Robb M. Corwin: Making Happenings Happen

by Alison Stanton

Robb-M-CorwinWhen football fans arrive for Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, February 1, 2015, they will experience firsthand the hard work exhibited by the team of dedicated associates from Pride Group, LLC. CEO Robb M. Corwin says his company will provide a variety of services that day, from parking and traffic control to cash management.

In order to nab such plum contracts as the Super Bowl — as well as the Pro Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and many others — Corwin has taken steps to make the Tempe-based full-service event company organized and capable. One main key to this success, Corwin says, involves using a multi-faceted approach to invest in his people.

Corwin has used this approach for two-plus decades, including the period he owned Gorilla Companies, LLC, which he sold in 2007. In 2012, he returned to the service event industry when he founded Pride Group, LLC.

“You have to believe in your people, develop your people, and invest in their training and education,” Corwin says, adding that his associates — a term he uses instead of employees — must also be an integral part of the company’s culture. “Equipment service companies are a dime a dozen. What makes us unique is our people, so what I try to get at is the ‘why’ — why they get up and do what they do, and why they are willing to work on a project for 24 hours straight. If I know things like this, then we are halfway there.”

With this “why”-related goal in mind, Corwin uses a personality profile when interviewing new hires that helps him understand how the candidates see themselves as well as the world around them. “The personality profile measures many different things, including aptitude, acumen, motivators, tendencies and behaviors,” he says. Using this assessment tool is extremely helpful during job interviews. “It allows me to do much more than just ask standard questions during the interview, but really dig down and get more thoughtful answers. It helps tell me where the person will be the most successful in a position and gives me great insight,” he says.

Another key to his success, Corwin says, is the firm belief that his associates should not be micro-managed. Instead, he utilizes a macro-managing and ultimately empowering approach that involves providing his associates with the tools they need to get their work done. “I like to allow for fresh ideas, and it is important to let people do their own thing, as long as they have a process in place at all levels,” he says.

Because Corwin believes so strongly in having a well-trained and educated team of associates, he has also developed a university within his organization that features 100-, 200-, 300- and 400-level courses, just like a college. Instead of merely offering a half-hour orientation to new associates and then sending them on their way, Corwin encourages his people to take additional classes based on whatever career path interests them.

Once an associate has signed off on a 100-level course, he or she can take a higher-level class. That person then has first rights on a new position within the company based on his or her training. “We also offer reimbursement for education, whether it’s taking English or other courses. I want everyone to develop not just as an associate but as an individual,” he says.

As for challenges, Corwin says getting back into the industry when he opened Pride Group, LLC was initially quite challenging — mainly because his clientele expected his new company to immediately be at the same level Gorilla Companies had been after 20-plus years.

Corwin recalls signing the Arizona Cardinals as Pride Group’s first client. “In June 2012, we signed the contract, and the first football game was in August. In 60 days, we had to acquire the assets needed to fulfill our requirement, including barricades, bathrooms, bike racks, power generators, uniforms and a command center.” To have everything ready in time, Corwin made sure his company had a clear vision and business plan in place and then was quick on the trigger with the decision-making process. “We hired a lot of experienced talent, including people we had worked with in the past, and we made sure we had the equipment we needed, and we were ready.”

The Lion’s Share of Success

  • Pride Group, LLC will have more than 2,000 associates working during the six weeks of the upcoming local bowl games.
  • Among Pride Group’s clients are the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, NASCAR and the United States Government.
  • Pride Group has provided services for events that include the PGA Accenture Match Play, PGA Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Chandler Ostrich Festival, NHRA Check Auto Nationals, One Direction Concert, U2 Concert and BSC Championship Games.

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