stands in contrast to the concrete and asphalt of the building’s surroundings. It’s to provide some greenery for the employees, he says.
Investinet now employs around 80 people in its approximately 30,000-square-foot building. The company revolves around these 80 individuals.
A positive work culture
The dress is casual, the dogs are present and the coffee comes out of a machine that allows for customizable options — it’s a dream job for most. Those perks also pale in comparison to the real treat. Investinet provides 50% profit share with its employees.
Last year, that totaled $2.9 million.
Needless to say, Smith and co-owner Bob Collins don’t really have to worry about employee retention. It’s not surprising when you hear both men discuss their company. Even from the beginning, Investinet was founded with the requirement of creating a positive work culture.
In 2011, Smith quit his remote job with a law firm in New York City. “I loved the work, but I hated the culture,” he says.
Smith decided to launch his own business. Collins, whom Smith worked with about 20 years ago, was his first investor.
“We spent as much time talking about what type of company we wanted to be as we talked about what business we wanted to do,” Collins remembers.
The focus on creating a positive work environment for employees has paid off. While Collins says the industry average is about a 20% turnover rate, Investinet’s is in the single digits.
Unlocking hidden value
Investinet “is a full-service account receivables management firm” that runs a network of more than 40 law firms to ensure debt is paid, according to Collins.
“Our unmatched investigation and legal enforcement network allows us to unlock the hidden value in our client’s inventories,” the firm’s site states. Companies have been impressed, Collins says, that Investinet has been able to bring in cash that they thought would be impossible to retrieve.
“Some of our older clients gave us portfolios and said, ‘You’re not going to get anything from this’,” Collins says. “We gave back $2 million.”
The success of the business comes from maintaining great institutional knowledge because of its low turnover, the owners explain.
Transparency is also a huge part of creating the work culture. Once a month, the company has a floor meeting, Collins explains, during which its finances are laid out. “They know what’s driving us. They know what’s hurting us,” he says.
“We believe that if people know about [the risks and opportunities] they can help solve some of these problems,” Smith adds.
Community involvement, employee ownership
Investinet barely has an online presence, and no Facebook or Twitter. There is a LinkedIn page that is updated when significant events happen. It’s on purpose. The business, Smith and Collins say, comes from the reputation of the business. And they want to keep it that way.
They still want to be known in their local community, however. The mural painting is only one example of this involvement.
According to the company, it was able to contribute more than $230,000 to charitable organizations last year. Investinet matches employee donations to nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)3 status. Up to now, that means that Investinet has given more than $1.2 million.
Employees can also be part of the company’s humanitarian council. The group helps lead Investinet’s philanthropic endeavors. These efforts are just another way for Investinet to connect with employees. “Whatever our employees are interested in, we come alongside them,” Collins says.
And the focus on employees isn’t changing anytime soon, the founders say. As the company grows and Smith and Collins continue to lead it, they know eventually there will be a ownership change. They’ve already ruled out giving the company to their kids or selling it to a competitor or to a hedge fund. They want to give it back to the people who made it what it is.
“We’ve been investigating [employee stock-ownership plans],” Smith says. “At some point we want to sell the company to the employees.”
“We want Investinet to be 100% employee owned.”