When “good” is actually exceptional
In many ways, Garrett Winder is quite ordinary. He is humble and self-deprecating. At the end of the day, he’s just trying to do good work.
“We weren’t trying to do anything crazy,” he says about the company he and a buddy started while still in college, during the recession. “The timing was right, we were at a stage in life where we didn’t need much money. We simply got an office in downtown Abilene [Texas], and got to work.”
Are we good enough?
The company was doing fine, but there was a nagging sense that they didn’t really know what they were doing. So the pair decided to go out and get “real jobs.” For Garrett, that meant working with Erskine, a company based in England, where he worked on large content websites for entities like magazines, newspapers, and cities.
The role gave him a lot of autonomy to do what he needed to do to get the job done. He found himself able to dream of creative or new ways of doing things. And then his position quickly morphed into an operations role, where he got to flex his business muscles. He enjoyed learning new parts of the company and figuring out how to make things work.
This is where some of the big learnings happened.
Reflections from an established agency
I thought I needed real-world experience, but it turns out we were doing the same things on our own as these big agencies. I also learned that it was ok if I didn’t do development all the time. I actually liked building and developing a company as much as I liked building and developing websites.”
Ultimately, Garrett learned that he wanted to try doing it on his own again.
His dad owned a business when Garrett and his siblings were growing up, and he always imprinted it on him that being a business owner was a feasible option. Garrett didn’t necessarily have big dreams of “disrupting the industry” that you hear so many entrepreneurs talk about. He wasn’t trying to start a new way of doing business. He just wanted to have something of his own.
Becoming Good Work
When a friend from college brought him a project that could last a couple of months, Garrett knew it was the right time. To help ease the transition for everyone, he stayed on with Erskine part-time to help with operations. What started as one man freelancing has grown into a full-blown company over time.
First, I started outsourcing development projects. When that grew to more than I could do, I brought on Chris full-time. Then I realized I couldn’t handle the project management side of it and we brought on Ariel. When I couldn’t handle the sales side, we brought in Grant.
We have always been focused on having a good process and good communication. We know our dev work is exceptional, but that isn’t that unique in our business. What is unique is speaking human, leading with personality, and a partnership with clients built on honesty and transparency. Simply being a good person is sometimes too rare.
The good life
Garrett’s life takes on rhythms (and even a sense of monotony) that you might not associate with a man who founded a web development company right out of college.
Every day is the same breakfast. For those wondering, it’s 2 eggs, bacon, and a piece of toast. Along with a pot of coffee. The Chemex process is systematic and meticulous, and scratches an itch for order.
Before kids, I was an avid runner. I might get 15 miles in before making it to the office. Now I’m lucky to get in a few 5-mile runs per week.
As his family has grown, it’s the two little boys who do all the running, gently mocking the idea of order (as all kids do). But like most dads, Garrett’s face lights up when he talks about the boys. They are joy and inspiration and levity - and make his ‘retirement’ from competitive running a little easier to handle.
The boys love going to parks or the Arboretum, but their favorite thing is when dad takes them to the family ranch outside of Fort Worth and they can see the cows. On the weekends you can often find them out there for a night or two, taking in nature.
Garrett actually spends one day each week at the ranch, acting as a ranch manager. He goes from running a website development business four days per week to going completely off the grid on a regular basis.
This time away from work and technology is some of what fuels him, and what makes him so passionate about having a culture of balance at Good Work.
We have developers working around the globe, so it would be easy to have our developers working all hours of the day and night. But we really emphasize shutting down for the evening to be with friends or family. Get outside and experience nature. Let the work week be good enough. It’s important that we don’t take ourselves or our work too seriously.
Garrett even joked about using the word “good” too much to describe what he does. But it is that continuation of doing the good work that makes him and this company so exceptional.
Garrett leads the day-to-day operations for our company and has a proven track record for leading high-quality, large-scale web projects for clients like PBS, Frito-Lay and DPR as well as Texas-based icons like Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Criquet Shirts. He has extensive experience in the digital client services environment but is also a successful entrepreneur, having co-founded a social analytics platform that was acquired in 2010. He received his Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from Abilene Christian University and lives in Dallas, Texas.
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