Company culture is like patina
One of the companies in Greensboro that I’ve had the opportunity to get to know is Thompson Traders. They make copper, brass and stainless steel sinks, range hoods and other kitchen/bath accessories. In fact, they’re the largest importer of copper sinks in the U.S.
One of the things you’ll learn about working with metals like copper is the formation of patina. Patina is a natural coating of compounds that forms on living metals — the green coating on the Statue of Liberty being the most famous.
These days, the word is also used for the aging process on high-quality woods and leathers.
The common factor, regardless of material, is patina develops naturally from use, exposure to the elements and weathering. True patina is the result of authenticity. It’s deliberate and takes time.
And like Jason Fried once said, a company’s culture is like patina. It’s developed and built by experience. I tend to agree.
These days, artists artificially add patina to their works. And furniture and leather craftspeople actively “distress” their goods to make it seem like an heirloom piece.
But unlike the real thing, this is a facade.
Too many companies today are manufacturing culture this way. It’s a cheap imitation of the real thing. It’s a short cut.
The road to building a great company has no short cuts.