It is easy to dread forced team-building activities in the workplace. But Jon Gillan is making enjoyable, high-energy experiences out of events that promote working together and build a sense of community.
Three years ago Gillan, 26, the owner of Jon Gillan Team Building, had the opportunity to run a team-building event for the residential life staff at Monroe Community College. After many years of working as a facilitator at Camp Stella Maris, Rock Ventures and Camp Arrowhead, it was not much of a stretch for him.
More unexpected, though, was that afterward, Gillan decided to turn his people skills, experience with team-building workshops and familiarity with the field into a business.
"I've always wanted to do this, but I never really knew when the right time was going to be, and I just decided that there's really no better time than now," he says.
Gillan began working with clients in this capacity on a regular basis more than a year before establishing Jon Gillan Team Building in June.
The business, based at Gillan's home in Rochester, offers services in team and community building, staff training and leadership consultation. Gillan's services include workshops, games and activities he develops from scratch.
For instance, his workshop, "Stepping out of your comfort zone: Turning awkward moments into awesome ones," encourages co-workers to loosen up and feel comfortable trying new things. He also uses information from presentations by others in the industry, including talks from Technology Entertainment and Design Conferences LLC and work by Jim Cain, director of Teamwork and Teamplay, another team-building company, and author of six team-building books.
When he presents workshops he has done before or material he did not create, Gillan modifies it to fit the customer.
"I have a lot of use for what I have in my repertoire, but at the same time I change it to what my client needs and what exactly the group is trying to achieve," he says.
Gillan's services are for those looking to create any sort of community. Past clients include Paychex Inc., Nazareth College of Rochester, MCC, the Jewish Community Center and the Geneseo Central School District.
Gillan hopes to increase his work with businesses because it gives him the opportunity to go into in-depth material, though he is more than comfortable working with younger crowds and has even run events for 4- and 5-year-olds.
Events that Gillan has facilitated have included as many as 300 people and as few as five. The base price for any Jon Gillan Team Building event is $300, and a typical event runs between two and three hours. Longer functions, the use of customized activities or additional games, and the creation of new, specific workshops are factors that would increase rates.
Gillan is the sole employee of his business. His long-term goals include getting a partner or two. Jon Gillan Team Building currently has events lined up that include a trip to Albany to contribute to a leadership conference.
He hopes word of mouth will gain him new customers and fuel growth.
Of the fledgling company, Gillan says: "I really decided to challenge myself and chase my dream."
Kat Lynch is a Rochester Business Journal intern.
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