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6 | Sunday, September 4, 2016



DISTek employees appreciate work-life balance KARRIS GOLDEN



‌ EDAR FALLS — When Mitch C Dowell started at DISTek, he was an engineering student completing a summer internship. What struck him when he returned for a second summer internship was that he had always been treated as a full-time employee. “Everyone here treats each other respectfully,” he explained. Dowell’s experience is the norm, said Jeff Sandvold, human resources manager. That’s by design. “We have grown to 100-plus employees because of the company’s commitment to values and vision,” explained Sandvold. “DISTek focuses on its people, integrity and supporting employees’ commitment to the community.” One thing that sets DISTek apart is its “Team of Teams” approach, he added. So while employees work closely with their day-to-day work teams, a concerted effort is made to keep the other teams updated. Teams keep managers and other teams in the loop via informal check-ins and weekly standup meetings and quarterly planning sessions. These meetings allow teams to touch base with others, obtain updates on other projects and get and give feedback and advice. This is essential in an employee-owned company, said Sandy Sutterer, vice president of operations. “With the Team of Teams approach, we’ve seen people step up and take responsibility,” she explained. “In an employee-owned company, there’s the understanding that when you’re making a decision, you make it as if you own the company, because you do.” As a result, employees are regularly coached and trained to help their career growth, said Sandvold. Feedback is an essential part of the process. Many managers may view ca-

„„ Address: 6612 Chancellor

Drive, Suite 600, Cedar Falls „„ Phone: (319) 859-3600 „„ Website: www.DISTek.com „„ Employees: 100 „„ Business focus: develops software for electronic controls, electro-hydraulic controls and vehicle network systems for the agriculture, construction and forestry industries „„ Leads the field in: skilled engineers who create comprehensive software solutions


DISTek uses Yammer, an internal social media service that allows employees to collaborate on projects, start hobby groups, post blogs, praise co-workers and connect with employees at remote sites, reer development and work-life balance as an essential personal necessity but don’t confer such benefits on their employees, said Jack Cowden. Not so at DISTek. “There really isn’t a difference between ‘the company’ and ‘the workers,’” said Cowden. “We work to accommodate and support each other. We are given opportunities to learn new skills and the chance to put those skills to work. Feedback is positive, constructive and continuous.” This attitude ensures DISTek’s continued evolution and future success, said Sandvold. “The reason I come to work is because I like to see people succeed,” he said. “I like to see everyone pull together for customer software that may end up on a vehicle. I like to see everyone’s work turn into real, good things, despite the challenges.” Difficulties and challenges reinforce the need to forge lasting relationships, said Sutterer. DISTek provides ample time for employees to play, often including family in the fun. This includes everything from a kickball tournament to playing Pokemon Go on a Saturday afternoon.

“I like to see people support each other; I like working with my friends,” said Sutterer. “Our employees have each other’s backs. We understand we’re going to grow with each other instead of giving up.” In addition to traditional team-building methods and tools, DISTek uses Yammer, an internal social media service similar to Facebook. With Yammer, employees can collaborate

on projects, start hobby groups, post blogs, praise co-workers and find information on company programs. This platform has been particularly helpful in connecting with employees at remote sites, said Sandvold. Given the challenging nature of the work, DISTek’s willingness to be flexible whenever possible makes a big difference, said nominator Joe Fisher. “The leadership has the right

work philosophy and goes out of its way to make sure everybody is treated right,” he explained. “(There are) awesome benefits, and casual day is every day. It’s also nice to have the ability to work remotely when needed.” Callie Adam agrees. In her nomination, she explained when she appreciates the way DISTek trusts employees to meet deadlines and manage individual schedules. “As an employee-owned company, we’re always looking out for the best interest of the company,” she said. “We take pride in our work and our office.”

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Employers Of Choice - 2016  

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