Shortly after 8 a.m. on a humid Tuesday
morning in mid-May, people began filling up the lobby of the performance solutions company Galactic, arriving mostly in twos, which wasn’t necessarily intentional, even if it actually makes sense on a more metaphorical level.
The employees, most wearing jeans and all in blue polo shirts with “G-a- l-a- c-t- i-c” prominently stitched in front, filed in slowly yet purposely, finding places to sit, stand or lean, sipping on coffee or chugging water bottles while exchanging hugs and smiles and small talk with colleagues, as if they hadn’t seen one another since, well, the day before.
There might be a number of ploys companies do to rev up employees for a monthly state-of- the-company gathering — if they do them at all. But what happened at Galactic first thing that morning is a testament to why this organization is as inquisitively unique as its name, and to what it actually does so well to be a prominent player in the incentive industry.
At precisely 8:15,
two guests representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington began beating a large drum so loudly you had to wonder if the windows at Globe Life Park, sitting just a couple blocks north, were rattling. No one inside the lobby flinched. That’s because Galactic staffers are used to this sort of thing, which actually sounds louder and goes on a bit longer when CEO and founder Dan Mohorc traditionally grabs the drumsticks and bangs away.
For the visitors, this ritual was rather disarming, though pleasantly so, and judging from the looks on their faces, they wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if a nine-piece band, a choir, and a troupe of dancers popped out. “Drumroll,” as it is called, has been going on at this company for nearly 15 years and is an integral part of Galactic’s corporate culture.
At the Arlington Chamber of Commerce,
where Mohorc serves on the board, he’s considered a businessman’s businessman who has gotten where he is by strategic planning and shrewd execution, and with an uncanny ability of knowing what might/will happen six to 48 months down the road. For instance, not many “20 somethings” can compartmentalize their future by saying they want to be educated during their 20s, knocked around in their business during their 30s and, with knowledge and wisdom from the formal education and informal butt-kicking, start their own thing by mid-40s.
He did all of that, on cue, and has surrounded himself with outstanding talent to build a company that employs about 50 full-time and 27-part- time workers spread across four buildings on a 5-acre campus. The company has earned the Dallas Top 100 Award for growth and achievement four years running, and was voted Arlington’s employer of the year in 2002 and Small Business of the Year in 2014.
Mohorc challenged his top executives,
including Gary Cornwell, his handpicked second- in-command, to create a one- of-a- kind corporate culture and shuttered them in a room for two solid days. What they came up with was a packet of “performance solutions,” where three things would be emphasized: environment (reflecting integrity, honesty and respect), teamwork (allowing all ideas to have life) and Creativity (inviting risk-taking, having fun).
”This was not something we wanted to get from a book,” Mohorc says. “What do we want? What’s in our heart? I wanted a corporate culture by the people in this company. That’s why I encouraged them to forget standard business practices and persevere until our unique Galactic corporate culture was created.”
What Galactic figured out was that what it does best is build and sustain relationships, and this covers suppliers and customers, but none more than their own employees. While the traditional business acumen is “the customer is always right,” at Galactic, employees are golden. (Part of the understanding is that happy employees make happy suppliers who make happy customers).
Everyone seems to have a story.
When the 14-year- old son of a single mother employee was hospitalized after a violent beating, Mohorc was at the hospital before the mother was. Mohorc ended up moving the staffer to a different neighborhood and paid her rent for a year. Galactic has covered expenses for an employee whose husband had lost his job.
When an employee’s multiple sclerosis flared up and she was confined to a wheelchair, the company kept her on payroll, even helping with health insurance when her regular company insurance ran out. After failing to come up with a $5,000 deductible, a colleague set up a Go Fund Me page and within 48 hours, she had the money. When the three- month stint for the insurance ended, Mohorc signed her up for another three months, despite uneasiness from the human resources department.
During a particularly touching “Drumroll,” the staffer’s mother wheeled her out into the middle of the lobby while employees put their hands on her to pray. MS is an unpredictable and often disabling disease that affects the central nervous system. But months later, Mohorc had the honor of welcoming the staffer back to daily work. She walked up to the podium and gave him a big bear hug.
Purchasing Manager Sade Natale, in Florida when her grandson was born with a severe heart issue, remembers picking up her phone to hear Mohorc’s voice.
“He called to see if there was anything they could do,” says Natale. “When I got back, I learned that they actually had a prayer at one of the Drumrolls.”
Then there was the day Mohorc addressed his troops by officially declaring Galactic a “hugging company,” a seemingly innocuous “initiative” Mohorc felt moved to implement, pretty much off the cuff.
His human resources head
didn’t think it was a good idea and suggested leaving room for employees to “opt” out of the hugging initiative altogether, which one female worker did, only to take her name off the “No Hug” list 30 days later.
”If you go to the coffee pot and see an employee with tears in her eyes, are you going to walk away from that?” Mohorc says. “I’m not. Ask what’s wrong? Give them a hug and pray with them if they want. We’re a service company, and we service our customers. But are we servicing one another?”
“I’m proud of the fact that this company has a soul, and that’s because we believe in management taking care of their people. The time of motivating employees through intimidation is over. You motivate by building them up.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington reps participating in Drumroll were there to thank Galactic employees who performed all audio/visual duties for the organization’s Champions for Kids Breakfast a month before. Development and Events Manager Holly Clinton was so moved she read a poem.
”This is just something that’s built in their culture,” Clinton says of how the Galactic employees volunteered their time. “That they were so willing to go far and beyond shows this is just how they do it every day at their own jobs.”
If there are particular business thinkers from whom Mohorc drew inspiration to build Galactic this way one would be Drayton McLane, whose name sits atop Baylor University’s new football stadium. McLane was Mohorc’s mentor when he worked for McLane Company, a supply chain services business in Temple, gaining an expansive knowledge of food and product distribution while exhibiting a high moral principle and Christian approach.
Just as influential for Mohorc is pal and pheasant-hunting buddy Dennis Rainey, president, CEO and co-founder of FamilyLife, and host of the radio talk show of the same name, which really typifies Galactic’s DNA.
When Mohorc speaks with students
at Southeast Missouri State University, the alma mater he barely escaped with a 2.2 GPA (SEMO awarded him the 2011 Alumni Merit Award, so he returns frequently as a guest lecturer), he fuses Christianity and capitalism, saying that he sees the Bible as the literal truth and uses it to guide his decisions. His faith and the values that come from it are often on display.
”It’s a faith-based organization,” Mohorc says simply. “When we say that, we mean it is Godly based. Not denominational. We don’t expect anyone to change his or her beliefs. We just hope people have a relationship with their creator, whatever that looks like.”
“Thing is,” Mohorc adds, “I’ve been up, I’ve been down, been in the gutter, screwed, blued, tattooed, everything all around. Damn near on the steps of bankruptcy. If I did not have a relationship with my creator, I would not have survived.”
In a few years, the company’s prospective future will fall on Cornwell, Mohorc’s even-tempered lieutenant, who accepted a six-week contract to develop a web page to track rebates and never left. He’s now closing in on 17 years.
”I fell in love with the people and what we do,” Cornwell says. “It’s very gratifying that when you are doing business with another company you get to see the fruits of this team’s efforts positively affect another company. The only way that happens is that the people here have to believe in what we are doing and truly love each other and care about this company as a whole. This company is living and breathing, and it’s a part of not only these buildings but Arlington itself.”
Cornwell, a veteran of Desert Storm, owned his own trucking company and has a degree in computer science. Mohorc valued his IT skills but was lured by his people and problem-solving proficiency even more, and has moved him steadily up the ladder and is quite transparent about Cornwell taking over when he steps down. He is already handling most of the day-to- day operations and directing the company’s growth and diversification. This is allowing Mohorc to move into a different phase of life altogether.
”Now that the company is thriving and I’ve put my exit strategy in place with Cornwell, I want to give back to the city,” he says. “This isn’t about writing big checks. It’s about getting people together who believe in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Arlington or the YMCA or Mission Arlington. I want to help the people served by these organizations.”
Mohorc sees a resurgence
in a city that has been overtaken by the shiny new ‘burbs further north. With Arlington’s economically-minded new mayor Jeff Williams, he says the city is posed to embrace higher-end companies that will allow the city to retain its footing.
”Look, D.R. Horton is returning to Arlington. General Motors just made a huge investment with their renovation deal, and DFW Airport is making significant expansions,” Mohorc says. “That will increase the demand for amenities like golf courses and restaurants. The city is poised to grow and prosper.”
“I based my company here because I knew what Arlington could become and I love seeing what Arlington has become,” he says. “Now I feel confident things are in place for Arlington to get to the next level.”