Creating Summer Memories, Corporate Style

Press Release Cookouts in the parking lot, visits from the Good Humor Truck, scavenger hunts, weekend vacations at the beach and casual dining on the office balcony…welcome to summer, Plante & Moran style. Plante & Moran, PLLC, a Michigan and Ohio-based accounting and consulting firm that is known for its family-feel corporate culture and counts the post-Enron cleanup as one of its current assignments, views firm-sponsored summer activities as additional opportunities to build stronger relationships among staff members and their families.

"Summer has always been an event-filled time at Plante & Moran," notes Bill Bufe, CPA, Human Resources Partner at the firm since 1984 and avowed firm cheerleader, reciting a list of long-standing summer activities that include weekend get-aways for staff members and guests at an upscale resort, summer intern parties, outdoor office parties, road rallies and family days at locations ranging from an amusement park to the ballgame.

The challenge, notes Bufe, is keeping summer traditions and activities meaningful as the firm grows in staff count and increased office locations.

"Our oldest summer tradition, the Weekend Outing, started as a post-tax season thank-you dinner in the 1960s for staff members and their spouses, and was established to recognize the hardships that families endured when Dad was away from home extra hours during tax season (and it was almost always Dad in those days)," explains Bufe, noting that the firm had one office and fewer than 100 staff at the time. "It gradually evolved into a purely social, biennial gathering on two June weekends (staff pick one weekend to attend) at a Northern Michigan resort to encourage staff and spouses from our 15 offices to intermingle on a casual basis."

Bufe adds that decreased attendance in recent years has prompted changes in the design of the Weekend Outing. "We have increasingly noticed that staff members tend to socialize with those they already know," says Bufe. "We’re not going to fight human nature. With 1200 staff members all over Michigan and Ohio, we’ve concluded to do smaller, regional weekend outings in the future. Despite our size, the firm believes the Weekend Outing is an important tradition for deepening collegial relationships that needs to be maintained, albeit in a new format."

Another summer activity, the once plain vanilla golf outing, has evolved into a jam-packed roster of fun that satisfies golfers and non-golfers alike. "We still call it the Golf Outing," informs Bufe, "but that’s really a misnomer. With options like swimming, tennis, euchre tournaments and trivia contests, many staffers forgo golf altogether."

Newer summer activities have created some good-natured rivalries between offices as well. "Our Grand Rapids office holds barbeques on their high-rise balcony, which overlooks the downtown," notes Bufe, "and that has prompted the slightly less glamorous tradition of having breakfast, lunch or dinner cookouts in parking lots at other offices."

The latest rivalry? "Definitely the ice cream truck," confirms Bufe. "The Southfield office started that last year after learning that another office had implemented the afternoon treat two years prior."

Plante & Moran is a professional services firm offering fully integrated business advisory services to help our clients succeed. With certified public accountants and consulting specialists focused in specific industries, Plante & Moran’s services include technology and business consulting, assurance, tax, and family wealth management. Founded in 1924, Plante & Moran is the nation’s ninth largest certified public accounting and management consulting firm according to Public Accounting Report. Plante & Moran has been recognized by a number of organizations, including Fortune magazine, as one of the country’s best places to work. The firm has a staff of more than1, 200 professionals in 15 offices throughout Michigan and Ohio. Plante & Moran’s Internet address is www.plantemoran.com.

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