On-site wine bars keep employees satisfied at DPR

Company: DPR Construction.

Area location: Falls Church.

Number of employees: 100 locally.


(Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Is happy hour just as happy when it’s held at work?

Employees at DPR Construction say it is.

“It makes for a very fun atmosphere,” Dianna Petitt said of gatherings at DPR’s on-site wine bar. “It’s like the social epicenter of the office.”

Each of the company’s 16 locations has a wine bar, with the exception of the DPR’s Texas offices, which have saloons.

The bar in Falls Church is located in the middle of the office and is stocked with dozens of bottles of California wine (an homage to the company’s Silicon Valley roots), as well as beer, soda and bottled water.

“We try to be good about having a balance,” said Petitt, the office manager. “If people are drinking wine, we’ll make sure we keep bottles of Pellegrino (mineral water) out, too.”

Most often though, Petitt said the wine bar serves as a gathering place for employees during the day.

“It’s not all about wine — sure, we call it a wine bar — but I find that we just as often stand around and eat lunch there,” Petitt said. “Half the time we might be in there putting together proposals or having a meeting.”

DPR, which was founded in 1990 and builds offices, hospitals, university labs and other complex projects, counts “enjoyment” as one of its four core values (the other are “integrity,” “uniqueness” and “ever forward”).

Christopher Gorthy, who manages mid-Atlantic pre-construction for the company, said he often invites clients to join him at the wine bar after meetings.

“In most places, you finish a business meeting and people just get back on the road,” Gorthy said. “But here, it’s like ‘Hey, let’s hang out.’ If you want wine, you can have some wine, otherwise you grab a soda and just talk.”

Employees gather at the wine bar one afternoon every month to toast milestones, ranging from new contracts to new babies.

“It’s a good way to stop and celebrate,” Petitt said. “We like to shake things up a little bit.”

Abha Bhattarai covers local banking, retail and hospitality for The Washington Post’s Capital Business section. She has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times.
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