Never underestimate the power of tapping into a Salinas State of Mind.
— From “A Satisfied Mind”
Words and Music by Joe “Red” Hayes and Jack Rhodes
When your software company is headquartered near the Monterey Peninsula and wants to create a distinct national—if not international—profile, it’s easy to lean on the neighboring communities of Pacific Grove, Monterey, and Carmel to do exactly that. Each location is a standout tourist destination with a global recognition factor that’s off the charts.
As you might expect, we’ve focused on these areas in past SSCS Blog posts, and the fully illustrated, multi-part piece we’re planning on Big Sur for later in the year will provide another example of associating SSCS with a glamorous area that’s relatively close to us.
Unfortunately, every time we do this, we end up giving short shrift to the city in which SSCS is actually located: Salinas, California. Though not as flashy as the previously mentioned destinations, this is our home. It’s where we come together each day to work and it’s where most of us live. Our entrepreneur founder operated gas stations in the area before he began to build his software enterprise over 35 years ago. Our roots go deep and our essence as a company is inextricably co-mingled with its immediate surroundings, making it an important part of our identity.
While our software is powerful and encompassing, our support team proves itself year after year to be the gold standard in the industry, and our creative team is one of the best in the business, our relationship to Salinas defines our corporate personality beyond those attributes.
To explain what we mean by that, let’s take a step back. Some months ago, in an effort to create a phrase distilling the personality of our business, we toyed with the phrase “homegrown software.” We never floated it by executive management because we weren’t satisfied with how it sounded.
We didn’t want to give the impression we were somehow low tech or by accident imply something completely different. We were simply searching for a short, impactful way to communicate the fact that we are a highly qualified, but thoroughly unpretentious team committed to our customers and company for the long haul, and that we’ve formed our own tenured, professional fellowship within the walls of this building as a result. Our company was born here, raised here, and plans to stay here. Our customers know where we can be found.
That’s what “homegrown” means to us.
Sure, we’re in the high tech industry, but in this day and age that nomenclature too often becomes associated with style over substance; impermanence over engagement. If we were the owner of a 50-site convenience store enterprise relying on technology, we’re not sure those kinds of descriptors would inspire adequate confidence.
We’re not like that, which brings us back to Salinas and SSCS and how our personalities are reflective of each other.
We’re in high tech, but we’re worker bees, too, nose to the grindstone. Salinas is a working class town steeped in an agricultural tradition that is unglamorous, but essential to the nation. They don’t call it “the Salad Bowl of the World” for nothing. Our solutions, as well as our town’s industries, are essential to whom we serve, but we don’t particularly like to call attention to ourselves. As a result we can appear sleepier and smaller than we really are.
Another commonality between SSCS and the city is our shared sense of community built through continuity and stability. Seventy percent of us have been here five years or more, 50 percent ten years or more, and 30 percent 15 years or more. Salinas is a compact city comprised of a high percentage of families that remain in the same intertwined businesses generation after generation: ranching; agricultural business; working in the fields. Traditions are passed down; they don’t get lost in translation.
The above qualities set the stage for one last very important similarity between our company and Salinas: we represent different aspects of the same American Dream—up from our bootstraps to create something better for yours and ours.
Those who say America doesn’t “make stuff” anymore or can’t provide for its own or has lost all pride in what it can accomplish will find some compelling rebuttals when they come to visit Salinas. Given the pessimism that emanates so readily from any number of media platforms, we often find ourselves sitting here—yes, right here at 650 Work St. Salinas, California—marveling at the fact that our wholly owned company, beholden to no debtors or public stockholders, provides sustenance for dozens of employees and their families, giving them the resources they need to bring it forward to others, starting with purchases in the produce department at the local grocery store.
If we haven’t yet convinced you of the beneficial effects of being interwoven into this city and maintaining a long-term relationship with it, that’s okay. On Tuesday, the Washington Post published an interesting article. The Well-Being Index of Gallup – Healthways released a ranking of America’s most and least fulfilled communities (you can research the details of the report and its methodology at the link we provided). The rankings (an excerpt is at right) are based on how strongly residents rate their sense of purpose and community, social and financial status, and physical health.
Salinas was number #2 on the list. That’s #2 in the whole country.
This isn’t an assessment or compilation of outside factors, this is an internal measure of a state of mind, one from which we truly believe SSCS ultimately benefits—after all, we’re immersed in this atmosphere every day. The survey provided some nice reinforcement for the sentiments in this post. Frankly, it provided the inspiration for it.
Billy Joel wrote “New York State of Mind” some years ago. Maybe somewhere not so far away an inspired local musician is writing his or her own, “Salinas State of Mind.” It’s locked into our company DNA and for that we are grateful.
Note: Salinas absolutely would not have the same flavor without the wonderful public murals of John Cerney, which you can see sprinkled throughout this post. If you like what you see, please visit him at http://www.johncerneymurals.com/ and tell him!