5 Core Values

Dear Fellow Timber Enthusiast, the core values I’m about to share with you are not warm and fuzzy. They are tools.
These values were not chosen. They were discovered.

Before we go further, let me explain why I am sharing this with you. First, I want to let you know what to expect from us. Second, I’d like to ask that you tell an ATF supervisor when you notice a crew member doing something noteworthy, which aligns with our core values. And, of course, if you should experience behavior which violates any of these core values. Good, solid core values become invaluable tools.

In our list, we don’t include things like trustworthiness, attitude, punctuality, etc. These are assumed attributes necessary for gainful employment in any occupation. The DNA of Arrow Timber Framing – the core values which are used to reward, hire, and fire are as follows:


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Core Value #1: Help First

This describes someone who wants to help other people. Of course, we are all driven by our own needs, but when this consistently takes precedence over helping others, we have a core value violation.

Core Value #2: Humble Confidence

We do not play the role of the reluctant hero, or sound off like a strutting peacock. We know our abilities. We know our resources. We know what we can do. And we always give credit where credit is due. This makes for easy team management!

Core Value #3: Driven to Learn and Do

This one is a bit tricky, because everyone claims that this is a strong core value for them. We’ve noticed that people who truly live this core value share the following attributes: They tend to get itchy feet if the pre-start conversation begins to drag on. They make sacrifices on their own time to maximize learning. They are ready to start each morning. They get a bit irritated if something slows production.

Core Value #4: Work for the Long-Term Good

This shares attributes with the first core value, but applies more strongly to decisions which balance the needs of both the client and the company. It is also about facing down short-term pain. Let me explain. Quality: If a team member spends a huge amount of time to produce quality that nobody cares about, it jeopardizes the needs of the company. However, if the employee cuts corners or allows shoddy craftsmanship, it jeopardizes the needs of both the client and the company.

Safety: Life is managed risk. So in the context of team behavior, if an team member tries for zero risk in the workplace, both the needs of the client and the company are in jeopardy. However, if an employee were to take chances and cut corners both the client and company needs are at risk. An accident will delay schedules and cost time in many ways, and result in increased insurance premiums.

Facing down the short-term pain: Many people have trouble with this, but it is the most important. This is about being open and honest with yourself, and then with others. It means learning to clue in when things you notice about other team members or company procedures become a small irritation. It is learning to talk about prickly issues as soon as they come up.

Core Value #5: Happy and Delighted

A team member living this core value is happy with life’s trajectory. He does not agonize over mistakes in the past. He is a joy to be around. He is not cynical. He always talks about other people respectfully, as if they were standing behind him or virtually present in the room. This kind of behavior builds huge trust.

As the business owner, I myself have struggled with the fourth core value: working for the long-term good. As far as bidding, designing, and other business/time management principles go, I tend to have myopic vision. Many times, I have been like the artisan toiling away in the corner, always raising the quality bar, and never quite satisfied with my effort or product.

In this way I can shortchange the company needs. Ultimately, I end by shortchanging my family, my main source of meaning and motivation! This will probably always be my struggle, but the rest of the ATF team recognizes this and helps keep me from working too much and creating imbalance in my life. But we at ATF are not giving up the Spartan warrior mentality! On the contrary – we are sworn to fight lazy behavior and entitlement. The traditional Spartan values of discipline, self-denial, and simplicity are our goal – because intense, measured focus and discipline will keep us and our clients happy and delighted… for the long term!

Do you know of someone who fits this description? Do they have a love for building? I’d appreciate if you’d mention our company to them, as solid team members are a commodity we value very highly! Thanks to past clients. We are thrilled to be a part of your team. And a special thank you to future clients – we appreciate the opportunity to become a part of your team!

On behalf of the ATF Team,

-Bert Sarkkinen