Why Your Employees Should Consider Your Organization a Top Workplace

By Becca Reilly, Director, Human Resources at Southern Land Company

On June 21, Southern Land Company was nominated by the Tennessean as one of Middle Tennessee’s Top Workplaces in 2016. The following is one piece in a two-part series about how Southern Land Company has worked to earn that honor.

From the firm’s inception three decades ago, Southern Land Company’s vision for quality communities has never wavered. Its commitment to architecture, horticulture, and design are the cornerstones of the company; therefore it is positioned well to attract top-quality talent.

Professionals within a wide variety of disciplines have sought the company out and spend weeks and months anxiously awaiting a chance to begin working here.  The environment is full of energy and opportunity. We ignite imaginations, we thrive on detail, we respect creativity and we protect investment.  We are different and that is good!

Tim Downey, Southern Land Company’s CEO, believes that real estate can be beautiful; and, because of that beauty, it provides value that people are willing to pay for. From this concept, Southern Land Company was launched.

In the early 1990′s, Tim moved the company to Franklin, TN, in search of a new business model – one that included the combined talents of developers, builders, planners, designers, architects and support staff.  He encourages his staff to be bold and fearless regarding innovative design so that the end-product remains timeless for generations.  Even failures and missteps are regarded as a necessary part of the learning process, so we embrace the possibility that any idea may lead to success.  Tim’s unique approach of inclusiveness fosters a high level of employee engagement across all divisions.  At project completion, every single employee can see a bit of themselves reflected in the endeavor.

Southern Land’s first neighborhood in the region set standards in architectural and community design. But it would be the ambitious pursuit of a 1500-acre community west of downtown Franklin that would establish Southern Land Company as a genuine trendsetter. Westhaven is Southern Land’s crowning achievement. Its alleys, open spaces and large front porches are reminiscent of times gone by. Its attention to detail and promotion of community quickly attracted a diverse mix of homeowners seeking a new experience and employees who were interested in working with such a creatively driven company.

By the mid-2000′s, the company’s design philosophy was immersed in mixed-use development, bringing retail, commercial and residential components together in a cohesive neighborhood setting. Southern Land identified mixed-use opportunities around the country, starting in Tennessee and Texas. Southern Land’s future embraces its time-tested drive to push against production building and conformity. Its commitment to creativity and sustainability ensures the company and its communities will be relevant for generations to come.

Additionally attractive to employees was our ability to survive the recession so well.  It created a tremendous amount of opportunity for us, offering new relationships with capital partners who, because of our success in surviving an economically difficult period, wanted to do business with us. We have real staying power, and our employees appreciate the efforts of our executives to maneuver through the changing economic times.

We remain very aware of cultural shifts affecting consumer demand so we are consistently able to deliver what the market is seeking.  Most developers are very specific to a certain niche. What Southern Land Company has built is what can be defined as a horizontally diversified platform. We can build single-family residential when the time is right and multifamily when the market shifts. We can build office and retail if there’s a demand. Such diversification is a huge advantage.

Today’s employees are seeking to join trustworthy organizations with sustainable business models.  They want work that is challenging, interesting and exciting and they want to contribute to something that they can be proud of.  They value communication up and down the ladder and appreciate good working relationships with peers and supervisors.  Our solid business advantages all translate to tangibles that define Southern Land Company as a great place to work.