Employers of Choice 2012

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Employers of Choice provide Employee involvement key to Western Home insight to economic strength 20 Employers of Choice By JIM OFFNER


The Courier’s annual Employers of Choice for 2012 rank 1 through 20, but that seems to matter not one bit to the workers who nominated their employees for the awards. Each of the 20 companies listed in this year’s rankings are all No. 1, according to those who Offner nominated them. Jim is the Courier That workers, business editor. with everything Contact him at else they have to jim.offner@ do, took the time wcfcourier.com. to heap praise on their employers speaks volumes to the quality of the workforce and those who employ them across the Cedar Valley. This is the ďŹ fth year The Courier has given the region’s workforce a chance to bring some deserved attention to the people who go well beyond doling out assignments, supervising day-to-day tasks and signing paychecks. To the nearly 200 workers who nominated their companies as Employers of Choice, the employer-employee dynamic is nothing short of a partnership. A panel of representatives from a cross-section of the Cedar Valley business community — Dan Beenken, director of UNI’s Small Business Development Center; Chris Harshbarger, of Think ’N Think Inc.; Julie Hayes, chief ďŹ nancial officer of Kirk Gross Co.; Jeff Kurtz, executive director of Main Street Waterloo; Carol Lilly, executive director of Community Main Street in Cedar Falls; and Kathy Flynn, vice president for advancement at Hawkeye Community College — graciously and generously donated their time to sift through and thoroughly discuss the small mountain of nominations in a process that determined the region’s top 20 places to work. As has become a kind of tradition in the Employers of Choice

1. Western Home Communities 2. DISTek Integration 3. The CBE Group 4. Cedar Valley Hospice 5. Next Generation Wireless 6. Cedar Falls Utilities 7. Bergan Paulsen 8. Hellman 9. Allen Health System 10. ME&V 11. KWWL 12. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare 13. Power Engineering 14. Banno 15. Far Reach 16. Grundy County Memorial Hospital 17. JDE Engineering 18. Waverly Health Center 19. Hawkeye Community College 20. NewAldaya Lifescapes

program’s ďŹ ve-year history, the honored employers fell into a variety of sizes, business models and categories. The services or products they offer are many and varied; the common thread they share is that they recognize relationships with their own people contribute to the success of each organization. Each winning company stood out for emphasizing teamwork and worker well-being, whether through personal time, volunteerism or even simple pats on the back for a job well done. Angst over the economy continues to dominate the landscape, even in the Cedar Valley, which has ducked some of the worst national trends. Employers of Choice may provide a glint of insight into the reasons things aren’t so bad in this region. Amid worries over fuel prices, uncertainty about taxes and even the upcoming elections, there are legions of content and appreciative workers across the Cedar Valley. Perhaps that’s the most important function Employers of Choice performs: a dose of reassurance that the local workforce is reaping riches that transcend simply making a living.

CEDAR FALLS — The numbers 100 and 1 correlate for Western Home Communities in Cedar Falls. The ďŹ rst number has been well-documented, since Western Home is marking its 100th anniversary this year. The second number, Western Home officials say, is worth celebrating, too, since it means their organization has been selected as The Courier’s top Employer of Choice. “Wow!â€? was the instant reacRICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer tion of CEO Kris Hansen when he Resident assistant Emily Gardner visits with Mary Ellen Dreier in Dreier’s learned of the selection. apartment at the Western Home Communities’ Windridge in Cedar Falls. “It has been quite a year,â€? said Hansen, who has been CEO for No. 1 Western Home Communities three years but with Western Home for 16. â—? ADDRESS: 421 E. 11th St., Cedar Reinbeck and provides services to the And, he said, it’s the result of state of Iowa and other communities. Falls. a lot of work in making sure all â—? HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS â—? TELEPHONE: 277-2141. 500 to 550 full- and part-time â—? WEBSITE: www.westernhome.org. FIELD: “I think probably by being an employees are enmeshed in a innovator of services and differâ—? NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 500 ent types of housing,â€? said CEO Kris to 550. nurturing culture at Western â—? WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Full Hansen. Home Communities. continuum of services from indepen- â—? COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Ac“I think one of the major focustive participation in the Greater Cedar dent living to skilled nursing care. es is we understand what the culValley Alliance & Chamber; commuWestern Home has 800 residents ture is really worth and about, but also manages Parkview Manor in nity service groups. and we do our best to understand that our employees are really our customers,â€? Hansen said. “If we can take care of them, then we know our ultimate customers — the residents — and their families will get taken care of.â€? The process involves engaging employees and involving them in as many processes as possible, Hansen said. “If I end up telling our folks if there’s a least important job in our organization, it’s probably mine because they’re the ones dealing with what really matters,â€? he said. “I’m just trying to help give direction and planning.â€? Employees say they see their company’s commitment to them and their residents. “In 25 years, I’ve had seven employers, and WHC ranks as the best among them,â€? said Linda Bowman, chief communications officer.

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Thank You Pioneer Employees!

See WESTERN, page 3





DISTek feels like a family affair CEDAR FALLS — With four consecutive years of mention in The Courier’s Employers of Choice, including last year’s No. 1 ranking, DISTek Integration Inc. must be doing something right. Customer service and dedication to employees are credited for the long-running success. “We have a great core group of employees who make new employees feel welcome and happy to work here,” said company founder and CEO Matt Dickinson. “The company’s sincere dedication to the success of both its customers and employees has helped us maintain this honor,” said Sandy Sutterer, DISTek’s vice president of operations. “The cycle feeds upon itself. As a successful company, we attract a strong workforce.” DISTek is celebrating 20 years in business with activities designed around its core values. The celebration began in April with birthday cakes delivered to each of the DISTek locations in Iowa, North Dakota, Illinois and South Carolina. Dickinson says people want more than a 40-hour job and a paycheck. “Our employees appreciate the flexibility of our work hours … and the chance to complement each other, both in and out of the job.” “We respect the importance of a healthy work-life balance,” Sutterer said. “DISTek … keeps a close eye on things like overtime,” added Jeremy Yoder, vice president of engineering. “Overworked employees are more stressed and less productive, which isn’t good for anyone. (Our) flex-time policy allows employees to shift hours when needed to attend appointments or events like a child’s soccer game.” Co-workers often are referred to as “DISTek Family,” said Sutterer. Spouses and significant others are invited to end-of-year holiday parties and the annual

WESTERN From page 2 “It’s almost surreal to work at a place that is so forwardthinking and progressive, always seeking better ways to serve our residents and the community, while still maintaining the close-knit culture of a smaller organization,” Bowman said. Western Home’s emphasis on collaboration is evident in its transition from an “institutional-style nursing home into several small houses” in which

By NANCY JUSTIS newsroom@wcfcourier.com



groups of about 15 residents live together “in a real home,” Bowman said. “We’ve had 100 people around the table at least six times already, from laundry workers to housekeepers to nurses, planning what this transformation will look like,” Bowman said. “Other places may talk about collaboration, but I can’t imagine many management teams would have the confidence to bring in so many voices for such an in-depth process. But this place, in a word, is genuine. I feel blessed to work here.”

RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer

Test engineer Alex Shields, left, and project analyst Jeff Baxter check out a simulator the company developed to test medical components at DISTek Integration in Cedar Falls.

No. 2 ● ADDRESS: 6612 Chancellor Dr., Suite 600, Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 859-3600. ● WEBSITE: www.distek.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 95. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: DISTek Integration is an embedded software services provider specializing in off-highway (ag, construction, forestry, mining, utility) vehicle

company golf outing. A family-oriented picnic is planned for September. In its high-tech environment, DISTek promotes employee continuous training. “DISTek is very active in looking for ways to develop and grow our employees,” Yoder said. “This could be in the form of an additional degree, a certification or a relevant technical conference. We also encourage employees to be proactive in identifying and proposing their own personal development opportunities. “Just last month an employee proposed spending a week out in the field operating construction equipment. Spending a week operating machinery on an actual job site gave this employee real-world operator perspective that will be very valuable as this employee develops embedded software on future vehicle

DISTek Integration systems. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: DISTek supplies not only technical manpower as needed, but it also can supply total project solutions. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The company and employees contribute to charities. DISTek serves on boards and advisory councils and is a member of numerous local agencies.

systems.” Employee recognition is a high priority and is expressed through honorary luncheons, gift certificates, company newsletters and, of course, compensation. Sutterer says the combination of “innovation, respect, positive attitude, flexibility and commitment” is what makes DISTek stand out in it field. “We try to fit our employees into assignments that align with their strengths and to provide them with the resources needed to promote success.” “One of the neat things about working for a smaller company with DISTek’s culture is that as an employee your voice is heard,” Yoder said. “Whether it’s an idea for a new product or an idea to improve DISTek’s benefit package, employees have a direct line to the owner of the company. An owner that’s willing to listen.”




employers of choice 2012


MOnday, SEpTEMbER 3, 2012

CBE Group rewards employees with environment, advancement By JOHN MOLSEED john.molseed@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — The CBE Group Inc. is a perennial presence in the annual Employers of Choice list. “It’s always an honor to know our employees think that much about us,” said Tom Penaluna, CBE president and CEO. However,Penaluna added he and managers at the collection agency aren’t taking it for granted. “We have to work hard every day to create that kind of environment,” he said. “We want to make it so that people feel like they want to work here, not have to work there.” Training opportunities and giving employees chances to move up is one reason employees find working at CBE rewarding, Penaluna said. “The advancement opportunities for CBE employees are nearly limitless,” said Nick Michael, who nominated CBE as an Employer

No. 3 ● ADDRESS: 1309 Technology parkway, Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 234-6686. ● WEBSiTE: www.cbegroup.com. ● NuMBER Of EMPLOyEES: about 1,000. ● HOW THE cOMPANy STANDS OuT iN iTS fiELD: CbE focuses on

of Choice. CBE was founded in 1933 and has maintained its corporate headquarters in the Cedar Valley since then. In 2010, the company moved its corporate office to 1309 Technology Parkway, in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, from the Tower Park office complex and the nearby Kimball Avenue location. This summer, because of the company’s expansion, some employees re-occupied the CBE’s former 4140 Kimball location. About 650 people work for CBE between the Waterloo and Cedar Falls offices. The company has

because it’s about living

The CBE Group helping people find debt solutions. The company serves multiple industries, including health care, telecommunications, education and government. ● cOMMuNiTy iNvOLvEMENT: CbE employees participate in fundraisers for area charities and nonprofit groups.

additional locations in West Des Moines and Overland Park, Kan. Some employees were excited to move back to the former offices in Waterloo, Penaluna said. The new office, with more space and modern facilities, is another reason CBE may be an attractive place to work, Penaluna added, but it’s often a small factor. “People leave a job because of management or a manager more than any other reason,” he said. Employees also have a voice in the company, Penaluna said.

RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer

Supervisor Shelton Rowe, top, shadows a call with associate Justin cook See cBE GROuP, page 5 at the cBE Group in cedar falls.

Our family of employees at Cedar Valley Hospice share compassion in caring for you and your loved ones. We are proud to be an Employer of Choice and your community hospice since 1979.

ask the questions. make the call.

800.617.1972 : : cvhospice.org waterloo . grundy center . independence . waverly . hospice home

MOnday, SEpTEMbER 3, 2012

employers of choice 2012



cbe group From page 4 When employee evaluations come around, employees have a chance to turn the tables and interview their managers or provide feedback on their work environment. Penaluna said the company is working to change the way collection agencies and the indus-

PAGE try are viewed. “I’m sure collection agencies aren’t at the top of the list of places people want to work when they come out of high school,” Penaluna said. Making the work environment the best it can be is a key way to improve the business, he added. “We believe if we create a better work environment for employees, they in turn take care of our clients,” Penaluna said.

Dear PEM Staff,

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

cedar valley Hospice spiritual counselor Gary Johnson goes over updates on patients with employees at a morning briefing.

Human touch powers Cedar Valley Hospice By JOHN MOLSEED john.molseed@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Cedar Valley Hospice doesn’t just have job applicants, says executive director Marvin Fagerlind. The organization draws people who have a calling, he said. “That’s something we hear again and again during orientation,” he said. “They felt called.” Working at a hospice takes people with dedication and humanity. “What we’re all about is people’s lives,” he said. “We can’t escape the fact that we’re dealing with loss and grief.” Even with that kind of dedication, keeping quality people there requires having a desirable workplace, Fagerlind added. One main mission of the hospice is to help people with lifethreatening illnesses or terminal prognoses and their families with grief support and comfort. For the employees, staff are given time off to be with their family in times of emergencies or illness. “Our response to any person is, ‘Then that’s where you need to be,’” Fagerlind said. In her nomination of Cedar Valley Hospice, Shannon Melcher

No. 4

Cedar Valley Hospice

● ADDRESS: 2101 Kimball ave., Suite 401. ● TELEPHONE: 272-2002. ● WEBSiTE: www.cvhospice.org. ● NuMBER OF EMPLOyEES: 145. ● HOW THE cOMPANy STANDS OuT iN iTS FiELD: Employees are given flexible time off, especially in times of family need, illness or emergencies. Workers also get anniversary

described how staff there allowed her to be with her family when her father was ill. “Because our business is devoted to making each moment matter for our patients and families, each of us is gracious to our co-workers to make sure we do the same with our own,” she said. Employees also get recognition for their successes or going beyond the call with a “shining star” program. Even employees’ anniversaries with CVH are marked with a special lunch. Those recognitions make employees at CVH feel their work is noticed and appreciated, said Nathan Schutt, client services manager. “I have never worked anywhere where the emphasis on taking care of the employee was so focused

lunches, birthday cards and other recognitions for extra day-to-day efforts. ● cOMMuNiTy iNvOLvEMENT: Grief support available for anyone in the community; provides education to businesses, churches, schools and organizations as a leader in end-oflife issues; provides crisis intervention in schools.

on,” Schutt said. These incentives not only make the workplace appealing but can help offset what, at times, can be a stressful and emotional workplace. As staff help families and loved ones of terminal patients, they can also be affected by some of the grief that follows. “It’s difficult for staff,” Fagerlind said. “I won’t hide that.” However, being able to serve and comfort people in difficult times can also be it’s own reward, Fagerlind and other employees said. Kathryn Manfull said she heard someone say, “I feel as though I’m stepping on holy ground,” as their father was being admitted. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” Manfull said.

I know that there are a lot of choices when it comes to where you choose to work, so I would like to personally thank you for being a part of the PEM Team. Our current success is a testament to a staff that excels through technical skill, teamwork, motivation, leadership and innovation. As we move into the future, one of my most important missions will be to provide you all with the personal and professional support needed to ensure that Power Engineering and Manufacturing continues to employ the best staff, not only in the Cedar Valley, but also in our entire industry. Thank you for the hard work and dedication each of you contribute on a daily basis. Without it, we would be unable to design our superior quality gearboxes. Sincerely, John M. Warren President Power Engineering and Manufacturing, LTD 2635 WCF & N Drive Waterloo, IA 50703






Communication is key for Next Generation Wireless By JOHN MOLSEED

No. 5


CEDAR FALLS — The owner of Next Generation Wireless, Bill Bradford, spends a lot of time each month on the phone. He’s not testing product. He’s wishing associates happy birthday, recognizing their anniversary with the company or making 30 to 50 calls to sales associates who exceed their monthly goals. Recognizing employees’ contributions and successes is an essential practice at the company from the top down, Bradford said. “The recognition starts with me,” Bradford said. “I’m very adamant about that, and it trickles down.” Some employees he speaks to are surprised by the interaction. “There’ll be a lot of times associates never even spoke to the owners of their prior companies,” he said. This contact and recognition

Next Generation Wireless

● ADDRESS: 215 Franklin St., Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 266-5070. ● WEBSITE: www.newtoday.net. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 75. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Support for 12 areas through

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Ben Berner, left, talks to Steve Stulken of Vinton about a phone upgrade at Next Generation Wireless in Waterloo. shows associates that they’re val- recruiting employees, Bradford added. ued, Bradford said. “We truly understand that “They see that we truly care about their well-being,” he without them we would not be said. “It’s not all about sales successful,” he said. Next Generation has a presperformance.” In the growing and competitive ence in 12 communities. Treatfield of wireless communication, ing employees well helps keep those policies give Next Gen- them staffed, but the company eration Wireless an edge when looks beyond that by having each

branch help nonprofit organizations in their communities. Assistance can range from volunteering time, fundraising or delivering meals to shut-ins. This year, Next Generation Wireless employees have given more than 2,000 hours of time to more than 50 different organizations. That commitment to such organizations is also a draw for potential employees, said Shellie Bolt, human resources manager. “One of the common factors that applicants are impressed with is the company’s commitment to our local communities,” she said.

community service. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Volunteer activities help more than 50 nonprofit organizations. Employees at each location and the corporate office choose a different organization to help each month.

Employees who nominated Next Generation Wireless also noted opportunities to move up as a reason they like working there. “Within the last year, NGW has promoted five associates or leaders to the next level, which is unheard of with a smaller organization,” Bethany Benner said. Next Generation Wireless has been steadily growing. Even with more employees and locations, Bradford said he doesn’t plan to stop his policy of taking time to personally call associates. “It will be maintained,” he said. Even if it means he’ll be spending more time on the phone.

A Difference You Can Feel Waverly Health Center appreciates our staff for providing high quality, patient-centered health care. Thank you y to our team members for f makingg us a Cedar Valley Employer of Choice!


MOnday, SEpTEMbER 3, 2012

employers of choice 2012




Employees embrace Cedar Falls Utilities’ caring attitude By MATTHEW WILDE matt.wilde@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Falls Utilities employees celebrated an extra-long holiday last year. Workers didn’t get additional time off for Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they did get a break from paying their health insurance premiums for two months. CFU officials authorized a premium holiday because claims were down in the selfinsured system. Management credits aggressive exercise and health programs. Employees, who rave about health initiatives, say it’s just another example why CFU is a great place to work. Seven CFU workers nominated the state’s largest four-service utility for The Courier’s Employers of Choice. It’s the third time in five years the company earned the honor. “What I take away from that is employees are embracing the mission,” said Jim Krieg, CFU general manager. “Enthusiastic employees are willing to reach out (to customers) and bring

No. 6

Cedar Falls Utilities

● ADDRESS: 1 Utility parkway, Cedar Falls. ● PHonE: 266-1761. ● WEBSITE: www.cfu.net. ● nUMBER oF EMPLoyEES: 190. ● WHAT THE CoMPAny DoES: CFU is a municipally owned utility company serving Cedar Falls. ● HoW IT STAnDS oUT In THE FIELD: CFU has aggressively

that enthusiasm back to the workforce.” Employees say the company works hand-in-hand with them to promote healthy lifestyles, physical fitness and good nutrition. CFU does other things to promote a positive work environment as well like competitive pay and wages. Besides extra money in their pockets from the premium holiday, employees say the main benefit is a better life. “An example of care and concern for the employees is our wellness program that was developed to educate and reward employees for living a healthy lifestyle,” said Dan Goetz, con-

expanded access to its communications services, including cable television and broadband Internet access. ● CoMMUnITy InvoLvEMEnT: The utility donated land to form the Cedar Falls Industrial and Technology park in the late 1960s and invested in a wind-energy project along with six other Iowa municipal utilities in 1998.

struction services manager. He’s been with CFU for 34 years. Advancement opportunities, goal-setting and an emphasis on teamwork are what make CFU a special place, employees said. Jennifer Giesler, service coordinator for communications, started working for CFU part-time during college. Fourteen years later, she’s still there. During that time Giesler got married, had two children and earned a master’s degree using the company’s education reimbursement program. DAWN J. SAGERT / Courier Staff Photographer “I have developed lifelong friendships and (CFU) has truly Craig Schwickratch, left, and Josh Shepard, employees with Cedar Falls been an integral part of my life,” Utilities, set a transformer at the corner of 22nd and Tremont streets on Aug. 15 in Cedar Falls. Giesler said in her nomination.

Flexibility, atmosphere give Bergan Paulsen boost By nAnCy JUSTIS newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WATERLoo — Flexibility of hours and the fact employees truly enjoy working beside their fellow office mates make Bergan Paulsen great, employees say. “The atmosphere is overall light and happy,” said Blair Gordon, a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. “People enjoy their job, which in turn improves their attitude, sense of humor and willingness to help others succeed. The free candy cupboard doesn’t hurt either.” Working with numbers and spreadsheets all day may seem taxing and dry, but Brian Aronson says it’s the people he works with and for that makes his job enjoyable. “It would be impossible to

No. 7 ● ADDRESS: 100 East park ave., Suite 300, Waterloo. ● PHonE: 234-6885. ● WEBSITE: www.berganpaulsen. com. ● nUMBER oF EMPLoyEES: 75. ● WHAT THE CoMPAny DoES: bergan paulsen is a Cpa and consulting firm that provides tax, assurance,

make it through those long days if you didn’t truly enjoy working with the people next to you.” Gordon says the flexibility at work is high on her list. “(It’s) the No. 1 thing for me, being a working mother. Allowing the flexibility for us to take care of sick kids or parents knowing we have the support of our team that we don’t have to worry about work while we are off.”

Bergan Paulsen accounting and payroll, technology and advisory services. ● HoW IT STAnDS oUT In ITS FIELD: Clients get personalized service and attention as well as financial advice and understanding of their business. ● HoW IT’S InvoLvED In THE CoMMUnITy: Employees serve on boards, volunteer and hold fundraisers.

“Our most important asset goes home every night,” managing partner David Happel said. “We really value our employees in so many ways.” One way employees are rewarded is through perk points, redeemable through the Bergan Paulsen website, featuring everything from shirts to golf bags.

See BERGAn, page 8

Serving the American Dream Since 1902






Employees praise Hellman for nurturing creativity By ANGELA HOLMES newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Employees at Hellman say the Waterloo-based advertising agency has built a reputation as a locally owned creative company that values its employees and their ideas, retains long-term staffers and attracts new talent. Aaron Smock, art director of visual effects, and Jason Fliehler, director of video production, joined Hellman last year. “I came from a company that was quite a bit bigger,” Smock said. “I knew Hellman was creative and encourages you to do your best work.” He said he noticed the difference right away. “When I started working here, I got thrown into several projects right off the bat,” he said. “It was a welcome transition from my last job because not only did I get constructive criticism that made the project better, I also received a

No. 8 ● ADDRESS: 1225 W. Fourth St., Waterloo. ● TELEPHONE: 234-7055. ● WEBSITE: www.hellman.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 38. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Provides full-service advertising. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Hellman is well-known for the

thank-you card from my manager and co-workers for completing those projects.” Fliehler said he also appreciates Hellman’s commitment to the staff. “The first day we walked in the door, it was apparent they valued their employees,” he said. “They trust us and our skills.” Their supervisor, David McNurlen, chief creative officer, has been with Hellman for 21 years. “It’s a collaborative environment,” McNurlen said. “There’s no micromanaging. We hire pro-

DAWN J SAGERT / Courier Staff Photographer

Heather Gunderson, left, and Chelsea Cheville discuss accounting issues in Gunderson’s office at Bergan Paulsen in Waterloo.

BERGAN From page 7 All employees are assigned a mentor. “Mentor meetings are required to take place at least once per quarter, but more often is monthly,” Aronson said. “Mentors are open to everything

from work issues to family issues that want to be discussed. Mentors also assist their assigned employees with creating a career plan or a set of long-term goals.” “Maybe it’s a little nerdy to like who you work for, but I could go on about the awesome things this company does for my co-workers and I,” Gordon said.

Hellman way it handles product launches, public relations, B2B marketing projects, brand development and media. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Hellman is a Partner in Education with Cunningham School for Excellence, participates in Junior Achievement and donates time and talent to the Build Our Ballpark project.

fessionals that know what they are doing. Anybody can rise to any position. It’s what you bring to the company that determines how far you can go.” Hellman promotes healthy living by helping pay employees’ membership fees to fitness centers and supporting community involvement. “We encourage outside interests and support employees with the flexibility to take leadership roles when pursuing areas that interest them, whether it be serving on a board, speaking at a conference, performing in a theater or

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Jason Fliehler, director of video production, and Aaron Smock, art director of visual effects, work on a project at Hellman in Waterloo. organizing a fundraiser,” said Ila ments, special events, children’s sporting events and anything Scott-Ford. Family comes first for Bob Hell- you feel is important to be at for man, who started the business in family.” That attitude comes naturally to 1966. “Bob Hellman fosters an envi- the company’s founder. “I come from the creative side ronment where he makes everyone feel like a member of his fam- and have the utmost respect for ily,” Daryl Sanders said. “Hellman what they do,” said Hellman. “I makes it possible to make sure you back up their work, careers and don’t miss your doctor’s appoint- families.”

...to our dedicated em m mployees who make a true difference in the Cedar Valley!

#3 Employer of Choice!






Allen workers say hospital emphasizes communication By ANGELA HOLMES

No. 9


WATERLOO — When Tom Tibbitts started as CEO of Allen Health System in November, he was well aware of the organization’s tight-knit community. “When you walk into work, you feel like you are walking into your second family home,” said Cindy Dinsdale, who works in the Allen Neurology Center. Tibbitts, who spent 35 years as CEO at Trinity Regional Medical Center in Fort Dodge, has three rules for his employees: treat others as you would want to be treated; work with people, not for people; and have a little fun. “This is serious business, saving lives,” he said. To reward staff members for their hard work, the hospital hosts recognition luncheons for years of service, picnics, ice cream celebrations and latenight delivery of goodies to sec-

Allen Health System

● ADDRESS: 1825 Logan Ave., Waterloo. ● TELEPHONE: 235-3941. ● WEBSITE: www.allenhospital.org. ● NUMBERS OF EMPLOYEES: 2,000. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Allen Hospital is a community-based nonprofit, acute-care hospital serving 10 counties in the Cedar Valley. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Tom Tibbitts, the president and CEO of Allen Health System, serves ice cream to employees at Allen Hospital in Waterloo. With an organization and camond- and third-shift workers. The Care Counts program rec- pus as large as Allen’s, commuognizes and honors exceptional nication is essential for a smooth employees five times per year. A workflow. “There is a culture of opentypical Care Counts luncheon recognizes the stories behind ness and transparency,” said Jim 18 to 20 Allen associates and Waterbury, vice president for institutional advancement. physicians.

Tibbitts has an open-door policy with employees and regularly attends new employee orientation. “Allen is large enough to be diverse and offer educational and advancement opportunities, but small enough for administration to get to know their staff and listen to them,” said Barb McLavey, a 37-year employee. While employee newsletters are distributed and emails update the staff on various events, “nothing replaces face-to-face communi-

FIELD: Allen Hospital is ranked among the top heart hospitals in the nation. More than 95 percent of Allen College nursing students passed their licensure examinations in 2011. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Allen supports 200 community organizations and events, including the Kaleidoscope Series for Children, the Cedar Valley Heart Walk and Go Red for Women.

cation,” Tibbitts said. Allen routinely promotes from within when possible and offers associates both inside and outside training, Waterbury said. “I have been an associate of Allen Health System for the last 43 years and have seen many changes,” said Pam Flanders. “The overriding feeling I have is that Allen truly believes in the value and worth of every single individual, whether they are an associate, patient, family member or health care professional.”






Experts in Off-Highway Control Systems ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

ME&V graphic artists Nathan Hauser, left, and Trent Phillips work on a project in the company’s Cedar Falls ofďŹ ce.

Modeling & Simulation

Family focus seen as key at ME&V

Embedded Software

By ANGELA HOLMES newsroom@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — Managers at ME&V realize employees have lives outside the office. “It’s important to keep a work/ life balance,â€? said Bryan Earnest, ME&V partner and president. “If you have time to take care of family needs, you are more creative.â€? When art director Tiffini Kieler was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, her care came ďŹ rst. “I never had to worry about my job,â€? she said. Families also come ďŹ rst at ME&V. “We’re not only encouraged not to miss any of our children’s activities or events, we’re also allowed to bring our kids to the office when necessary,â€? said Jen Williams. “As a single mother, I can’t express how much I appreciate every aspect of the ME&V family.â€? ME&V even had a bring-yourdog-to-work day to mark the dog days of summer, Earnest said. “We integrate fun and family in all activities,â€? Earnest said. “Employees perform best when they are happy and content.â€?

Clients can detect the energy ME&V employees put into their work. “Our whole theme is to generate electrifying results,â€? Earnest said. “We operate at the demands of our clients. We have to maintain exible hours.â€? Promoting volunteerism, ME&V closed for a day last year to let employees get out in the community. “We have an attitude of not only hiring great employees, but make them great people,â€? said partner Dee Vandeventer. “We set personal goals and support them.â€? The company provides free YMCA memberships to every employee and his/her family, and encourages staff walk at the facility on Prairie Lake. Under the “Electrifying Employeesâ€? program, recipients receive one full day paid time off, two-week use of the Electrifying Employees parking spot and a $25 gift certiďŹ cate to the business of their choice. Each month at the staff meeting, everybody is asked to contribute ideas.

See ME&V, page 11

Automation & Testing Systems Manufacturers of






Community involvement a top program at KWWL By ANGELA HOLMES newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — When not bringing Northeast Iowa the latest news, sports and weather, KWWL employees devote their time and talents to their communities. KWWL’s parent company, Quincy Inc., encourages its employees to be involved in community activities, said KWWL News Director Dan Schillinger. “It’s a company that truly believes in giving back to the community,” he said. Here are a few examples of employees’ involvement: ■ Anchor Ron Steele co-chaired last year’s United Way campaign. He also is a board member of the University of Iowa Alumni Association, serves as a mentor for the Waterloo schools, volunteers for the Department of Human Services “Dream Team” and aids Lutheran Social Services, helping foster children. He’s also a board member of the Cedar Valley Sports Commission and helps at the Grout Museum.

No. 10 ● ADDRESS: 6711 Chancellor Drive, Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 268-9151. ● WEBSITE: www.meandv.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 44. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: ME&V is a full-service, strategic advertising, marketing, public relations and fundraising consultancy. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

ME&V From page 10 “It’s a team,” Vandeventer said. “We walk in every day with a mission. Things are done on time and done well.” Keeping employees up with new skills is also important to the workflow. “Just in the last six months, I have had the opportunity to attend a Microsoft tutorial that has improved my efficiency on

No. 11


● ADDRESS: 500 E. Fourth St., Waterloo. ● PHONE: 291-1207. ● WEBSITE: www.kwwl.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 70. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Local television broadcasting with an emphasis on local news and weather. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: KWWL has significant history as a

■ Anchor Tara Thomas helps Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteers at a local elementary school. ■ Meteorologist Eileen Loan is the market manager for the Urbana Farmers Market and coordinator for the Vinton Youth Garden. ■ Reporter Nikki Newbrough is a member of the Waverly Jaycees and serves as an assistant coach for a high school track team. ■ Reporter Kera Mashek is a member of the Waterloo Jaycees and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. ■ General Manager Jim McKer-

legacy station with a strong reputation locally. The station won an Emmy for outstanding local morning newscast. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: American Heart Association, Waterloo Community Playhouse, Cedar Falls Community Theatre, United Way, Red Cross, Northeast Iowa Food Bank, McElroy Trust Gold Star Teacher’s Awards and Best of Class, among others.

nan is actively involved in local chambers of commerce. ■ Local sales manager John Huff served as a chairman of the local Red Cross. ■ Assistant News Director Eric Page is a Boy Scout leader and coach for Metro Youth Football. “We really are a part of the community,” McKernan said. “One of the cornerstones of the company is mutual respect.” In a typical year, KWWL donates more than $2 million worth of free advertising time to

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

From left, KWWL meteorologist Jeff Kennedy and news anchors Tara Thomas and Ron Steele prepare for a newscast in the Waterloo studio. a variety of local organizations, but we are also encouraged to like the United Way, the Red have fun. The company recently Cross, local animal shelters and organized a family bowling night for employees and their families, others. “KWWL is a company that just one example of a company believes employees should enjoy that works hard to take care of coming to work every day,” its most important asset — its Schillinger said. “We work hard, staff.”

ME&V FIELD: ME&V is charged to live out its mission of generating electrifying results for its clients across the country. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Partners and staff serve on many local boards, including the Cedar Valley Alliance, Junior Achievement, Junior League, Cedar Valley Young Professionals, American Cancer Society and the Waterloo Airport Commission.

using Word, Outlook and Excel,” said Sarah Albertson. “I have also attended a sales training for two days that inspired me to work harder.” ME&V’s commitment to employees’ well-being and job satisfaction makes the company a great place to work, said Laura Cahalan. “Everyone here is like a big, extended family,” she said. “Each person truly cares about the rest of the team, management included.”

Service • Leadership Involvement

Hello Better.


A Team You Can Believe In

At Next Generation Wireless, we believe in giving back to the communities we serve. That’s what makes us different. We thank you, our employees, for not being satisfied until our customers are, being loyal to your company, believing in what we stand for, and delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction. Thank you for nominating us for the Employer of Choice Awards. Next Generation Wireless employees, we believe in you.

Cedar Falls



6301 University Ave. (Inside College Square Mall) 319-266-2500

1513 Flammang Dr. (Next to Starbucks) 319-226-3500

1810 4th St. SW (Across from Norby’s Farm Fleet) 319-352-6200






Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare support employees By MATTHEW WILDE

No. 12


WATERLOO — Happy employees equals healthy patients. That’s the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare way. Whether it’s an extended stay at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo or a checkup at one of its many clinics, Wheaton officials say providing quality health care is the organization’s top priority. And that starts with the staff. Wheaton spokesman Dana Derflinger said ensuring employees are well-trained and content is a key component to patient health. Earning another Courier Employers of Choice award tells Derflinger the organization is doing things right. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare won an EOC award for the third time in five years. Several employees nominated the health care provider.

Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare

● ADDRESS: 3421 W. Ninth St., Waterloo. ● TELEPHONE: 272-7332. ● WEBSITE: www.wheatoniowa.org. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: About 2,700. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: An integrated health care network with more than 100 primary and specialty care professionals at 22 locations

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Shelli Panicucci, chief financial officer at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, introduces herself to new employees at Covenant Medical Center. “If we meet employee needs, that allows them to … focus on patient care,” Derflinger said. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare employs about 2,700 people at Covenant Medical Center, the Cancer Treatment Center in Waterloo, Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls, Mercy

Hospital in Oelwein and various regional clinics. Y. Michelle Wright, a certified nuclear medicine technologist at Covenant for 23 years, feels fortunate she can truly say she loves her job, calling the hospital her “home away from home.” Wright said Covenant puts

Thank you to all ME&V V employees em mployees for making ME&V m M V ann energizing brightt pla place Employer place to work, a brigh ace for creative and an a Em ployyer of Choice.

patient care first and ensures employees stay up-to-date on all the latest technology. “With the many changes in health care, I am challenged on a daily basis to learn and grow,” Wright said. Andrea Barker, Wheaton’s director of public relations and marketing, said her employers live up to its core values every day: respect, integrity, development, excellence and stewardship. It’s what makes coming to work every day enjoyable.

across Northeast Iowa. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: The organization provides topnotch care to patients. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: In the last year, the organization provided more than $13.4 million in benefits to the region in the form of Charity Care, public programs, community health services, etc.

In particular, Barkers noted the Sister RoseMary Pint scholarships awarded to associates’ dependents annually and available emergency funds for employees in time of need. Not long after Derflinger was hired, he broke his leg, requiring surgery. He was comforted by knowing an experienced staff, due to Wheaton’s high retention rate, was taking care of him. “If I’m a patient, and I have been, it would personally make me feel good,” he said.






Power Engineering makes employee education a priority By NANCY JUSTIS newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — The Discovery Channel showcased the world’s 10 biggest machines on one of its programs — and Power Engineering and Manufacturing gearboxes were included in the majority of them. “It’s really cool to be able to say that a little company in Waterloo, Iowa, builds gearboxes for places like NASA,” said Rich Kime, national sales manager. Employees believe working at PEM is not just a job. “Working at (Power) is more challenging than my past jobs but definitely more rewarding,” said quality assurance manager Dennis Schilling. “A lot of the employees have over 20 years of service and are still as energetic as when they first started,” Kime added. “Our employees are extremely dedicated to the industry and everyone takes

No. 13 ● ADDRESS: 2635 WCF&N Dr., Waterloo. ● PHONE: 232-2311. ● WEBSITE: www.pemltd.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 81. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Specializes in the custom design and manufacturing of heavy-duty gearboxes. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

extreme pride in their work. It’s not just a job.” In such a complicated field, training is a huge factor. Kime says PEM is a strong enforcer of continuous training. “I think the investment we make in employees by furthering their education means a lot to each and every individual that has benefited, and that is nearly everyone,” said president John Warren. Kime says PEM is “probably the mostfamily-orientedmanufacturing company that is in existence.”

Power Engineering FIELD: PEM’s quality design system addresses every error and defect in a manner that exhibits concern, investigation and constructive feedback. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Friends of the Cattle Congress, the Grout Museum, Waterloo Main Street, the Transportation Club and Hawkeye Community College, among other organizations.

The company also provides premium-free medical and dental insurance, a 401(k) match, and profit-sharing along with flexible schedules whenever possible to accommodate family obligations. “We have an open door policy and a casual atmosphere,” Warren added. “We allow personal music, there is daylight lighting in the plant, and our pay scale is higher than the county average.” Every five years of service, employees are presented with a component to make a functioning

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Todd Swacker, in his 33rd year with Power Engineering in Waterloo, lowers the cover on a box saw component Aug. 20. “(PEM) is definitely the best place gear train. Acquiring the whole set to work in the Cedar Valley due to takes 30 years. Schilling said the company also the fact that the ownership puts the employees first,” Kime said. tries to promote from within. “All PEM plant management has “During the economic downturn, moved into their positions from PEM refused to lay off anyone even though sales were down.” the plant.”

For 100 years, the residents and employees of Western Home Communities have made it what it is....

a charitable Christian service organization that assertively creates fulfilling lifestyles for seniors, their families and our employees.

Thank you for living the mission.







Name changes, philosophy doesn’t at Banno By ANGELA HOLMES newsroom@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — Although the name has changed to Banno, the company formerly known as T8 Webware continues to invest in its greatest asset — its employees. “People are your best asset,” CEO Wade Arnold said. “It’s easy to give it lip service, we put money behind it.” Banno’s commitment to its employees and workplace dynamic starts in the hiring process. “We attract personalities that want to be a part of something and want to be the best at that trade,” Arnold said. “We’ve created a culture to attract those personalities.” Arnold worked for a large company prior to starting Banno in 2008. He was burned out on the topdown management structure and wanted to create a business where all employees were equally valued. “We run a flat organizational

No. 14 ● ADDRESS: 900 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 266-7574. ● WEBSITE: www.banno.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 61 ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Banno provides and powers solutions that help financial institutions harvest behavior-driven banking data to stimulate growth and retain business. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

structure here,” he said. “Management talks about a culture to empower employees.” This inclusive culture allows ideas to flow freely among the entire staff. “Each employee feels their value to the company and feels empowered to make a difference,” said Abby Goltz. “We’re constantly involved in the up and coming releases of new products.” At Banno, technical employees are in leadership positions, teaching others their trade. “If you are good at something,

Banno FIELD: A focus on leveraging behavior-driven banking solutions that will change how products and services are offered and how the benefits of the digital channel are realized. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Much effort building both the startup and technology sector in the Cedar Valley and throughout Iowa. Active involvement in Iowa Scala, TechBrew, Pitch & Grow, I2Iowa and Tech Talk Cedar Valley.

people will follow you,” Arnold said. Banno provides its employees through mentoring, flexibility and training in order to better serve its growing customer base. “Our CEO really cares about the employees and is committed to equipping everyone to be successful,” said Jay Pfalzgraf. “Customer focus drives our organization and there is a constant buzz about how we can find new ways to satisfy the customer.” The company, which started

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Banno software engineer Joel Caspers, right, works with intern Chris Oliver on writing integration tests in the company’s Cedar Falls office. in consulting, has created a national presence in the financial services world, Arnold said. “We’ve grown into a national presence and are starting into international,” he said. Over the next 24 months, Arnold plans to have an immense amount of growth with Banno’s channel programs. “We have 320 customers now,

expect more than 500,” he said. “We’re known in the financial services industry as moving very fast.” This growth wouldn’t be possible without energized employees who enjoy coming to work every day. “We make it a great place to work for selfish reasons,” Arnold said. “People that are happy make cool things.”

Focus on values keeps Far Reach growing By ANGELA HOLMES newsroom@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — Every decision made at custom software development and marketing company Far Reach is based on its 11 core values. “When we started (in April 2007), we tried to make a place where people like to work,” said Jason Nissen, president. “We base decisions off the core values.” Posters illustrating the core values hang on the brick walls of the company’s downtown Cedar Falls office. The values are: Make a Difference; Be Positive; Open and Honest; Embrace Change; Simplicity Quality; Learn and Grow; We’re a Team; Work Smarter Do More; Balance; Have Fun; Be Humble. The core values are considered in

No. 15 ● ADDRESS: 208A Main St., Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 273-8060. ● WEBSITE: www.farreachinc.com. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 14. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Far Reach offers web design and development, custom software development, mobile development and marketing consulting.

everything Far Reach does, including hiring decisions. “We hire people who make a difference in the organization and bring a positive attitude,” Nissen said. “Part of the interview process is determining how do they align with core values?” All 14 employees, including the five founding partners — Nissen,

Far Reach ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Far Reach creates custom solutions that help clients accomplish their business and marketing goals. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Supports Sturgis Falls, Iowa Irish Fest, the Boy Scouts, UNI Dance Marathon, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony, Lowell Elementary’s Adopt a Family program and Bar Camp Cedar Valley.

Kate Washut, Chris Rouw, Chad Feldmann and Lana Wrage — work on equal ground. “There is no hierarchy,” Nissen said. “The partners work on the same projects as the employees. It’s a collaborative thing. The plan is to stay flat.”

See FAR REACH, page 15

Thank You to Our Employees for Being MORE Than Bean Counters. www.berganpaulsen.com 800.741.7087






Appreciation flows at Grundy hospital By JIM OFFNER jim.offner@wcfcourier.com

GRUNDY CENTER — Part of serving a four-county constituency is bringing expertise close to the people who need it, according to Grundy County Memorial Hospital, which has been named as a Courier Employer of Choice. So the hospital reaches out to the community on a regular basis, said Pam Delagardelle, CEO of the Grundy Center-based hospital. “Our mission is to improve the health of the people of the communities we service, so it’s imperative we understand the needs of the community and put together the services and strategies necessary to address those needs,” Delagardelle said. “We have a lot of staff that are engaged in community service and education.” One of the newest communityoutreach programs the hospital has is a telemedicine initiative, Delagardelle said. “We put a video conferencing program in all the schools in this market, and we have connections to all area EMTs and lots of doctors,” she said. The program pays obvious dividends in terms of treatment today, but it will lead to additional benefits in the future, in terms of homegrown health care professionals, Delagardelle said. Among other programs are student internships, she said. “We’ve had almost 20 high school kids that spent a semester with us last year,” Delagardelle said. “That mentoring our staff does has been very rewarding.” Students help out in various departments, picking up a range of experience, she said. The program also pays off for employees. “I think our staff feel valued by mentoring these young people,” she said. “Many of these kids have gone into radiology or lab as a result of their experiences. We hope they stay with it.” Employees who nominated the hospital as an Employer of Choice said the organization is strong in involving them in day-to-day strategies.

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Jason Nissen, standing, president and founding partner of Far Reach, visits with web developer Logan Keenan. BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Physical therapists Chris Wiedman, center, and Sara Jacobson, far right, work with Margaret Ehrig, left, and Becky Geiter at Grundy County Memorial Hospital.

No. 16

Grundy County Memorial Hospital

■ ADDRESS: 201 E. J Ave., Grundy Center. ■ TELEPHONE: 824-5421. ■ WEBSITE: www.grundycountyhospital.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 220. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Hospital serving Grundy, Butler, Hardin and Tama counties. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

Margo Dierdorff said she had numerous reasons for nominating GCMH, but one of the chief reasons was that it works to live up to its mission, “Best outcome, every patient and every time.” “This core vision is exemplified every day by the employees of this hospital,” she said. “From the housekeepers to the CEO, from the dietary to nursing staff, the level of dedication displayed by the employees of this hospital are unparalleled.” Beth Johanns said all employees are made to feel they play key roles. “Each associate is encouraged to become an expert in their area and share that knowledge with others around them,” Johanns said. Employees are appreciated not only by management but by the public, Delagardelle said. “I think the reason people are satisfied about working here is the people they serve in this market are very grateful; they’re happy to have a hospital in this

FIELD: CEO Pam Delagardelle says the hospital works hard to reach out to its four-county constituency. Recently named as a top-100 place to work in health care in the U.S. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Established a student mentoring program; started a community garden; has been involved in numerous community wellness committees.

rural area,” Delagardelle said. “The physicians that come here from Waterloo and Cedar Falls and Marshalltown are very much appreciated. It’s not tough to love your job when the people you work with really seem to appreciate the care you get.”

FAR REACH From page 14 The managers ensure the employees continue to learn and grow by providing training and flexibility. “We’re encouraged to collaborate, contribute ideas and to work without fear of making mistakes,” said Sue Munnik. “Far Reach allows the time and resources we need to stay on top of our fast-paced industry, whether it’s attending conferences, purchasing books or studying for certifications.” The “Balance” core value allows employees to work from home or bring their children to the office where they can watch a movie or play Wii games in the lounge. “They are incredibly supportive of our home lives,” said Jen Aiello.

“We can work from home or take time off on short notice if something comes up.” Employees feel empowered on how they manage time, Nissen said. “Get the work done, we’re not worried about time clock,” he said. The group tries to avoid meetings as much as possible, but they begin each week with Monday “Huddles” to discuss the core values. At the end of the week, developers gather over lunch for a “Geek Out” to share new skills or tools. The employees also have monthly team fun days which can include anything from attending the Sturgis Falls celebration to lunch and a movie. The relaxed atmosphere adds to the quality of workplace, “plus, we are lucky to work on a variety of cool projects,” Aiello said.

people you know caring for the people you love

Thank you Associates for nominating GCMH for this honor






Input drives JDE Engineering By MATTHEW WILDE matt.wilde@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Call Jim Ellis of JDE Engineering the idea man. Not because the owner of the Waterloo civil engineering firm has a monopoly on clever ways to design sewer and water systems or roads, but because he’s willing to take advice to make sure projects are done right. Listening to employees and customers, and taking their ideas to heart, is a key to JDE’s success. JDE won its first Employers of Choice Award from The Courier. Employees who nominated the company say Ellis’ opendoor policy and open mind sets the business apart. “‘We can be flexible’ is one of his mantras. Jim not only gives regular feedback but encourages you to offer feedback and suggestions, making you feel included in the decisionmaking process,” said Neal Wood and Ellen Laughlin, JDE employees, in a essay nominating the company for an EOC award. Ellis started JDE in 2008 after working for years in the private and public sectors, including the city of Waterloo from 1995 to 2000. Initially, Ellis said he only had a handful of clients, with the bulk of his work coming from the communities of Waterloo and La Porte City. Over the years, he added a few workers and began to work more with private contractors. Now, about 60 percent of his customers are public entities. The list of satisfied customers has steadily grown, Ellis said, keeping the company busy. “It’s nice when work finds you and you don’t have to find it,” Ellis said. By the end of the year, he hopes to hire another six employees. Ellis said the company’s reputation of being able to handle tough projects quickly has helped the company grow.

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Registered nurses Abby Fagerlind, right, and Holly Eastman work in the surgery center at Waverly Health Center.

RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer

Jim Ellis, owner of JDE Engineering in Waterloo, works on a project.

No. 17

JDE Engineering

Waverly Health Center serious about teamwork By JIM OFFNER jim.offner@wcfcourier.com

● ADDRESS: 402 E. Fourth St., Suite 101, Waterloo. ● TELEPHONE: 464-7913. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: Four. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: JDE is a civil engineering firm that specializes in subdivision design and road construction. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD:

That’s done through cooperation and teamwork. Customer input and utilizing advice from employees and other contractors on the job is important, Ellis said. Molding multiple ideas into one isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary. “I don’t know everything … just because I own the company,” Ellis said. “Being open to suggestions is huge. The end product is what provides the best solution for the client.” Employees say Ellis fosters an attitude of genuine concern, making sure they feel like they’re “working with him and not just for him.” Regular one-on-one professional development sessions are held with designers, and Ellis takes time to share past experiences. Group training sessions are also common to make sure

Employees are very detail-orientated and understand how to work with both the public and private sectors. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Employees are encouraged to be active and volunteer in the community in organizations like Main Street Waterloo, the Waterloo Exchange Club and Heartland Vineyard Church.

employees are familiar with the latest design and drafting software. “That attitude goes a long way to make work a pleasant place and a positive experience,” employees wrote.

WAVERLY — Teamwork is no stranger to a successful organization, but Waverly Health Center has worked to take the concept to new levels, said Kyle Richards, chief executive officer. That the hospital has been selected as one of The Courier’s Employers of Choice is testament to its success in that area, he said. “One of the things we’ve done here is try to have our team members give us input on the

direction of WHC,” said Richards, who joined the hospital in 2011. “We’ve been involved in our strategic planning process and have all employees give input.” Richards said the hospital’s execution of that philosophy has impressed him in his first year on the job. “It’s an exciting and innovative facility that we foster a great team environment,” he said. “That’s a unique aspect that not a lot of places experience.”

See WAVERLY, page 17

MOnday, SEpTEMbER 3, 2012


employers of choice 2012



People are central asset for Hawkeye by AnGElA holmEs newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WAtErloo — In order to provide employers with an educated and properly trained workforce, staff at Hawkeye Community College need to be adequately prepared and trained themselves. “This college focuses on employees as our No. 1 asset to help others be successful,” said president Linda Allen. “We are devoted to training staff.” Staff members work in a variety of areas, including aging population, transportation and the business community. The college provides opportuni-

Waverly from page 16 Other hospitals have gone the same direction, but there’s something at Waverly Health Center that Richards says stands out. “It’s just a different kind of feeling here, a different experience that they get from anywhere else they’ve been,” he said of the hospital’s 400 employees. Waverly Health Center is steeped in community involvement as well, Richards said, listing sponsorships of local programs, cleanup efforts, recycling center and its Family Nest initiative for people needing supplies. “At the county fair, we have a first aid booth and help with any

No. 18

ties for professional development, including tuition reimbursement. Staff is kept in the loop with a weekly newsletter and other communication. “We try to share as much information as possible on a regular basis,” said Kathy Flynn, vice president of institutional advancement. A key responsibility of the college is to keep employees and retirees well, Allen said. As part of the benefit package, employees can work out in the new Health Education Services Center.

See hAWkEyE, page 18 questions with health care people may have,” he said. Several workers nominated the company as an Employer of Choice. One was Mary Mihm, a 32-year employee and administrative assistant. “I have seen many changes made, which allows me to continually learn new skills and responsibilities,” Mihm said. She noted employees are given numerous opportunities to serve on committees. Employee Andrea Ault said workers are encouraged and rewarded. “The organization recognizes the importance of work and family integration and provides the flexibility employees need in order to balance all duties of life,” she said.

Waverly Health Center

● AddrEss: 312 ninth St. SW, Waverly. ● PhonE: 352-4940. ● WEbsitE: www.waverlyhealthcenter.org. ● numbEr of EmPloyEEs: about 400. ● WhAt thE comPAny doEs: 25bed critical-care hospital serving a three-county area.

● hoW it stAnds out in its fiEld: “We provide a caring and healing environment for our patients and visitors so they can get the optimal health care experience they desire,” said CEO Kyle Richards. ● community involvEmEnt: Sponsorship of health care activities, involvement in cleanup and recycling efforts, participation in community events.



Our growing team is passionate about helping you reach farther and accomplish more with technology. Thank you to our Far Reach Team! VISIT WWW.FARREACHINC.COM






Right Where Yo u Live.

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Jason Streed, Hawkeye Community College admissions coordinator, helps prospective student Lorane Burgess with paperwork. WheatonIowa.org

HAWKEYE From page 17 Jason Streed, who previously worked at the University of Northern Iowa, has worked at Hawkeye as admissions coordinator for nine years. “I had always heard good things about Hawkeye,” he said. He appreciates the cohesiveness of the entire staff. “The college encourages departments to work together,” he said. “We have to work collaboratively with other people.” He also appreciates the college’s devotion to improving and empowering its employees. “Every spring, Hawkeye’s Development Day reminds me that I’m working in a special place,” Streed said. “Most of the day is devoted to building the knowledge and skills we need to serve students better. We do that all year long, of course, but this day brings us all together at once to share ideas and insights.”

No. 19

Development Day also includes an employee awards and recognition session when achievements are celebrated in teaching, community outreach and service to students, as well as accomplishments like publications and advanced degrees. “We need the opportunity to recognize those who go above and beyond,” Allen said. “We want to celebrate dedication.” Employees are also recognized based on length of service — some with 20, 30 or even more years. “It’s a reminder that the college values us and wants us to keep learning and growing,” Streed said. Allen attributes the number of Hawkeye’s long-term employees to the college’s commitment to the staff. “People come here and they stay here,” she said. “There is a strong network of employees.” “It’s easy to see a college as a bunch of classroom buildings, but it’s really a community,” Streed said.

Hawkeye Community College

● ADDRESS: 1501 E. Orange Rd., Waterloo. ● TELEPHONE: 296-2320. ● WEBSITE: www.hawkeyecollege. edu. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 600. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Hawkeye provides two years of education and offers career programs and workforce development/skills

training. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Hawkeye’s Centers of Excellence include Healthcare, Transportation, and Advanced Manufacturing. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Hawkeye serves as the host site for a number of events, including Relay for Life and the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk.

Thank You Associates Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is a strong, diverse and inclusive health care provider that strives to be the health care provider of choice and the preferred partner for associates and physicians. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare promotes an environment where differences are valued and integrated into daily operations. We are proud to have talented and skilled individuals from diverse backgrounds as part of our team. Join us! Visit WheatonIowa.org/Employment for open positions.

Thank you for honoring us as a 2012 Employer of Choice.

Covenant Clinic z Covenant Medical Center z Mercy Hospital z Sartori Memorial Hospital






NewAldaya employees note care extends to them, too By ANGELA HOLMES

No. 20


CEDAR FALLS — At NewAldaya Lifescapes, caring for employees is just as important as caring for the residents they serve, according to employees who nominated it for The Courier’s Employers of Choice. “The nature of our service is to serve people,” said executive director Millissa Tierney. “The employee group is also a group we are serving. We want a holistic experience so employees can serve patients better.” NewAldaya’s goal is to create a culture that supports its mission to serve others in a Christian environment, Tierney said. Formerly the Cedar Falls Lutheran Home, “Lifescapes implies a variety of activities to help residents socialize and grow in all dimensions of their lives,” chaplain Gary Olson said. The recently completed Main

NewAldaya Lifescapes

● ADDRESS: 7511 University Ave., Cedar Falls. ● TELEPHONE: 268-0401. ● WEBSITE: www.cflh.org. ● NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 350. ● WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: NewAldaya Lifescapes is a retirement destination offering living options for individuals 55 and older. ● HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

ANGELA HOLMES / Courier Correspondent

Crystal Berkness, music therapist at NewAldaya Lifescapes in Cedar Falls, leads a group in song at the center. Street section in the main building to integrate our community with is a prime example of helping resi- the greater community,” Tierney said. “We consider ourselves to be dents socialize and grow. The area has its own beauty salon, innovators, not just developing the general store, cafe, pub, wellness status quo.” NewAldaya’s staff receives feedcenter and entertainment space. As well as NewAldaya’s residents, back and continuing education to the general public is welcome to best serve the residents. “I have found my employment use Main Street’s facilities. “It was our vision and dream to be a great learning experience

from many angles,” said Laura Brady. “I have great feedback from my superior on the job I currently do, as well as learning areas I can improve upon. I am also extended the opportunity to gain continuing education in my service area with time and resources to be able to attend conferences or other learning events.” Staff members are also willing to back each other up when the need arises. “Frequently, staff visits our residents with their children and take

FIELD: NewAldaya Lifescapes boasts a warm Christian Caring mission that radiates throughout the entire community of residents, staff and guests. ● COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Many staff, and residents, serve as volunteers of health and aging organizations in the community, as well as on NewAldaya’s campus.

vacations while feeling confident someone is willing to help out while they are gone,” said Jeanne Mentel. A family-comes-first attitude also makes NewAldaya an enjoyable place to work, employees say. “I appreciate the flexibility, as I drive an hour each way to work each day,” said Shelleen Hatch, who has worked there 19 years. “I have two children involved in many events, which I am able to attend due to my family-friendly employer.”

STUDENT Success is OUR Success

Congratualations Hawkeye Employees! Employers of Choice - Top 20

Top 10. Again.


Hellman has been recognized as a top 10 employer of choice in the Cedar Valley for the fourth year in a row. We’re honored to have been selected, and we congratulate the other winners.

You’re a winner, too.

Great workplaces like the employers of choice make our community stronger. And a growing, thriving community enhances the quality of life of everyone.

Join us.

For career opportunities, visit www.Hellman.com.

Hellman is a (mostly) B2B marketing agency with expertise in medical, manufacturing and technology, and renewable energy.

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