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Russell to its workers: Take the damn bus!

Post by Joe Turner on Sep. 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm with 2 Comments »
September 10, 2009 12:04 pm

Well, not exactly, but Andrew Doman‘s letter to Russell employees pretty much embodies the same sentiment as the “Take the Damn Bus” bumper stickers that the late-Rep. Ruth Fisher, D-Tacoma, used to have on her car.

And since three-fourths of Russell employees work south of the Pierce-King county line, that’s exactly what many of them will have to do if they want to keep their jobs at the new Seattle WaMu digs.

Oh, by the way, Gov. Chris Gregoire sends her condolences to Tacoma, but she’s really glad Russell is staying in the state.

Gov. Gregoire’s statement on Russell Investment Group

“I am delighted that Russell has decided to stay in the state of Washington, ensuring that those important jobs remain in the Northwest. I certainly understand the disappointment of the Tacoma community, Gregoire said in a statement. “I know the city did an outstanding job of presenting its case. Russell Investment Group has been a major employer in Pierce County, and has played an integral role in shaping downtown Tacoma. After talking with Russell CEO Andrew Doman, I respect this was a difficult business decision, and wish the company continued success at its new location.”

I’m told from a reliable source that this is the letter that went out to Russell employees. You be the judge of how it sounds to a worker who lives in Tacoma or Gig Harbor.

September 9, 2009

Dear Russell Associates,

After what I know has been a prolonged period of time for many of us, I want to let you know that we have made a final decision to relocate our headquarters to downtown Seattle. Our intention is that by the end of 2010, all of our associates in the Puget Sound area will work in a single facility which will more than accommodate our growth over time.

Since the decision has been made to move to Seattle, I felt it was important to keep our commitment to share that information with you immediately. Once some final steps have been taken, we will notify everyone of our new building location, and I expect that announcement to be imminent.

Members of the Executive Committee and I will be meeting with groups of Tacoma associates today to talk further about this move in a more personal setting. I am writing this e-mail first because I want to provide you with more details about what drove our decision and why it best serves the long-term business interest of our company globally.

As you can appreciate this has not been an easy decision – but I believe this move is in the best interest of Russell. It will reinforce the revival of our great culture of innovation and leadership that has set us apart in the investment industry for decades. It will underscore our commitment to playing a leadership role in a rapidly globalizing industry. Our new location will serve to remind our clients of the reach and influence we have as an organization. At the same time, I acknowledge that the move will be difficult for some associates. We have put a great deal of thought into how we can mitigate the impact of the move, and you’ll hear more about that soon. It is very much my hope that associates will rally around this growth opportunity for Russell and choose to stay with us as we make this transition. Attracting and retaining top talent will always be a key business priority for us.

In the coming days, weeks and months, there will be more to report and much to organize. We are excited by the opportunity this change gives us to embark on a new chapter in our remarkable story – one in which I believe we are well-positioned to achieve new heights.

Factors behind the decision
After careful analysis, a number of economic and qualitative factors aligned and pointed us in the direction of Seattle.

Financially, the unique real estate environment resulting from an excess of available commercial real estate space in Seattle was an important driver.

Qualitatively, this move enhances and reflects our position as a global leader. As Russell continues to grow we want to align ourselves alongside other global firms and business pioneers. In Seattle we will be in close proximity to a large pool of talented professionals and have substantially better opportunities to meet and collaborate with other like-minded organizations; to be more visible; and to network more effectively. As you may know, Seattle is consistently rated among the top cities in the U.S. in terms of quality of lifestyle. We also expect to take advantage of the move to structure the new workplace design and floor plans with updated amenities and technologies that will foster greater collaboration among associates in our headquarters and globally. For instance, our new office will incorporate desktop video conferencing for all associates.

Throughout our history, our associates have benefited as Russell has succeeded as a company, and it is my view that this move will foster the kind of long-term success that is going to benefit us all.

Addressing concerns
I am well aware of the personal impact this move will have on many of our associates and its effect on the City of Tacoma. Let me be clear that we want associates to stay at Russell, and our intention is to make this transition as smooth as possible. We will seek input throughout this process, especially with regard to understanding and working to mitigate issues related to transportation, including commute times, parking and expenses.

We have retained a leading commute management firm that will assist us in developing transportation options based on the needs of our associates. You will have an opportunity to participate in a survey in early October that will help us gauge associate demand for alternative commute options and subsequently allow us to develop and implement a responsive program that works for you. Among others, options we might pursue include:

Offering direct shuttles to rail or express bus services;
Offering carpool and vanpool incentives and car-share memberships in downtown Seattle; and
Offering park-and-ride options from Tacoma/Gig Harbor to Seattle.
We will also have transportation experts on-site at scheduled times over the coming months to provide general commute information sessions as well as individual trip planning consultations.

For associates who may wish to consider relocation of their primary residence, we are actively developing a virtual resource center that aggregates key information regarding housing, education, child care and local activities and services in the Greater Seattle area. Relocation resources will be on-site at scheduled times in the coming months to provide individual relocation consultations. Associates will also have the option of scheduling guided tours of various neighborhoods. These resources are being offered with the goal of providing associates and their families planning assistance if desired.

Detailed information will be posted on a new HQ Relocation intranet site, which will be linked from the Russell Web homepage beginning tomorrow. I encourage everyone to visit the site regularly for updates about our move and to learn about actions we are taking to ensure a smooth transition. Today you can read a list of frequently asked questions, and answers, by clicking on this link. There you will also find a two-page fact sheet that you can download to help you communicate about our relocation with family, friends and others in the community.

Although our move will undoubtedly have an impact on Tacoma, both the city and Pierce County are important parts of Russell’s history and will continue to be home for many of our associates. We are steadfast in our commitment to improving the quality of life in communities where associates live and where we do business.

We will make our decision to move to Seattle known publicly later today. As always, please avoid commentary to the press. If you should be contacted by the media, please direct them to Jennifer Tice on 253.439.2921.

Thank you for your ongoing dedication to our clients and for your commitment to the success of our company. I realize for a great many of you this decision presents challenges, and I want to encourage you to talk to your manager, HR business partner, Executive Committee members or me directly. We are committed to doing everything we can to make this transition easier and to ensure that we do it together.

Andrew Doman
President and CEO
Russell Investments

General Politics, Tacoma
Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. trustsatan says:

    “We have retained a leading commute management firm that will assist us in developing transportation options based on the needs of our associates.”

    Ha! That’s gotta be one of the funniest things I’ve read in a while, you just can’t make this stuff up. I think I may start a “commute management firm” of my own. Perhaps you should bill Russell, Mr. Turner, for the advice contained in the title of this post, invoiced for “commute management consultation services”. ;^)

  2. klthompson says:

    If I were an employee of Russell I wouldn’t be in a hurry to relocate. They may jump to Chicago for a lower rent.

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