With many new faces joining the Sierra family in the past few years, many don’t know what the story is behind the large bell in the middle of the PM department at the Woodinville office, and now also gracing the Portland office. The ceremonious bell ringing hasn’t been well practiced in the past few years, since COVID brought the tradition to a halt with vacant, quiet offices.
So, where did the ‘bell ringing’ tradition begin?
It started sometime in 2008 - 2009, and began with a small cow bell that Matt Enany brought into the basement of the old office.
The cow bell was clanked with a drum stick when there was ‘buyout’ (able to sign a subcontractor up for less than the budget), which resulted in the project lead buying a round of drinks at the local watering hole.
Over time, the bell ringing celebration morphed into celebration of an executed owner contract. When the bell was rung everyone would stop what they were doing and exit the building. In early 2010s, most work was procured through competitive bids versus negotiated, so when project teams spent countless hours working through bids and their proposals and led to a project award, celebration was an absolute must. Eventually someone brought in and mounted a larger bell on a column in the basement, and made it more official. There may have been a time or two where Andy Bley tried doing a cartwheel or an “athletic high kick” to ring the bell with his foot – legend says one was successful.
After the first summer in the new office, staff came up with another reason to ring the bell - the monthly discount run. Efficiency between Project Management teams and Project Administrators can result in paying subs early, which results in a discount to Sierra - which some months can be nothing, and some can be substantial. When that savings is over $10,000, Project Admins would ring the bell.
But then, 2020 happened. During COVID, a list was hung below the bell to keep track of projects that were awarded with the intent to celebrate upon bars re-opening. As that list grew with extended closures, the tradition lost its luster and slowly dissipated.
And it is time to bring that tradition back.
The Portland team even recently made some updates to their local office, and acquired their own bell to start the tradition in the south end.
With many projects coming to a close this spring and summer, we have many upcoming project bids and starts. So the next time you hear the exquisite grace of a bell being run at your local office, be sure to follow the sounds of celebration and join in the camaraderie that we all love so much about Sierra.