Why We Stay

I was talking with someone the other day when he casually mentioned that he was nearing is 30-year work anniversary.

Think about that for a moment. 30. Years.

He’s quick to admit that he started just out of college with a finance degree, and never anticipated that he would work an entire lifetime at one place.

Now, to be clear, his company has grown and evolved significantly over the years. In 1992, the private company had revenues ~ $100M. Today, while still private, it’s reportedly valued at $4.4B with more than 5,900 employees. In fact, To say the growth has been significant Is an understatement.

Naturally, I was curious. Why would someone stay at one company for so long? So, I asked. He didn’t have to think too hard about it, actually. And I’m sure that the reasons he’s stayed are many of the same reasons anyone stays at a single company.

Product. It probably goes without saying, but it’s much easier to do a job — any job — when you love what you sell. And he does. When he first started at the athletic footwear brand where he works, they made hardcore running shoes and supported a heritage lifestyle model that appealed to a certain demographic. Today, they are global and have some of the coolest collabs in the industry. And yes, they are still a top-notch running brand with branded athletes who have gone on to medal in the Olympics (Sydney McLaughlin) or play in the NBA (Kawhi Leonard). Their sneaker drops (particularly those collabs with the likes of Jaden Smith) sell out in minutes. Yeah, the company got cool — very cool — over the years.

Learning, Growth, and Opportunity. Just because you work at one place for 30 years doesn’t mean you do the same job for that long. In this case, the company prides itself on growth from within, and my tenured friend has been fortunate to get his Master’s, work with an acquired brand, and build a team over the course of his career. He’s also become a go-to for his institutional knowledge and historical context, which is incredibly helpful to newer employees. (“Hey, the man has been here for 30 years.” Talk about credibility.)

Doing Good While Doing Good Work. The company is known for its philanthropic efforts, most notably as part of its foundation, founded back in 1981. Since its inception, the foundation has granted more than $120 million to “best-in-class non-profits,” eight million in 2021 alone. They’ve also enhanced their sustainability efforts committing to a Green Leaf standard that leverages environmentally preferred materials across their footwear and apparel. The workforce — especially long-timers — know firsthand that you can do good and earn a paycheck at the same time. It’s built into the DNA of the company.

Let’s face it. In today’s world, anyone who stays with one company for three decades is pretty much a unicorn. It’s unusual to stay for five, much less 30. Still, I admire his loyalty, beliefs, and ability to grow from within. And, as leaders, we can draw valuable lessons from his experience about what matters most and what employees value from their employer.

You’ve probably guessed to whom this tribute is dedicated. So, please join me in raising a glass and wishing Peter Bajdek a very happy 30th anniversary at New Balance.

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