Illustrating a Culture of Core Values
Gray is a place where we cling to our core values—one of which is treating others the way we want to be treated and that Gray is a place where all are welcome and respected. Team members at Gray are the lifeblood of our company, each bringing with them unique experiences, backgrounds, and cultures. This diversity spurs new, creative ideas and fosters an inclusive environment.
We spoke with Ricardo Florez, architectural technician III, Gray AE, on what Hispanic Heritage Month means to him and how the people-first culture at Gray promotes diversity.
Tell me about your career arc and what led you to Gray?
My career aspirations actually began back in high school, when I discovered that I wanted to draw and work at an architectural firm. I didn’t start out my career in that role, but I went on to attend the Kentucky Vocational School, where I learned to draw in AutoCAD. I got a job working at a small firm remodeling Winn Dixie grocery stores, before a former colleague of mine came to Gray and then recruited me. Over the 17 years, I’ve been involved in a lot of different projects and roles.
Describe your normal workday or your “day in the life.”
My main tasks are to produce drawings and to help create proposals. But I also really enjoy helping and mentoring the next generation of architects. I was meeting individually with so many people, I eventually decided to hold informal chats on Friday afternoons to answer questions and share ideas with my fellow team members. I call it Café Rico, and it is the highlight of my week. There’s no agenda or set talking points—just a place to learn from one another, collaborate, and exchange ideas.
What do you enjoy most about working at Gray?
I think first and foremost, it’s the people. We have amazing team members here at Gray. Secondly, I’d say being able to see the results of your work. When I visited the Siemens project and saw the finished product from my drawing, it was incredible. I’d seen it 1,000 times on paper and in my mind of how I envisioned it, but to see it in person was awesome.
What’s been your most memorable experience since joining Gray?
I love the Gray Family Weekend events, and I’ve been heavily involved in that for many years. I have many memories of prepping the meat in the downstairs kitchen and grilling at the tailgate site. I think having fun and winning interesting projects are what most stand out to me about my time here at Gray.
What do you think sets Gray apart from other service providers in the industry?
I think it’s simply the way we go about doing business. We treat the customer with respect, treat each other with respect, and work hard to get things done—even with challenges that come up during a project. None of us are perfect, but as long as we keep communicating and treating each other with respect, we will continue to succeed.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
I was born in the South American country of Colombia. I’m very proud of being Colombian even though I’ve lived here in Kentucky most of my life. I always say Columbia gave me life; the United States helped raise me. Hispanic culture to me consists of friendship, love, and a family atmosphere. Colombians are a happy people, even throughout the many struggles the country has endured over the years. They lean on their family and show love by gathering and eating a good meal together.
How do you feel Gray promotes diversity and inclusion among its team members?
Gray team members truly live out the core values, one of which is treating everyone the way you want to be treated and creating a place where everyone is welcome. I’ve always felt that I could bring my whole self to work, including my culture and shared experiences.