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  • Writer's pictureDrew Williams

Owner's Retreat Takeaways

Every now and then Drew and I like to try to go somewhere to unplug from the “normal” routine (if that exists) and focus on bigger picture stuff regarding business direction, programs, and so on. I’ve had the beach in mind for years, and so, at the end of August, we were able to take 3 days to visit my favorite spot – Emerald Isle, NC.

Our main focus was on how things are going and where things are going. The company is busy, projects are progressing along, and employees are doing well, but we wanted to zoom out from those operational logistics.

The Berkley Group was formed in 2010 – the height of the Great Recession. We wanted to serve local governments in meaningful and lasting ways, and, as the recession began to hit local budgets hard (around 2012), we started getting more creative with our programs and service delivery methods. We developed the Auxiliary Town Hall and Organizational Strategic Assessment programs. More recently we’ve launched the Executive Transition Assistance program which has led to other service areas that we didn’t envision (e.g., fire/rescue strategic planning, HR compensation/classification studies).

The next recession is nearing, and, just as we’ve done in the past, we want to be prepared to serve local governments during that period and beyond by providing the highest quality of services in ways that save money and improve service delivery. We have grown as a company through the diversification of programs that we offer and by not putting all our eggs in one basket.

As we laid out our “big ideas” and were beginning to explore them in more detail, we were reminded of another harsh reality – someone is always going to be trying to crash the gate. We spent half of our time dealing with a security breach (via email initially) and locking down our critical systems. While this was a major interruption to our “visionary retreat,” it was also a needed lesson that, as we grow, we are ever more susceptible to cyber-attacks, and, like our clients, we need to take measures to protect our people and assets.

The following week, Hurricane Dorian hit the Carolina coast and a waterspout impacted the Emerald Isle community – another reminder that plans can change at any time and with great speed. That, and our Mother Earth requires us to do more to protect her and us.

Although we didn’t get to fully realize what we had initially set out to do, we did enough, and we are pointed in a solid and intentional direction for our upcoming 10th year in business. Good things are coming for local government in 2020 – stay tuned!

Darren Coffey, CEO

Drew Williams, COO

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