Banking on Employees’ Talent and Energy

By Robert Rockwood President, Sabey Data Centers, with Richard Edmonds

Sabey Data Centers is driven by the singular vision and philosophy of our founder, Dave Sabey. As our company moves into its third generation, it hews to a leadership trait Sabey initiated more than 40 years ago— “Our employees determine the company’s strategy.”

Published in the Latest Issue | DECEMBER 31, 2019

From the very first day on the job, we begin the process of positioning employees to realize their greatest potential. After all, the employees are our doers, managers, and agents of change. Our goal is to find any and every way to untap their talent and energy into the company and, in turn, culminate big ideas and successful strategies through collaborative efforts.

We acknowledge that our approach aspires to an almost unreachable standard, but our efforts regularly position employees to fulfill their inherent potential. At the very least, we build a team inspired to innovate and succeed. And when we get it right, we unite strategy, culture and talent in a perfect fit.

Interestingly, my own job interview with Sabey transpired like this: Dave first described the company’s 40-year history and why its people had a lot more to offer. He, then, read a short poem, which was in the form of a prayer penned by Sir Francis Drake in 1577 as he set sail on his circumnavigation of the globe.

In the composition, Drake beseeches the Lord to make mortals ‘dare more boldly, to venture on wilder seas’. Dave went on to proclaim, “Now, go out and see what you can do!” What former Army Ranger doesn’t want a mission statement like that— I pondered?

All this doesn’t implicate that other management styles cannot work as efficiently. But successful companies match employees to an existing strategy in inspired and principled ways. At Sabey Data Centers, we go after people who believe that their energy and talent—given a chance—will generate a better strategy than any management could have come up with.

At Sabey Data Centers, we go after people who believe that their energy and talent—given a chance—will generate a better strategy than any management could have come up with.

The origins of Sabey Data Centers, our DNA, and our Stalwart Partner
Sabey’s founding generation established a business platform by acquiring a substantial commercial and industrial real estate portfolio in Seattle. Subsequently, the company formed in-house divisions to manage and operate the assets—an initiative that established our identity as a commercial real estate developer, builder, operator and long-term holder.

But what about a strategy? In the late 1990s, one of our largest assets—Building Five at Intergate. East—was occupied by a national provider of data center co-location services. Realizing how important this nascent industry would be, Sabey negotiated the right to put together a team led by John Sabey in place with the tenant to learn the data center business rather than just collect rent. When the dot-com bubble burst, the tenant was forced to declare bankruptcy.