Best Places to Work 2010

Only One Silo, a Real One, Exists in the Concept Farm

A Farmhouse Table, Open Floorplan, 'EIEIO' Blog, Zero-Tolerance Policy on Egos and Lack of Hierarchy Mean Farmers Are Free to Sow Ideas

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When the Concept Farm launched in 1999, the partners used their farm analogy to support a vision for an ego-free, roll-up-your-sleeves culture. "It was about organic thinking and getting our hands dirty," said Gregg Wasiak, partner-creative director. "Stripping things down and getting it done without silos."

Eleven years later, employees and partners still check their egos at the barnyard door. At least one partner sits on every account, giving staffers the chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with executives. When Art Director Robert Singh started as an intern in 2004, his direct report was none other than Partner-Creative Director Ray Mendez.

An ego-free, roll-up-your-sleeves culture pervades The Concept Farm.
An ego-free, roll-up-your-sleeves culture pervades The Concept Farm.
THE CONCEPT FARM
LOCATION: New York

EMPLOYEES: 48

GIVING BACK: The Concept Farm works on a discounted basis with organizations such as Greenpeace, The American Heart Association, The United Nations Environment Programme and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC). "We work a crazy amount of hours in this business, so it can be hard to give back outside the office," Mark Weintraub says. "What a pleasure to be able to give back in the office."

"An intern is the lowest rung on the ladder," Mr. Singh said, "but I had the chance to hit the ground running." These days, he hears about more hierarchical organizations and feels spoiled. "Here, you're not running things up a ladder and having to wait. The creative directors sit a few feet away, so you can always grab someone for input. I think it's a luxury."

The Concept Farm, whose clients include Windstream Communications, BNY Mellon and ESPN, is all about community, starting with open floor plans in which the disciplines mingle. "We do have some doors," Mr. Wasiak said, "but they swivel."

Farmhouse tables host group lunches, while an open intercom system makes for general hilarity over the P.A., especially in the wee hours. The close-knit group of Farmers, as employees call themselves, share their lives on an internal blog, EIEIO. And on the "First Fridays" of every month, they gather over pizza to share their work.

More than even the pizza, employees value the creative control that comes with the agency's in-house print, digital and broadcast production capabilities, as well as post-production capabilities. "Creatives and account people know that the ideas they present can be produced quickly and in-house," said Blake Olson, partner-president. "That creates a happier place to work."

So does the "no-B.S. approach to getting things done," said Mark Weintraub, director-account management. "If you want to do something, you create a plan, provide the rationale, and more often than not, it'll happen." Mr. Weintraub, who initiated the First Fridays tradition accordingly, also values the freedom managers have to reward team members (dinners out, tickets to events) without having to work through countless layers of approval.

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