12 Days of FINE. Day 5: The Early Birds

Posted in Insights — Dec 05, 2014

Meet some of FINE's first employees, who are still making awesome today. And also, see their faces.


[]Tsilli Pines, Senior Designer, 12 years FINE

Why did you decide to become FINE?
I really wanted to work in the worst neighborhood in SF and FINE's office on Natoma Street at the time was my only option besides the methadone clinic.

What’s been a defining moment during your tenure?
My first year at FINE, I overheard Kenn defending the staff on a phone call. I will never forget that.

To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is?
Relationships first.

Anything to add?
It takes a herculean effort to get a business like this going and to keep it going. Props to the brothers Fine.


Arune Suvanvej, Senior Designer, 7.5 years FINE[]

*Why did you decide to become FINE? *
I felt very hindered in terms of growth at the company I worked at before. I always liked FINE’s work, and when I found out they were starting a PDX office, I sent a resume. It was a step up in market position and quality of work from where I was before. It was also a MUCH better fit culturally. Right away I could tell I was very much inline, in business (and life) philosophy with the partners, which is one of the reasons I’ve been here as long as I have.

*What’s been a defining moment during your tenure? *
SO much. At first, I felt very challenged at the quality of work, but as I got more experience, my skill level increased. It wasn’t overnight, but gradually I started to feel more comfortable. Anchor was a pretty good milestone project, in my mind. That was a pretty big one, not just because of expectations, but also the solution we came up with.

*To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is? *
The personality of not only the partners, but the entire staff. The company is set up so there isn’t a big overarching hierarchy anywhere. That’s been something that hasn’t changed over the years. To me FINE represents a great example of the right way to do business. Most people that work here, and leadership for sure, understand that politics in big organizations is usually a hindrance to productivity, and creativity. We tend to be able to offer a refreshing viewpoint and always make sure to cut through the typical noise in the business world. This allows us to come up with creative solutions that get to the heart of real business problems.

*How has it changed?
*
Even though the company has grown in size, the overall culture has (thankfully) stayed relatively the same.


Mark Hoffmann, Director of Interactive Technology, 7 years FINE[]

Why did you decide to become FINE?
I wasn’t happy at my previous job; I got a call from this company offering pretty much everything that was missing for me professionally: managers who care about their employees, a focus on quality instead of quantity, and an office within city limits. No decision was necessary!

What’s been a defining moment during your tenure?
There was a project in my early days, an internal initiative called “TwitterHAM”. Lori and I paired up and worked closely on it and it turned out awesome. I used AJAX and did some fancy styling on INPUT elements and created a tiny, efficient app that I loved. That led directly into a short-lived attempt to build a bug tracker that I was also super excited about until we found Redmine. As a result, TwitterHAM sticks out in my mind as one of my most rewarding and fun-to-build projects.

I have a lot of social highlights, not project work-related: my first incredibly hung over day in the San Francisco office, walking to work with a broken leg for a couple days, the holiday party on the Hornblower yacht when I still had that broken leg, the adventure club skydiving trip, a day spent walking around San Francisco with friendly FINE employees, the 2014 summer retreat… all of it.

To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is?
FINE genuinely cares about its employees. That hasn’t changed at all! What has changed at FINE is a shift away from a purely aesthetic (sometimes superficial) and design-focused project flow to a more technically-oriented and modern process. We’re still pretty designy, but every so often we sneak in some exciting technical achievements, nonetheless.

Anything to add?
Being hired by FINE marked the beginning of a renaissance era of my life: I also got my kitten, Captain Reynolds around that time and life has been good ever since. Not to mention, I met a lady who I am totally crazy about in the FINE office — and the company was gracious enough not to fire me when I violated several HR manual directives by turning that relationship from professional to romantic. FINE’s done a lot for me. [Note: management is reviewing this post in light of recent revelations and reserves the right to take action.]


James Kurczodyna, Director of Application Technology, 6 years FINE[]

*Why did you decide to become FINE?
*
I was walking the line between design and development and was impressed by how FINE combined the two. The comfy Marshall Street house in Portland sealed the deal.

*What’s been a defining moment during your tenure?
*
Moving to Rails is when server-side languages went from a tool to a passion for me.

*To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is?
*
The people! The projects get bigger, but the people stay the same.

*Anything to add?
*
It’s been a pleasure sharing these years with such FINE folks!


Katerina Bauer, Senior Designer, 6 years FINEKaterina

Why did you decide to become FINE?
Portfolio. Came across FINE site in 2006 and decided I wanted to work there.

What’s been a defining moment during your tenure?
Working side-by-side with great designers and learning from them.

To you, what characteristics make FINE what it is?
Personal. And not taking itself too seriously.

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