Originally published in the Wisconsin State Journal on March 22, 2020.

Horizon display
Horizon Develop Build Manage CEO and President Dan Fitzgerald, center, meets with team members to examine samples of building materials at the company’s headquarters. The firm also has offices in Greenfield and Dubuque.

MADISON, WI – Dan Fitzgerald believes that enabling employees to make decisions – and learn from mistakes – drives the culture at Horizon Develop Build Manage, providing the underpinning of a Top Workplace.

“We embrace a culture of lessons learned,” said Fitzgerald, Horizon’s chief executive officer and president. “If someone makes a mistake or has a success, we should all learn from that.”

That culture helped propel Horizon to the top ranking in the small-firm category of Top Workplaces.

Horizon specializes in development, construction and property management services. Its primary focus is on senior housing, but also works on a variety of other projects, including waterparks.

Horizon places a heavy emphasis on carefully documenting projects, so employees can learn from past experiences and help provide solutions to clients.

“It’s kind of a recipe book or playbook on how a team gets established and how the team communicates and works together,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s that commitment to the process and documenting the process over 35 years that has brought in all of those lessons learned.”

Horizon’s employees also share a sense of mission, Fitzgerald said.

“My teams come in with the attitude of, ‘What can I learn today?’” he said. “I’m not in this redundant machine that’s pumping out widgets. … When a senior who lived in a house that was in disrepair and can now move into one of our properties and you get a hug and hear the comment, ‘I never thought I could live in a place like this,’ that’s fantastic.”

Survey responses by Horizon employees earned the company special recognition for doing things efficiently and well. Said one: “I am allowed to do my job and I am trusted to do my job well.”

Fitzgerald said the company aims to establish a family-oriented atmosphere and encourages workplace flexibility for its 135 employees, including 53 in Madison.

“We believe strongly in giving them the tools to meet their work expectations, along with meeting their family obligations,” he said. “We all know each other on a deeper level than just a person sitting in the cubicle next to them.”

Read the full Wisconsin State Journal story here.