written by Houston Chronicle
A party’s not a party until it grows so large that it has to be moved off-site.
The leaders of DGM Services achieved that milestone last year when the company’s annual party, which started as a small in-house celebration of DGM’s 10-year anniversary in 2007, officially transformed into a music festival with nearly 1,500 employees and customers milling around tents and food booths and listening to live music.
The original celebration took place in the laydown yard near the company’s headquarters. But by 2012, the event – now named DGMFEST – had gotten so large that it moved to a hotel near Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Marc Petillon and his brother, Jean – who co-founded the U.S. operation of DGM, which provides packing, storage, transport, consulting, classification and professional training services for dangerous goods and chemicals products – said the work that DGM’s employees do is high-stress, which means creating opportunities for fun and relaxation is key.
“The business we are in is very specialized and requires a lot of attention to detail,” Marc Petillon said. “So functions like this allow people to relax and have a good time and temporarily forget about work. We work hard together, but we play hard together, too.”
In addition to the annual party, the Petillons have hosted an employee appreciation day attended by some Houston Texans cheerleaders and the Texans’ mascot, Toro. Other company events have included door-prize giveaways such as a trip to Las Vegas, iPods and cash.
Whenever the Petillons feel the need to foster camaraderie, they turn to a company barbecue pit that can be fired up at a moment’s notice.
“Even small things like that can go a long way,” Jean Petillon said.
Often, company leaders prepare plate lunches that can be purchased by employees for a small fee. Proceeds go into a fund to help other employees who fall on hard times, whether it be mounting medical bills or other unforeseen expenses.
These elements helped DGM, which has 180 employees in Houston, land the No. 5 spot for best workplaces among midsize companies, as selected by Workplace- Dynamics.
“The owners show their appreciation to all employees,” one worker told the WorkplaceDynamics survey, “and DGM is a great company to grow with.”