Every time I run across a business I think would qualify for our Best Places to Work competition, I encourage them to participate. I’ve always gotten a polite “no” from Great Dane Pub & Brewing’s director of operations Ted Peterson, but not because there’s never been an interest. They’ve conducted their own survey internally over the years, and before you could take our survey on a smartphone, there was always the issue of computer access as well as being able to offer a Spanish version, which we finally did this year. The Great Dane’s also just wildly busy, and the timing’s never been optimal.
But on a recent trip to Mexico, where I’ve traveled with the Daners for the last few years, I was reminded once again of the company’s commitment to its employees, and why I always pester Ted about taking the survey. Back in 2001, Ted, along with the other partners Eliot Butler, Rob LoBreglio and Matt Moyer, was surviving another long winter. Having come off a very good year, they decided to treat the general managers and their spouses to a week’s respite in Playa del Carmen. Everyone came back to their fast-paced, often-grinding jobs grateful and refreshed. Thirteen years later the tradition is still very much observed, and growing right along with the success of the company. This year they hosted fifty-two people from all five pub locations.
In an industry with notoriously high turnover rates, the Great Dane is a proud exception: Salaried managers stay an above average eight years and the turnover for hourly employees is just sixty-five percent compared to the industry standard of about 375 percent. Ted credits the company’s open-door, transparent communication style for engendering high levels of trust and connection—two tenets of our employee engagement methodology—in addition to their commitment to community. The Dane’s generosity is well known and respected, which instills a sense of pride in working there. And the beer? It speaks for itself.
Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine.