Forging an Ownership Culture

Sheila Burkett // News
Spry Digital Employee-Owners

We started Spry Digital with the belief that everybody on our team should have a voice, and that we are stronger when we all thrive. One of our accomplishments over the past year was implementing an employee-owner model that welcomed six employees to our ownership ranks. This initial cohort of new owners brings experience, passion, dedication and creativity that will allow us to grow as a company. 

Voting Members

Spry Digital is a limited liability company with voting and non-voting members. The founders of Spry Digital – Ken Moire, Julia Koeslch and I – hold the majority of voting units. Effective January 31, 2021, we added two new voting members: Steven Burkett, Sr. Technical Architect, and Wayne Turley II, VP of Operations and Strategy.

Steven Burkett has worked with Spry Digital since 2012, as a developer and technical architect. Since Spry is a privately held business, the decision to bring Steven (my husband) into the ownership fold just made sense. Steven shared his thoughts on ownership,

“Holding an ownership stake in the company really motivates me to consider a ‘big picture’ perspective in my daily work and decision-making. There's a direct financial incentive to drive the company forward, of course, but there's also an intangible sense of pride and shared purpose that comes along with it. Most important, employee ownership serves as a concrete example of how the Spry commitment to our team is more than just words.”

Wayne Turley’s experience with Spry Digital as a previous client made him want to be a part of our culture. We brought Wayne onboard in 2018 to lead our project management area. Today, in his role as VP of Operations and Strategy, he brings his technical leadership and business acumen to the table. On becoming an owner, Wayne states,

“I’m truly humbled to have the opportunity to join the Spry Digital ownership team. My immense respect for what the owners created is what drove me to join Spry Digital in late 2018. The Spry Digital core values are truly unique and are a big part of what allows the company to grow in a healthy manner. I’m honored to be a part of the ownership team.”

Management Members

To help us determine to whom we would award non-voting membership, we identified four criteria with specific measurements: level of management responsibility, percent of additional revenue closed in the period, level of expertise (or unique skill set) and number of years of service. In addition to those factors, the members must live our core values. Jim Barnthouse and Dawn Hieger from our leadership ranks fulfilled all these criteria – and more. 

Jim Barnthouse joined Spry Digital in 2018 to manage client relationships and is our Vice President of Business Development and Marketing. Jim’s ability to connect with people and build relationships is the key to his success. Jim shared his thoughts on becoming an owner:

“Being offered ownership is more than just a ‘perk’ or even a bonus. It’s the team saying you are valued – quirks, faults and whatever other attributes you’re hoping to constantly improve on. I didn’t view it as the team saying, ‘Job well-done.’ I viewed it as, ‘We believe in you, and together we’re going to succeed.’ To me, there’s longer-lasting gratification in the latter.”

Dawn Hieger used to call Spry Digital her client when she was an Executive Producer with Antidote. When Dawn applied for our project manager position, we knew she would bring a new level of service to our clients that we needed as we grew the company. Today, Dawn is the Vice President of Client Engagement and leads our Employee Engagement committee.

“One of the greatest ways a company can show it cares about its employees is by offering ownership opportunities. Having ownership at Spry Digital allows employees to be a part of something bigger than themselves and their direct team. It fosters a sense of belonging while also bringing the potential for rewarding hard work and dedication. The company is built on having diversity in thought and allowing employees to flourish in an accepting environment. It is a privilege to be part of a company that values individuals for who they are and including them as part of the overall company growth and long-term sustainability.”

Team Members

When we were determining who would be granted ownership, it was critical to us that the opportunity would be available to all employees, not just those in leadership positions. We are proud to have Senior Front-End Developer Matthew Atkins and Client Success Specialist Lisa Liss among our owners.  

Matthew Atkins loves learning new languages and exploring the latest techniques. Matthew shared,

“I've been with Spry for almost six years, and in that time I've seen the company grow in so many ways. To me, being offered ownership in that growth is a sign of trust, value and respect that the founding partners have placed in me. I'm excited for the future of Spry and stoked to be one of the owners!”

Lisa Liss has been with Spry Digital since our early days. She has always worked part-time for us and has taken on whatever we have thrown at her. Although her roles and responsibilities have ebbed and flowed over the years, she has always been the trusted ombudsman for our employees. Lisa shared,

“When I was offered ownership in Spry, I was so pleased and humbled. I feel like I’ve been there since the beginning – when there were only five or six of us, and the client list was short. Watching the growth through the years has been so inspiring. I’ve always been able to say ‘do you remember when …’ with those original Spry folks. Over the years, we’ve seen our fair share of challenges, but through it all, we’ve worked hard, laughed and always rolled with the changes. Seeing the amazing growth, especially in the last few years, has been incredible. Being part of this team has always meant a lot to me, but knowing I have a seat at the table as our bright future unfolds in front of us makes it even more meaningful. I cannot wait to see where we go next!”

We are thrilled to welcome these new owners and look forward to expanding the ownership umbrella to even more of our team in the future – we are stronger together!