Page 1


A supplement to the

M2 | Sunday, September 26, 2021

Globe Gazette


Janet Johnson Globe Gazette Publisher

Brian Kristofek, President & CEO of Upshot said, “Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.”

These businesses large and small have figured out how to be great companies. I am proud to introduce the Globe Gazette’s 2021 Northern Iowa Employers of Choice section. We asked our community for the best places to work in the area and they responded. We had 98 nominations that came in from different individuals. We then had a panel of local judges come up with the top 15 businesses. Here are this year’s honorees: • ABCM Corporation • Apple Valley Assisted Living • Baker Floral • Clear Lake Bank & Trust • Dean Snyder • Diamond Jo Casino • Fox River Mills • Hearing Associates • Hy-Vee • Laird Law Firm • LeHigh Cement • North Central Mechanical • One Vision • Seven Steakhouse/Rookies • Young Construction These local businesses come from a variety of industries, sizes and other

factors, however, they all have a common commitment to competitive compensation, benefits and schedule flexibility, values and a collaborative work culture. People are what make the difference to a successful business and making sure that their employees know that is a key factor in the success of all of these business. The years 2020 and 2021 have been like no other years in the past for several reasons. COVID-19 has brought about a whole new set of challenges for every business large and small. The first challenge was the shutdown, how do businesses care for their employees when they are completely closed down or if they are an essential work place, how to stay open and keep their employees safe? Reopening brought about another set of challenges, and then we have experienced surge after surge of the virus. However, these businesses figured it out. They may not have had all of the answers, but they were willing to make adjustments to meet the needs of their employees and their customers. What makes a great employer? I think some of the comments from the employees who wrote the nomination say it all. This is just a few of the wonderful comments that were included in nominations. One employee from Fox River Mills stated: “They celebrate our wins and help us when we are down.” An employee from Hearing Associates stated: “Giving back to the community is a huge priority to Hearing Associates and they make sure to be involved in numerous local charities. Prior to Covid they would

feature a charity of the month and donate portions of revenue directly to them. I believe that when you see that kind of generosity and humanity it spreads and inspires others to get involved as well.” A North Central Mechanical Employee said: “I think the best part is I love my job and it doesn’t feel like work.” An employee from One Vision wrote: “One Vision employs leaders who are passionate about people and that have a clear and concise strategic direction, then empowers them with the opportunity to use their skills for success.” A server at Sevens Steakhouse/Rookies said: “Working in the restaurant/bar industry has its stresses but we have a great balance here and I always enjoy coming to work!” Clear Lake Bank & Trust employee summed it up by saying: “CLB&T is focused on the right things to inspire pride in my place of employment. First area of focus in on us, the employees - Second is focused on the customer - Third is the focus on the community, we are encouraged to be involved in the things we are personally connected to and passionate about in our community. The bank is involved in just about anything you can think of in our community that is working on making life better right here in North Iowa!” Northern Iowa is a great place to work, live and become involved in community. The values of life here are very special and not to be taken for granted. I am proud to be part of this community. Congratulations again to all of these businesses. Janet Johnson Publisher

Globe Gazette

This is North Iowa

The North Iowa Corridor Economic Development Corporation would like to congratulate this year’s Employers of Choice Awardees. In the current environment, Chad Schreck people have President & CEO their choice North Iowa Corridor EDC of where they want to work and live, and the efforts of these businesses are a great example of how to foster a positive workplace culture that attracts and retains a strong, dedicated workforce.

It is our hope that all of our North Iowa Businesses strive to be Employers of Choice, as it will continue to be more and more important going forward. We work with our businesses every day, and the number one concern consistently over the years has been that of available workforce. This was true before the pandemic, and has only seemed to grow since. We have all seen the “now hiring” and “help wanted” signs everywhere we go, as well as the frequent local and national news stories about the issue. It is the primary obstacle to potential growth for existing businesses, as well as the chief concern for companies considering new locations in North Iowa. For better or worse, this trend is not unique to us, as there have been 9 to 10 million jobs available each month over the past year nationally. In Cerro Gordo County, we have almost 2,200 jobs currently posted across 600 employers, and if you include adjacent counties, the numbers almost double. This is despite our unemployment

rate consistently in the 3.5-4.5% range. The good news is that we have excellent opportunities available for North Iowans to advance their careers, the bad news is there aren’t enough people here to fill them all right now. The Corridor and our partners at the Mason City and Clear Lake Chambers of Commerce, and NIACC have implemented several workforce initiatives over the past few years through the Vision North Iowa Strategic Plan that have sought to attack the issue from multiple fronts, including training, k-12 school to business events, direct worker recruitment, concierge services, and more. This year we are excited to begin a new marketing and recruitment campaign to assist our businesses in attracting people and workers to North Iowa.

The “This is North Iowa” initiative will market our region as a destination for Life, Culture, Recreation, and Career. The program is a way to build on the state’s “This is Iowa” workforce attraction campaign that has had positive results and is marketing the state broadly. Our goal is to use that effort to pull folks into our region by honing in on the people most likely to find our opportunities and location attractive. We are working with a marketing agency to develop a campaign that proactively recruits people with the skills and characteristics that are most likely to

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M3

consider moving to our area. They are able to identify people currently considering moving, that have the skills most in demand here, and in the life stage that best fits North Iowa. Our initial focus will be in the sectors we currently see the most demand in, such as the healthcare, manufacturing, IT, and construction fields. A key part of this program is the creation of new materials, videos, and social media, as well as tools our businesses can use in their own recruitment processes. A new website has launched as a landing page to tell the stories about what makes our region special, and to connect to the businesses, amenities, communities, and other opportunities North Iowa has to offer. We welcome feedback and new ideas to help share what makes North Iowa special to you, whether you have lived here for 50 years or just got here last week. We know there is no silver bullet or single solution to the demographic challenges we face as a region or state, so we will continue to work at this issue with our businesses, partners, and communities. We would also like to welcome our community members to be champions for North Iowa and your own community. If you have family and friends outside the area that could use a fresh start, let them know we have opportunities, and they are welcome to move up to North Iowa. Chad Schreck

M4 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Clear Lake Bank & Trust committed to employees’ well-being CEO believes roughly 100 employees ‘are number one’ priority KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


lear Lake Bank & Trust was founded in 1934 and is currently led by CEO Mark Hewitt. Over the years, the bank has upheld its value of employees, earning its nomination of North Iowa Employer of Choice. The company operated with roughly 100 employees, and Hewitt is committed to their well-being and satisfaction at the job. The company even has a list of constituencies that holds its employees at the top of the list. “Our customers are important,” said Hewitt. “Our board and directors are important, but our employees are number one. We try to remember that in everything we do.” One significant way this is executed is through the company’s employee inclusiveness. Employees are involved in decisions outside of their job descriptions, allowing each of them to have a voice in the company’s direction. A survey is also sent out every year to employees, and the results are “taken very seriously,” according to Hewitt. “On a day to day basis, we have lots and lots of touchpoints where senior management here is very much in touch with employees,” Hewitt said. “We’re constantly trying to get their feedback and their involvement in helping plot out our strategies.” To solve problems, the bank frequently forms task forces to tackle short and long-term issues. To encourage employee involvement throughout the company, nearly


Clear Lake Bank & Trust CEO Mark Hewitt is committed to the well-being of the business’ roughly 100 employees, some of which are shown here. every employee is active in at least one task force at any given time. Every two years, Hewitt forms a small group of his employees to strategically plan where the company can improve as a whole. During the meeting, the group also develops several key initiatives to assist in these improvements. Another critical way Hewitt aids in the happiness of his employees is by ensuring there is no such thing as a typical day. He believes a perk of working for the

bank is the variety of responsibilities within the job, keeping it unique and fresh each day. Hewitt also initiates many strategies to help his employees feel appreciated. First, he ensures no important dates are forgotten by putting up a calendar with employee’s birthdays and work anniversaries and ensures they are recognized. The company also celebrates promotions and retirements. Along with the celebrations, the company also participates in

outings like golfing, bowling and holiday dinners to ensure everyone has the chance to get to know each other outside of work. “The way I view my own personal job is I gotta come in here and make sure everybody that walks in the door is fired up about their job every day,” said Hewitt. “If that’s not the case, then I’m not doing my job.” Another priority of the company is to ensure proper training for its employees by taking advantage of NIACC and other partners

with good training resources. The company also does internal training to help new employees understand more about the bank and its customs. “We don’t just assume that people know what the culture is,” Hewitt said. “They have to know it. They have to feel it every day. We have lots of internal opportunities for them to get that knowledge.” Clear Lake Bank & Trust prides itself in promoting from within, and with about 50 different job titles, employees have ample opportunities to climb the company ladder. “When we have an opening in the bank, we try everything we can do to promote within,” said Hewitt. “So if anyone is even remotely close to qualified for the job that already works here, they are going to get it. We give them a chance to develop their skillset and do some things that are very different than what they were hired here to do.” At the beginning of the pandemic, Clear Lake Bank & Trust prioritized its employee’s safety. They closed the lobby doors, and those who could work remotely did. The company followed COVID-19 protocols and provided hand sanitizer, face masks and technology needs to their employees to ensure its employee’s safety. As businesses have begun to open back up, the bank has kept the option to work remotely when needed. As time continues, Hewitt and his team proceed to find ways to be a better employer. “We’re grateful for the recognition,” Hewitt said. “A huge part of what we’re doing is to be thought of as a great top employer, and it’s just really nice to hear that we’re getting that recognition. It’s pretty rewarding.”

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M5

Globe Gazette



M6 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

North Central Mechanical employees appreciated Mason City business has been operating since 2010 KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


orth Central Mechanical has been operating since August of 2010 in the residential and commercial heating and air condition, plumbing and commercial refrigeration industry. As the business grew, Nathan realized that the business really focuses on customer satisfaction, which is only achievable by having great, happy and productive employees. Knowing this, Nathan strived to get and keep some of the best people that North Iowa has to offer. Coming from the Service side of the business and building his career with the customers, at their houses or businesses, realizes what the workers go through to get the job done on a daily basis. North Central Mechanical wanted to ensure the satisfaction of the employees, eventually leading the business to the North Iowa Employers Choice Nomination. North Central Mechanic has roughly 20 employees, some of which have been there for nearly the entirety of the business’ life. Some of the other employees have been there for five to eight years. Bartels and office manager Enid Lauritsen believes this is in part due to the appreciation shown to the staff. The company shows appreciation through: company dinners at local restaurants of the employees’ choice, out of town conventions and shows related to their line of work, golf outings and other sporting events, company paid trips for employees that go above and beyond, and potluck dinners and holiday parties that include the employees and their families. North Central Mechanical will


When Nathan Bartels opened North Central Mechanic in 2010, he has made it his mission to make sure his employees are appreciated and treated well. randomly try to give back for excellent work and attention to detail. They have given out things as simple as new tools and gift cards all the way up to company paid trips to different destinations. “There’s just things out there that Nathan does that make you feel appreciated,” Lauritsen said. “It’s not like you’re not going to do your timecard because you’re

going to get paid, but it’s like ‘because you do this, here you are.’ It’s just little things like that that keep it kind of fun.” “These guys and girls make my job much easier than it could have otherwise been,” said Bartels. “I appreciate that, and I want them to know how much I appreciate that.” The company also tries to fo-

cus on making sure the customers are as happy as possible. Bartels guides the staff to do what is right and make sure the customer feels like they are getting what they need. North Central Mechanical makes a point to let other employees know when customers call in to express their gratitude for work that was done. This en-

courages others to do better and gives the employees a level of confidence that is hard to match without great customers that care enough to let them know. North Central Mechanical tries to bring their explanations down to the level the customer can understand. Bartels noted a letter from a recent customer describing an experience with an employee who did just that. “So he went to the extra level of understanding of how she needed to hear it, and she really appreciated that because he put it in terms that she could understand not being from the mechanical side,” said Bartels. To ensure its employees are ready to succeed within the job, North Central Mechanical conducts on-the-job training and sends its employees to an apprenticeship program for state licensing. On top of that, if an employee is looking for extra training in other courses, the business will pay for them to attend the course. For those attending in-person, North Central Mechanical will pay for their time there, as well as their hotel, travel and meal fees. Bartels also buys the tools employees need to get their job done and be safe. He also assists in providing information and listening to their needs. “We focus on keeping people safe and keeping people educated,” Bartels said. “I think all the employees, they get along well, and they help each other out whether it’s at work or at home,” said Lauritsen. “I mean, they will all come out and help with whatever, so it’s just nice that way. It’s a family environment.” North Central Mechanic employees are willing to work late and work weekends in order to meet their deadlines, and even move their schedules around to accommodate the customers. “It’s a good place of work, and we’ve got a lot of good employees,” said Lauritsen.

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M7

Globe Gazette

North Central Mechanical Services is growing and hiring:

To our valued employees Your Hard Work

Makes a

Huge difference To

this coMpany


Will train the right person looking for a SKILL/CAREER not just a job. We are seeking experienced HVAC Professionals to join our team of experts! This is a great opportunity to work for one of the area’s largest HVAC service and repair companies. Prefer candidates to have at least 10+ years of experience in installation and maintenance in a commercial/residential setting however will train right applicant. We offer great benefits, a friendly working environment and professional growth prospects! Job Responsibilities: In this role you will be responsible for performing installation, repair and maintenance on a variety of equipment including refrigeration, air conditioning, electric motors, heating units, heat pumps and compressors.

Please apply in person or send resume to:

641-424-4828 2601 15th St SW, Mason City, IA 50401

M8 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Diamond Jo Casino leadership believes in having fun Employees treated to special days, picnics, parties MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


he casino business is all about having fun, so the leadership at Diamond Jo Worth Casino makes sure its employees are also having a good time. “If team members are having fun, then the guests are going to have fun as well,” said Scott Smith, vice president and general manager for the casino, which is located just off I-35 near the Iowa/Minnesota border. He said employees have special days where they can wear different attire instead of their uniform, such as jerseys, T-shirts or sweatshirts of their favorite sports teams. Diamond Jo also holds a lot of events for team members and their families, such as picnics and holiday parties. There’s also team member of the month events, where employees can win cash or other prizes. The team member of the year receives a free trip to Hawaii, plus $1,000 cash. Smith said a lot of employers do things like this for employees to some extent, but Diamond Jo’s commitment to creating a fun atmosphere for team members “really sets us apart.” The commitment to team members also extends to hard times. Diamond Jo Worth Casino, which opened in 2006, is part of Boyd Gaming, which has 28 casinos across the country. Boyd Gaming has a special fund that team members can apply to if they are experiencing a crisis such as an illness in the family. This has been a great benefit during the COVID-19 era, according to Smith. He said employees have become ill themselves or have had family members getting sick. When casinos were forced to close for two and a half months at the beginning of the pandemic, Boyd Gaming and Diamond Jo also continued to pay team members and provide them with health insurance. At the end of the day, it cost the company money to do this, but it has paid off, according to Smith. “By us showing that we are committed to the team, the team is committed to us,” he said. The Northwood Diamond Jo location opened in xxxxx. Today 281 people are working there. “We are definitely a family,” Smith said.


Scott Smith, vice president and general manager for Diamond Jo Casino, said that the organization holds a lot of events for team members and their families, such as picnics and holiday parties. “We are very close. We take care of each other.” The number one thing employees say is they truly care about their fellow team members, according to Smith. This has been especially true during the time of COVID. “Everyone looks out for each other,” Smith said. “If a department is struggling due to staffing or just kind of overloaded, the others come to their rescue.” He said when he goes on the casino floor, he can see for himself that the team “continues to rally and make sure our guests receive the best customer service.” The team members also extend that service to each other, according to Smith. He said it’s all about the sense of respect and camaraderie among the employees. In the Employer of Choice nomination letters they sent to the Globe Gazette, Di-

amond Jo team members cited the pay, bonuses, health insurance and 401K as examples of that makes it a great place to work. But the benefits go beyond that, they said. “They care about their employees and treat you with respect,” one team member wrote. Another letter stated, “Our leaders work side by side with us on all shifts.” In addition, the company conducts a team member opinion survey, the employee wrote. Smith said the casino industry as a whole allows for lots of advancement opportunities, and this is especially true at Diamond Jo and Boyd Gaming. He said the company looks from within first when it comes to filling positions. Diamond Jo also partners with North Iowa Area Community College to offer

management classes to help team members. The company even offers tuition reimbursement and scholarships to help them continue to advance in their careers. In addition, the company has its own series of videos on a wide range of topics to help supervisors and managers hone their skills. It’s all about “mentoring our future leaders,” whether they stay at the Northwood location or move on to other Boyd Gaming properties, Smith said. Diamond Jo differs from other companies because it has multiple businesses under the same roof, including its restaurants, the entertainment, the sports book, and the games themselves, according to Smith. He said this provides a wide range of opportunities. “It’s a great environment to work in,” Smith said.

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M9

Globe Gazette


Our TEAM MEMBERS are the reason we are a GREAT TEAM and a GREAT PLACE TO WORK! Want to learn more about how you can join the Diamond Jo Casino Family? Visit


M10 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Lehigh Cement Co. employees ‘take care of each other’ Management has open door policy for its 120 workers in Mason City KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


ehigh Cement Company in Mason City is one of 15 cement manufacturing plants owned and operated by Lehigh Hanson North America and has 120 employees at its location. However, it was not the size of the company, but its care for its employees that got it its nomination for the North Iowa Employers of Choice. “They are hard-working, dedicated people that are working together safely and taking care of each other,” said Michelle Lensing, Human Resources Manager. Lensing said that employees at Lehigh Cement Company have commented that they came to the company because of the variety of work opportunities. They also enjoy being able to work outside instead of in a factory. Employees can find comfort in knowing they can safely join the company and retire there. Lehigh Cement Company lets its employees know they can always ask for support, emotional or monetary, and the company “will help as best as possible,” according to Lensing. With the company being part of a much larger corportation—HeidelbergCement—that operates in five continents and 50 countries, Lensing believes this is a stable job for its employees. “Lehigh Cement Company has provided careers for over 100 years,” said Lensing. “They come here young and they retire here.” Lensing commented that there are “many who retire with 30 plus years in the company.” The company has even had others who retired after 40 or more years. Lensing believes this is due to the company’s compassion for its employees. Lehigh Cement Company en-

The 120 workers employed by Lehigh Cement Company in Mason City are “hard-working, dedicated people” that are working together safely and taking care of each other,” said Michelle Lensing, Human Resources Manager. sures all employees are properly trained in their jobs, as they are trained on multiple pieces of equipment and on various jobs. This enables employees to learn different parts of the cement making process. On-the-job training for maintenance is also offered. “We take care of them,” Lensing said. “We don’t want them operating any machinery, any equipment, doing any job unless they’re fully trained on it. We give them ample time for them to feel comfortable with their training and their job.” To make sure its employees are happy and comfortable within their jobs, Lensing believes “it boils down to communication and listening to their concerns.” With that, the company tries to work with scheduling adjustments and give vacation time. The plant manager also does

what he can to help his employees feel appreciated by frequently saying thank you and giving compliments on their work. Every once and a while, he will give small gifts, including when the company hits milestones. Supervisors also do their part by asking employees to do things as opposed to telling them. “It’s not just ‘Hey, do this today,’” Lensing said. “It’s ‘Hey, can you get to this as soon as you have a chance?’ It’s just treating people with respect.” According to Lensing, the company prides itself in being able to promote from within. She noted that several production supervisors and maintenance supervisors started out at the bottom as laborers. “We give people opportunities to advance and continue to learn,” said Lensing.

To encourage employees to pursue more education, Lehigh Cement Company offers tuition reimbursement for those interested in picking up new trades. Lehigh Cement Company also offers its employees many benefits including 401(k) contributions, short and long-term disability, medical and paid holidays. Employees are rewarded for referrals too. Lehigh Cement Company not only strives to support its employees but also the community through its Lehigh Cares Program. Along with monetary donations to school music and sports programs, they have donated materials to local churches and rocks and boulders to the sculpture program Traveling Sculptures. The company also supports local parks and recreation teams, along with community charitable organizations.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the company implemented as many COVID-19 safety protocols as possible while still following CDC guidelines. Masks, sanitizers and other surface disinfectants were distributed throughout the workplace, including offices and vehicles. Only one person could be in a vehicle at a time, and dividers were also put up in break rooms. The company identified critical personnel in the essential workforce and separated them to ensure the business could stay open. They checked temperatures daily as employees came into work as well. As the pandemic continues, so does Lehigh Cement Company, thanks to its employees. “They are committed, and they show up and get the work done…,” Lensing said. “They do everything it takes to keep us running.”

Globe Gazette

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M11


thank you to our team members FOR YOUR DEDICATION AND HARD WORK IN ENSURING A QUALITY PRODUCT IN A SAFE MANNER SINCE 1911. Come join our team and take advantage of the opportunities to grow your Career. apply online at

M12 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Respect, teamwork top priorities at Hearing Associates North Iowa company believes investing in happiness of employees MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


espect, teamwork and having fun are the keys to what makes Hearing Associates a great place to work, according to owner Stuart Trembath. “We respect each and every person that works here,” said Trembath, who is also one of the audiologists on staff at Hearing Associates, which has clinic locations in Mason City, Albert Lea, Charles City, Hampton, Britt, Osage, Iowa Falls, New Hampton, and Cresco. “We also recognize and encourage that we are a team as a group rather than individuals, that we cannot do what we do in terms of taking care of patients if every member of the team doesn’t do their job,” Trembath said. People spend too much time at work “to not have it be a place where you feel safe and comfortable and have fun,” he said. A nomination letter that an employee sent to the Globe Gazette stated, “Hearing Associates is not just a place of employment. It is a home, a community, and a place that through the sense of compassion that they invoke inspires me to come in every day with an open heart and a smile on my face. “I know that in my role and as a person within the office that I am appreciated and heavily valued, which not only builds confidence but promotes a sense of self-worth that helps drive you to constantly want to give each day your all.” The letter also stated, “Investing in the happiness of its employees is never overlooked and what thrusts them (Hearing Associates) into the forefront of greatest employers to work for.” Hearing Associates is flexible in


The Hearing Associates family, which includes owner Stuart Trembath, who says “we respect each and every person that works here.” accommodating employee needs, according to Trembath. “People have kids, kids get sick,” he said. “People have things happen to them, and we’re not super rigid in that regard. As long as we can get the job done, we try to accommodate whatever needs need to be met.” Audiologist Gary Dockum started Hearing Associates in January 1987. Trembath, who was working with him at the time become the co-owner shortly after that. Dockum retired six and a half years ago, and Hearing Associates continued on. Today it has 14 employees.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience,” said Alex Crippin, Director of Operations. The employees give back to the community by serving on boards, participating in leadership classes, and volunteering, according to Crippin. “That has been really rewarding and makes this place a wonderful place to work as well,” he said. Hearing Associates has worked hard to ensure the safety of both employees and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Trembath. Plexiglass in the front offices was installed in March 2020, and

only one patient at a time was allowed in the waiting room until October 2020. After that, the seating in the waiting room was limited to allow for social distancing. “We made sure everyone (on staff) had whatever protective equipment they needed for the role that they serve,” Trembath said. “Obviously, we had masks, but we also had face shields and gloves and disinfectants.” At the beginning of the pandemic, Hearing Associates also temporarily reduced its in-office staff, with a number of employees working from home, according to Crippin. Employees used

their downtime to participate in continuing education. Each staff member learned about different topics and then reported back to the rest of the group “so we could all grow and learn,” he said. Although Hearing Associates is still taking precautions because of COVID, everyone is back to work in person and morale is getting back to what it used to be, according to Trembath. “We have to have laughs, and they were few and far between during the early part of COVID,” he said. “It’s nice to hear laughter. That’s part of what we are. We enjoy each other.”

Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M13

Globe Gazette

Thank you for choosing us We are truly thankful for our wonderful team, We appreciate and value everything they do. We could not take care of patients without all that they do!

Toll Free 1-877-321-6372 Mason City Britt Iowa Falls

Albert Lea Cresco New Hampton

Charles City Hampton Osage

M14 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Apple Valley Assisted Living a ‘flexible’ employer Management believes no position is more crucial than another KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


pple Valley Assisted Living opened doors in 2003, allowing for proper housing for local seniors who need a space to live with the help of others. Overseeing around 85 employees throughout all four locations, the management team believes they live up to their Employers of Choice nomination. “We are a great employer to work for,” said Kari Mentint, director of resident services. “We are very flexible. We try to work around work schedules, school schedules, family schedules.” For the director of nursing staff, Stacy Jensen, no position is more crucial than another. “I think we are a great employer because we recognize that every role is important…,” Jensen said, “All of our employees are equally important to the lives and the care of our residents.” At Apple Valley Assisted Living, the employees are the core of the company, according to Jensen. Employees are responsible for administering medications, providing hands-on care, supporting the clients with daily tasks and much more. To successfully perform these tasks, employees participate in mandatory training classes for things like medication management, mandatory reporting and CPR. The job also

allows its employees to hone their skills and build relationships with the staff and clients that further their abilities. “We give complete autonomy…,” Jensen said. “We give them guidance, but yet they have the knowledge to be able to make those decisions during the day so they don’t always have to look for directions from their supervisor because they know their jobs very well.” The team believes these roles and responsibilities within the company inspire employees to pursue education in not just nursing and healthcare but also in culinary. “Our cooks are amazing, and they keep up on what they need to know with their cooking, and they stay up to date on all their rules and regulations,” said administrator Terri Cosselman. “We’re very blessed with our cooks.” Throughout their time working with the clients, the employees become family to the seniors, especially those whose families live out of town or are no longer living. “I think that it really comes down to respect, respect for each other, respect for the work they do, and respect for the clients they serve,” Cosselman said. However, respect also comes from the managers to the employees as they work to promote their individuality, communicate with staff and exceed

their expectations. The team shows appreciation by saying “thank you” and recognizing staff birthdays. The management team is on call 24 hours a day and has an open-door policy. The team consistently works to build trust and closeness with their staff. These efforts are often displayed in their regular staff meetings. “At our meetings, we always empower our employees for their input…” said Mentint. “They are the ones out there every day reporting back to management, and they do a wonderful job of it.” The team also commented on the longevity of their staff’s employment, claiming their numbers are consistently below the national average for turnover rates. Along with the company’s flexibility and equality within employees, Mentint believes this is due to the longevity of the management team. “We have not had turnover in our management,” Mentint said. “I think that promotes a lot amongst our staff.” The management team also recognizes why a potential employee would choose to work for the company instead of a different one. “I feel like they would pick Apple Valley to work for because we are providing a service that they know at the end of the day that they have taken care of someone and that they made a difference in that

person’s life,” Jensen said. “It’s not selling an item; you’re actually providing a service to some very deserving elderly.”


Kari Mentint, director of resident services at Apple Valley Assisted Living said: “We are a great employer to work for. We are very flexible. We try to work around work schedules, school schedules, family schedules.”

would LOVE to thank their hEROES that WORk hERE! The management of Apple Valley Assisted Living are grateful for the tireless and dedicated staff who are looking out for our seniors. Also thank you, our staff, for nominating us for this special award.

Ownership is local, and pride is in our Clear Lake, Osage, Charles City and hampton communities

Globe Gazette


Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M15

Fox River Mills’ growth due to its employees Osage company encourages new ideas to ‘create family environment’ KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


ox River Mills in Osage has been open since 1900, and its growth and development could not have been done without its employees. The company’s care for its employees and commitment to the industry throughout time earned them their nomination for the Employers of Choice. At Fox River Mills, employees can grow and develop throughout their time with the company with training and professional development programs. Brad Ballentine CEO, said the employees receive a lot of on-the-job training and progressions to advance in their job. According to Ballentine, Fox River Mills encourages new ideas and training. They also push for constant communication throughout the company. He believes this helps create a family environment. For Ballentine, the business is a place where one can join the team and build a career. He and his management team work to create a work culture where each employee and leadership team is involved and understands what makes the business run the way it does. To achieve this, the management team holds daily meetings to discuss the positives and negatives of the previous day. After the meeting, the leadership team members actively work to resolve any issues and reinforce positive actions. “We have a really resilient group of employees,” said Ballentine. “Our average tenure right now is 18 years. That’s reflected in our mis-

sion, the extensive experience in textiles and apparel, and we have an incredible amount of experience on our team.” Valentine believes the employee’s longevity is due to the family environment, stability of the job and the constant growth the company is undergoing. “We create the environment where you can come in and work for the company for many years and be really proud of the work that you do,” said Ballentine. To show appreciation to its employees, the company provides weekly updates with anniversaries, birthdays and special recognitions. Sometimes, pizza and cookies are brought in for teams that have done well too. The company encourages employees to celebrate each of these to bring them together within the job. To encourage working together, the company has worked to remove barriers between different departments. Ballentine believes their teamwork is something the employees are most proud of. Part of the organization’s evolution has been the adoption of some of the most advanced technologies in the textile industry. From cutting-edge design capabilities to automated knitting equipment, Fox River Mills continues to advance at a rapid pace. “I think it’s unique, one of the reasons that makes us a great place to work is that we’ve taken an industry that’s been around for a long time and a very resilient team. Then we’ve added new technologies and processes to really create a fantastic trajectory for the organiza-

tion,” said Ballentine. The operation was able to remain An employee works on one of the machines at Fox River Mills in Osage. fully operational during the pandemic. According to Ballentine, the company followed county guidelines and kept in frequent touch with the health department. They also monitored exposures and upheld strict quarantine programs. Fox River Mills held a vaccination drive and helped employees gain quick access to the vaccine. Along with this, the company provided masks and made sure the employees had access to personal protection equipment. Even with the pandemic, Fox River Mills continued to grow. Ballentine looks forward to how it will progress with the help of his employees. “Our employees are smart, very capable, talented, resilient, and they make great product,” Ballentine said. “The thing that impresses me so much is the resiliency of our teams, and the strength of our teams really reflect the product we put in the marketplace.”


T hank You

to the Fox River Mills Family for nominating us as Employer of Choice!

Join Our Family! Find our job openings at:

Knitting Mechanic & Knitter Openings - (sOcKs & Beanies)

M16 | Sunday, September 26, 2021

Globe Gazette

Employees get ‘a piece of the Dean Snyder pie’ Clear Lake construction company rewarding longevity, loyalty MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


ean Snyder Construction, which has been a family-owned company for more than 60 years, is now making the transition to being employee owned. Almost 20% of the Clear Lake-based company is now owned by employees, with the remainder still owned by brothers Dale, David and Don Snyder, the sons of company founder Dean Snyder. Chelsy Anderson, who works in business development at the company, said the Snyder brothers wanted to start the succession process and saw making the transition to employee ownership as “a way to give back to the employees.” The company is giving stock to the employees rather than having them purchase it. The idea is for “everyone to have a piece of the pie,” said Anderson, the granddaughter of Dean Snyder. Having shares in the company gives employees a sense of accountability and makes them want to stay and help future growth, she said. “Everyone has skin in the game,” said Nate Carney, director of business development at Dean Snyder Construction. Employee ownership also “was a way to reward some of the long-term employees who have been with the company for a number of years,” he said. Dean Snyder started the company in 1958. He built homes in the Clear Lake area at first, but the business has grown tremendously since then. Today Dean Snyder Construction’s main focus is commercial and industrial construction – especially facilities for food and beverage companies — throughout the Midwest and beyond. Residential construction remains 5% percent of the business. “We continue to build customs homes around Clear Lake as we have incredibly talented local carpentry crews and we never want to forget our roots,” Anderson says. Dean Snyder Construction has three offices: one in Clear Lake, one in Ankeny, and one that recently opened in Omaha, Nebraska. The company currently has 230 employees, with around 125 of them based out of the

The Dean Snyder Construction Company family. Clear Lake office. Dean Snyder Construction is still small enough to allow it to retain a sense of camaraderie among the employees, some of whom have been with the company for decades, according to Anderson. “They spend a lot of time together on the jobsite and it’s led them to become friends off the field as well. They’re like family, they have each other’s backs,” she said. Dean Snyder Construction has some customers outside the Midwest, including on the East Coast. Anderson said the company gives employees the option to travel to places like Pennsylvania and New York, where they pay rate Is higher and they get a per diem for expenses. Meanwhile, employees who prefer to stay local because “they want to come home to their families at night” also have that option, she said. In addition to a profit sharing ESOP, Dean Snyder Construction offers a full range of benefits, including health care (tele-doc, dental), PTO, 401K and the understanding that life-events happen. Employees, both field and office, also earn performance bonuses throughout the year. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, employees at Dean Snyder, just like other construction companies around the country, continued to work because they were considered essential. Anderson said keeping everyone safe was both challenging and time consuming. She estimates two and a half hours per day were spent on precautions such as hand washing and signing waivers. Those who were sick were told to say home, she added. Carney said the company’s goal is to “try

to maintain that family-owned feel.” For example, management finds out what employees envision for their career path and does their best to put them on projects that help them “get to where they want to be,” he said. Anderson said the employees appreciate having their owners both in the office and

field working alongside them as a mentor. The brothers will tell employees that they’re just a phone call away if you need anything. “And that is our culture in a nutshell.” In an Employer of Choice nomination letter to the Globe Gazette, one Dean Snyder Construction worker said, “They really care about every employee.”




(641) 357-2283

Globe Gazette


Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M17

Laird Law follows the Golden Rule Mason City law firm treats others the way they want to be treated KAYLEE SCHUERMAN

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


aird Law Firm in Mason City follows the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. The law firm earned the nomination for the North Iowa Employers of Choice through this technique. Laird Law Firm has found several ways to help its employees feel happy in the workplace, including encouraging people to have fun. Every once in a while, the partners (owners) will buy lunch for the office and allow everyone to go home early on random Fridays. The company also holds a holiday party and distributes snacks on paydays. The law firm believes all of the employees are professionals and trusts them to act as such, representing the company inside and outside of the workplace. As a result, they give them the latitude they need to get their jobs done. Laird Law Firm also tries to be as flexible as possible with employees’ work schedules, allowing them to prioritize their families. One employee feels there is a good culture within the office and believes the firm does great work for the clients. They also believe there is strong appreciation between the attorneys and the office staff and that they all want to serve the community. Vervaecke also works to make sure all of the employees are aware that they can always approach him with questions, comments and concerns because he wants to listen to them. He and the firm treats them with respect and does what they can to take care of them. When addressing his employees, Vervaecke does not like to put labels on them, believing this shows greater respect. “When I work with people, I never say, ‘This is my assistant,’” said Vervaecke. “I say, ‘This is Tina, we’ve worked together for 15 years.’” According to Vervaecke, a lot of what they do is unique, meaning their training will take time. Training is hands-on and usually last for one to three years. During this time, the employees are able to learn their expectations and get to know clients. Once employees are through their training, the company steps back and encour-

Laird Law Firm has found several ways to help its employees feel happy in the workplace, including encouraging people to have fun. Every once in a while, the partners (owners) will buy lunch for the office and allow everyone to go home early on random Fridays.

ages them to help them feel comfortable with stepping up within their jobs. From here, they will begin to work more independently and can get help when needed. Having worked for the law firm for 23 years, Vervaecke believes employees who have been working together for a long time together have created synergy and strong relationships. Through this, employees draw on each other’s strengths and talents in order to accomplish goals within the office. “We’ve got a lot of selfless team players,”

said Vervaecke. “When that’s the attitude, and that’s the culture, that they’re putting forward, its pretty easy to follow that.” One of the things the firm is most proud of is the company’s employee longevity. According to Vervaecke, there are multiple people who have been a part of the company for 25-40 years, but the average between the 33 employees is 15 years. The longest-time employee has been with the firm for 48 years. “I believe it starts from the point of that we trust our employees,” said Vervaecke. “We trust them in what they do, and we trust them to be professional in how they handle client matters and they work that we give them.” At the start of the pandemic, the office cut the number of people working in the office down to a skeleton crew of three to

five employees until June. From there, they continued to allow employees to work from home if they would like to in order to ensure their comfort and convenience. Those working in the office still follow COVID-19 guidelines. However, thanks to remote access, staff getting to work from home is not just because of the pandemic anymore. Recognizing its employee’s needs, the company opened the option up for other reasons. One of the biggest is to accommodate parents who need to be home more often with their young children. “That’s the thing, you know, you’re a professional so we don’t care where you’re at,” Vervaecke said. “If you’re getting the work done that needs to be done, we’re not going to get hung up on if its done in the office or wherever else it needs to be.”

M18 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Employees are the heart of Baker Floral Mason City floral business has been around for more than 60 years MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


aker Floral has been an institution in Mason City for more than 60 years and its employees are one of the reasons why, according to owners Nancy and Dennis Umphress. “We are just a really tight group that has empathy for everyone, especially, the last couple of years with so much going on in the world,” she said. The floral business currently has seven employees. Being a small, locally owned business sets Baker Floral apart, according to Umphress. “It’s not just about the money,” she said. “I value every one of my employees. I just treat them really, really well and they treat me well.” One Baker Floral employee stated in an Employer of Choice nomination letter to the Globe Gazette that “owners Nancy and Denny Umphress make it a great place to work. They are fun to work with and are fair and conscientious bosses. They make you feel like part of the family. “We are extremely busy and work on many tight deadlines, but everyone pitches in and gets the work done,” the employee wrote. “They never ask you to do anything that they wouldn’t do themselves. The nomination letter also stated that the owners “are very organized and forward thinking, which makes working for them enjoyable.” The business, which was originally named Kiefer Floral Shop, has been in existence since 1958. Mick Baker, who began working there when he was 17, bought the shop in 1977 and renamed it Baker Floral 10 years later. Nancy Umphress, who worked for Mick Baker at the shop for 16 years, purchased it

from him when he retired in 2011. She decided to keep the Baker Floral name and all the employees working there at the time. “I would say we become an extended part of each employee’s family, and by that I mean we are very flexible for all the employees’ family concerns and needs,” she said. “We always have each other’s backs if there are situations that arise where they have to have time off.” Flowers are fun to work with, which makes the shop an enjoyable place to be, according to Umphress. “There’s always new orders, new customers, and new product coming in so every day is like a new day,” she said. The shop has been especially busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, perhaps because people are in more need than ever for the “bright spot” flowers bring into their lives, Umphress said. For a while after the pandemic first hit in March 2020, Baker Floral offered curbCONTRIBUTED PHOTOS‌ side pickup and delivery only. The curb- A few of the employees at Floral Baker, a business that has been in Mason City for more than side pickup was a brand-new service at 60 years. Pictured from left are: Laurie, Jamie, Nancy, Lisa and Dawn. the shop. To protect her staff, Umphress has a company that comes in to do bio-cleaning on top of the extra cleaning procedures that take place in house each day. The employees wear masks, and customers are also offered masks and hand sanitizer. “Keeping the employees safe is my number one priority,” Umphress said. Employees at Baker Floral get all the major holidays off. The shop closes at noon on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day to allow the staff to spend more time with their families. “I am sure that I could have business on those days, but I like to be fair to my employees. I like to treat them as people first, all of our and they have their lives,” Umphress said. wonderful employees The shop also has never been open on for nominating us for Mother’s Day. “Most of my employees are mothers and Employer of Choice. they deserve to have Mother’s Day off just as much as anybody else,” Umphress said. We truly appreciate all your dedication,

“I would say we become an extended part of each employee’s family, and by that I mean we are very flexible for all the employees’ family concerns and needs.” “We always have each other’s backs if there are situations that arise where they have to have time off.” Nancy Umphress

support and loyalty. We look forward to another great year. Without great employees we wouldn’t be here.

Baker Floral “We Go Beyond Ordinary”

923 4th St. S.W. Mason City 641.424.3661 Mon.-Fri 8-5 Sat. 8-1

Globe Gazette


Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M19

Employees one of greatest assets at Rookies, Sevens and TAP’d Employees call working environment fun and rewarding MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


he employees are one of greatest assets of Rookies Rockin’ Sports Bar, Sevens Restaurant & Steakhouse, and TAP’d Taphouse & Cocktail Lounge, three adjoining businesses in Clear Lake owned by brothers Al and Mike Hejna. “Here at Rookies, Sevens and TAP’d we have some great employees, just over 40 working as bartenders in Rookies and TAP’d, to the waitstaff in Sevens and all of our awesome cooks in the kitchen,” Al Hejna said. “Some have been here for well over 10 years. “We do a lot of advertising to get new

customers for them, it’s our job to try to get new customers and we count on our staff to keep them coming back ...and they do,” he said. “We get so many compliments on them.” The management does its best to work around everyone’s busy schedules, according to Hejna. He said it’s been challenging at times with the record volume of business the establishments have seen recently. “We’ve been short staffed at times, but we’ve made it through the summer,” he said. The Globe Gazette received three Employer of Choice nomination letters from the Hejnas’ employees. “The owners are great to work for and it’s a fun/rewarding environment, one employee wrote. “Working in the restaurant/ bar industry has its stresses but we have a great balance here and I always enjoy coming to work!” Another employee letter stated the own-

ers are super-flexible and “it’s a very fun environment to work in. The owners and co-workers make coming to work something to look forward to!” A third employee cited the fast-paced environment, helpful and uplifting coworkers, lenient schedule, and “amazing customers who have turned into frequent regulars,” as factors that make for a great workplace. “As a server I never dread coming to work here because I know that the shifts go by smoothly with minimal hiccups,” the employee wrote. “My bosses are kind and supportive, usually gifting us incentives randomly throughout the year, as well as yearly Christmas presents/packages. I have been here for four years since starting my college career and it’s a job that I will forever cherish and promote to the public.” The Hejna brothers opened Rookies at 307 Main Ave. in Clear Lake in 1995. They opened Sevens Restaurant & Steakhouse adjacent to Rookies in 2009. The brothers opened a third establishment in the 300 block of Main Avenue, TAP’d Taphouse & Cocktail Lounge, in June 2019. Al’s son,

Kyle, manages TAP’d. Rookies offers pool tables, big screen TVs, a party room, a DJ, shirts, coats, sweatshirts and much more. The bar has NFL Sunday Ticket, college football, NCAA, NBA and MLB TV packages. A country music lounge is held on the bar’s upper level on Saturday nights. Sevens Restaurant & Steakhouse is known for its great cooks, competitive prices, and its variety of beer and wine, according to its website. There are 12 seasonal beers on tap. Sevens has multi-cuisine choices and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The all-booth seating seats four to eight people each. Both reservations and walk-ins are welcome at the casual-attire restaurant, which also offers takeout. TAP’d offers 24 craft beers on tap, all brewed in Iowa, domestic and imported bottled beer, happy hour, live music and more. “We can’t thank all of our employees enough for helping make our businesses what they are,” Al Hejna said.

Thank YOU STaFF for ALL that you do, EACH & every single day.

WE couldn’t do it without YOU. Also THANK YOU for nominating us for this AWARD.


An inside look at Rookies Rockin’ Sports Bar & Grill in Clear Lake.

Downtown Clear lake

M20 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

At ABCM, staff and residents treated like family Oakwood Care Center enjoys ‘meaningful recognition of employees’ MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


t ABCM Corporation facilities, including Oakwood Care Center/The Courtyard Assisted Living in Clear Lake, the company makes an effort to consider staff and residents as family, according to Todd Allbee, director of human resources for ABCM. For the employees, many share that working for ABCM is more than just “doing something to pay the bills,” he said. “Employees often express that they establish close family bonds with their team and especially the residents they provide services for.” Allbee said that he is pleased to hear the stories about how employees feel rewarded at the end of every day and every shift because they know they are making a difference in residents’ lives. ABCM was founded approximately 50 years ago in Hampton and has since grown to 31 long-term care and rehabilitation facilities (including locations in Nora Springs & Mason City), 24 independent and assisted living centers, and 13 outpatient therapy centers, as well as a medical supply company, Long Term Medical Supply (LTMS), and numerous other real estate holdings. The organization currently has around 3,300 employees. Nearly 90 of them work at Oakwood/The Courtyard. Sheri Weaver-Isvik, who retired in early July after serving as administrator at Oakwood for more than 23 years, nominated Richard A. Allbee, CEO of ABCM Corporation, as an Employer of Choice. “His leadership of 31

skilled nursing assisted living facilities throughout Iowa, his commitment to quality care for the elderly, and his expectations of the best delivery of care to residents is known state wide,” Weaver-Isvik stated in her nomination letter. “In addition to his commitment to the best in quality care is his parallel commitment to ensure that employees receive the best in compensation for the work they do, that their ideas are listened to, that they work in a positive work environment, receive great benefits, including free meals, shoe and uniform allowances,” she wrote. Employees also have the opportunity to advance their education through forgivable tuition loans, as well as opportunities for career advancement, both in the ABCM home in which they are employed or elsewhere within the corporation, according to Weaver-Isvik. “Meaningful recognition of employees is a part of an ABCM facility’s way of ensuring and reminding employees of how important they are,” she wrote. Krystal Thoe, the current administrator at Oakwood, told the Globe Gazette that many of the employees have been there for more than a decade, “and I think that makes if feel more close-knit, like a family.” “I’m just really impressed with the skill sets that the team has,” she said. “They are all very diverse and they work together to meet everyone’s needs, not just the residents. They work really hard to be good advocates for each other, which I think is important in this day and

age.” Todd Allbee said one of the things ABCM employees appreciate most is how much support they receive at the corporate level. “We are very heavy on sending corporate resources and consultants to a facility if they have an emergency or need additional training or support,” he said. This has been especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Allbee. He said there’s been a lot of great stories over the years of people making an impact on the lives of the people they care for, every day. Stories that you don’t read about in the paper. But most of all, for him it is also rewarding when someone joins one of ABCM’s Teams, having never experienced long term care before and discovers that they gain so much fulfillment in caring for others, learning their stories and sharing their lives. “It’s just so gratifying for me to see people discover that they are health care workers deep down, even if they didn’t know it,” Allbee said.


Employees of ABCM’s Oakwood Care Center tout the company as family-friendly. “Meaningful recognition of employees is a part of an ABCM facility’s way of ensuring and reminding employees of how important they are,” wrote Sheri Weaver-Isvik, who retired in early July after serving as administrator at Oakwood for more than 23 years.

Thank You ABCM Corporation ABCM Corporation would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for selecting us as one of the:

2021 Northern Iowa Employers of Choice Thank You!!!

Career opportunities at 31 Iowa locations


Globe Gazette


Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M21

‘Hard work is rewarded at Hy-Vee’ Store manager says company always looking for a way to give back MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


y-Vee is known for its slogan, “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle.” The Midwestern grocery and pharmacy chain’s employees have plenty to smile about, according to Parker Downs, store manager at Hy-Vee West in Mason City, who used to work at Hy-Vee East. “Hard work is rewarded at Hy-Vee,” he said. Downs should know. He started at the company in 2015 as a service manager, which is an entry level management position. He moved his way up the ranks, becoming a frozen foods department manager, produce manager, and manager of store operations before being promoted to his current position. “Hy-Vee is always looking for ways to give back to our employees and take care of them and their families,” said Dan Steenhoek, who has been overseeing operations at the three Mason City locations since April of this year. “I think as Hy-Vee has gotten bigger and as times change that’s one thing that has been nice to see,” he said. “Hy-Vee has evolved, not just how we do business and some of the things we have in our stores, but it’s the different things we have offered to our employees over time have changed.” One of the things that make Hy-Vee a great place to work is the autonomy given to individual stores, according to Downs. “There’s not corporate people dictating store decisions,” he said. “Basically, you run your store.” Hy-Vee got its start when

Charles Hyde and David Vredenburg opened a small store in Beaconsfield, Iowa, in 1930. Today Hy-Vee operates more than 340 retail stores in eight states: Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The three stores in Mason City – Hy-Vee East, Hy-Vee West and Hy-Vee Drug – have a collective 600 employees. Hy-Vee has been offering bonuses to its full-time employees since 1936. Steenhoek, who has been with Hy-Vee for 33 years, said the company began offering bonuses to part-time employees eight or nine years ago. The size of the bonuses depends on how many hours they work. Another fairly recent innovation is the 10 percent employee discount for groceries. Downs said that discount was increased to 20 percent over Labor Day weekend so employees could save even more money on their holiday cookouts. Hy-Vee is also employee owned. After reaching a certain level, employees have the opportunity to buy company stock. This profit-sharing model “is something that is very unique to Hy-Vee,” Steenhoek said. The company also offers great benefit packages and retirements plans, according to Downs. He said Hy-Vee has emphasized employee safety during the COVID-19 pandemic by putting up plexiglass barricades at all the registers, requiring workers to wear masks, “having hand sanitizer everywhere”


“Hy-Vee is always looking for ways to give back to our employees and take care of them and their families,” said Hy-Vee East store manager Dan Steenhoek. and giving employees a $100 In addition, “we try to every now and then, whether that. We have always tried incentive to get vaccinated. have fun,” he said. “We try to it is having a store picnic or to do a little bit extra for our Two employees at Hy-Vee do things for our employees doing different things like employees when we can.” East sent Employer of Choice nomination letters to the Globe Gazette. One letter started Hy-Vee is a great place to work because of “great managers, great co-workers (and) awesome atmosphere.” The company also offers “great advancement opportunities,” the other letter stated. Flexibility of scheduling is another advantage to working at Hy-Vee, according to Steenhoek. “We are very flexible, whether it is family stuff, school activities or things like that,” he said. “That’s one thing we keep in mind as a company, my stores especially: How can we accommodate our employees if they’ve got something that comes up? “I just feel like we have tried to evolve for our employees and tried to be accommodating for them,” Steenhoek said. “We just try to make sure everyone is friendly and it’s a great place to shop for our customers.”

Thank You To Our Team Members! We are honored to be selected as a 2021 Employer of Choice.

Want to become a helpful smile? Apply today and you could be on your way to A Rewarding Career!

Apply Now

M22 | Sunday, September 26, 2021


Globe Gazette

Young Construction looks at employees as ‘team members’ Owner of Mason City business looks for careerminded employees MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


an Young, who founded the roofing business Young Construction 20 years ago in Mason City, prefers to call the people who work for him team members rather than employees. “As an owner, I personally think you have to find people who want to build a career, and then you’ve got to find out what they want,” he said. Young said when he talks to people who work for other companies, they tell him their employer never asks them what they want or where they want to go. However, Young said he wants to know where team members want so he can “help them get there” and promote them when the right position in the company becomes available. “A lot of people like what they do here and are passionate about what their jobs are,” he said. In a nomination letter to the Globe Gazette, one Young Construction team member stated the company “stands out from other employers ten-fold. They truly care about every single employee—if you ask them, they know what each of them is up to in their personal lives and truly want to know. They provide a safe and fun work atmosphere. “They also give back to the communities they serve by (providing) free roofs to those in need, Christmas shopping spree opportunities, random acts of kindness, and serving Thanksgiving dinner to hospital staff,” the letter stated. Young said he started the company “literally out of the back of a car” in 2001. Today, between the Mason City office, the Waverly office, and a third office that recently opened in Cedar Rapids, the company has around 35 team members. At least 20 of them work in the Mason City location. If you count construction crew members

in Mason City, Waverly, Cedar Rapids and Minnesota, where Young Construction is also licensed in addition to Iowa, another 30 to 40 people work for the company. The business has grown tremendously over the past few years, according to Young. “It’s been a blessing,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with hiring people who are smarter than me. We are very good at trying to find the right people. That’s the key.” Most of the current team members are people who have been with the company for a long time, according to Young. “We try to find people that fit our culture,” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO‌ he said. “I will literally be out and about and Young Construction owner Dan Young believes in choosing the right employees for the will see somebody working somewhere and success of everyone. “As an owner, I personally think you have to find people who want to then if I feel their customer service was how build a career, and then you’ve got to find out what they want,” he said. we want, then that’s how we pursue it … You look for that work ethic and then you hire them. “It’s interesting because I’ve hired more people that were in a completely different trade and went to college for something else and they ended up coming here and doing something they never (would have thought of), especially women in the industry,” Young said. Your Home Exterior Experts. Although the construction field traditionally has been male dominated, Young said he has more women working in the office than men, including in positions such as sales. “It’s really grown. We’ve really emphasized that,” he said. Young said it’s hard right now for companies to find people to work for them, “so when we do, we try to make sure they are being taken care of.” Young Construction offers a full benefit package that includes medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as retirement. All this has led to a great deal of loyalty and commitment from team members, according to Young. He said when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit back in March 2020, the leadership sat down with all the team members and said, “Hey, if you don’t feel comfortable, let us know and we will understand. We will make sure you are taken care of and that you have a place to come back to … (but) nobody chose it. Everybody stayed.”

Our TEAM is ThE icing On ThE cAkE!


Celebrating 20 Years!

Northern Iowa Employer of Choice

Globe Gazette


Sunday, September 26, 2021 | M23

One Vision has a culture of kindness for all Some employees have worked for Clear Lake business for two decades MARY PIEPER

Special to the Globe Gazette‌


s a non-profit that supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, everything at One Vision centers around creating a workforce that helps people “achieve their best lives,” said CEO Mark Dodd. That applies to the employees as well as the individuals One Vision supports. “This is an organization unlike any I have ever worked for,” he said. Many of the employees have worked for One Vision, formerly known as Opportunity Village, for 20 years or more. Their commitment to providing services “is just infectious,” Dodd said. One Vision “employs leaders who are passionate about people and that have a clear and concise strategic direction, then empowers them with the opportunity to use their skills for success,” an employee wrote in a nomination letter to the Globe Gazette. “One Vision allows for a work/home life balance and encourages employees to work independently and grow their individual departments,” the letter stated. “Leadership is always available for direction when needed and listens to concerns. Ideas from employees are shared and executed. Kindness has a huge impact and employees are eager to help others when needed because of the excellence in leadership.” One Vision is celebrating its 50th anniversary of opening for services this year. Two cottages were the beginning of what was then called Handicap Village when it opened its doors on Sept. 14, 1971. Since that time, the non-profit has provided supports to 2,139 individuals and has transformed from a Village on a single campus serving 160 people in Clear Lake to being in 30 communities supporting 555 people with disabilities where they live and work. Today the organization has 410 parttime and full-time employees. During the COVID-19 pandemic, One Vision has been charged with keeping both employees and the people it supports safe from the virus. Dodd said this has been challenging because the organization has seven intermediate care facilities, where

the health and safety requirements are similar to nursing homes. Different measures were put in place in the various homes around North Iowa where those receiving support from One Vision live. The employees’ sense of purpose and commitment made them willing to sacrifice a little bit for the people One Vision supports, as well as their fellow staff members, according to Dodd. “They (the employees) kept each other healthy and safe,” he said. Over the past 18 months, One Vision has worked harder than ever on communication, according to Dodd. “People are almost always willing to hang in with you as long as they know and trust that you are paying attention to their needs and communicating to them on what you know and what changes might be coming, and we have tried to do that all along,” he said. The employees understand, especially CONTRIBUTED PHOTO‌ right now, that “flexibility is challenging Many of the employees have worked for One Vision, formerly known as Opportunity Village, because of the critical workforce shortage, not just for us but for all organizations,” for 20 years or more. Their commitment to providing services “is just infectious,” said CEO Mark Dodd. Dodd said. “To the extent we are able to in terms of our scheduling, we try to be as flexible and supportive of the employees when they need time off or need to switch if they have had a loss and need some bereavement leave,” he said. One Vision works hard to provide a good benefit structure for employees, according to Dodd. He said that starts with wages, but they “are not oftentimes the only reason people work for us.” One Vision takes care to recognize its employees, including giving them awards for years of service, according to Dodd. The organization also uses social media to inform the public about what the employees are doing to improve people’s lives. One Vision participates annually in Direct Support Professional Week, which was held from Sept. 12-18 this year. The organization uses this opportunity to recognize all of its employees for their contributions. Sometimes that recognition takes the form of a picnic. In other years the employees receive gift cards. This year each employee received a gift bag with tokens of appreciation and a 50th anniversary T-shirt. “We care about our mission, we care about the people we support and we care about our employees,” Dodd said. “It is a difficult job they come and do every day.”

M24 | Sunday, September 26, 2021

Globe Gazette

Your Local

G N I S I T ADVER S T S I L A I SPEC Let us HELP YOU expand your business!

WHY US? REacH an aUdiEncE. 78% of the area adults use the North Iowa Media Group, digital, social media and print word products every week.

tricia wilderman

lisa determan

We offer both print and digital marketing solutions. Print Advertising • Online Advertising Website Design & Hosting SEO & SEM • Reputation Monitoring Targeted Email Social Media Services Mobile

olivia stalker

tina redfern

dave whipple

CALL 641-421-0546 • • •