Employers of Choice 2011

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Employers of Choice testament Management, employers share respect at DISTek to region’s business foundation By JIM OFFNER


The Courier’s annual Employers of Choice for 2011 have their own rankings, but that detail should matter little. The fact that the employees of the 20 companies thought enough of their bosses to shower them with the recognition seems enough. This is the fourth year The Courier has given the Jim Offner region’s workforce is the Courier business editor. a chance to bring some deserved Contact him at attention to the jim.offner@ wcfcourier.com. people who go well beyond signing their paychecks. To the nearly 200 workers who nominated their companies as Employers of Choice, the employer-employee dynamic is, in the deepest sense, a partnership. A panel of representatives from a cross-section of the Cedar Valley business community — Chris Harshbarger, of Think ’N Think Inc.; Linda L. Laylin, director of business services/workforce development with the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance; Jeff Kurtz, executive director of Main Street Waterloo; Carol Lilly, executive director of Community Main Street in Cedar Falls; and Aaron Buzza, executive director of the Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau — 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 common in the young program’s 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 shared was that they recognize their relationships with their own people contribute to the success of each organization. At each organization, teamwork is a priority, as is the well-being of workers, whether through

20 EMPLOYERS OF CHOICE 1. DISTek Integration Inc. 2. Cedar Falls Utilities 3. Cedar Valley Hospice 4. CBE Group 5. Waverly Health Center 6. Bergan Paulsen 7. Western Home 8. Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare 9. NewAldaya 10. ME&V 11. Kwik Trip Inc. 12. Allen Health System 13. A to Z Learning Center & Day Care 14. Hellman 15. Grundy Center Memorial Hospital 16. Advanced Systems 17. PDCM Insurance 18. Moeller & Walter 19. Far Reach Technologies 20. Hy-Vee Inc.

personal time, volunteerism or even simple pats on the back for a job well done. The Courier launched the Employers of Choice program in 2008, in the wake of some of the worst natural disasters to hit this area in recent times. Things have settled down considerably since then, but angst over the economy and higher-than-normal unemployment continue to dominate the landscape. It also provides a stark contrast to the positive stories of Cedar Valley workers. The stock market may be tanking and prices may be rising, but there are legions of content and appreciative workers in the region. That is, perhaps, the most poignant role Employers of Choice plays: a muchneeded salve that reminds us the bedrock of the local economy is as solid as ever.

CEDAR FALLS — DISTek Integration Inc. employees say they’re not surprised their company was selected as the Cedar Valley’s No. 1 Employer of Choice. They say they’ve known it all along. “We’re nearing our 20th year of being in business, and one of our main principles is our commitment to our employees,” said Jeff Sandvold, human resources director, one of several employees who nominated DISTek. “In addition to supporting our employees with flexibility in their work schedule, we also support local organizations financially, as well as have employees who volunteer their time.” He cited the company’s ongoing support for the Cedar Falls High School robotics team as an example. But that’s just one item in a long list, Sandvold said. “Our employee surveys, quarterly meetings, monthly newsletters and performance reviews provide our employees with feedback related to their development, as well as how the company is doing financially,” he said. “This also allows our employees to stay current on professional growth opportunities related to training and career advancement.” Sandy Sutterer, vice president of operations and a 13-year employee, pointed to the leadership of president and CEO Matt Dickinson, who started the company in St. Louis as just a oneperson engineering shop. He sets the tone for a company that now employs 85, including 65 in Cedar

RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer

Test engineer Dillon Glissman performs product testing on a DISTek Drive unit at DISTek Integration Inc. in Cedar Falls.

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■ ADDRESS: 6612 Chancellor Drive, Suite 600, Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 859-3600. ■ WEBSITE: www.distek.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 85. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Embedded software, model-based software design, automated testing and other engineering processes. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

Falls, where the company opened an office in 1999. “Matt is always available to us,” Sutterer said. “Being part of a technology company helps because there’s always email, video conferencing, phone. He makes it priority for him to be there when we need him to be. He comes to town for meetings and other activities.” The boss, who also comes to the Cedar Falls location frequently, is eminently approachable, Sutterer added.

FIELD: “We really seem to stand out with the experience we’ve gotten and the types of work we’ve done,” CEO Matt Dickinson said. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Internship program, mentoring work with Cedar Falls High School’s robotics program, “Casual for a Cause” days fundraisers on select Fridays, fundraising during Christmas holidays.

“Each of us has a different job but each is necessary to make the company run,” she said. “So there’s not a hierarchy of such. We know matt will support us.” Perhaps most unusual in that scenario is that Dickinson is based in his home in Carthage, Ill. “My challenge is, since I’m about 200 miles away, I have to put a lot of trust in my people,” he said. “We have an excellent group. I think respect is extremely important.”









CFU employees are plugged into corporate culture By CLARA HUDSON newsroom@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Falls Utilities general manager Jim Krieg says he is committed to the success and well-being of CFU employees. “We strive to create a culture where employees feel valued and appreciated,” he said. “A positive employee is more fulfilled, more productive, a better team player, a healthier, better person and a better ambassador for the community.” Positive comments from many CFU employees testify to the implementation of Krieg’s core beliefs and the effect it has had on the morale of employees. “I continue to be amazed by the affordability and availability of the benefits, the emphasis that is put on employee health and wellness and just the overall

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■ 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 public utility company serving Cedar Falls. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: In recent years, CFU has aggressively expanded access to its communications services, including cable televi-

sion and broadband Internet access, which the city promotes as a key factor in its economic-development strategy. ■ 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. It continues to work to provide the most efficient and cost-effective delivery of utility service to its customers.

feeling of being respected and appreciated as a part of the CFU family,” employee Janet Weber said. “Great pride is taken in serving our customers, the citizens of Cedar Falls.” New and existing employees are given a chance to talk about their aspirations for advancement at the municipal utility, Krieg said. Employees can take classes and work in different departments

to prepare themselves to take advantage of opportunity when positions open up. “Education reimbursement helped me to achieve my MBA,” said Jennifer Giesler, who has been with the company 14 years. She said the work climate that enabled her to plan and pursue a career path with CFU. Lori Hoffmann, a recent addition to CFU, said there are

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Employees from many departments of Cedar Falls Utilities meet. opportunities to work on being healthy through a comprehensive wellness program as well as have opinions heard through participation on committees. “As an employer, CFU embodies commitment — commitment

to its customers, employees and community,” Hoffmann said. People care about each other at CFU, said 28-year veteran Jody Connor.

See UTILITIES, page 4

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.

800.617.1972 | cvhospice.org Waterloo | Grundy Center | Independence Waverly | Hospice Home WO-090511017






Cedar Valley Hospice mission spills over to employees By TINA HINZ

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WATERLOO — From her first day on the job, Shannon Melcher recognized an extraordinary level of compassion at Cedar Valley Hospice. “Our commitment is not only to our patients, but to the organization and each other,” she said. “We give ourselves to our peers, making each one of us feel like a member of a family.” The nonprofit agency provides home care to those with lifethreatening illnesses, hospice to people with a six-month-or-less prognosis, grief support and case management services for those living with HIV or AIDS and their families. This can leave employees emotionally drained. Managers want them to know their work is appreciated. Recognition luncheons began last year and, as part of a new Star program, patients and co-workers can nominate employees for meeting the organization’s core values. Executive director Marvin Fagerlind writes personal thank-you notes or individually approaches employees. Difficult work also is balanced with relaxing activities. During March Madness, employees wore their favorite team colors for a tailgate potluck. They were offered free tickets to a Waterloo Bucks baseball game this summer and recently were invited to a bowling party with their families. “Our kitchen is brimming with

UTILITIES From page 3 “When disaster strikes an employee whether a health issue for an employee or family member or devastation from fire or flood, CFU employees rally around the employee with monetary and/or physical help,” Connor said. Employees said they appreciate the opportunity to participate in the business — asking questions, voicing concerns and feeling like

■ ADDRESS: 2101 Kimball Ave., Suite 401, Waterloo. Other locations include Grundy Center, Independence and Waverly. ■ PHONE: 272-2002 and (800) 6262360. ■ WEBSITE: www.cvhospice.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 137. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: The nonprofit agency provides hospice services to 14 counties in Northeast Iowa. Hospice services are available to anyone regardless of their age, diagnosis or

TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer

Cedar Valley Hospice takes pride in longtime employees including, from left, Paula Steimel, Barb Schafer, Sue Seng, June Eachus, Lauri McCallum, Liz Gott and Lois Fluette. goodies regularly to celebrate allows me to put my family first,” anything … even just because it’s Krista Mulder said. “When needTuesday,” Melcher wrote on her ing to call in sick for myself or my family, I don’t have to feel guilty.” nomination form. The benefits exceed any major Off-site retreats are a combination of education and fun, according to human resources director Katie Unland. A staff meeting may include food or a dessert bar. Cedar Valley Hospice Home employees provide around-theclock care and rotate who can attend. Generous time off allows employees to tend to their own lives. New hires receive three weeks of vacation and two weeks of sick leave in the first year. They earn a day shy of four weeks starting the second year. Sick time can be used to take care of parents, a spouse or a child. “The flexibility of my schedule integral parts of CFU. “If we want them to be good ambassadors,” Krieg said, “they have to know what’s going on. We always stress at meetings that everything we do has to support our mission to be innovative in enhancing services to the community, provide more costeffective services and embrace the core values — customer satisfaction, employee enthusiasm, fiscal responsibility — which employees bring into the CFU culture.”

employer in the area, added 18year employee Laurie McCallum. “Right now I have one sending a girl off to college and two off because their kids start school,” said director of advancement Mary Alfrey. “That’s where they should be.” Personal relationships may be attributed to a low turnover rate. According to Unland, the agency’s

CEDAR VALLEY HOSPICE ability to pay. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: More than 30 years of experience in providing compassionate, quality care; hospice staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week should a crisis arise. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Grief support available for anyone in the community; provides education to businesses, churches, schools and organizations as a leader in end-of-life issues; provides crisis intervention in schools.

137 employees have a combined 902 years of service. Those who leave often ask to remain working on call. “Cedar Valley Hospice not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk,” employee Chris Olds said. “I believe our employees are so passionate about the work they do because Cedar Valley Hospice is so passionate about us.”

A Big THANK YOU to Our Employees and Clients for Making Us an Employer of Choice in the Cedar Valley! www.pdcm.com

3927 U N IVERS IT Y AVEN U E / WATER LOO, I OWA 50701 / 800.373.2821 TO LL F R E E WO-090511013






Happy employees reap rewards for CBE Group By NANCY JUSTIS newsroom@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — The old standard that says your own employees are the greatest public relations tool for your company certainly holds true for The CBE Group. If there is one common theme resonating with those who work for the company, it’s that management makes an effort in keeping its workforce happy and invested and the jobs performed executed ethically and professionally. Not the way you would think business is done by a collection agency, which calls up visions of nasty phone conversations riddled with threats. “I have never worked for a company that made such a huge effort to make a difference in the lives of not only the employees they have, but the community around us, as well as the clients we serve,” said Client Service Advocate Judy Goodrich. “CBE Group not only makes sure every employee knows the company’s core values, but they live it as well.” President and CEO Tom Penaluna said CBE is “committed to employee satisfaction above all else. (We) purchased a larger facility late last year that offers employees more amenities such as a workout facility, bigger break room and walking trail.” CBE also provides “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” training for every employee. “The number one objective is employee partnership,” Penaluna said. “Our employees are truly the most valuable asset of CBE. Our philosophy is to hire the best people we can and make sure they are in the ‘right seat on the bus’ and have the tools to be effective. We let them know we care about them not only as an employee, but as a human being.” Penaluna said the company always looks to promote “from within. In 2007, (we) formed a dedicated department, Organizational Development, exclusive to employee development, both personally and professionally.” Programs in place to facilitate

NO. 4 ■ ADDRESS: 1309 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 234-6686. ■ WEBSITE: www.cbegroup.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,000. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Provides a wide range of collection solutions to organizations nationwide. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: CBE is a leader in the collection

development include CBE University, which provides training in topics varying from Excel to time management and communication skills; Team Development, which takes an approach to developing the individual while also building relationships across departments; and Management Development, which offers several programs equipping employees with the technical and soft skills needed to advance to the next level of leadership upon promotion. “CBE makes you feel like you matter and that your job is important in the growth of the company,” said longtime employee Leslie Steimel. “Other places of employment I have worked made you feel like you were always replaceable rather than encouraging you to be a part of the future with them.” “I feel like I can take ownership in the company and what it stands for,” said Goodrich. “In other jobs I guess I just never found that comfort anywhere else.” The in-house culture also is a focus of the community. “CBE believes so strongly in servant leadership that we encourage employees to volunteer in the community,” Penaluna said. “We are diligent in our efforts to create a culture that is focused on others and ‘doing the right thing.’” Last year, CBE’s employees donated an average of $6,000 per month to local charities via their “Jeans for Charities” program where people pay to get to wear jeans to work. Nearly $100,000 was raised for other community self-help programs. Employees also have challenged each other in their “pay it forward” program

THE CBE GROUP industry via innovative technology and advanced analytical resources while treating every call in the highest ethical manner. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Volunteer activities include United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Partners in Education, Junior Achievement and the Leader in Me, among other fundraising activities.

where departments volunteer time, money, toys and food to families or services in need. All in addition to the organizations helped which are listed above in the box. Steimel said the time off and flexibility allows employees to attend family events or emergencies when needed. “CBE understands and works to accommodate personal situations,” Steimel said. “CBE encourages a healthy

RICK CHASE / Courier Staff Photographer

CBE Group employees gather for their monthly recap meeting and present awards to employees for their efforts. Pictured are Shelli Alstat and Jon Primus. work-life balance,” Penaluna and challenging all in one. (We) added. “We understand that life offer Cedar Valley job seekers big happens. The work environment company opportunities with a at CBE is fast paced, fun, exciting small company feel.”







WHC still has close-knit feel By KRISTIN GUESS kristin.guess@wcfcourier.com

WAVERLY — Heidi Solheim has watched her fellow employees nearly double in her seven years at Waverly Health Center. “I think we’ve grown in a good way. There’s very few people you pass in the hallway you don’t know,” she said. “Even though we’re bigger, we still have the feel of a smaller organization.” When Solheim took the position as director of community relations, there were 240 employees, compared with the 431 currently employed. New faces bring in new ideas and WHC makes sure the employees are involved in any initiatives and decision-making opportunities, according to Marketing Specialist Augusta Sires. Employees are encouraged to participate in councils and com-

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■ ADDRESS: 312 Ninth St. SW, Waverly. ■ PHONE: 352-4120. ■ WEBSITE: www.waverlyhealthcenter.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 431. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Waverly Health Center is a critical access hospital that serves Bremer, Butler and Chickasaw counties. The hospital offers a variety of outpatient and inpatient services.

■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Offers a variety of unique patient-centered services and involves employees in many initiatives and decision-making opportunities. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Participating in many community programs and events; fostering partnerships with local organizations, including community health and wellness screens; providing free health-focused presentations at the hospital and local establishments.

mittees focused on everything from patient safety to creating a healing environment to encouraging volunteer efforts. And it does not stop at the hospital. Employees have hosted or presented at more than 140 different community events. “That’s what we do from our perspective of community health. We are in the schools, we’re in the service agencies trying to partner

with other community members and organizations,” Solheim said. Within the hospital there is a sense of fellowship and friendliness among employees. “Everyone is so friendly and respectful to each other,” said Linda Hansen, materials manager. “There is zero tolerance for anyone that treats someone else badly.”

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Pharmacist Betsie Frey of Waverly Health Center stocks a labor-andSee WAVERLY, page 7 delivery kit.






Flexibility a key to success at Bergan Paulsen Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Each year new college graduates get their start. Newcomers are paired with a veteran in an employee mentor program. They also create a three-year career plan, Happel said. Turnover at similar firms would be around 17 percent, based on national averages. Turnover at Bergan Paulsen

By JOHN MOLSEED john.molseed@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Before Cori Power became the human resources director at Bergan Paulsen, she had preconceived notions many have about an accounting firm. “You have a mind-set of a stuffy atmosphere,” she said. Those notions didn’t match the reality. “It’s not like that at all,” Power said, adding employees there balance working hard with having a good time. Staff also get flexible hours that work around family and personal schedules. During tax season, it helps accountants meet the needs of their clients. “If someone’s a morning person, they can come in at 5 (a.m.),” Power said. “Just to have the option of working when you’re most productive, that’s really helpful.” Michelle Weber, tax director at Bergan Paulsen, has worked at the firm for 27 years and said the flexible schedule has been a factor in why she has stayed with the company. Employees can also find the position they want in the company. Accountants work in various fields to find their areas of interest and, eventually, expertise. “We just say get your experience in everything and then

WAVERLY From page 6 As a Planetree patient-centered hospital, WHC not only focuses on patients but employees as well, according to Cathy Wilson-Sands, associate director of nursing practice. The Grateful Patient Program acknowledges employees who received a special thanks from patients as well as a WAVE program where employees send notes of appreciation to each

stays in the single digits, Happel said. The location in downtown Waterloo is another plus for employees. The offices overlook the Cedar River and are surrounded by a resurgent downtown environment. “This block is a great venue for what’s going on on the river and downtown,” Happel said.

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Michelle Weber, director of taxes at Bergan Paulsen, enjoys a view of downtown Waterloo from her office.

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■ ADDRESS: 100 E. Park Ave., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 234-6885. ■ WEBSITE: www.berganpaulsen. com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 75. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Certified public accounting and consulting. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

FIELD: Flexible hours, positions tailored to staffers’ individual talents, close working relationships with clients, mentoring program, a passion for serving clients, problem solving. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Serving on nonprofit boards, ranging from Main Street Waterloo to Allen Hospital board and many others.

make your decision,” Power said. The company offers the training to attain those specializations, said David Happel, firm president. “I think it helps us retain personnel,” Happel said. “If they prefer auditing, prefer tax, prefer consulting there are oppor-

tunities to do that.” “Plus, with specialization, we can offer our clients something they might not get somewhere else,” Power said. Happel worked his way up in the company since first starting as one of the CPAs. Now the company has more than 50 and offices in Waterloo, Cedar Falls,

other and receive points. “Everybody has values that they talk about, but this is probably one of the only employers where I know what they are,” Wilson-Sands said. Betsie Frey, a staff pharmacist, nominated WHC for The Courier’s Employer of Choice survey because she has been encouraged to continue her professional development since employment. “It’s really made me strive to do more education on my own, and I have started being more active in

our state pharmacy association, and I’ve worked on restarting a local pharmacy association,” she said. A career ladder program contains criteria for employees to meet certain goals, including continuing education, giving presentations, and taking part in community events. “It’s kind of like a second family there. You spend so much time at work, and you don’t necessarily feel like that because you’re just going to your other family,” Frey said.






MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Western Home employees are treated like individuals By JON ERICSON

CEDAR FALLS — Some companies offer fantastic fitness plans. Others excite their employees with the possibility of extravagant bonuses. And then there’s the Western Home Communities, where management makes employees feel special by treating them like people, not numbers. “We know the resources are human resources,” said Western Home Chief Executive Officer Kris Hansen. Employees had a number of reasons for nominating the Western Home as an Employer of Choice. Chief among them was the care shown to them by supervisors, from Hansen and Chief Operating Officer Jerry Harris all the way down the line. For example, Linda Hudwalker Bowman started out as communications officer at the Western Home in April 2010. On her first day of work, her mother had a heart attack. Hansen insisted she could leave anytime she needed to, and two days later she went to St. Louis to be with her mother. “When life happens outside of work, employees get hospital

visits, cards, flowers, food and incredible support. It’s a tangible expression of what’s actually in the mission statement: WHC exists to create fulfilling lifestyles for residents and employees,” she said. Diane Loftus works as a supervisor at the Stanard Family Assisted Living Center. She’s had similar experiences during trying times. She felt the support when her son was deployed to Afghanistan. When her husband spent time in Iowa City with an advanced form of skin cancer, the chaplains brought her comfort food and both Harris and Hansen visited her husband. “I hope and pray I treat my people in the same manner,” Loftus said. The Western Home has grown exponentially in recent years as its southern campus off of South Main Street keeps building more units to accommodate seniors in various stages of life. To Hansen, the company has stayed the same throughout by placing an emphasis on the customers. To do that well, the company has to have employees who feel valued.

See WESTERN, page 9



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Velma Parsons, a cook at Windhaven, prepares barbecued chicken for lunch on the Western Home campus in Cedar Falls.




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www.hellman.com WO-090511005






Employee-turned-patient attests to Wheaton Franciscan’s care By EMILY CHRISTENSEN

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NO. 7 ■ ADDRESS: 420 E. 11th St., Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 277-2141. ■ WEBSITE: www.westernhomecommunities.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 500. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Offers a full continuum of services to those 55 and older: active lifestyle villas and townhomes, retirement communities, assisted living, nursing care and in-home care.

WESTERN From page 8 “It’s not about us or the leadership really. It’s about the culture, the environment we create and the employees create,” Hansen said. “It’s good to have great facilities, but it’s all about taking care of residents and quality of life.” Hansen said the company’s first

■ ADDRESS: 3421 W. Ninth St., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 272-8000. ■ WEBSITE: www.WheatonIowa.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 2,671. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare is an integrated health care network including Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls, Mercy Hospital in Oelwein, Covenant Cancer Treatment Center in Waterloo and Covenant Clinic.

their support throughout the process. Anne Pelc, Derflinger’s friend and a pharmacist at Mercy in Oelwein, said her supervisors MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor even did their best to rearrange Terri Derflinger, left, gets a bouquet of flowers from her daughter, Tia Pelc’s schedule so she could be Derflinger, as Terri gets her last chemotherapy treatment at Covenant with her friend during some Cancer Treatment Center in Waterloo. chemotherapy sessions. Pelc had offered to take Derfrom Mercy Hospital in Oelwein community have also offered have also stepped up to help — to be honored as one of The Courier’s Employers of Choice. “There has been so much teamwork in planning the event of my journey,” Derflinger said, adding that family and her

Thank you

WESTERN HOME COMMUNITIES ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Very few organizations for seniors in the U.S. have the longevity or size of Western Home Communities, a local non-profit for 99 years with 760 residents on two campuses. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: In addition to leaders serving on various community boards, the Friends of the Western Home Communities support the group.

customers are the employees. Kim Schilling began working for the Western Home 10 years ago. Since then she has earned two degrees, gotten married and had a child. Most of her peers have held four or five jobs during that time frame, but Schilling doesn’t feel a need to move on. “WHC is an employer of choice because once you have a job you want to stay,” Schilling said.

■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Covenant Cancer Treatment Center is the only accredited cancer treatment center with radiation oncology and the only level-two trauma center in the Cedar Valley. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: This past year, the company provided more than $13.5 million in benefits to the community in the form of Charity Care, public programs, community health services, financial contributions, and subsidized, education and community building activities.

flinger to a chemo session, but at the last minute the date was changed. Pelc called her supervisors about the change in plans and they did everything they could to ensure that Pelc could shuttle Derflinger to the Covenant Cancer Treatment Center.

See WHEATON, page 10

to our

growing family of bright, passionate and dedicated employees for helping DISTek® become the #1 Employer of Choice! You are the reason for this honor!


WATERLOO — Terri Derflinger has three scrapbooks full of cards she’s received since being diagnosed with breast cancer in March. A large poster wishing her well graces her living room wall. Her refrigerator is often full of food she didn’t have to cook. The texts, emails and kind comments in the hallway number too many to count. And much of it came from the clinic director’s co-workers in the Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare system. “When the CEO (Jack Dusenbery) heard about it he said, ‘If there is anything I can do, I will do it. We just need you to be better and back,’” Derflinger said. “They have allowed me to be off during my treatment and the other directors have picked up my work so I would have a job to come back to.” It was that unending support that prompted Derflinger to nominate the system — her friends and former co-workers






But Derflinger isn’t the only one with this kind of story. In her nomination form, Jo From page 9 Sienknecht said the senior “They even said I could have leadership team strives to meet come to Covenant and worked the needs of employees. “They truly live by our misfor the day if I couldn’t get it sion, vision and values,” she off,” she said.


MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Julie Nichols helps Ken Meyer, left, work on climbing stairs, and Hanft Richard has help from Joanna Koudele, right, with his walker during physical therapy at NewAldaya in Cedar Falls.

Community, expertise key concepts for NewAldaya By NANCY JUSTIS newsroom@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — It has been said it takes a village to raise a child. It also can be said it takes a village to care for others in need. The staff and residents at NewAldaya Lifescapes, formerly Cedar Falls Lutheran Home, take the village and family theme to heart, as evidenced in the name change. NewAldaya is a madeup word based on the Latin word “aldaya,” which means village. “Lifescapes” is a buzz word in the senior living industry that better explains the full-service options offered within the organization. “I believe people really do ‘live better’ at NewAldaya and it’s because we have such a great staff,” said Annie VanderWerff, NewAldaya’s director of fund development for the past four years. “As a retirement community, we work with real people living real lives. We invest in training, continuing education and laddering opportunities for our staff. “We diligently work to get the right people in the right position working from the belief that matching individuals’ talents and

gifts with their working roles is the most effective way of caring for others.” Laura Brady, who moved into the full-time position of director of programming three years ago following a three-month internship, says there is a “sense of family” throughout the organization. “There are many different departments and areas individuals may work but we are all an important piece to the puzzle and without one of those pieces the picture is not complete,” she said. “We are all different but the same in one very important aspect; we are all here to serve others. When you have a family of individuals that have dedicated their lives to serve others, there isn’t anything that could out shine.” Jeanne Mentel has worked at NewAldaya two years as a recreation therapist and volunteer coordinator. “NewAldaya is always embarking on a new adventure (Main Street, i.e.) and really listens to our residents and what they want out of their community.

See NEWALDAYA, page 11


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 said. “One of the things I am most impressed with is the support they demonstrate when you have family issues. “I have had more than one manager say to me that ‘family comes first.’”






Employee appreciation leads to electrifying results at ME&V By KAREN HEINSELMAN

NO. 10


CEDAR FALLS — It’s been a busy week at the office and Friday is fast approaching. Employees at ME&V Advertising & Consulting are hard at work completing projects, meeting with clients and making deadlines in order to make the most of the last few weekends of summer. At ME&V, employees are allowed to front-load their work weeks in July and August to enjoy half-day Fridays. The benefits are two-fold: productivity increases and, in return, employees get to enjoy a long weekend. “It’s very motivating to everyone,” said marketing writer Jennifer Kramer Williams. “We are also appreciative of it, and the little extra time during the summer to spend with your family is great.” Employees at ME&V say their employer doesn’t just claim to be family and employee friendly. They can point to policies, practices and attitudes that clearly illustrate this value. In the past year, ME&V experienced a baby boom — 10 infants in 12 months, said Sarah Albertson, an account executive and director of health care marketing. Unfortunately, many employees and their loved ones have also faced serious

NO. 9 ■ ADDRESS: 7511 University Ave., Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 268-0401. ■ WEBSITE: www.newaldaya.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 335. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: A senior living facility that enhances lives “through a commitment to individualized care in a home empowered by God’s love.”

NEWALDAYA From page 10 “Previous long-term care settings that I have worked for sometimes found themselves caught up in making constant budget cuts, employee cuts, whereas NewAldaya sees a need

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Michele Jensen, right, and Tiffini Kieler, employees at ME&V, work out at the YMCA in Waterloo in a Super Circuit class. health problems, she added. “The owners understand that you can’t give 100 percent to your job if you are worrying about health issues,” Albertson wrote in her nomination. “They give complete flexibility and in return, the employees give back.” When emergencies or special occasions crop up — births, snow days, sick kids, school events — employees are encouraged to arrange their schedule to balance work and family. Being good to employees makes sense from a business standpoint, said Bryan Earnest, president of

ME&V. He considers the people who make up ME&V to be the company’s greatest asset. “When we are at our best personally, professionally, we can do the absolute best work for our cli-


■ ADDRESS: 6711 Chancellor Drive, Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 268-9151. ■ WEBSITE: www.MEandV.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 37. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: ME&V is a full-service marketing firm and fundraising consultancy. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: ME&V is recognized in Iowa and throughout the country as a leader in

providing marketing and fundraising solutions for health care, higher education, financial and nonprofit organizations. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: ME&V is actively involved with United Way, Junior Achievement, the American Cancer Society, Allen Foundation, the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance.

ents,” Earnest said. From providing free YMCA memberships to employees and their families to participating in volunteer opportunities in the community, ME&V wants employees to be “happy, healthy, have a great peace of mind, take care of all the other things in life so that they can focus on being creative and producing results for our clients,” Earnest said. ME&V also rewards results. The “Electrifying Employees” program

allows co-workers to nominate one another for a job well done. Perks include a prime parking spot, one day of paid time off and a $25 gift certificate, Albertson said. Company officials allow employees to learn new skills and can develop a career path within the company according to their interests and talents. “I think they are good at finding people’s strengths and letting them go in that direction,” Albertson said.

NEWALDAYA LIFESCAPES ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Offers a myriad of living choices ranging from retirement, skilled nursing and palliative care with a family and hometown feel. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Staff and residents participate in the Alzheimer’s Association walks; hosts its own Promise Run; joins Partners in Education to support families and children.

and fills it.” NewAldaya management recognizes the needs of its staff as well as of its residents. “Investing in our staff is the catalyst to success,” VanderWerff said. “There is truth in what they say that knowledge is power. The more we know, the better equipped we are to do our jobs.”


Collection Reps, Analysts and IT Professionals.

Apply today: Visit us @ CBEjobs.com Call Alicia at 319.833.1237 Email hr#cbegroup.com Equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. Background check and drug testing required.

#4 Employer of Choice WO-090511024






Kwik Trip about family, not just convenience BY KARYN SPORY

NO. 11


WATERLOO — For Karen Horsfall, Kwik Trip Inc. is more than a workplace; it’s family. “You get attached to your co-workers and some of the customers that come in every day or two or three times a day become a part of your family,” Horsfall said. Kwik Trip, a family-owned company, was established in 1965 in Eau Claire, Wis., by the Zietlow family. Kwik Trip now operates in three states with 410 stores, which are called Kwik Star in Iowa. Horsfall has been an employee at Kwik Trip for 13 years now. “I’ve heard so many other people complain about their jobs and how their employers don’t care about them, and I really don’t have that complaint. They care about us as people.” That kind of compassion comes from a family-owned company that sets its core values on honesty and integrity.

■ ADDRESS: 1626 Oak St., La Crosse, Wis. ■ PHONE: (608) 781-8988. ■ WEBSITE: www.kwiktrip.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 9,750. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Convenience store chain. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Quality of co-workers; vertical integra-

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Emily O’Connell helps a customer check out at Kwik Star on West Ninth Street in Waterloo. According to John McHugh, manager of corporate communications, prospective employees are asked three questions at

the beginning of their interview — “What’s the last random act of kindness you’ve done? How have you made a difference in

someone’s life? Have you treated others as you would like to be treated?” Once hired, employees are offered competitive wages, flexible hours and benefits including health, dental, and vision. Employees receive a 401(k) and 40 percent profit sharing — and that’s pretax. Two years ago Kwik Trip began giving employees with 20-plus years of service four week paid sabbatical. “We have a lot of co-workers with more than 20 years (of service), which is not common in retail,” McHugh said. Kwik Trip also has an organization called Family Helping

KWIK TRIP INC. tion — the company owns its production facilities and distribution system, so it can cut out intermediaries. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Polar Plunge for Special Olympics, Honor Flights for World War II veterans, Families Helping Families and scholarships for high school- and college-aged employees.

Families. According to McHugh, coworkers can elect to have a certain amount of money taken out of their paycheck, which then goes into an internal fund. The fund is there to help employees that are going though a rough patch, whether it’s helping co-workers pay medical bills or picking up the pieces after a flood. “Every year we have a yearend meeting and the Zietlows are there greeting us. They want to meet their employees, they want to thank everybody for everything they’ve done. They are just a very caring company,” Horsfall said.

Allen Health fosters happy workers By TIM JAMISON tim.jamison@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — While much has changed over the years when it comes to hospital rules, medicine and patient care, Barb McLavey said Allen Health System has continued to provide a stable work environment and meet the needs of both its patients and workforce. “When I started as a student at Allen Memorial Hospital 37 years ago, I never dreamt that I would still be working here today,” McLavey, one of more than 40 Allen Health System workers who nominated the company as an Employer of Choice in the Cedar Valley this year.

NO. 12


■ ADDRESS: 1825 Logan Ave., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 235-3941. ■ WEBSITE: www.allenhospital.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,902. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Provides health care at Allen Hospital, United Medical Park, Prairie Medical Park, Allen College, Iowa Health Physicians, Grundy County Memorial Hospital and Community Memorial Hospital in Sumner.

■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Allen Hospital cares for more inpatients, outpatients, emergency patients and heart patients than any other hospital in the Cedar Valley. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Allen Hospital provided $15.9 million in community benefits in 2010. Allen sponsors and staffs three free clinics and participates in more than 100 community organizations and events each year.

“But I many times reflect that I never dread going to work,” she said. “I have always enjoyed the challenges of my job, my family of co-workers, and the chance to help make a positive difference in someone’s health.”

Many of Allen Health System’s 1,900 employees spread throughout the hospital, several clinics and the Allen College nursing school share McLavey’s support of their employer.

See ALLEN HEALTH, page 13

Thank You to Our Employees for Being MORE Than Bean Counters.


www.berganpaulsen.com twitter.com/berganpaulsen






A to Z Day Care covers employee and child care needs By AMIE STEFFEN amie.steffen@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — For nearly 15 years, Shirley Klapprodt has worked with the littlest of little ones, watching infants in the day care she works at each day and watching them grow up in the program. “What’s not to love about the nursery? They’re adorable,” she said. But Klapprodt has other reasons for staying as long as she has at A to Z Learning Center and Day Care’s Cedar Falls location — namely, her bosses. They’ve taken her and other employees on trips and gettogethers, including a yearly Lost Island Waterpark excursion, and they helped her with time off and other needs when her husband died. “They’ve been so good to me,” Klapprodt said.

NO. 13


■ ADDRESS: 4828 University Ave., Cedar Falls. ■ PHONE: 266-6755. ■ WEBSITE: www.atozlearningcenteranddaycare.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 86. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES:

Provide learning services, preschool ages 2-5 year round, day care services, infant care, school-age program that provides transportation to area schools. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Quality care, employee incentives/appreciation.

It’s A to Z’s appreciation for its employees that gives the company a No. 13 ranking in this year’s Employers of Choice list. The company began in 1991 with the University Avenue location in Cedar Falls, said A to Z executive director Christine York. Since then, it has expanded to three more locations in Waterloo and now includes around 86 employees serving 400 to 450 children in the Cedar Valley. They provide care and education to infants through older children and provide preschool to those

age 2 through 5. York said giving employees incentives makes them happier and keeps them close-knit with other employees — the idea being to lessen turnover. “What makes a child care isn’t me sitting in the office doing my paperwork. It’s them (employees), out there,” she said. Full-time employees are eligible for paid vacations and holidays off, and if they are able to go 90 days without calling in sick, they earn a personal day. That’s because employees that are there every day are necessary for the

open forums each year to let employees hear how things are going. “Allen cares about associates

ALLEN HEALTH From page 12 They note AHS encourages professional development and is large enough to offer room for advancement in the organization. Management keeps employees abreast of and involved in company’s direction while recognizing and rewarding exceptional work. And care is taken to consider an employee’s family and personal needs through flexible scheduling and other measures. Meanwhile, many noted the work is rewarding because it often involves interacting with and helping others. “When visitors come to Allen they notice the friendliness of the associates who will greet them in the hallway and offer to show them to their destination,” said employee Jan Erpelding. “To me, this indicates … happy employees who carry out our core values. Allen is a great place to work and has

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Lead teachers Brittany Heuer, left, and Staci Wittenburg work with children at A to Z Learning Center and Day Care in Waterloo. amount of children who come if you treat people the way you want to be treated yourself,” she through the doors. “In our business, it’s all about said. That, says Klapprodt, is why ratios,” York said. More than that, though, she stays. “It’s just that (York) has a big her business is about keeping heart,” she said. “I’ve seen a lot employees for the long term. “I think it helps keep employ- of employees come and go, and ees over a long period of time, she has been there for me.” and their families and looks for ways for people to balance work and family life,” Waterbury said.


Erika Leonard, right, a cardiac rehab nurse, helps Jim Derifield of Waterloo with his rehabilitation at Allen Hospital. employees who have worked there for a long time, another sign of happy employees.” Pam Flanders has worked at Allen a long time — starting as a registered nurse in 1968 and planning to retire next March as director of social work services. “Every single day has been a challenge, and its so stimulating,” Flanders said of her job. “You get to interact with

so many individuals and families as such significant points in their life.” Flanders is also example of Allen’s commitment to employee advancement. She was able to return to college for a degree in social work. Jim Waterbury, vice president of institutional advancement at Allen Hospital, noted upper management presents four


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Hellman: Building a ‘second home’ at work By JIM OFFNER jim.offner@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Bob Hellman Sr., a self-admitted baseball nut, has attracted headlines in recent years for building ballparks for Cedar Valley youth. What employees at Hellman — a Waterloo-based advertising and marketing agency which marked its 45th anniversary in business this year — want people to know is that their president and CEO is equally devoted to building a workplace they love to come to every day. “Hellman is my second home,” said Alyssa Becthold, vice president of public relations with the company. “It’s the place where I’ve learned to be a PR practitioner, here I’ve made mistakes and where I’ve earned great successes. And it’s the


NO. 14 ■ ADDRESS: 1225 W. Fourth St., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 234-7055. ■ WEBSITE: www.hellman.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 36. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Advertising, marketing and public relations.

“We’re obviously in a people business,” he said. “So, to me, having been in the marketing business all my career, I’ve learned the value of working with talented people. People are a product, so to speak, and we work very hard at taking very good care of our people.” Hellman said strong connections TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer Daryl Sanders, a senior art director with Hellman, works on a trade show to his employees are the foundation of his business. booth design for a client at the company’s offices in Waterloo. “This is a relationship business not only with our clients but with place that I come to every morning my personal well-being.” That’s exactly as it should be Bob our people,” he said. knowing that I am surrounded by “I value that relationship with teammates that truly care about Hellman said.

HELLMAN ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: The quality of talent working for the company. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Build Our Ballpark, active support of Junior Achievement, Irish Fest, pro bono activities around the Cedar Valley.

our people immensely. I’ve often considered most everybody in our firm as part of my family. I hope at the end of the day, I’ve treated them that way.” Hellman’s Build Our Ballpark is committed to helping build new ballparks and improve existing ballparks to ensure kids have a quality place to play, Hellman said. Since being incorporated as a nonprofit in 2008, Build Our Ballpark has raised more than $500,000.

See HELLMAN, page 15






Compassion extends to employees at Grundy Hospital GRUNDY CENTER — A healthy community begins with fit, happy employees, according to Pamela Delagardelle, CEO at Grundy County Memorial Hospital. “The best way for us to attract good employees is to be a great place to work,” Delagardelle said. “We’ve been focusing on trying to be a good employer.” Employees who nominated the hospital as an Employer of Choice say it’s working. “It is like a big family to work with,” X-ray technician Jan Short said in nominating the hospital. “They are not just wonderful co-workers.” On top of that honor, Modern Healthcare magazine Aug. 22 named GCMH to its 2011 “Top 100 Best Places to Work in Health Care.” This award “honors health care organizations on a national level that have successfully built workplace excellence and enabled employees to perform at their optimal level,” the hospital said in a news release. All of which is a result of deliberate effort Delagardelle said. “We have tried to change the culture that maybe wasn’t there a few yeas ago,” she said. The hospital’s medical staff of 139 includes some of the brightest medical minds in the region, she added. “We have lots of special-

HELLMAN From page 14 The organization also is working with a group in Atherton, Calif., on a Little League ballpark project and is in discussions with the city of Oelwein about building baseball and softball fields there. The same dedication is apparent in the Hellman offices, said Mike Ruane, chief financial officer.

NO. 15


■ ADDRESS: 201 E. J Ave., Grundy Center. ■ PHONE: 824-5421. ■ WEBSITE: www.grundycountyhospital.org. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 210. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Provides medical services to Grundy County.

ists coming in which improves access to good health care for people in our county,” she said. GCMH’s volunteer program is one of its better-known assets, with 150 volunteers involved, Delagardelle noted. “They are filling all kinds of roles, from greeters to activities with the residents,” she said. “We have an awesome activity program with our long-term care residents. Volunteers work in our cafe. You can do anything at the hospital.” The number of nominations for GCMH ran into double-digits. “They truly care about the patients and the people that work there,” said Darla Huisman, business office manger who has been with the hospital for more than 30 years. “We have a very hard-working board of commissioners that are dedicated to GCMH and put in countless hours to help us to be our best. We have many plans and dreams for the future,” Huisman said. Scott Lufkin, an information technology technician with the “Hellman is a great place to work with excellent salaries and benefits and many wellness programs, such as weight-loss challenges, smoking-cessation programs and blood-pressure checks,” Ruane said on his nomination form. “Hellman has a very enjoyable working atmosphere and gives back so much to the community with Build Our Ballpark and Partners in Education with Cunningham School for Excellence.”

■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Focuses on patient experience and positive clinical outcomes. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Health education, distributing hand sanitizers, wellness activities in the county, a community garden, charity care, volunteer program.

hospital, praised the hospital for its compassion to patients and employees alike. “They are compassionate and create a positive, nurturing environment where very voice is heard and can flourish,” he said. “Recognition is given freely, and family comes first here, as well, which is refreshing.” Kristi Barnett, a social worker, said she has been with the hospital only a short time and was impressed quickly.

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Laura Young, Jeanie Larson, Dr. Frank Lamp and Allison Schoolman of Grundy County Memorial Hospital in Grundy Center. “I have been so impressed by patients but also their commuthe level of involvement that nity and staff. This is by far the this organization has with its best place I have ever worked. employees,” she said. “It is I love coming to work every very hard to find a setting that day and feeling needed and cares so much for not only their appreciated.”

Thanks to all the staf f who make Western Home Communities a great place to live... and work


By JIM OFFNER jim.offner@wcfcourier.com

Cedar Falls, Iowa • www.WesternHomeCommunities.org






Advanced Systems parlays family feel into strong service By JOSH NELSON josh.nelson@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — It’s hard to miss all the smiling faces at Beth Hansen’s desk. They’re everywhere. One of the biggest is her face as she goes into work every day at Advanced Systems Inc., a 56year-old company in the Cedar Valley. Hansen has worked there for 11 years now, mostly as a dispatcher for the various service technicians and sales representatives. The company specializes in “business solutions,” including providing copiers and printers for a wide array of companies. It services more than 3,000 contracts and more than 8,000 customers across northern Iowa. “On a busy day you don’t even realize you’ve worked eight hours when you’ve gone home at the end of the day,” Hansen said.

NO. 16


■ ADDRESS: 2945 Airport Blvd., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 232-6621. ■ WEBSITE: www.asiowa.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 65. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Advanced Systems Inc. is a 56-yearold company that provides business solutions, which includes copying and scanning equipment. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: ASI works hard to keep a stable

employment roster, which includes providing staff with resort vacations to places like the Missouri Ozarks and Cancun, Mexico. Employees are trained frequently on the newest equipment to help their customers. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The company has been involved in several groups, such as the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, MDA Lock-UP and the United Way.

But for Hansen and the 64 other employees, ASI still feels like a large family. Many of the staff members have been there for a decade or longer, said Tammy Bedard, ASI’s marketing director. “It’s a family-oriented company,” she said. “Everyone knows everybody’s name, their spouses names, their kids.” That’s because the company

takes great strides to involve the employees in a variety of activities, like cookouts, ballgames or interoffice games to encourage that atmosphere. There are also other perks, like an annual company trip if they meet sales goals. In the past, ASI took them to Tantara, a resort in the Missouri Ozarks. But now everyone goes to Cancun, Mexico.

MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

Dave Quint, left, and Dave Hansen play a game of bags at an employee cookout for the Thunder in the Valley Air Show in Waterloo. “It kind of gives you a feel for sticks to it, but then when you your co-workers outside of an get a family function like that office environment, outside of you get to see a person outside of a work environment,” Bedard their work mode.” said. “Everyone has their jobs and See ADVANCED, page 17

We may be considered one of the best employers, but that’s because we’ve got the best employees. Thanks, ME&Vers, for plugging in.

Generating electrifying results for the past 15 years. CEDAR FALLS | CEDAR RAPIDS | DES MOINES WWW.MEandV.COM | 319-268-9151






PDCM’s philosophy ensures happy workers By MATTHEW WILDE



WATERLOO — Happy employees are apparently good insurance. PDCM Insurance knows something about risk management. To guarantee success, company officials say a dependable work force is needed. Content workers are the most productive, according to PDCM President Chris Fereday. Clients can be assured dedicated employees are on their side, Fereday said, and that keeps customers coming back and attracts new ones. It takes more than just good pay and benefits to keep employees happy, Fereday said, which he describes as very competitive in the region. PDCM strives to create a family atmosphere in the office, which includes flexible work schedules and giving back to the community. “We’re in a stressful industry. By creating a sense of family and developing the strengths of employees, that’s better for clients and better for themselves,” Fereday said. Northeast Iowans have experienced their share of disasters in recent years.

■ ADDRESS: 3927 University Ave., Waterloo. ■ PHONE: 234-8888. ■ WEBSITE: www.pdcm.com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 54. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: PDCM is an insurance and risk management firm providing business, life, health and other personal insurance polices. A consulting division identifies risk management concerns. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: PDCM is a leader in the Cedar Valley in developing cost effective risk solutions for business and personal insurance. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: PDCM donates to many nonprofit organizations and employees volunteer throughout the community. Every employee donates to the United Way. Workers volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Junior Achievement and sit on various nonprofit boards. MATTHEW PUTNEY / Courier Photo Editor

United Way. Fereday said each year PDCM Junior Achievement, just to gives an undisclosed portion of profits to worthy causes, which name two. Charitable giving is also are suggested and chosen by important to the company and employees. work force. All 54 employees donate to the See INSURANCE, page 18

Kellie Clarke, personal lines sales manager at PDCM Insurance, works at her desk. From numerous bouts with flooding, a deadly tornado three years ago that devastated Parkersburg and other rural communities and most recently a vicious windstorm that swept across east-central Iowa, Fereday said the Waterloo-based insurance agency has been there to help. “We’re battle-tested,” Fere-

day added. “Our product helps people get back on their feet. We need to feel connected to the community to be able to serve it effectively.” That means encouraging and giving employees time off to volunteer. Many workers are involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters and

family is 100 percent without cal changes, which are plenty in ASI’s field. Employees often problems. have the task of playing guin“We have squabbles every now From page 16 ea pig when something new is and again,” Wurzer said. Another fresh challenge for introduced. That helps employBut there are other perks too, said Shelly Wurzer, a 12- employees is just keeping up ees service the customers betyear veteran. One such benefit to pace with the technologi- ter, Hansen said. is the stock option program, which lets employees buy into to all our faithful employees for making this year successful. the company. Wurzer, who is We appreciate your great work! also a contract coordinator, said that has helped her to care more WATERLOO MILLS COMPANY about how well she does her Manufacturing and Distributing Quality Ag and Pet Products Since 1924 job. “You’re invested,” she said. 2050 E. Mitchell Ave. Employees also have ready PO Box 1227 access to their bosses, like CEO Waterloo, IA 50704 Jim Newcomb, who holds regPhone: 319-234-7756 ular “chat and chew” lunches Toll Free: 800-772-2045 with employees to iron out any Fax: 319-234-5007 issues they’ve got, because no

Learning Center and Day Care


to all employees for a job well done! Our employees are the key to A to Z being a successful preschool and child care provider to families in the Cedar Valley!



Thank you 3243 University Ave., W’loo 319-232-2624 3823 W. 4th, Waterloo 319-234-1919 307 E. Donald, Waterloo 319-232-4325 4828 University, C.F. 319-266-6755 Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. - Monday through Friday Ages: Infants (6 weeks) thru 13 Vistors Always Welcome






Moeller & Walter creates comfortable environment By CLARA HUDSON newsroom@wcfcourier.com

REINBECK — In 1984, Lynn Trask, one of the co-owners of Moeller & Walter, became sole owner of the firm, a lumber store in Reinbeck. Co-owner Ron Petersen went from an employee to an owner of the company in 2001, and together with their employees, they brought the company to its present successful status, they say. The lumberyard, established in 1876, has come a long way to become a thriving retail store that provides building materials and supplies as well as house designs, remodels, additions, tile, windows, doors, siding, trims, cabinetry and countertops, Trask said. Employees at Moeller & Walter do the design work with the customer and once the design blueprint is ready, 1213 contractors get bids for the foundations. “The projects run 50-50 new and remodels/additions,” Trask said. “Lynn Trask and Ron Petersen have created a comfortable, respectful and fun work environment for all employees,” said employee Jill Muller. She said it’s comfortable because the employees can trust each other. “We are located in a small community with great values, and we all share those same values within our business,” she said. Employees say they receive equal treatment and are encouraged to speak up if they see something that needs to be done

INSURANCE From page 17 Kellie Clarke has worked at PDCM for 11 years. Besides financial reasons, she said the company’s commitment to employees keeps her put. “They treat you like family. I don’t know how many businesses are like that anymore,”

NO. 18


■ ADDRESS: 101 Blackhawk St., Reinbeck. ■ PHONE: 788-6459. ■ WEBSITE: www.moellerandwalter. com. ■ NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 18. ■ WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Moeller & Walter is a full-service building design and materials retail store. ■ HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS

FIELD: The company was recognized by Waterloo’s Omega Cabinets as a top dealer, in the top 2 percent of dealers nationwide. ■ COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: The company and its employees have helped with the Fourth of July celebration for 25-30 years; the local Citizens for Reinbeck organization; the Reinbeck Development Corp.; schools; and the Grundy County Cancer Walk.

differently. “Our opinions are always considered and respected,” Muller said. “I look forward to coming to work every day, where I am appreciated, and I have no doubt that all of my co-workers would say the same. Employees say they like the flexible schedule, which allows employees to spend needed time with their families, the camaraderie that exists among employees and their bosses, and the good humor that permeates the work environment makes it easy to understand how everyone in the company works together for success. As an employer, Trask says he realizes how important individual and positive feedback is to his employees. He referred to his wife, Teri, a former professional development director for the Waterloo Schools, who conducts seminars on personality traits. Lynn Trask said individuality is important and management has to be aware that not all the employees have similar backgrounds. “We learned that it takes one minute to look in the face of the

people we manage,” he said. “We need to recognize their individual abilities and talents and work together with mutual respect.” Trask said Ron Peterson is “an important part of the puzzle, adding that Petersen has been active in various community activities, including 24 years on the Reinbeck City Council, and serves as co-chair of a committee to build a new pool in Rein-

Clarke said. A perfect example is the floods of 2008, Clarke said. Her Cedar Falls home was inundated with 8 feet of water. PDCM responded by creating a new disaster policy, giving employees a week of paid time off to deal with natural disasters. “It makes us feel more valued,” Clarke said.

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Carl Roeding, right, and Tyler Bueghly load bags of concrete at Moeller & Walter in Reinbeck. beck, along with Lincoln Sav- for public causes,” Trask said. Trask says his employees are ings Bank CEO Steve Tscherter. “Along with our employees, we very serious about what they do have participated in numerous at work and honest about making civic organizations and activities, Moeller & Walter a good place to from celebrations to raising funds work and shop.

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Far Reach Technologies lets employees unwind By JEFF REINITZ jeff.reinitz@wcfcourier.com

CEDAR FALLS — When Far Reach Technologies launched four years ago, the founders envisioned a business where the employees wanted to come to work. “When we started the company, we spent time defining what we thought we wanted our company to be,” Jason Nissen said. The five partners came from a corporate environment with cubicles, so when Far Reach moved into its new space in downtown Cedar Falls, the layout did away with walls. The open floor plan lends itself toward communication and creativity, Nissen said. One of the partners wanted a “nap room” where employees can take a break and unwind, Nissen said, so they threw in a space with


a TV and a Nintendo Wii. There’s even a shower for those who bike in or take an exercise break during the day. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere,” said Jen Aiello, who started in May as at the software developer as a business analyst and project manager. Coming from a larger company, Aiello said Far Reach’s small size — it has 11 full-time employees and two part timers — means it’s easy to adapt to new challenges. Bigger operations are “like being in a big boat and trying to turn. There are a lot of ripples,” she said. Not so with Far Reach, she said. Also, Aiello said she didn’t give up much in vacation time and other benefits when she switched from being a 13-year employee of the larger business to become a new worker at Far Reach. TIFFANY RUSHING / Courier Staff Photographer

See FAR REACH, page 20 From left, Derek Beruen, James Barry and Jen Aiello work together at Far Reach Technologies in Cedar Falls.






Hy-Vee recognizes employees for efforts in community By JOHN MOLSEED john.molseed@wcfcourier.com

WATERLOO — Recognizing employee efforts is a popular business trend. Hy-Vee has been ahead of the trend by a few decades. The Hy-Vee service award program began in 1960. Employee recognition is one reason why Hy-Vee was nominated as a Cedar Valley Employer of Choice. The company’s stated goal is to help people live easier, healthier and happier lives, but that extends beyond the customers. “We apply that to our employees as well,� said Ruth Comer, Hy-Vee assistant vice president of media relations. The Hy-Vee service awards recognize employees at banquets in the eight states in which the grocery chain operates. “We have families of employees attend these each year,� Comer said. “Guests are always impressed with the high esteem their loved one is held.� Recognition of the lives of employees outside of work is another major reason the company was nominated. “They work with us to spend time with family,� Ray Kelly Sr., an employee at the Crossroads Hy-Vee in Waterloo, wrote in his nomination. Comer said the company

FAR REACH From page 19 “I think we’re pretty competitive,� Nissan said, noting the company tries to cover a good portion of the insurance costs for workers. Nissen said the company’s core values include challenging employees and giving them opportunities to learn something new as part of their job. Keeping work balanced with family is also one of the core values. “They are incredibly supportive of our house lives,� Aiello said. “We

NO. 20


■ADDRESS: 5820 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines. ■PHONE: (515) 267-2800. ■WEBSITE: www.hy-vee.com. ■NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 56,000. ■WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Retail grocery store chain with 220 stores in the Midwest. ■HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD: Employee-owned company based in Iowa that regularly recognizes employee achievements. Hy-Vee ranks among the top 20 supermarket chains and the top 50 private companies in the U.S. ■COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Partnership in Iowa’s Healthiest State Initiative; scholarships; dieticians on staff to offer nutritional advice to customers; Ronald D. Pearson Citizenship award honors employees who have put 250 or more hours of service into their community.

works with employees to work around family schedules, adding that the nature of the chain makes it possible. “It’s a little easier for us because we’re open 24 hours day,� Comer said. Hy-Vee also has a dietician to help advise customers making healthy food choices. That same resource is available to employees of the grocery store chain. The company also offers training programs to help employees advance within the company. A tuition reimbursement pro-

NO. 19 â– ADDRESS: 208A Main St., Cedar Falls. â– PHONE: 273-8060. â– WEBSITE: www.farreachinc.com. â– NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 13. â– WHAT THE COMPANY DOES: Custom software development for the Web and mobile devices and consulting services. â– HOW IT STANDS OUT IN ITS FIELD:

can work from home or take time off on short notice if something comes up.� The work is also interesting, said Aiello. “Whenever I tell my friends

BRANDON POLLOCK / Courier Staff Photographer

Marv Boehmer, assistant manager at the Crossroads Hy-Vee store, chats with Mary Lou Wrage of Hudson while her husband, Les, checks out. gram helps management-level their community. So far, nearly Tony Morrow is store director. The store at 4000 Univeremployees get an education but 30 employees have received the sity Ave., is managed by Jeff continue on a career track with honor. Hy-Vee has locations in Water- Suchomel. the company. In Cedar Falls, the College “We’ve found this is a good loo at 2181 Logan Ave., under way to keep career-minded indi- store director Sailu Timbo; 306 Square Hy-Vee at 6301 Univerviduals and allow them to get a Byron Ave., Dave Bowling; and sity Ave. is managed by store college degree as well,� Comer 1422 Flammang Drive, where director Jeff Sesker. said. “That way they can have both.� A new award recognizes HyVee employees for the good they do outside the store. The Ronald D. Pearson Citizenship award honors employees who have put 250 or more hours of service into


FAR REACH TECHNOLOGIES Willingness to truly understand clients’ needs and ability to bring forward new and innovative ideas to solving problems. â– COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Volunteering for local charities, serving on the board of nonproďŹ t organizations and sponsoring community events and activities including, Sturgis Falls, DON’T Golf Tournament and Shop with a Cop.

about something we’re doing, they ask if they are hiring,� Aiello said. The company also hosts afterhours get-togethers like movie nights and the annual Sturgis Falls festival.

Thank You Pioneer Employees! WWW THEPIONEERGROUP COM s 7EST TH 3TREET 7ATERLOO )OWA WO-090511016

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