Dec. 13, 2012 - Nationwide, hundreds of companies competed for the 101 Best and Brightest honors, but only companies with the highest quality human resources initiatives were named 2012 National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.

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2012′s National Best and Brightest Winners Praise Their Most Valuable Asset Employees

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Nationwide, hundreds of companies competed for the 101 Best and Brightest honors, but only companies with the highest quality human resources initiatives were named 2012 National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.

“Our list of nationally recognized companies has grown significantly this year. This exceptional growth is a testament to how important this designation is for companies that want to have the best and brightest employees working for them,” said Jennifer Kluge, president of the National Association for Business Resources (NABR), which presents the program. “We are proud to recognize and honor these winning companies.”

An independent research firm reviewed a number of key measures relative to other nationally recognized winners to assess the 2012 winning companies. The measures included Compensation, Benefits and Employee Solutions; Employee Enrichment, Engagement and Retention; Employee Education and Development; Recruitment, Selection and Orientation; Employee Achievement and Recognition; Communication and Shared Vision; Diversity and Inclusion; Work-Life Balance; Community Initiatives; Strategic Company Performance.

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, a program of the NABR, is presented annually in five markets: Atlanta, Metro Detroit, Chicago, Houston and West Michigan. Additionally, three national Elite winners were selected in the category of small-size business, medium-size business and large-size business, which were Southwest Michigan First (Kalamazoo), FONA International (Chicago) and Henry Ford Health System (Detroit) respectively.

Corp! interviewed many of the winning companies that were passionately dedicated to employee engagement and coincidentally had common underlying premise of having work-life balance, wellness programs, employee referral programs, testing of potential hires for a culture fit, an open-door policy with the management, fun outings and events, and a variety of training programs.

2012 National Best & Brightest Winners

Acoustics By Design Inc.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.acousticsbydesign.com

Adaptable Business Concepts
King of Prussia, Pa.
www.adaptablebusinessconcepts.com

ADP
Elk Grove Village, Ill.
www.adp.com

AEGIS
Irving, Texas
www.aegisglobal.com

American Academy of Pediatrics
Elk Grove Village, Ill.
www.aap.org

AnnieMac Home Mortgage
Mount Lauren, N.J.
www.annie-mac.com

Anteo Group
Atlanta, Ga.
www.anteogroup.com

Applications Software Technology Corp.
Napperville, Ill.
www.astcorporation.com

Applico
New York, NY
www.applicoinc.com

Applied Imaging
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.appliedimaging.com

Ashley Ellis
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
www.ashleyellis.com

Ask.com
Oakland, Calif.
www.ask.com

Aspen Surgical
Caledonia, Mich.
www.aspensurgical.com

Assurance
Schaumberg, Ill.
www.assuranceagency.com

BDO USA, LLP
Seattle, Wash.
www.bdo.com

BGT Partners
Hallandale Beach, Fla.
www.bgtpartners.com

Billhighway
Troy, Mich.
www.billhighway.com

Blue Cross Blue Shield
Detroit, Mich.
www.bcbsm.com

Bridgewater Interiors LLC
Detroit, Mich.
www.bridgewater-interiors.com

Brown & Brown of Detroit
Sterling Heights, Mich.
www.bbdetroit.com

Care Communications Inc.
Chicago, Ill.
www.carecommunications.com

City of Atlanta
Atlanta, Ga.
www.atlantaga.gov

College Works Painting
Irvine, Calif.
www.collegeworks.com

Community Counseling Centers of Chicago
Chicago, Ill.
www.c4chicago.org

Computerized Facility Integration LLC
Detroit, Mich.
www.gocfi.com

Conway MacKenzie
Birmingham, Mich.
www.conwaymackenzie.com

Coretek Inc.
Farmington Hills, Mich.
www.coretekservices.com

Credential Check Corp.
Troy, Mich.
www.credentialcheck.com

Credit Acceptance
Henderson, Nev.
www.creditacceptance.com

DevBridge
Chicago, Ill.
www.devbridge.com

DFCU Financial
Dearborn, Mich.
www.dfcufinancial.com

Easter Seals Michigan
Auburn Hills, Mich.
mi.easterseals.com

Educational Data Systems Inc (EDSI)
Dearborn, Mich.
www.edsisolutions.com

Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals
Holland, Mich.
www.elzinga-volkers.com

EMKAY Inc.
Itasca, Ill.
www.emkay.com

Enesco LLC
Itasca, Ill.
www.enesco.com

Epitec Inc.
Southfield, Mich.
www.epitecgroup.com

ePrize Inc.
Pleasant Ridge, Mich.
www.eprize.com

FONA International Inc.
Geneva, Ill.
www.fona.com

Foundation Financial Group
Jacksonville, Fla.
www.ffg.com

FreeCause
Boston, MA
www.freecause.com

Geneca
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.
www.geneca.com

General Employment Enterprises Inc.
Columbus, Ohio
www.generalemployment.com

GoHealth
Chicago, Ill.
www.gohealth.com

Greeley & Hansen
Chicago, Ill.
www.greeley-hansen.com

Greenleaf Trust
Kalamazoo, Mich.
www.greenleaftrust.com

GreenStone Farm Credit Services
East Lansing, Mich.
www.greenstonefcs.com

Harley Ellis Devereaux
Chicago, Ill.
www.hedev.com

Henry Ford Health System
Detroit, Mich.
www.henryford.com

Holland Hospital
Holland, Mich.
www.hollandhospital.org

Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn LLP
Detroit, MIch.
www.honigman.com

ImageSoft Inc.
Southfield, Mich.
www.imagesoftinc.com

Impact Networking LLC
Waukegan, Ill.
www.impactnetworking.com

Inergy Automotive
Troy, Mich.
www.inergyautomotive.com

Inktel Direct Corp.
Miami Lake, Fla.
www.inktel.com

Insight Sourcing Group
Norcross, Ga.
www.insightsourcing.com

International Contractors Inc.
Elmhurst, Ill.
www.iciinc.com

Jakob Marketing Partners
Holladay, Utah
www.jakobmp.com

JARC
Farmington Hills, Mich.
www.jarc.org

Jumpstart for Young Children
Boston, MA
www.jstart.org

Kcura
Chicago, Ill.
www.kcura.com

LeasePlan USA
Atlanta, GA
www.us.leaseplan.com

Magnetic Consulting Group Inc.
Sacramento, Calif.
www.magneticconsultinggroup.com

Marketing Associates
Detroit, Mich.
www.marketingassociates.com

Marquette General Health System
Marquette, Mich.
www.mgh.org

McGraw Wentworth
Troy, Mich.
www.mcgrawwentworth.com

Medline Industries Inc.
Mundelein, Ill.
www.medline.com

Medtech College
Hollywood, Fla.
www.medtech.edu

Meridian Health Plan
Detroit, Mich.
www.mhplan.com

Michigan Financial
San Antonio, Texas
www.platinumwealthsolutionsoftexas.com

Michigan First Credit Union
Lathrup Village, Mich.
www.michiganfirst.com

Mill Steel Co.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.millsteel.com

Mission Home Health
San Diego, CA
www.missionhh.com

Mutual Trust Financial Group
Oak Brooke, Ill.
www.mutualtrust.com

National Futures Association
Chicago, Ill.
www.nfa.futures.org

Navint Partners LLC
Chicago, Ill.
www.navint.com

NCSA Athletic Recruiting
Chicago, Ill.
www.ncsasports.org

Nemeth Burwell PC
Detroit, Mich.
www.nemethburwell.com

OpTech LLC
Detroit, MIch.
www.optechus.com

Pcubed
Ann Arbor, Mich.
www.pcubed.com

Plant Moran
Southfield, Mich.
www.plantemoran.com

Plex Systems
Auburn Hills, Mich.
www.plex.com

Prestige Staffing
Atlanta, Ga.
www.prestigestaffing.com

Radio Flyer Inc.
Chicago, Ill.
www.radioflyer.com

ReTargeter
San Francisco, CA
www.retargeter.com

Rockford Construction
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.rockfordconstruction.com

Ryan LLC
Dallas, TX
www.ryan.com

Seco Tools
Detroit
www.secotools.com/us

SecurAlarm Systems Inc.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.securalarm.com

Secure-24 Inc
www.secure-24.com

Service Express Inc.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.seiservice.com

Shazaaam!
Novi, Mich.
www.shazaaam.com

Shoemaker Financial
Germantown, Tenn.
www.shoemakerfinancial.com

Shure
Niles, Ill.
www.shure.com

Skanska USA
Livonia, Mich.
www.skanska.com

Sonoma Partners LLC
Chicago, Ill.
www.sonomapartners.com

Southwest Michigan First
Kalamazoo, Mich.
www.southwestmichiganfirst.com

Spot Trading LLC
Chicago. Ill.
www.spottradingllc.com

Takeda Pharaceticals USA Inc
Chicago
www.takeda.us

Tasty Catering
Elk Grove Village, Ill.
www.tastycatering.com

The ALARIS Group Inc.
Saint Louis Park, Mo.
www.alarisgroup.com

The Comprehensive Group
Glenview, Ill.
www.compther.com

The Marketing Store
Lombard, Ill.
www.themarketingstore.com

The Paradies Shops
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
www.theparadiesshops.com

The SoCal Group Inc.
Orange, Calif.
www.socalgroupinc.com

Trivalent Group Inc.
Grandville, Mich.
www.trivalentgroup.com

Underground Elephant
San Diego
www.undergroundelephant.com

Verizon Wireless
Schaumburg, Ill.
www.verizonwireless.com

w3r Consulting
Southfield, Mich.
www.w3r.com

Wesco Inc.
Muskegon, Mich.
www.gowesco.com

WestLake Financial Group Inc.
Buffalo Grove, Ill.
www.westlakefinancial.com

WMS Industries
Waukegan, Ill.
www.wms.com

WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone
Naperville, Ill.
www.wowway.com

Henry Ford Health System

National Elite Winner

Detroit, Mich.
www.henryford.com
With a staff of around 24,000 people, employee engagement never stops for integrated health system company Henry Ford Health System, a National Elite winner. “Engagement is part of our everyday language and expectations. Employees and leaders promote taking the surveys and the past two surveys saw increases in response rates in the 80-90 percent completion for entire business units within Henry Ford Health System,” says Barbara Bressack, senior consultant organizational and Human Resources development. Being a Best and Brightest twice in a row, Henry Ford maintains high standards of workforce involvement through formal and informal methods of assessment. “We recognize that the number one fundamental driver of organizational performance starts with people. Therefore, people are the number one focus in our strategic framework with human resources setting the foundation.”

FONA International Inc.

National Elite Winner

Chicago
www.fona.com
Keeping lines of communication and listening open has become an essential technique to achieve employee connection for FONA International Inc.’s Human Resources department. “Number one is putting our employees first. When HR is looking at different programs and different ways of engaging the employee, it is the epitome of being partner-centric,” says Tonya Hubbartt, HR director. “We look at our employees as our internal customer, just as we look at other departments that are externally facing who we serve everyday as our customer.” To get a better pulse on the employee feedback, HR takes a look at surveys from the past two years. HR then studies surveys that were done through hiring a third-party administrator to proctor the team and surveys that were incorporated into the application process for awards. Hubbartt’s team uses these questions to format an internal survey and obtain clues to better themselves. “When it comes to how we do business we understand that our employees are our human capital and our number one resource and we treat our people as such,” explains Hubbartt.

Southwest Michigan First

National Elite Winner

Kalamazoo, Mich.
www.southwestmichiganfirst.com
Southwest Michigan First is a private economic development corporation working with the for-profit sector, philanthropic sector, faith-based communities and government education. Ron Kitchens, Southwest Michigan’s CEO, asserts, “We bring together a robust economy based around the belief if we just focused on profits we can be financially successful, but not truly successful as a state as a region and as a country.” The company wellness program of establishing a good relationship with its employees is innovative and has a humorous tagline -“ “Choose to cheat.” It’s focused on making sure employees have a healthy home life, Kitchens explains. “If we want to be an incredibly productive, vibrant and engaged staff, the first thing we have to do is that our team understands that they don’t have permission to miss their children’s school events. They don’t have permission to not stay home with a sick child. They don’t have permission to not attend their parents’ anniversary.” Modern day technology of having laptops, smart phones, iPads allows 24/7 connectivity and Kitchens has eliminated traditional work hour policies, yet resulting in high client satisfaction.

Anteo Group

Atlanta Region Elite Winner

Atlanta, Ga.
www.anteogroup.com
Kelley Hafer, the director, client delivery, social media and marketing at Anteo Group has noticed an open-door policy is great way to keep staff members interested. “If you see something you want done, go into the CEO’s office and ask for it.” The company has been able to develop a culture that “encourages people to constantly look for ways to improve and create new role responsibilities that play to their personal strengths.” Anteo specializes in placing high-level, technical consultants or executives on a contingent, permanent and project services basis. A combination of associate engagement, forming deep relationships with the people they serve and not losing sight of its core values is Anteo’s winning formula. But there is one more aspect Hafer mentions. “I would be lying if I said numbers aren’t important; numbers are always going to be an essential tool for an organization to measure success but it’s only one piece of what success means to us – true success depends on measures that aren’t quantifiable.” Working for Anteo has benefits such as $1,500 toward personal or professional development, something the beneficiary can invest for further education and to keep his or her brain stimulated at every level.

Andy J. Egan Company

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.andyegan.com

For six back-to-back years, Andy J. Egan has been named one of West Michigan’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. Egan was founded in 1919 and offers plumbing, piping, HVAC, design-build, Building Information Modeling (BIM), fabrication, mechanical insulation, controls and 24/7 service for commercial, industrial and institutional applications. The company’s longevity has been attributed to its skilled employees, who have been working with the company for an average of 10 years.

Arrow Strategies

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
www.arrowstrategies.com
When President and CEO Jeff Styers formed Arrow Strategies in 2002 he had simple belief – to build a company that he wanted to work for and to make sure everyone worked hard and played hard. It’s been a decade of providing staffing solutions to Information Technology and other sectors such as engineering and accounting/finance. As a staffing agency, Arrow deals with the pressure of hiring good talent. Director of Human Resources Correen Smith says, “We make sure there is a culture fit; we don’t want to deviate from that.” The future hires meet everyone in the office to make sure they connect well with the company environment. With 250 staff members spread across their Michigan offices and nationally, Smith says employee engagement is something they have to work on everyday and every year.

Assurance

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago. Ill.
www.assuranceagency.com
Besides being an Elite Winner for four years, Fortune Magazine recently named Assurance one of the top 25 small businesses to work for in the country. As one of the largest independent insurance brokerages in United States, Assurance has a well-rounded approach to make sure employees are engaged and happy by focusing on the employee as a whole. To achieve that, Jennifer Moore, senior marketing and communications associate, explains it involves “professional development, clear and consistent communication about company goals and our progress in meeting them, opportunities to advance, recognition, celebrations and rewards, flexible hours, benefits and perks the whole family can take advantage of.” Assurance also focuses on wellness programs that impact productivity while enriching an employee’s life in general. With a staff of 197 nationally, the company’s main source of new hires is through employee referrals and last year 77 percent of new recruits came through internal recommendations. “Managers and staff are always on the lookout for talented individuals that would be a good fit for our team, and who would know better than our very own best and brightest,” Moore says.

BGT Partners

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.bgtpartners.com
Since 1996, BGT has been an interactive marketing agency working with global brands and helping them define their digital strategies and has won numerous awards and industry recognitions. How does it manage to be consistently successful? “It’s the people. We hire good people than find a role versus just trying to fill a role,” says Andrea Fishman, vice president of strategy. There is a rigorous interview process that includes a personality assessment to make sure the future hires don’t just have technical skills but blend in the company culture and show promise for a long-term commitment. After a 360-degree interview process the candidate is required to take part in a challenge, given according to the position applied for, to make sure the person can deal with a high-pressure situation. To achieve a work-life balance BGT has week-long employee appreciation programs, art programs that reach out to the Chicago community, volleyball outings, and sports team sponsorships among other things.

Blinds.com

Houston Region Elite Winner

Houston, Texas
www.blinds.com
People come to Blinds.com for a superlative online shopping experience. With a staff that has been selling window coverings for an average of 12 years each, they are experts. It all started with one brick and mortar store in 1986 with Laura’s Draperies, CEO Jay Steinfield explains on the company website. Then came the World Wide Web, and in 1993 their first website was born. In 2004, the company formerly known as No Brainer Blinds became Blinds.com and was the No. 1 seller of blinds and shades in the world. Keeping employees motivated and inspired is part of the work culture mix. Benefits include: starting pay above industry norm, matching 401(k) with immediate vesting, generous health benefits, company sponsored training, flex work schedule, company sponsored health club membership -“ and lots of cake and celebrations. One of Blinds.com core values is to “continuously improve” and they, as a company feel that improving community is an essential way to embody that core value every day. Its Cultural Committee chooses charities throughout the year to raise awareness, funds, services or goods – whatever that charity most needs.

Care Communications Inc.

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.carecommunications.com

Barbara Black

With 130 employees spread across United States and Canada, Care Communications has various ways of connecting and listening to its people. Barbara Black, chief human resources officer says, “We want to know what are employees have to say on a regular basis. We believe that the key drivers of employee engagement and loyalty are personal challenge, influence, satisfaction and what we call connectivity.” For that, Care has company-wide webinars incorporating town meetings within it, enabling the employees to share their thoughts and voice their concerns. As a health information management consulting and staffing company, when CEO Leslie Ann Fox formed Care in 1976, she had a strong desire to be the innovative leader in the industry. Being a female-dominated industry, Ann Fox built the company on a promise to herself and the employees that CARE would always allow a healthy work-life balance. Black’s formula in being a winner: “Our passion for the industry + our culture at CARE + our strategic brilliance of our CEO and president + our tremendous wealth in industry knowledge + our stellar reputation and longevity + dedication of our employees.”

City of Atlanta

Atlanta Region Elite Winner

Atlanta, Ga.
www.atlanta.gov
The city of Atlanta exemplifies a well managed employer with innovative benefits and desirable amenities, according to a news release announcing its Best and Brightest award. “This recognition celebrates our commitment to employing a best-in-class workforce committed to the ongoing success of the city and a high level of customer service,” said Mayor Reed.

The City of Atlanta was recognized with the Elite award because of the city’s exceptional mission, vision, values, culture and leadership.

“This honor celebrates the city of Atlanta’s commitment to customer service and reflects the strength and dedication of our employees who work tirelessly to improve the quality of life for everyone throughout Atlanta,” said Duriya Farooqui, Chief Operating Officer. “Working efficiently and diligently to provide residents in the city with exceptional customer service is our priority and a critical component of our success.”

Dean’s Professional Services

Houston Region Elite Winner

Houston, Texas
www.deansprofessionalservices.com
Dean’s Professional goes by a golden rule: God, family, then work. In her almost 20-year journey since forming the company, President and CEO Jennifer Dean gradually expanded from medical staffing company to administrative, environmental and professional staffing and most recently included food and event staffing services. Houston Business Journal has ranked Dean’s Professional among the largest permanent placement, largest area temporary placement, largest minority owned and the Fast 100. Yet at its core employee engagement remains a tradition, including Family and Friends Day (four times a year), bowling, softball barbeque meets, purchasing school supplies for all employees’ children and Super Bowl teams. Kara Thibault, Dean’s human resources supervisor shared that they are required to be “professional at all times” and base everything on the company’s foundation -“ mission statement. An excerpt from the statement conveys, “Our clients are the reason we are in business. They are the boss and we dance by the beat of their drum.” Dean’s mantra for employing good talent is to hire attitude more than skill, since they can always train skill. It follows three E’s -“ energy, enthusiasm and excitement.

Donlen

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Northbrook, Ill.
www.donlen.com
For more than 45 years, Donlen has been leading the fleet management industry, discovering new ways to help fleet managers and drivers work more efficiently. With its consultative approach and proprietary technology, it is continually identifying new ways to help its customers. Donlen puts an emphasis on developing employee culture because it believes that employee satisfaction leads to customer satisfaction, resulting in continued success for Donlen and its clients. “We work hard to ensure that everyone at Donlen has opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally,” said Tom Callahan, Donlen COO, said in a press release. “We’re so proud of the hard work that our employees do every day for our customers, and we look for ways to recognize and acknowledge them. By offering ways to help them achieve goals, we ensure our continued success.” Donlen leases and manages more than 165,000 vehicles across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe. Donlen is a wholly owned subsidiary of the The Hertz Corp.

Easter Seals Michigan

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Auburn Hills, Mich.
mi.easterseals.com
Easter Seals has been helping individuals with disabilities and special needs, and their families, live better lives for more than 90 years. Whether helping someone improve physical mobility, return to work or simply gain greater independence for everyday living, Easter Seals offers a variety of services to help people with disabilities address life’s challenges and achieve personal goals. Easter Seals offers remarkable career options. There are more than 350 professionals dedicated to creating a world where all people with disabilities or special needs, and their families, have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities.

At Easter Seals, the possibilities are unlimited. Employees have access to extraordinary training and professional development resources as well as the compensation and benefits package that would be expected from one of a National 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For winner. A comprehensive benefits package is designed to meet the changing needs of a diverse workforce.

Elzinga & Volkers Construction Professionals

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Holland, Mich.
www.elzinga-volkers.com
“Listen to our clients, provide them with innovative solutions and deliver the highest client satisfaction,” has been Elzinga’s driving mission. The employee-owned company has been in the construction business since 1945. The construction company’s website notes, “Elzinga & Volkers financial strength is a result of longevity, management’s commitment to sound, conservative financial practices, and the ability to consistently complete our projects on time and under budget.” Over the years Elzinga’s employees have supported numerous community organizations by volunteering time and giving corporate donations.

Epitec Inc.

Regional Elite Winner

Southfield, Mich.
www.epitecinc.com
Native Detroiter Jerry Sheppard started Epitec after his company asked him to move his family across the country to open a new branch office. He figured he could be an entrepreneur himself instead of starting a new business for someone else. That was the inception of Epitec, 30 years ago, as a technology staffing company. With about 450 employees in Michigan, the company is connected to more than 75,000 people in the technology community in U.S., and in 2012 Epitec hired nearly 500 new technical people. Over the years Epitec laid a foundation of “placing people first” and “connecting first and then engaging.” Mark Ruma, chief operating officer, advises companies to be smart about staying connected with their employees. Balancing High Tech and High Touch has become Epitec’s winning formula. “A high touch employee experience requires company commitment and company resources,” Ruma says. “The rules of engagement require a strong relationship be established first. Once the right connections are in place, the engagement follows and the relationship with our employee builds stronger.” Belonging to a changed-based business (of technology staffing), Epitec realizes that employee engagement programs should change with the needs of the employees.

Ernst & Young

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.ey.com

David Hoogendoorn

Ernst & Young in Grand Rapids is part of a worldwide network that provides assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services and is spread across 700 such offices and has 167,000 people. Grand Rapids Office Managing Partner Dave Hoogendoorn, inspires his staff using a three-pronged approach – “inclusiveness, development and engagement.” Hoogendoorn puts the most emphasis on inclusiveness. “For us inclusiveness is building a workplace that means people’s voices are heard and they feel valued and respected.” On the other hand, development offers various opportunities to learn, coach and mentor in turn building future careers with the organization. Thirdly, engagement helps the employees feel comfortable and enthused about their work and an ability to achieve their professional aspirations. Yet Hoogendoorn confesses, “We haven’t cracked the code on any of these but we believe we are on a journey that takes us to a spot where we are leaders around all three of these.”

Ernst & Young

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.ey.com
Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, its 167,000 (as of 30 June 2012) people are united by shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. It makes a difference by helping its people, clients and its wider communities achieve their potential. Verizon aspires to have a leading people culture everywhere in the world. Creating a culture that attracts and retains outstanding people and helps them thrive leads to better service for its clients, according to its website. It invests in three key components of culture: Inclusiveness -“ Recruiting outstanding people is just the start. Inclusiveness means making sure all its people’s voices are heard and valued. Development -“ Its approach to development involves offering the learning, experiences and coaching needed to enrich careers and deliver the best results for clients. Engagement -“ Ernst & Young wants its employees to feel enthused by their work and their colleagues and to be comfortable in an organization that gives them the flexibility to achieve their professional and personal aspirations.

Express Employment Professionals

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.expresspros.com
Sixteen years ago, Janis Petrini, owner of Express Employment opened an Express franchise in Grand Rapids with a goal of helping people find jobs and helping businesses find the people and human resource services they need. Her staff’s attitude toward their jobs, she says, “Everybody who works here approaches their job as if they were the owner of the business and they truly are.” That has helped increase Express’s internal and external customer service. The company has a wellness director in charge of initiatives concerning every aspect of wellness, including financial, health and professional. Petrini says Express has amazing perks such as 100 percent company paid benefits and a good compensation plan — something very unique to a small business. Her equation for being an Elite winner: “I think our winning formula is T for talent x E for expectations x R for relationships and that’s how we get results.”

Fifth Third Bank Eastern Michigan

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Southfield, Mich.
www.53.com

Denise Beers-Kiepper

Denise Beers-Kiepper, Human Resouces director at Fifth Third says, “We look at engagement around all angles, the whole life cycle of the employee, from the moment that they join us as well as recognition that they are here and recognizing small lenses as well as large lenses.” Fifth Third has an engagement team that focuses on activities and fun events throughout the year. The bank provides the staff with more than 40 hours of education, continuing education and development training. There are other programs and events organized such as Flag Day where the employees and family members submit artwork displayed in the company’s exhibit. Beers-Kiepper is especially proud of Fifth Third’s sponsored programs surrounding financial education for youth. The employees have gone into elementary schools spreading awareness about finances through its “young banker” program. In fall of 2012, the team gathered coats and delivered to disadvantaged elementary students in the Metro Detroit area. Beers-Kiepper summarizes, “We are very passionate about engagement, it’s easy to talk about it and really what makes a difference is when you connect with people on a very specific and real way, where you able to be keyed in and tuned into what is genuinely the interest of every individual on your team.”

Greeley and Hansen LLC

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.greeley-hansen.com

John Robak

“We try to make sure the project opportunity that we have for our staff is interesting, challenging at the right skill level so they allow people to be intellectually challenged and at the same time we want them to feel that the work is meaningful,” says John Robak, chief operating officer. Besides these three components (intellectual and interesting challenges and meaningful work), Robak also thinks a social connection within the workforce is important and programs that allow people to interact both in a formal way and informal way can create a common vision for the firm. Lastly, they have monetary rewards and other rewards in form of training opportunities and interesting projects. Greeley and Hansen has been serving the water and wastewater industry for about a 100 hundred years. Like other national winners, Greeley also has wellness programs and mixers, but being an office of engineers, they have middle-of-the week challenges that bring everyone to compete and create something out of different tools.

Greenleaf Trust

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Kalamazoo, Mich.
www.greenleaftrust.com
“Building and sustaining clients wealth is not a sideline-”it is our sole purpose,” says Sarah Johansson, vice president and director of marketing of Greenleaf, a company founded in 1998 that provides personalized service to high net worth individuals, companies, foundations and endowments. Greenleaf deliberately remains independently owned. Johansson explains, “Our independence eliminates the possibility of our clients’ interests being superseded by the policies of some faraway corporate office. Our clients and employees will never have to worry about the impact of merger or buyout.” As one of Michigan’s first trust-only banks, it has been inspired to serve clients without any conflicts of interest or proprietary products. Johansson also mentions that the company is unclouded by conflict of interest, accepting no fee rebates or soft dollar remuneration from any of the investments in its client portfolios. For Greenleaf, part of teamwork includes hiring and retaining the highest quality experienced staff. To accomplish that, there is a stringent selection process to ensure mutual compatibility between the company and the candidate.

GTECH Services Inc.

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Dearborn, Mich
www.gogtech.com
Ask the question: “What sets GTECH Services apart?” and the answer comes quickly: “Customer Service.” The nationwide staffing company recognizes that customer service extends beyond candidate placement, so it keeps in frequent contact with both clients and contract employees during an assignment. Providing this support to both employee and employer creates high levels of satisfaction on both sides. Great customer service and a human touch help resolve potential issues proactively and quickly, reducing turnover-”both at the client company and within the talent pool. This creates improved morale in employees and subsequently saves customers time and money. Personal attention and quality of service are the GTECH difference and the reason that such a high percentage of the firm’s business comes from candidate referrals and repeat customers. Founded by Theresa Ghafari in 1986, the company has grown from a one-woman business into a multi-million dollar staffing company with three locations and more than 600 employees in 15 states. Its services and areas of staffing specialization have also expanded, moving beyond the engineering and technical support fields to include information technology and finance/accounting.

Hitachi Consulting

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.hitachiconsulting.com
As the global business and IT consulting company of Hitachi, Ltd., Hitachi Consulting’s client base spans a wide range of industries and includes 35 percent of the Fortune 100, 25 percent of the Global 100, and many mid-market leaders. With offices in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, the company employs more than 5,000 professionals with global delivery centers in India and China. With decades of business process, vertical industry, and technology experience, Hitachi Consulting delivers practical, value-based business strategies and technology solutions and services to help clients quickly realize measurable business value and achieve sustainable results. Local office connections are important for Hitachi. Clients praise the “family” connection they have with their colleagues. This is due in large part to the relationships the company builds as it works on challenging client projects, but it is heavily supported by Hitachi’s commitment to local office connections. Every employee is a member of a “local office,” each of which has a Culture and Community team. These teams, comprised of employees from all levels in the organization, host a variety of activities for their local office, including quarterly meetings, community service activities, parties, family socials, book clubs, participation in sports leagues, and more.

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Detroit, Mich.
www.honigman.com
In addition to best in class benefits and compensation programs, the law firm more commonly known as Honigman views its communication initiatives and its employee development and recognition programs as key drivers of satisfaction. Says Chairman and CEO David Foltyn: “Communication vehicles provide the foundation for friendly, open and collaborative communication, the goal of which is to keep everyone abreast of and involved in important events and happenings.” Also key to its success are the opportunities presented to employees. Continued expansion of the firm’s development courses through a corporate university, the Honigman Institute for Professional Growth, is also key to what is considered a high internal promotion rate (58 percent in 2011). Associates are paired with a mentor and a buddy whose roles are to make the associate feel at home, assist with assignments and provide regular feedback, pairings that the firm says result in increased engagement and job satisfaction. Honigman is also committed to acknowledging and rewarding the contributions of its workforce in many special ways, including an on-the-spot award program. “We also like to recognize accomplishments that occur outside of the workplace,” says Foltyn. “Rooted in a profound dedication to our people, their welfare and development, Honigman is proactive and innovative when it comes to sustaining high employee satisfaction and engagement.”

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Kalamazoo, MIch.
www.honigman.com
Honigman’s Kalamazoo office is on the third floor of the historic downtown Columbia Plaza building. Its offices, conference facilities and complimentary parking are designed to support the needs of its clients, which include local, regional, national and international companies. Honigman is headquartered in Detroit with additional offices in Oakland County, Ann Arbor and Lansing. In Kalamazoo, its attorneys concentrate their practices on life sciences, intellectual property and technology, venture capital, corporate law, litigation and community banking, as well as labor and employment. Honigman understands careers are about choices, not trade-offs. As one of Michigan’s preeminent business law firms, it provides an exceptional foundation on which to start, continue or expand practices. By focusing on outstanding client service, superior legal work and generous pro bono and community involvement opportunities, Honigman is dedicated to providing an atmosphere that encourages success -” both inside and outside the office. Diversity is also key at Honigman. It has created a firm culture that is based on collaboration, devotion to serving clients and mutual respect. New employees are integrated into the firm through our extensive orientation, new user training and mentorship programs.

Milhouse Engineering & Construction, Inc.

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.milhouseinc.com
Milhouse provides services in civil, construction, electrical, energy, environmental, mechanical, and structural engineering along with architecture services, specializing in 11 specific markets. The company was formed in 2001 by President and CEO Wilbur C. Milhouse III with the intention to create a place “where people enjoyed coming to work.” His philosophy is, “Since we all have to make a living by coming to work, we might as well feel good in the process.” While hiring the right candidate the Human Resources department welcomes diversity, ideas and experience that promotes a team environment and proactive culture. Milhouse places emphasis on continuing education and as a result there is a company-wide initiative that encourages all employees to have some form of training (position focus) completed by the end of the year. Milhouse also has an employee referral program that encourages its staff to recommend equally competent candidates for recruitment. Michelle Ross-Montgomery, HR manager, states, “We empower all employees to make decisions that they deem are important. In doing this, it allows all employees to feel they have an impact on the bottom line of not just their immediate departments, but also the company.”

OpTech LLC

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Troy, Mich.
www.optechus.com

Deniella Ortiz-Lalain

Based in southeastern Michigan with offices nationally, OpTech provides Information Technology and Engineering solutions for Fortune 1000 and government clients. Deniella Ortiz-Lalain, director of communications at OpTech, feels their success is based on “the effective application of people, process and technology.” With more than ten years of being in the business, OpTech has been attracting good talent by offering competitive pay and top benefits; interesting work with innovative, high-tech companies; a generous three-tier referral bonus program; quarterly commissions and bonuses; and flexible schedules, floating holidays, multiple reward systems, pampering perks, and paid time for community service.

Plante Moran PLLC

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Grand Rapids, Mich.
www.plantemoran.com

Plante Moran PLLC, is a public accounting and business advisory firm with offices across Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio and other international locations. Plante Moran has a long-standing tradition of hiring 100 students annually for a paid internship program in their field of study. All around the year the management team organizes “The Breakfast Club,” where an executive with three staff members in different departments partner up. The staff is encouraged to ask questions and share ideas about the firm and also receive feedback and encouragement. The company also does unique career counseling for departing employees that includes resume review, networking and job searching tips and mock interviews.

Plex Systems Inc.

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Auburn Hills, Mich.
www.plex.com

Taya Johnston

On a recent video survey conducted by Plex Systems, employees were asked why they liked working there. Many of them repeatedly said, “I feel very well informed about important decisions at Plex Systems.” Founded in 1995, this Michigan based company is a developer of Plex Online, an industrial strength, Cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution for manufacturers. Taya Johnston, director of Human Resources says that to bring the company to the next level, they need to empower and engage its workforce. “It fosters a highly competitive and self-motivating environment by allowing employees to do cool things, innovate, impress and exceed expectations,” she says. “At the same time, it encourages them to find new ways to do their jobs faster, fix problems quickly and share responsibilities to provide the best solution for its customers.” Although there isn’t any particular “formula” for success, Plex believes that its management’s vision, ability to foresee trends in the industry, commitment to hire and retain only the best of employees and a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility fuel its continued growth and success. Plex Online began by serving the Midwest automotive industry exclusively but diversified by enhancing product features in other markets such as food and beverage processing, aerospace, metal forming and others.

Soil and Materials Engineers Inc. (SME)

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Plymouth, Mich.
www.sme-usa.com
SME is a professional consulting firm providing services in the geosciences, pavements, construction materials, Brownfield redevelopment and the environment. Since its founding in 1964, SME has provided professional engineering services at more than 73,000 project sites, and has grown to a staff of 250, with 11 offices in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. It supports clients at every stage of development and ownership, from site acquisition and design through construction and maintenance, and restoration and redevelopment by providing cost-saving, practical solutions to the most challenging site and building related problems. Despite the calamity of the housing market, tuition increases, the fear of rising medical costs, the volatility of foreign markets and governments, the uncertainty of the Dow, SME’s people remain optimistic, strong-minded and strong-willed. Over the past two years, the company has made a significant investment in offering Covey training to all SME team members and continues to generously support professional development and training, tuition reimbursement, and scholarships for engineering students. Its 22-year engineering co-op program boasts more than 300 graduates who have either joined SME on a full-time basis or moved on to become clients and industry leaders. Public recognition, as well as financial rewards, come to those who work hard, effectively, and collaboratively to achieve goals and help mentor others to higher levels of performance.

Radio Flyer

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Chicago, Ill.
www.radioflyer.com
The Radio Flyer brand has become an American icon. It began with a classic story of humble beginnings, where Antonio Pasin was in search for a better life, and came to America where he found his calling. Not only did he find a better life for himself, but his dreams put a smile on the face of millions of children across the nation. Children and parents have been enjoying the benefits of the little red wagon for 95 years. Radio Flyer credits their employee satisfaction to what may seem obvious; they only hire those who are committed and fun people who others want to work alongside. Hiring the right people is the first and obvious step to creating a great culture and team. The company supports personal and professional development through Personal Development Plans, 360° feedback, on and offsite training, and individual coaching.

Mutual respect and appreciation is a Radio Flyer tradition because it fosters an atmosphere that encourages new and different ideas, the company website states.

Skanska

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Southfield, Mich,
www.skanskausa.com
Managing customer relationships and complex projects require people with a great variety of competencies. That is why it is vital for Skanska to attract and recruit talent and to keep developing its people. When thinking of construction and project development, people may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Think again. To manage its customer relationships and its complex projects it needs people with a great variety of competencies. That is why it is vital to attract and recruit talent and to keep developing people. Working at Skanska means being prepared to live its values and beliefs, have high ethical standards, put safety as a priority, care for the environment and demonstrate an open and collaborative mindset. Employees are expected to develop business and think of creative solutions and offerings for its clients. People who work at Skanska need to manage operations in an outstanding manner and deliver what the firm has promised its customers. And to succeed with all of the above, Skanska employees need to be skilled in leading themselves as well as others.

Skanska

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Portage, Mich.
www.skanskausa.com
Skanska a leading provider of world-class construction services within the building construction sector in the United States. Skanska USA Building is based in New Jersey, with an extensive network of 39 local offices throughout the country. Core values that define the company include the following: Zero Accidents; Zero Ethical Breaches; Zero Environmental Incidents; Zero Losing Projects; and Zero Defects. The company’s safety record is well documented. In 2011 the average industry contractor had more than five lost time accidents for every one experienced at Skanska USA, according to the company website. In addition, the company’s code of conduct, sustainability and commitment to diversity are a foundation of employee practices. Skanska takes an inside out approach to diversity. This means that creating a culture of inclusion is at the heart of Skanska’s business approach. Employees at Skanska receive specialized training, access to international networks and support that will help them succeed as their career grows. Incorporated in New York in 1971, four business units operate in the U.S.: USA Building, USA Civil, Infrastructure Development and Commercial Development.

Valassis

Metro Detroit Region Elite Winner

Livonia, Mich.
www.valassis.com
Want a great place to work? The desire of Valassis to achieve and to do so in an environment of camaraderie is unparalleled. Valassis employees experience an energetic, innovative, empowering, inclusive, rewarding and dynamic environment filled with challenge, growth, resources and motivated associates who display tremendous passion for delivering results that exceed customers’ expectations. Valassis associates are recognized and rewarded through a set of special and unique benefits, perks and programs. The company knows its culture attracts and retains incredible talent. Valassis is dedicated to offering career development to associates. Leadership development and cross-functional job movement are key business strategies for the growth and retention of its top talent. Valassis looks for individuals who have a track record for exceeding goals — educational, personal and professional. It seeks people with strong educational backgrounds, a solid grasp of the industry, and good experience on the job. The firm needs people who have good customer service experience or have been in client-facing roles.

Valley Oak

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Kalamazoo, Mich.
www.valleyoakcpa.com
Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Valley Oak was formed in 2006. They provide accounting, tax planning and preparation, business advising and financial advising to individuals and businesses. Their motto is to “add value to all clients by delivering straight-forward solutions in an easy to understand format,” according to the company website. The firm’s co-founder Matthew L. Rzepka decided to form his own company after working many years for a regional CPA firm. The company is proud of “going beyond numbers” for its clients and community.

Verizon Wireless

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Schaumburg, Ill.
www.verizonwireless.com
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s largest 4G LTE network and largest, most reliable 3G network. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone. A leader in wireless voice and data services, the company owns and operates the nation’s largest 4G LTE network. Launched in December 2010, the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network is available to more than 250 million people -“ nearly 80 percent of the population -“ in 419 markets across the country. Since communication is their specialty, they strive to make communication within the workplace easily accessible by implementing video and Web conferencing, internal blogs and an internal website to keep employees informed and connected. They offer a best-in-class employee total rewards program, which includes robust compensation, health and welfare, 401(k), profit sharing, tuition assistance and employee charitable giving programs. Because Verizon Wireless is part of a larger global technology corporation, Verizon Communications, they can offer employees a career track that has infinite potential.

VW Credit Inc.

Chicago Region Elite Winner

Libertyville, Ill.
www.vw.com
VW Credit this year broke ground on a new building in Libertyville, Ill., and plans to add 150 new jobs through 2018, according to autonews.com. The company, a subsidiary of VW of America, provides financing to Volkswagen and Audi dealers.

Wesco

West Michigan Region Elite Winner

Muskegon, Mich.
www.gowesco.com
Established in 1952 in Muskegon, Mich., Wesco is a family-owned and operated convenience store chain with more than 900 employees. The company operates 51 convenience locations throughout West and Mid-Michigan. Wesco clearly demonstrates innovative and pioneering human resource strategies. Wesco has always reinforced the importance of fast, friendly service as a core value. To help its associates remember just how critical customer service is, the company created the acronym Q-PPAS, which stands for Quality: People, Products, Appearance, Service. Wesco convenience stores are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

YMCA of Metro Atlanta

Atlanta Region Elite Winner

Atlanta, Ga.
www.ymcapass.com
With a focus on developing the potential of kids, improving individual health and well-being, and giving back and supporting our neighbors, the YMCA of Metro Atlanta brings about meaningful change not only its members, but also in its community.

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