Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies Help Workers Excel

It’s always been a matter of supply and demand when it comes to great employees.

Even in tough times, when layoffs are commonplace, the need for “standout” workers is steady.

And when the economy heats up again (as it does repeatedly), the best shine even brighter.

So then is it critical that in the best firms, the ones that continue to thrive or at least hold their own in times of trouble, have the systems, procedures and leadership in place to keep that balance. These are leaders who stand back and see the big picture; who even when it’s tempting to cut back on the people side of the business, say the one of the most important words known in the English language: No.

In this year’s list of Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, we see some familiar faces. And we see some familiar themes as companies do what it takes to make sure they have strong teams: tuition reimbursement, flex time, fun time at work, continuing education, a respect for one another.

But we also see some newcomers, those that have proven they’ve been able to do the large and the small things that would make them a standout in any economy.

Because they care.

Because they aren’t content to be mediocre.

And because they understand what it takes.

Join us in congratulating Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2013.

A.E. Mourad Agency

Madison Heights, Mich.
An independent agency based in Michigan. A.E. Mourad creates custom designed employee benefits solutions to best serve the goals and objectives of the organizations it serves. For more than a quarter century, its professionals have made its clients’ satisfaction its number one priority. The firm is widely recognized as one of Metro Detroit’s largest family-owned and operated insurance agencies specializing in employee benefits. Its employees have worked hard to earn the respect and trust of those it serves and always have its clients’ best interests in mind. As a result, it has developed lasting, long-term relationships with its clients, many of whom have been with the agency 20 years or more.

Amerisure Insurance-¨

Farmington Hills, Mich.-¨
With an environment that encourages individual development, innovation and personal initiative, working at Amerisure Insurance is a good start to a life that gives employees every chance to dig deep into a culture where open communication is taken seriously. And the questions posed at the company’s town hall meetings don’t have to be related to the job of the one asking. Nor do the enrichment webinars that Amerisure hosts. The company’s benefits program, a foundation of its employee value proposition, is described as “rich and comprehensive,” although flexibility should surely be one of the adjectives used: Amerisure provides a 15-day minimum paid time off policy in line with its philosophy of work-life balance. A culture of continuous learning is also part of what makes Amerisure shine. Unlimited support for insurance-related education, paid study time and tuition reimbursement for those seeking a degree are all part of the mix. As CEO Rick Russell explains, Amerisure sees creating exceptional value for partners, agencies, employees and policyholders as key to its continuing success. “While we were clearly impacted by the recession, our culture saw us through those difficult years and today we’re financially stronger than ever and one component-”creating exceptional value for our employees-”was key.”

Angott Search Group-¨

Rochester, Mich.
Being able to connect. For employees at Angott Search Group, it’s key to being the best at their job. Which is why staying on top of technology and new ways of doing business is so important. Whether it be video e-mail, conferencing, social media or even upgrading to the latest Customer Relationship Management software, Angott is a corporation accustomed to saying yes. And while the company itself is strong, CEO Mark Angott understands how important it is to strengthen the team by focusing on the individuals. Creating incentives that the entire team can embrace is part of that strategy and last year it meant a trip for employees and spouses to Cancun. This year, Angott is eyeing the Caribbean again as a way to promote camaraderie. As a company that leans on its core values, Angott starts with those-”among them honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, energy, confidence, and commitment-”at the very beginning of the hiring process. The end result, says Angott, ultimately results in 75 percent of business coming from repeat clients. Through a consistently applied culture of mentoring and constant learning, combined with support for individuals, has created a family-oriented business that fosters friendship and great teamwork.

Applied Imaging-¨

Novi, Mich.-¨

John Lowery

CEO John Lowery has taken a multi-faceted strategy to enhancing employee morale at Applied Imaging, understanding just how important it is for the future of the organization. “We continuously engage employees through fun activities, but we also include performance-based incentives to let employees know that we appreciate their hard work and recognize when they go above and beyond.” The firm has also created a specialized team to take improvement to the next level. “Team Up” is examining ways to improve customer service, interviewing customer service experts and taking action on what they discover. But one of the favorite ways to boost employee morale has little to do with the work at Applied Imaging. By giving 10 hours per year to work at local organizations, minds are refreshed and there’s an even deeper commitment to serve in the future. Recruiting for new employees based on a “Can Do, Will Do, and Team Fit” structure has worked remarkably well for the 26 years it’s been in place. As Lowery explains: “Applied Imaging has developed a reputation in our communities as a great place to work. People know that we value our employees and that we are growing, which means there are lots of opportunities to grow with the company.”

Arrow Strategies LLC

Bingham Farms, Mich.

Arrow Strategies CEO Keff Styers.

From onsite lunches and group webinars to an innovative set of “perk programs” that even includes pre-paid legal services employees can use when needed, Arrow Strategies has made it a focus to look for ways to engage its workforce. The staffing company, primarily focused on IT services, recognizes that bringing in new employees is very much a key. Says CEO Jeff Styers: “We make it more than HR’s responsibility to listen to employees. We want to ensure their success with Arrow Strategies and have found through best practice that the first 30 to 45 days of their employment is the most valuable time to engage them to ensure long-term retention. This tool provides us a priceless opportunity to learn what makes our employees tick.” Promoting work-life balance is also part of the firm’s strategy for success. “We know that happy employees are more productive employees, so we make every effort to ensure that all of their needs are addressed both professionally and personally,” adds Styers. “With the stresses of the outside world, we have made a concerted effort to help our employees maintain their overall health both mentally and physically.” Flexible scheduling is also part of that mix.

Austin Financial Group

-¨Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Engagement with employees may be a nearly universal desire when it comes to building a strong staff, but Austin Financial Group CEO Dean Austin also keenly understands that the details are key. “With a multi-generational workforce, engagement means different things to different employees,” he notes. “Our company focuses on a compensation package that rewards employees for their quality of work and effort within the organization, which is complemented by a benefits program that exceeds the marketplace trends.” There’s no question that when it comes to recruiting staff, benefits is one of the key ways to attract the right people. But it’s when the person is on board that the importance of training becomes obvious. “We often look for employees with a positive hard-working attitude,” notes Austin. “Then we focus on how we can offer those individuals opportunities to expand their skill set and leverage their strengths.” From customer service training for account managers, professional development training for the sales team and extensive insurance training year-round, Austin Financial Group is able to attract critical-skill employees through a strong and competitive compensation package. Austin puts it into perspective, having gone through the recent recession and come out the other side. “It was important that employees understood that quality of life incorporates all things: a balance of work, family, personal time, physical and mental health and more. Our company culture and company model is designed to help them succeed.”


Novi, Mich.
This global powerhouse when it comes to 3D design software, Autodesk has adopted a three-pillar “employee value proposition” that it uses for the attraction and retention of talent. Being a company with “cool and innovative technology” is one of those, one proof being customers who were on the stage to receive the past 16 Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects. Being an important company is a close second; put into practice by helping people “imagine design and create a better world. Finally, having a culture of respect is one that’s measured as part of Autodesk’s annual global employee engagement survey, which shows an average 93 percent employee response rate over the past seven years. Every four years, employees are eligible for a six-week paid sabbatical. Employees are also strongly encouraged to give back to their community through a matching gifts program based on employee volunteer hours. As Autodesk CEO Carl Bass points out, the company’s talent acquisition team has garnered national attention for its recruiting practices. “We were an early adopter of using Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter and other tools to attract and source talent. And we’ve implemented a transformational, radically new performance management program this year, one that eliminates ratings and focuses on providing regular on-going coaching and feedback.”

Barton Malow

Southfield, Mich.
Clearly Barton Malow has defined itself as a premier construction company over decades of experience, it’s still demonstrating a willingness to maintain a cutting edge advantage when it comes to its workforce. One example: having a psychologist as a member of the talent management team, focused on engagement, training, and development. Being able to focus on self-awareness, change, diversity, values, emotions, and motivating others has led to enhanced working relationships among participants and positive feedback, notes President Ryan Maibach, who provides an open forum for employee comments. The company also looks to Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Denison Consulting to formally measure its corporate culture based on Adaptability, Mission, Involvement, and Consistency. The result of the Denison Survey has been a redevelopment and reestablishment of Barton Malow core values and purpose, with the launch taking place in April 2012. The company now continues to reinforce the messages with videos, messages from leadership, and business practices. For new employees, a key point of attraction is the wide range of opportunities they see in the construction industry. “We encourage employees to expand their careers by working in various markets in an array of positions,” notes Maibach. “This helps us attract and retain our employees for many years.”


Troy, Mich.-¨
Billhighway is a serious business. Providing non-profit organizations of all kind with the robust financial tools they need to run their charity, keeping track of funds and adhering to the kind of rigorous accountability that their donors and supports require, Billhighway is a natural. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t fun going on behind the four walls of its Troy headquarters. Indeed, this is a culture that understands and embraces the need for a life that has purpose. But CEO Doug Gregory is also keenly aware of the need to reach employees at a deeper level, bringing them into an organization whose deep purpose is to serve clients in the non-profit sector. That requires enthusiasm and a vibrant, healthy workplace is one sure why to foster that enthusiasm. Being family-friendly is a good first start and Billhighway is cool with team members bringing in kids, where they take advantage of online sports or a “Powered by Fun” room with bean bag chairs, flat screen TV, art supplies and games. Gregory says a generous compensation and benefits package is part of the mix, as is profit sharing and high performer bonuses. And even a member referral program to identify new team members. “Our own team members know who would work well in our environment, because they are experts on our culture. When team members know they have opportunities for advancement right here, they are a lot less likely to look outside the company for jobs.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan-¨

You’d expect an organization deeply steeped in the mission of helping people stay healthy to focus at least some of that corporate energy on its employees. And you’d be right about Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a “walk the talk” organization that has a wide portfolio of initiatives designed to keep health-”mental and physical-”on the front burner. Paid tuition, scholarships for dependents, incentives to get and stay fit, discounted tickets to after-hours events, even Xbox Kinect fitness games strategically placed throughout work areas are part of the mix. But that doesn’t mean BCBSM has left out the basics, like a robust health care benefits package and those little extras that can mean so much. Like online coaching by registered nurses as well as various online tools to help employees decide whether their coverage makes sense to them. The organization is also among the top 125 on Training Magazine’s list of companies recognized for its innovative efforts. Looking for new talent is done with the same enthusiasm and commitment to innovation, with online tools, job fairs and partnerships with schools and universities as well as those that reach diverse organizations throughout the local area and beyond.

Brewster Maintenance-¨

Birmingham, Mich.-¨
Brewster Maintenance LLC provides maintenance and facilities management services for commercial businesses and organizations nationwide. Brewster Maintenance has knowledgeable, educated repair technicians capable of handling jobs of any size from routine maintenance to emergency repairs. Brewster Maintenance is a premier provider of commercial maintenance services in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, and across the United States. With nearly 20 years of experience managing the maintenance for more than 10 million square feet of commercial real estate, Brewster Maintenance provides comprehensive, attentive service to some of the nation’s largest retailers and property owners.

Broder and Sachse

Birmingham, Mich.
It’s true that Rich Broder, who heads Broder and Sachse Real Estate, wants employees at the firm to “work hard and play hard.” Through a combination of work-life balance that embraces flexible schedules, working from home, and a four-week sabbatical starting at 10 years and five years thereafter, the firm is on the right track. But communication is also key. “Informed employees are satisfied employees so we make sure to communicate what is happening with the company on a regular basis,” says Broder. Those initiatives include a semi-annual State of the Union company meeting, attended by every employee. Listening is also part of the equation. “We constantly encourage and genuinely listen to employee feedback–both from employee to manager but also stressing an open door access to all of executive management.” In return, Broder and Sachse expects employees to live into its core values. As growth has occurred, Broder says the firm has taken care not to adopt a cookie-cutter approach to meeting employee needs. “We’ve maintained the same personalized attention that we had when (there were) only a handful of employees. This allows managers, HR, and executives to realize and meet the unique needs of each employee.”

Brown and Brown of Detroit

Sterling Heights, Mich.
The wholly owned subsidiary of the nation’s seventh largest insurance intermediary, Brown and Brown of Detroit understands that its continued growth will depend on how successful it will be in attracting and retaining employees. As CEO Gene LoVasco explains: “Our commitment to our employees is our extensive sales, management and team mentoring and our career path planning to give the resources and tools to help employees achieve a long lasting, fulfilling career at Brown & Brown of Detroit.” A variety of employee engagement activities, including a cash suggestion program, company events, hiring bonuses, mentoring programs, educational opportunities, and flex, part-time and job sharing are all part of the strategy. So is a well-designed management development and employee growth program, one that includes tuition reimbursement and educational seminars. Employees also enjoy a productive work environment where creativity and resourcefulness are rewarded by a variety of bonus and incentive programs. As a community, various school and community service projects such as student mentoring programs, food and clothing drives, blood drives, jean day charity, and involvement in charities such as Habitat for Humanity are included in the Brown & Brown culture. At the same time, the company strives to maintain a consistent level of service and experience. “We offer a robust paid internship program and a comprehensive training program in which we mentor and grow a professional workforce and our future leaders,” adds LoVasco.

Cambridge Consulting Group-¨

Troy, Mich.-¨
Underscoring what Cambridge Consulting Group’s CEO Albert W. Papa calls the “friendly and professional work environment” he and his team are striving to maintain is the idea that “each member of our team is critical to the success of our enterprise.” That outlook, says Papa, has helped the firm build an organization where employees are empowered to better themselves and the company. And that is done through training, continued education, challenging work assignments and an emphasis on work-life balance. “We always want our employees to know they have an impact on the organization,” adds Papa, who says creating a performance culture built on the foundation of teamwork and accountability is key. “In this culture, participative leadership empowers each and every employee to strive toward excellence.” When it comes to training, Papa says the firm has a history of being meticulous when it comes to the hiring process, then adding additional resources to keep them current. “We want people with the highest level of experience, passion and integrity. We also encourage higher learning.” With reimbursement for degrees, certifications and designations, the circle appears to be complete. And, of course, the idea that family and health come first. “As long as your work/obligations are taken care of and all deadlines are met, there is flexibility to take time off,” says Papa.

Clayton & McKervey PC-¨

Southfield, Mich.
Managing Director Kevin McKervey calls the company with his name in it “razor focused” on growth-driven, middle market companies that compete in the global marketplace. “Unlike a lot of our competition, we do not service not-for-profits, governmental, publicly traded, or highly regulated industries,” McKervey says. The implication for employees choosing to join the firm is a sense of connection. “Expect to be connected around the community and the world,” says the firm’s website. There’s also an expectation that employees will be challenged, with issues that inspire staff to push their own professional limits. Employees are also invited to control their own destiny, with more opportunities to work in all areas of public accounting-”including tax, audit, financial planning, retirement plans, tax consulting and family wealth preservation. Having the flexibility to balance work and life is also key at the firm. With a flexible schedule, many employees can do it all. Have a career, time for family and friends, and time for themselves. Sure, they work hard, but they balance that with fun things to do. The company is also “highly committed” to the development of staff and provides opportunities for lifelong learning through internal and external training opportunities.

Community Financial Credit Union

Plymouth, Mich.
It’s a credit union with an interesting history. With its roots as a credit union for the employees of the Daisy Air Rifle Company, what is now the Community Financial Credit Union has continued to serve area residents (Daisy moved out of the area seven years after the credit union opened its doors), attracting the kind of employee who is able to live the passion for service that CEO Bill Lawton carries on today. Also key to the success of CFCU are two longstanding core principles: “People helping people” and “Not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” The organization continues to look for enthusiastic team members who proactively focus on providing outstanding service to credit union members. The credit union hires people who are bright, positive, and eager to learn. Those employees, like CFCU, value a work-life balance and work together to provide outstanding service to members.

Computer Consultants of America Inc.

-¨Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-¨
It may start with one of the most robust compensation and benefits programs anywhere, but Computer Consultants of America Inc. hasn’t stopped there. Its family-owned culture may be the key reason, but regardless of the motivation, CCI leadership are determined to make sure each employee knows they’re part of the corporate family. And it feels like family. But making that happen also takes hard work, especially in building systems where communication takes place in a way that’s open and deep enough that goals can be shared and understood by all. Those short-term goals are shared weekly and a vision and strategy that relies on core values is baked into the efforts of all involved. An open door policy is one that builds on that commitment to communication. From a quality of life standpoint, the emphasis on the needs of the family makes possible the kind of schedule that makes possible real work-life balance. Initiatives as varied as paid time off, adoption leave and both short and long-term disability coverage are all part of a mix that works.

Computerized Facility Integration LLC

Southfield, Mich.
CEO Robert A. Verdun is the kind of to-the-point executive that employees will want to get behind. “We find that giving (employees) meaningful and productive work is key. It’s important that people take pride in what they do and challenge themselves every day. We tend to help people push themselves to take on more interesting and challenging work all of the time, which keeps them satisfied and engaged by default.” With the organization focused on the people it needs to thrive, Verdun is clear in his mission. “The value proposition has to be real and tangible to our staff.” And that’s where core values come into play. “At CFI, we live them. We promote and reinforce them. We reward and pay for honoring them.” With a growth rate of 20-30 percent most years, adding talent is a key and ongoing necessity. And so is training. “First and foremost, we try to make sure to hold on to the employees we have,” says Verdun. But training helps us promote as well.” Creating a balance between work and life is something Verdun would like to see more of, even as he understands that sometimes it’s the management who are the ones telling staff they need to slow down and enjoy life. “There are times when we all have to dig in deep and times where we can relax a bit, which is where the balance comes in.”

Coretek Services

-¨Farmington Hills, Mich.
It’s a reality in a company like Coretek Services, where many of the staff are actually located in a client’s office, that relationships are key to its ongoing success. CEO Ron Lisch understands and he’s doing what it takes to strengthen that link. “It can be challenging at times,” he admits. “But ensuring we have a continuous flow of communication means putting in place initiatives such as conducting a companywide weekly status call, bi-quarterly team members, and making sure employees know we place a high value on their opinions.” The company has a Consultant Advisory Council and various e-tools (Geekblast and a Coretek blog come to mind) to bring positive change to the organization. Lisch believes a combination of cutting edge technology and superb training opportunities (including certification) combine with high integrity and values to make Coretek stand out. “It makes our company not only a great place to work, but a place to develop long-lasting relationships.” Bringing on new staff is often a result of referrals from existing staff. And the benefit of coming to a company where virtually everyone has vast technical skills, experience and interests creates an environment that’s naturally attractive to someone with the kind of skills and experience Coretek values. Which brings it all back to Ron Lisch. “Coretek has always been committed to creating an environment where employees are encouraged to speak freely about ways to make our company a better place to work. We make a determined effort every day to live up to our standards, both in and out of the office.”

CoStaff Services-¨

Southfield, Mich.
At CoStaff, the firm understands that its clients are in business to grow their business. With that in mind, the staffing company allows its clients to focus on their mission-critical operations while they focus on the complete spectrum of human resource services. CoStaff spends its days studying, mastering and practicing the full range of evolving regulatory issues, compliance obligations and HR best practices. Its professionals are seasoned, passionate and degreed HR experts (including advanced degrees), representing a depth and breadth of resources that no small organization could be expected to build or manage. Through its human resource outsourcing services, CoStaff allows a company’s in-house HR team to channel its energy and passions into managing people, productivity and processes-”while CoStaff manages the administrative aspect of running an HR back office. Its “a la carte” and packaged solutions are custom-engineered to save a client money, alleviate administrative burden, reduce risk and liability, and get them back to business.

Credit Acceptance-¨

Southfield, Mich.
A company focused on relationships with auto dealers and their customers, the ongoing success of Credit Acceptance clearly means having good relationships with the staff who are actually bringing in and nurturing business from around the country. “We give them the tools to do their job,” notes CEO Brett Roberts. But there’s more. Helping team members communicate what’s on their mind and giving them the ability to collaborate is also key. In a constantly changing business, employees are a big part of that process and giving them the feedback is essential to the success of Credit Acceptance. For its part, the company delivers compensation and benefit programs as well as profit sharing and Roberts is open to doing more. “Our leadership is open to suggestions and comments and we always get back with an answer, whether it be yes, and if no, we say why.” Getting new associates on board is a continuing effort at Credit Acceptance, with videos created for the effort, updated branding on recruiting sites and a “buddy” program that teams up new hires with an experienced employee. Add flexible work schedules, a competitive compensation program, continuous improvement as part of its culture and an emphasis on keeping a work-life balance, and it’s clear that Credit Acceptance is headed in the right direction.

Custom Business Solutions

-¨Novi, Mich.
Custom Business Solutions, a certified woman-owned business enterprise, is an Information Technology consulting and professional services firm that solves clients’ business problems in ways that make it easy for customers to do business. In particular, Custom excels at the rapid implementation of business application solutions allowing it to deliver immediate value to clients. Custom’s business model emphasizes hiring full-time salaried employees while offering a variety of career development opportunities and a broad range of benefits. In other words, Custom offers more than an assignment. It offers a career. “We pride ourselves on hiring professional, results-oriented, full-time salaried employees motivated by our career opportunities,” notes CEO Carole Burton. “These individuals understand the need to deliver client satisfaction in order to earn and sustain career development. Coupling consultant expertise with our superior professional service approach drives our ability to deliver quality solutions. This approach has proven successful in developing long-lasting partner relationships that reduce cost, and improve service and productivity.”

DASE Consulting-¨

Clinton Township, Mich.-¨
In a company focused on big picture issues like information security, risk management, audit and human resources, it’s no surprise that people are key. And character is something that stands out as a differentiator at DASE. With various training courses and methods at their fingertips, employees are encouraged to learn at a pace that fits their style and comfort level. By creating an environment of professionalism, quality and integrity, DASE has focused on teamwork, excellence and respect for the individuals. “We build relationships with our employees just the same way we do with our clients, to maximize their success within our firm,” says CEO Tamiko Robinson. That means putting some energy into a process for making sure staff are as healthy and happy as possible. “A Healthy You” is the result, a set of tools that DASE management hopes they’ll use to achieve work-life balance. “We’re showing our employees that we care about them and their families,” said Robinson. “In return our employees care about DASE Consulting.” Employees are encouraged to gain certification or designation within their respected area, which has meant being able to keep them in place even in an economic downturn. And they’re also more loyal to DASE. “They have no desire to look for employment elsewhere,” notes Robinson. “Our brand is employees of excellence and expertise.”


-¨Novi, Mich.-¨
When it’s the family name on the door, there’s something uniquely special about the enterprise, especially when the CEO has the same name. That’s the case with DeMaria, formed nearly 45 years ago by brothers Joseph and Richard DeMaria, sons of an Italian immigrant who was skilled in carpentry and concrete work and who built retail stores and apartment buildings in his spare time. It’s been all about family ever since, even with employees who often have their own relatives working at the company. But that doesn’t mean this firm isn’t about doing what’s needed to excel. From an open-door culture that’s lead to better communication and a strong set of values that includes building relationships, internally and externally, DeMaria is set on advancing talented employees. There’s personal accountability for the work of everyone and safety reigns paramount throughout the organization. DeMaria is proud to invest in the long-term development of employees, through programs that include OSHA training and a formal internship program. And consider this: Last year nearly half of all employees celebrated anniversaries of 10 years or longer.

Detroit Athletic Club

Founded in 1887, the Detroit Athletic Club left an indelible stamp on the city even as it was helping that city find its place in the country at large. Always a powerhouse for individual and team amateur athletics, the DAC helped give its members the strength to serve as soldiers and compete as Olympians. They fueled the manufacturing frenzy that created the Motor City and brought home the professional sports teams that were its due. In a recent chronicle of the DAC’s long history, readers will discover the unique world of a private club that remains one of the finest in the world, an enduring home to community leaders, amateur athletes and one of Detroit’s architectural jewels.


Founded in 1980, Digitas-”one of the world’s leading digital marketing and media companies-”is at the forefront of the new digital age. As an independent global network within the Paris-based Publicis Groupe, the world’s fourth largest communications group, Digitas is the first global digital network with offices in the USA, Europe, and Asia. Serving global marketing clients, it creates brand experiences in digital and direct channels that engage and excite their customers. Through user-generated content, branded entertainment, digital video production, and social media programs and more, Digitas taps into people’s passions and creates loyal, motivated relationships. Digitas people are at the top of their industry -” inspiring innovation, creativity and results. They’re artists, analysts, technologists, writers, and producers. They are passionate, creative, thoughtful, and above all, committed to their clients, inspired by their customers, excited by change, and fueled by a passion for collaboration and bold invention.

Domino’s Pizza

Ann Arbor, Mich.
Sure it’s about good pizza. But Domino’s is a culture where good communication between team members and management delivers on that good pizza promise, and one that CEO Patrick Doyle says is one of the most important retention tools in his corporate arsenal. Being open and honest is even more critical when you realize that the voices include external resources as well as those within the company. Web tools that include streaming video, news bulletins, podcasts, executive blogs and virtually every piece of information that will help a staff member be better informed are used to deliver the big picture. Training is also a big part of Domino’s plan to win in its markets. “We believe the pizza company with the best people will win,” says Doyle. “We’re committed to the internal development of our future leaders and we invest in their preparation through both formal and informal development opportunities.” From entry-level programs that include marketing, accounting, human resources and other key skills, new staff are well positioned for future success. And they’re empowered to make decisions that work for the business and their teams. With both formal and informal programs designed to promote work-life balance and a wide array of convenient services at the company’s Ann Arbor World Resource Center, team members have every reason to keep rising in quest of the perfect pizza.

DTE Energy

Having a workforce that’s “highly engaged” is at the heart of DTE Energy’s strategy when it comes to employee development. Indeed, the company, lead by CEO Gerard Anderson, is intent on reaching the pinnacle of Gallup Survey’s Engagement rankings of energy companies. “We have dedicated considerable resources to this priority,” says Anderson. Among the initiatives is an annual engagement survey of all employees, action plans to improve engagement, and twice annually audits to check on the quality and implementation of various action plans. The company is also “intensively focused” on aligning everything it does with the idea of achieving its aspirations and living its values. One of those is being the best-operated energy company in North America. “We also invest considerable effort in demonstrating to employees that we care about their overall health and well-being in and out of the office,” says Anderson. Examples are free onsite flu shots during the fall, an Energize Your Life wellness program that provides disease management, educational and coaching services to employees and other eligible participants as well as an Employee Assistance Program that offers coaching and counseling services to employees and their families. DTE also has an extensive “Workforce Planning Initiative” that monitors, calculates, and forecasts the hiring requirements in key skill areas across the company into a five-year horizon, one way its able to have the desired people and skills available when needed.

Easter Seals Michigan-¨

Auburn Hills, Mich.
When it comes to providing meaningful and challenging work for its employees, some might argue that Easter Seals Michigan has an advantage. After all, with a mission to “serve and support people with disabilities or other special needs and their families so they can successfully live, learn, work and play in their communities” there’s a sense of power in that alone. But employee engagement in aligning effort with that mission statement isn’t overlooked, says CEO Brent Wirth, who adds that feedback throughout the year is important to that process. “We encourage managers and supervisors to have private, independent discussions with staff to explore the reasons for disengagement behaviors in a positive way.” Employees are also encouraged to volunteer and attend Easter Seals Fundraisers, including Walk With Me, one of the organization’s bigger events. Rewards from Easter Seals Michigan efforts are widespread, not only in seeing individuals helped by the organization. But individual benefits through flexible work schedules, a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program, a commitment to professional development and staff training are also reasons why Easter Seals Michigan will continue to thrive in its mission to serve.

EDSI (Educational Data Systems Inc.)

Dearborn, Mich.
When someone joins EDSI, the first step in a journey the company hopes will be a long-lasting one includes a mentoring and “career sculpting” program, including a two-week “EDSI Way” introduction to what makes the firm one of the best at what it does as a workforce development, customized training and consulting company intertwined with one common thread: helping people and companies in transition. When they begin career development discussions, what often begins taking place is an ongoing conversation about where they might end up working. By including a flexible work schedule in the mix, employees know they have the support needed to accommodate some of life’s events that help them reflect back a sense of enthusiasm that will make EDSI an even greater organization. By promoting “servant leadership” in the company, CEO Kevin Schneiders says the company is able to “see through their eyes, understand their needs, and deliver more than they expect.” Employees benefit from generous tuition reimbursement, and systems in place that are designed to make sure every new employee is a great fit for the company.

Employees Only

-¨Rochester, Mich.-¨
What happens when your employees feel they’re making a positive contribution and have a robust continuous improvement process in hand to be even better? At Employees Only the result, says CEO Mario Apruzzese, is an amazing commitment to the workplace. “It helps us to adopt best practices for our organization and again reinforce that drive for engagement. We show a commitment from the beginning of the recruiting process and carry that through the employee life cycle.” Assimilation into an organization where feedback is valued is also key to Employees Only success. “We work hard to get them fully engaged in a very short period of time,” says Apruzzese. “We want our team to be the best, brightest and most talented individuals in our business sector.” That means staying in tune with how the environment for employees has changed over the last few years. “We have stayed consistent with how we approach our culture,” says Apruzzese. “But many people have been faced with different, more demanding challenges. Thankfully, we have created enough trust with our team that we are able to learn the issues and work to help resolve or support them on resolving any problems that arise.”

Enterprise Rent-A-Car-¨

Farmington Hills, Mich.¨
As a global company with three of the most distinctive car rental brands under its umbrella-”Enterprise Holdings includes Enterprise Rent-a-Car as well as Alamo, and National-”the firm has a decentralized structure, giving its local operating groups the autonomy to make decisions that enhance the employment experience. In the Detroit Metro region, that includes having “stay interviews” with employees to keep them apprised of trends, morale and employee needs. It not only gives management the opportunity to listen to employees but be creative with activities that maintain a fully engaged workforce. Globally, an Employee Opinion Survey that’s done every other year gives employees the opportunity to share their thoughts and Enterprise is able to use the findings to make changes to better meet the needs of employees. The company also monitors topics on social media and employment review sites, allowing it to address trending topics in global and internal communications and to use the information to become a better place to work. With a keen understanding of the fact that employees are the face of Enterprise, high achievers are recognized on a monthly basis, with elite outings, community volunteer opportunities and contests focused on employee performance. When it comes to training, Enterprise manages are clear: employees are in a position to succeed immediately. Promotions are almost exclusively from within, with nearly 11,000 internal promotions last year alone. A strong company culture and the ability to adapt to new workforce conditions have Enterprise well poised for a next generation of success.

Epitec Group

Southfield, Mich.
Epitec offers people a place to innovate, contribute, and grow. Its business is placing people. Its philosophy is placing people first. “We hear it every day,” says CFO Mark Ruma. “Epitec people aren’t your typical ‘techy people.’ Solving client challenges is personal to us. The first time you have the pleasure of working with an Epitec employee, you will see how quickly we connect and engage.” Companies entrust their future technologies to Epitec. And employees entrust, well, their futures. ‘These are responsibilities we don’t take lightly,” adds Ruma. “We care deeply for our employees, because they make everything else happen for the company. We work very hard to create a ‘favorite employee experience’ for each one of our employees. It’s why we not only attract some of America’s top companies and brightest minds, but retain them-” year after year.”

Etkin Equities

Southfield, Mich.
Etkin has played a prominent role in southeast Michigan real estate development for 30 years. The privately owned company was formed in 1982 and is led by principal Douglas Etkin and president Curtis Burstein. Etkin has been responsible for the development and acquisition of more than 9.5 million square feet of office, industrial, retail, hotel and mixed-use developments. It also offers fee-based management and development services to a select number of third party clients. As the company celebrates its 30th anniversary, Etkin is continuing to aggressively pursue growth in the Midwest, Texas, Florida and Colorado.

Farbman Group-¨

Southfield, Mich.-¨
Being valued and involved is a key objective at Farbman Group, with the emphasis on the creation of an environment where people come first. So how does that occur. In one tactic, the firm’s CEO, Andrew Farbman, holds weekly one-on-one meetings where staff can share their feelings or offer insights on what they’d like to see improved. There’s also an opportunity to discuss career development and where they see themselves in the future. With a family culture at the heart of the firm, numerous events are held, all with the view to promote camaraderie. An internal training program-”Farbman University-”gives employees the opportunity to advance their development, not only in ways that directly apply to careers but to everyday life as well. The firm also factors in a measure of flexibility, offering options such as telecommuting, shortened workweeks and even working closer to home.

Fifth Third Bank Eastern Michigan

Southfield, Mich.
From Day One, newcomers to Fifth Third Bank will find themselves fully engaged in a rewarding, challenging role in an environment that inspires personally and professionally. What sets Fifth Third Bank apart is a focus on people. It’s why the bank looks for people who want to accomplish something of lasting value for their customers, for their community, and for themselves, guided by Core Values of Integrity, Teamwork and Collaboration, Respect and Inclusion, and Accountability. Fifth Third believes in creating an environment that encourages and supports diversity, provides training and development, and brings out the best in everyone. A strong community is critical to the success of Fifth Third Bank and employees support the communities in which they live and work. Having engaged and well-prepared employees lead to the most satisfied customers. Fifth Third strives to provide an environment to bring out the best in every employee. Simply put creating the best possible results for customers happens by working together.

G-Tech Professional Staffing

Dearborn, Mich.
Ask the question: “what sets G-Tech Professional Staffing apart?” and the answer comes quickly: “Customer Service.” The company recognizes that customer service extends beyond candidate placement, so it keeps in frequent contact with both client and contract employee 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” helps resolve potential issues proactively and quickly, reducing turnover-”both at the client company and within the talent pool. This creates improved morale in our employees and subsequently saves customers time and money. Personal attention and quality of service are the G-Tech difference and the reason that such a high percentage of the firm’s business comes from candidate referrals and repeat customers.

Gallagher Benefit Services-¨

Bingham Farms, Mich.
Who would know better than the CEO of a benefits company that improving employee morale and enthusiasm is about more than money? Certainly that’s the case with Pat Gallagher, who is unhesitating in pointing to the strength of his team for the success of the firm. And all the while, Gallagher has been an innovator in developing “other than salary” incentives and rewards to keep its valuable team members engaged and happy. One key part of that approach is the cultivation of a culture centered on flexibility and teamwork, which encourages growth and success at both the individual and organizational levels. Whether it be full-time “business casual” dress, the designation of several summer Fridays as part of a three-day weekend, or various social outings, creativity and consistency make sure the momentum continues. Recruiting and training for growth is also part of the Gallagher recipe for success. Reaching out to upcoming graduates at local universities for an internship program, some 30 percent end up with full-time positions at the firm. Flexibility when it comes to work schedules is another hallmark at Gallagher, measured only by the clients themselves-”100 percent of whom say their Gallagher representatives are easy to reach and prompt to respond.

Ghafari Associates LLC

Dearborn, Mich.
At Ghafari, a worldwide full-service architecture and engineering organization with a 30-year history of customer focus, quality work and technological innovation, the recognition that its employees are its greatest asset in providing professional services of the highest quality to its clients is hardly new. Indeed, the company has offered numerous innovative opportunities for some time, including employee discounts with vendors, vehicle purchase/lease programs, employee assistance services, gym reimbursement and on-site games and activities. Regular review of salaries and compensation trends are also standard practice, with performance bonuses and spot awards commonplace. Attracting the best people and nurturing them in an environment of professionalism, integrity and mutual respect have achieved a well-earned reputation of excellence. Employees are also encouraged to provide suggestions that improve quality, save time, reduce cost, and promote better client service, suggestions that are often implemented to create a more productive work environment. As a result, employees recognize that they are making a true contribution to the firm’s success and ultimately their own personal success. At the same time, the company encourages its employees to both enjoy their work and lead balanced, healthy lives. For example, an events planning committee organizes holiday and summer parties, architectural tours, picnics, movie nights, social hours and other employee events.

Grant Thornton LLP

Southfield, Mich.
At Grant Thornton, the people are talented, intellectually curious and driven to make a difference. People who come to work at Grant Thornton are empowered to contribute from their very first client engagement. They develop their skills working alongside Grant Thornton partners and through formal leadership and technical training programs. In short, it is the firm’s ambition to build better business professionals faster than its competitors. People who dream of working with innovative colleagues who support and inspire them may well consider Grant Thornton to be the place to be.

Greenleaf Trust-¨

Kalamazoo, Mich.-¨
Celebrating collective strengths, successes and accomplishments. That’s key to Greenleaf Trust, a financial consultancy and trust-only bank that’s based in Kalamazoo but with offices in Birmingham, Traverse City and Petoskey. And while clients are why the firm is in business, employees are frequently and regularly celebrated-”for their accomplishments, their involvement, and even personal events that they want to share with their co-workers. Add in a culture of continuous improvement and it’s clear why so many Greenleaf Trust associates are here to stay. Training and advancement go hand in hand, a key reason that promotions are celebrated and encouraged when employees gain certification or earn degrees. Employees who know one another are more keen to support one another, which is a good enough reason for making those relationships possible on a daily basis and throughout the year. Plus there’s a management team in place, headed by Ron Kilgore, who leads an overall focus on top performance and participation in continuous improvement efforts. A family friendly environment means being able to take time off to attend school functions and a flexible workweek underscores the importance employees are to the success of Greenleaf Trust.

Harley Ellis Devereaux

Harley Ellis Devereaux, an internationally recognized architectural firm, is always interested in talking to people with strong technical knowledge in their chosen field, the desire to excel and an interest in joining a growth-oriented, quality-based organization. Its recruiting efforts reflect this philosophy and its professional success is a direct result. The firm believes in the power of questions. “How can we make your environment smarter?” is at the heart of a discussion with Harley Ellis Devereaux. “How can we advance your organization through design? How can we create something that is as considered and well-thought-out as it is daring and bold?” The firm calls it “next thinking.” Whether mentoring high school students in search of a profession or sponsoring design competitions for the cities of the future, the firm enjoys committing itself to the communities where its people work and giving back whenever and wherever it can. “It’s in our blood.”

Health Management Systems of America

For some organizations, the idea of committees might be something to be avoided. Not at Health Management Systems of America, where the organization includes the concept simply as a way to improve engagement. Whether it be focusing on the company newsletter, any number of issues that may arise, employee recognition or health and safety, the committee handles the details. And when it comes to recognition, employees are given due credit for efforts above and beyond their job duties, plus more subtle “accomplishments” like anniversaries and even perfect attendance. Creating a sense of balance is also something people like CEO Bill Sumner try to achieve. “What makes HMSA a great place to work is our commitment to our employees. We care about our employees and we strive to provide a wide range of professional and personal opportunities to improve the quality of their daily life.” HMSA employees receive a low-cost benefits package that extends coverage to the employee’s family, as well as a number of other programs, including a wellness program as well as individual and team health and wellness competitions designed to further promote a culture of wellness, notably by giving them access to a health/wellness coach.

Henry Ford Health System-¨

Employee engagement is so important at one of the area’s largest health care systems that the organization took significant steps to make improvements to the way its managers were performing. Through an initiative that included the hiring of engagement consultants who subsequently worked with managers most in need of specific coaching in the area of employee engagement, Henry Ford began to see measurable improvements, so much so that the efforts have continued. In the end, the results made it possible for Henry Ford to earn a Great Workplace Award from the Gallup organization. As far as attracting employees to the organization, a “critical-to-fill” category of jobs is getting attention through an innovative program organized in cooperation with a local high school. Students are able to receive experience at Henry Ford while they’re completing high school, plus an associates degree in pharmacy tech, radiology tech and surgical tech. Call it a win-win, but Henry Ford Health System officials say it’s a great extension of an already robust program of offering facilities for clinical training and experience.

Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP

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. 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. 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. Rooted in a profound dedication to its people, their welfare and development, Honigman is proactive and innovative when it comes to sustaining high employee satisfaction and engagement.


Oak Park, Mich.

At IMAGE ONE, management’s focus is to give everyone on the team something bigger than just coming to work for a paycheck. The company’s culture and core values reflect a belief system that interactions with customers and each other are opportunities to exceed expectations -“ it’s a real company passion! Great care is given to investing in amazing people, giving them a voice and helping them realize their individual potential. Each team member, because of their personal background, education or work experience, brings a unique perspective and flavor to the base culture. IMAGE ONE succeeds because of these differences. Team members are enriched when they are encouraged to grow professionally and personally, and IMAGE ONE has created a culture where growth is the expectation. “We love giving our team opportunities that will challenge them, expand their mindset and, ultimately, enhance lives,” commented Rob Dube, president. He and lifelong friend Joel Pearlman founded IMAGE ONE in 1991. “We work on creating a balance between the demands of the job and the healthy management (and enjoyment) of life outside of work. We pride ourselves in our flexibility for work time, childcare, education, community service and more. We live a culture of giving and gratitude. That’s what makes us one of Metropolitan Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies for the 5th consecutive year.”


Southfield, Mich.-¨
Communication is perhaps the most important engagement tool as far as CEO Scott Bade is concerned. “Keeping our people well-informed about the direction of our plans and growth strategy helps foster an engaged workforce,” says Bade, who uses quarterly update meetings, a company Intranet, weekly team meetings and a variety of other tools, including e-mail and face-to-face sessions. And he listens. “We want to hear their viewpoints,” says Bade. Rewarding performance and commitment is also a strong agenda item, as is the ability to include financial bonuses. There’s also the social aspect, even though there’s another goal to the events, including fun, team-building events such as an annual picnic or the trek to a Detroit Tigers game. Add in golf outings, on-site BBQ luncheons, a family picnic or annual field day, and you get the picture. When it comes to recruitment, having a prospective employee hear about all that goes on and then visit the ImageSoft headquarters is something that Bade says helps “to seal the deal.”

Inergy Automotive Systems

Troy, Mich.
At Inergy, associates from all functions take part in the development of a world-size company operating in 19 countries, all part of a mosaic of 6,000 people working in 45 different sites, speaking 12 languages but with a single culture of excellence firmly anchored everywhere. Engineers and technicians are dedicated to research and development in Asia, Europe, North America and South America. Inergy’s 28 industrial plants manufacture fuel systems where safety is the prime concern and excellence is the daily target. Our industrial engineers and technicians are ensuring that our manufacturing processes are solid and well applied by our operators for a perfect quality delivered to our customers. Excellence not only means good quality performance, but also providing associates with a working environment worthy of Inergy’s code of ethics. All the support functions from Human Resources, Legal, Finance and Quality are ensuring that the operations have the means available to achieve excellence.


Farmington Hills, Mich.
Staff engagement is an area where JARC excels, through various events organized by a committee set up for the specific purposes of keeping the corporate atmosphere light and enjoyable. From office-wide chili cook-offs, to a barbecue in the parking lot and super casual Fridays, the activities seem to be doing their job. Even though employees are aware of how significant their work is when it comes to the service provided, seeing the interaction first hand. They’re also able to take additional training to enable employees to advance, making them even more valuable to JARC. The icing on the cake? A vacation policy that is so rich many employees have trouble taking it all.

Kyyba Inc.

Farmington Hills, Mich.
It may have started out as “just an IT company” but Kybba, Inc. has diversified in a way that likely saved the company at just the right time, says Tel Ganesan, president and CEO. “With the economy crashing, we knew we needed to diversify and not have all our eggs in one basket.” That new basket came in the shape of engineering services, the growth of which has allowed Kybba to “take off” with significant growth the welcome result. Being based in Michigan, Ganesan says, has given Kybba access to the kind of people he knows the company will continue to need to sustain that growth. “Not only do we have great universities and a business friendly atmosphere, but we recently find the auto industry making a comeback. We believe that the economy is starting to grow and will reach new levels in the years to come; we want to be part of that comeback and part of that growth.” Ganesan has no illusions as to what that growth will include. “The biggest challenge will be the fight for good talent. We will have to differentiate ourselves more as the number of openings grows and the talent shrinks.”

Level One Bank-¨

Farmington Hills, Mich.-¨
In just six years as a bank, Level One has grown from zero assets to some $600 million, with eight locations and more than 130 employees. Every one of those workers has made a meaningful contribution to the success of the bank, says CEO Patrick J. Fehring, a big fan of what he calls “meaningful work.” While many of the employees came to the bank to make a difference, they stayed on understanding that their opinions, suggestions and decisions have weight. “Many of our employees came from large banks wherein their voice was lost,” notes Fehring. “At Level One, employees are heard.” Some 70 percent of bank employees came to the organization as a result of a referral, a point that’s especially formative in that the bank was created in the throes of the recession. And that means that the culture continues to thrive. “Part of our mission was to create a likeable workplace offering meaningful, engaging work as well as good old-fashioned fun,” adds Fehring. “We continue to work hard to maintain a good quality of life.”

Llamasoft Inc.-¨

Ann Arbor, Mich.-¨
CEO Don Hicks calls Llamasoft an organization with a decidedly “work hard, play hard” philosophy, at least in part because the company is relatively young. Employees are encouraged to be bold and think outside the box. And ideas are encouraged and rewarded. The company prides itself on being friendly and flexible in their work environment. “By engaging employees we make learning the company values fun, entertaining, memorable, and most importantly human,” says Hicks. “We allow our employees to be themselves. We have an open door policy. Employees are encouraged to stop by whenever they feel the need to meet and ask questions, discuss suggestions, and address problems or concerns.” When it comes to training, Llamasoft puts a high importance on enhancing knowledge and increasing employee’s self-confidence when speaking about products. “We attract a lot of talent from our industry because of the high-caliber clients on our roster, the reputation of the product being a market-leader, and the general knowledge in the marketplace that we are on an extremely fast growth trajectory,” adds Hicks. “When we’re talking to candidates and peers, it’s easy to want to be part of the fast-track and attract strong players to the team.”

Marketing Associates

For Marketing Associates, one thing is clear to everyone who works there, including CEO Mark Petroff. “Our employees are our brand. They deliver technology enabled marketing solutions to our clients everyday.” That means an imperative: to keep employees satisfied by giving them more than the basics. Among those “extras” are opportunities to grow both personally and professionally, both through volunteering and training. The Marketing Associates experience also includes flexibility and balance through telecommuting days and the availability of fitness and daycare centers across the street. Petroff understands the relationship the company has with its staff is a two-way street with many lanes. “Competitive compensation and benefits simply serve as the on ramp,” he notes. “Our focus is clearly on the connectivity between our clients’ needs with our employees’ talents to deliver superb solutions that make Marketing Associates a workplace that is growing and rewarding.” Included in making that happen has been adopting a diversification strategy that’s created opportunities for employees to see new clients, new services and new industries. And the firm has invested in training and development to improve skill sets as a way to take advantage of the new and diverse opportunities.

McGraw Wentworth-¨

Troy, Mich.
Since its founding some 17 years ago, McGraw Wentworth has grown to a team of some 74 Michigan-based employees. But it’s still small enough for management to know everyone by name. Regardless of the size, consistency remains key. Indeed, consistency is the most important and innovative thing the firm can do, according to CEO Thomas P. McGraw. So what kind of employees does McGraw Wentworth seek to attract. A preferred theory is that high-performers prefer to work with other high-performers. That philosophy has cultivated a merit-based environment where high performers are rewarded, retained, recognized, empowered and promoted for their effort and for what they know. “In the end, people enjoy knowing that they’re working as part of a winning team and that each team member is pulling their weight,” adds McGraw. Already recognized as the region’s leading group benefits broker/consultant, the company understands that attracting critical-skill talent remains a challenge, largely because of its selectivity. Still, relying on referrals from current employees and clients helps. What also helps is a philosophy around making sure the ratio of staff to clients remains low. Says McGraw: “By predicting workloads and proactively hiring staff to accommodate our company’s growth, we ensure that our employees maintain a manageable workload while our clients continue to receive the exceptional level of service that they have come to expect from McGraw Wentworth.”

Meadowbrook Insurance Group Inc.

Southfield, Mich.

Meadowbrook Insurance Group Charitable Giving Participation Project 2013 at Focus: HOPE in Detroit, Michigan. Photo courtesy of Meadowbrook Insurance Group.

While the insurance industry as a whole has tended to focus largely on systems, processes and technology to increase productivity and cut costs, Meadowbrook CEO Robert Cubbin says his firm has taken a different approach: developing talent. “We’ve focused on the people side of the business, what motivates us as individuals at all levels of our organization, what makes us better at our jobs, and what makes us better at satisfying the total needs of our customers.” That’s not to say Meadowbrook hasn’t continued to offer a wide range of medical benefits, with options to help associates choose what best suits their individual needs. But it’s added a confidential Health IQ Program that Cubbin says many associates talk about in glowing terms. The company also provides an environment for managers to help associates improve. Cubbin says having a consistent approach has made the big difference throughout Meadowbrook’s history. “From marketing and training to claims handling and underwriting, we have deliberately chosen to reinforce this approach by recruiting the most talented individuals in the insurance industry.” Meadowbrook is also looking ahead to the future through an internship program that gives college students an exposure to the industry. “It also gives us a chance to attract talented people to our company,” adds Cubbin.

Meridian Health Plan

Meridian Health Plan is a family-owned business, committed to improving the quality of health care for those members assigned to the health plan, and as the health plan continues to improve in this goal, it shares successes with the employees and recognizes the dedication and hard work of the employees in each success. Employees are included in every celebration of company milestones. Benefits include Bagel Fridays, semi-annual company parties, monthly happy hours, birthday celebrations, department outings, potluck luncheons, employee and department recognitions, as well as participating in national recognitions such as Customer Service Week, which promotes the work of one of the firm’s departments. Meridian Health Plan has large opportunities for career advancement. MHP is open to allowing employees to try new things and pursue their interests, and strongly encourages employees to apply for different positions within the company that interest them. Employees receive training in all departments of the company and are often well equipped for positions in many departments, which sets up the opportunity for promotions.

Michigan First Credit Union

Lathrup Village, Mich.
For CEO Michael Poulos, Michigan First’s commitment to education is a point of pride. “As a credit union founded by educators, this approach has always been in our blood,” he notes. “But the past few years have given us the opportunity to expand our internal programming through bi-annual employee seminars and outside speakers. This innovation provides engaging, concrete and actionable strategies and tactics to help each of our team members improve their core job skills, customer service and leadership.” Even as it expects a lot from its team members, Michigan First says it provides a lot in return: top-notch health care coverage and the encouragement of a work/life balance, plus every effort to promote from within. “We reward hard work by supporting what matters most to them,” adds Poulos. A work environment that includes a fitness center, quiet rooms and volunteer activities is part of the “extra” that the credit union brings to the employee table. It also has a health improvement focus where it says “significant strides” have been made in encouraging healthy eating and active lifestyles, as well as community engagement, including several hands-on projects each year supporting critical causes in Metro Detroit.

MIPRO Consulting-¨

Milford, Mich.-¨
MIPRO Consulting calls it “limitless passion”-”a quality that comes from focusing on the hiring of people who love what they do. With a culture that fosters that passion so that employees do remain engaged, MIPRO’s management team follows their cue with an open door policy, providing ongoing feedback to teams and encouraging employees to do the same with their managers. In this way everyone has a chance to shape company policy. The result is a culture where all are appreciated. Strengths are celebrated and individual needs are recognized, whether it is flexible work schedules, or benefits (there are seven different medical plans, one of which is an opt-out for a cash stipend). MIPRO also offers a generous time off plan as well as paid holidays. MIPRO, which focuses on deploying and maintaining Oracle PeopleSoft implementations, upgrades and optimizations, is able to retain and attract top-talent by offering an attractive company culture that makes new candidates want to join and existing employees want to stay.

National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Michigan Chapter-¨

Southfield, Mich.-¨
Even with a much higher workload than in previous years, a flexible work policy put in place with this charitable organization is paying off for employees who say they have a much greater work-life balance than before. Trust is high and the culture is more supportive and positive than ever before. Absenteeism is at an all-time low and those policies are now being adopted nationally by the MS Society. As a charitable organization, it’s true that those affected by MS are key to the mission, but the constituency includes employees who without their commitment the work wouldn’t get done. And the MS Society wants to be an organization of choice to all its constituents. By bringing its core values of commitment, leadership, integrity, excellence and teamwork to the table the MS Society continues to build on a foundation of trust. A flexible work environment with appropriate focus on work-life balance and a unified focus on the success of the Society’s mission are all part of what makes this organization great. A robust on-boarding process for all new hires is key to that success, as is an ongoing training program with individual training plans for every staff member.

Nemeth Burwell PC

In many respects, it’s Nemeth Burwell’s reputation as a premier defense side team in labor and employment law that attracts so many talented individuals. But it’s more than that. When individuals expand their horizons beyond the immediate task at hand, they bring a new perspective to the workplace that fosters fresh ideas, camaraderie and contentment. The firm encourages innovation at work through balanced lives that encompass career, family, travel, community and professional endeavors and Nemeth Burwell is ahead of the curve in not only allowing but encouraging staff to live a full life. It also promotes equality for all staff, regardless of position. There is no premium plan available only to partners or attorneys-”all in the firm are treated equally. The absence of hierarchy and the promotion of administrative staff to positions of increasing responsibility also define the firm. With a tuition reimbursement plan, individuals can grow and promotional opportunities often are the result, an initiative that’s in line with Nemeth Burwell’s reputation as a thought leader in human resource practices. Even when one of the firm’s long-time partners left this year, clients remained with the firm, a positive reflection on the strength of its culture and relationships with clients and staff.

New Horizons Rehabilitation Services Inc.

-¨Auburn Hills, Mich.-¨
Go beyond the comprehensive compensation package of salary and benefits employees at New Horizons receive and you’ll see there must be more than that for many of the staff to have been with the organization more than 20 years. In part it’s about the encouragement and opportunity they receive to enhance their careers, through skill training, leadership training and mentoring. As culture, successes and expectations spread, so does the enthusiasm of employees, who are proud to be part of the meaningful work done by New Horizons Rehabilitation Services. And employees are a key part of that mission. As they build their expertise through advanced training (tuition reimbursement is offered to those who wish to continue their education), they’re also involved in an applied succession mentoring plan to identify talented staff and mentor them up through the roles of management. There are also community leadership training opportunities available, all part of a strategic initiative to attract, train and retain the very best talent to maintain New Horizons as an exemplary place to work. For nearly 50 years (2014 marks its half century), New Horizons has been making a difference, not only in the lives of its clients, but also in those who make it their mission to serve.

Oakwood Healthcare-¨

Dearborn, Mich.
Oakwood fosters an organizational culture conducive to open communication, high performance and an engaged workforce by aligning work around its strategic plan. It’s one that promotes two-way communication and an environment where the workforce wants to work. High performance work is fostered through training and cascading system, division, department and individual goals from the strategic plan. Through simple ideas like suggestion boxes as well as the Oakwood Heritage Hospital Innovation Task Force, employees are engaged in developing innovative approaches to support high performance work. Fostering workforce engagement is integrated with the Service Excellence Program through Workforce Engagement Teams meeting monthly at the division level and quarterly at the system level. Oakwood’s employee referral program is key to recruiting for critical occupations, including Registered Nurses, with referring employees receiving a bonus if the person is hired. Add other tactics, including radio, web ads, direct mailers, e-cards, and virtual job fairs as well as the direct contact made through local nursing colleges and “nurse ambassadors” to high schools and you get the picture. Oakwood Health is serious about building and maintaining a team that ‘s ready to serve. On the quality of life side, the organization goes out of its way to make sure the details don’t get in the way of a balanced work and family life, including software that automatically handles special requests-”more quickly and efficiently than could be done manually and freeing up managers for other critical tasks.

OpTech LLC-¨

Troy, Mich.
When you’re looking for top-notch people, the focus on the needs of those quality people is obviously front and center. And so it is at OpTech, where the satisfaction of employees and their engagement is a top priority. OpTech, an IT and engineering professional services company, focuses on building a culture of teamwork, innovation, and quality through what it calls the OpTech Norms. “We engage everyone from the first day of hire by sharing the OpTech Norms that places high value and regard on the capability and well-being of our employees,” says CEO Ronia Kruse. “Our Norms are based on the four pillars of P-” where everyone is Prepared, Positive, Participative and Part of the solution.” Employee surveys that empower employees to contribute to OpTech’s growth and their own are an integral part of OpTech’s culture. To inspire creativity, OpTech established a Bright Ideas program that rewards employees on identifying efficiencies and cost-saving ideas. “While we have fun, we work hard to achieve both company and professional goals,” adds Kruse. “As a result employees are more engaged and have proven to be the best company ambassadors with our clients, the community and future employees.” The company also provides intangible rewards such as social events, birthday lunches, awards ceremonies, and quarterly team-building outings. “While OpTech strives to be the top Employer of Choice, OpTech’s legacy will be known for what we want to achieve-”that anyone who comes in contact with OpTech has a positive experience, be it active or former employees, clients, suppliers, partners, and the community, and that will happen by the way we treat people.”

Orchard, Hiltz and McCliment

Livonia, Mich.
OHM is not just a company. It’s a family. As a family-oriented firm, OHM supports the personal and professional growth of its employees. It offers an exciting and challenging work environment, the latest technologies, and a competitive compensation/benefits package. OHM is an integrated engineering, architecture and planning firm committed to advancing communities. It devotes its public and private sector expertise, forward thinking and insightful counsel to enhancing the built environment and the natural world. At OHM, a belief in holistic thinking and services tailored to meet its clients’ ambitions is at the core.


Livonia and Grand Rapids, Mich.
OtterBase was founded on the promise that it would provide a superior staffing experience for its clients by delivering the highest trained individuals and unsurpassed customer service. OtterBase continues to keep this promise to its clients as it strives to achieve our goal of creating competitive advantages through people. “We never lose sight of the fact that every assignment and every person we place is first and foremost, uniquely individual and deserves an equally unique approach from us,” says CEO William Bennett. “We know that if we provide our people with the best we have to offer, then they will provide our clients with the best they have to offer.” That’s why OtterBase has a reputation for having one of the most competitive benefits and training programs in the business, including its Performance Bonus Plan and its Referral Bonus Program. OtterBase entered the staffing services industry because of the belief that the industry was doing a substandard job of servicing clients. “In fact, the staffing industry as a whole has lagged behind our clients in terms of product innovation and customer service. We believe that our company provides the overall best customer service experience in the entire staffing industry,” adds Bennett. OtterBase constantly monitors the specific business environments of its clients and continually works to refine its services to meet their changing needs.

Plex Systems-¨

Troy, Mich.-¨
Plex Systems calls the users of its cloud-based Enterprise Resource Planning system a community. And that extends to the people at Plex who ultimately make the system a reality, right down to the plant floor. Indeed, CEO Jason Blessing says as much: “Everyone in the company needs to be consistently committed to providing best-in-class, innovative software solutions, an unparalleled customer service and a constantly evolving product strategy that is on a rigid continuous improvement development cycle.” With that said, Plex is a meritocracy where good ideas can come from anyone in the organization. A relentless improvement by reducing waste, improving quality and operational efficiency is a mission everyone at Plex shares. Blessing admits it’s not always easy to find the right person with the right skills. But he doesn’t give up. “We are always seeking well qualified individuals with a good work ethic. After we identify an appropriate candidate and we explain our competitive benefits package and uniquely supportive work environment we usually are successful at bringing them into our company. Once they become part of the team and experience the camaraderie and culture of the organization they typically stay.” Plex has an almost evangelistic zeal when it comes to serving its customers. “Historically, it has been very successful for Plex to attract younger employees by participating in the co-op and internship programs with the local universities, with an on average 50 percent of interns ending up with Plex after their graduation. Blessing says there are numerous reasons to join Plex and to stay, but one key belief stands out: “We believe we have a responsibility to our communities to improve the quality of life for everyone.” This year the Plex Giving Program is directed to Gleaners Community Food Bank. “We like to think that not only does our product help manufacturers improve their production but that our company improves the communities in which we live and work.”

Plunkett Cooney

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
When Plunkett Cooney, a litigation and trial law firm, set out to put in place a strategic plan that seeks to improve employee performance, customer service and quality, it did so in what CEO Henry B. Cooney believes is a unique approach: creating working groups of attorneys and staff that develop recommendations for implementing specific areas of the plan. “Empowering employees to participate in the implementation process has been a key to improving overall employee satisfaction and buy-in to change,” says Cooney. Having a continued focus on associate attorney development and retention is also an ongoing reason for the firm’s success. “We remain committed to examining issues important to the firm’s young attorneys and to promoting social activities that further endear them to the firm,” adds Cooney. “The firm believes in the quality and character of its employees and makes every attempt to provide the training and support they need to be successful. Having an extensive onboarding process is another reason for success, as is the firm’s commitment to providing ongoing professional development. “We’re working hard in today’s highly competitive business environment to not only attract but to retain our employees.

Potestivo & Associates PC-¨

Rochester Hills, Mich.-¨
CEO Brian Potestivo has a goal: Create a unique, exciting, yet professional work environment. He’s on his way toward that through a variety of initiatives, including weekly meetings to address issues or concerns, team-building exercises in some of those meetings and, on a larger scale, fun and unique perks such as food/catering truck visits once a month, a car detailing service, employee luncheons and incentives to support local charities. Yes, there’s a competitive wage package and a fully covered health benefit plan, but Potestivo realizes the need to go beyond the traditional benefits, bringing flexible schedules, on-site perks, and even a ticket raffle for sporting events. Plus there’s a strong focus on communication built around an open-door policy. “We take great pride in our employees enjoying their job all while being about to offer superior service to our customers,” adds Potestivo. The firm has plans to take part in local job fairs and partner up with career services departments at local colleges/universities and law schools, having built a fundamental training program that begins on an employee’s first day and continues through their tenure with the firm. In the past few years, Potestivo has created policies that help it offer a work-life balance for staff, realizing that most households have two working parents, which can make it difficult for parents to be involved with their children and their activities. A Flex Time Schedule and Work from Home Schedule as well as a partnership with a local day care to offer a reduced group price have all helped. Potestivo provides legal services to the real estate finance and credit industry.

Red Level Networks-¨

Novi, Mich.-¨

Red Level Networks CEO David King

It’s one thing to talk about having an employee-centric culture. And Red Level Networks CEO David King isn’t hesitant about making that statement. But examples of that are even more powerful, one story being when an employee had adopted a new puppy but was reluctant to leave the new addition to the family at home during the inevitable training period. “Bring your puppy to work!” was the immediate urging by her colleagues. The happy ending? “The employee was so happy that we could accommodate her family balance that it increased her performance and she has excelled at work.” The moral of the story is Red Level is giving employees the kind of latitude they need and crave to make decisions. And that extends to client interaction where the need to think both creatively and quickly is at the forefront. Red Level Networks is a full service IT infrastructure company. “By having our staff working directly with clients making decisions that have immediate effects on their business, our employees always stay active and engaged,” adds King. Guiding polices are certainly there to assist but many decisions are the result of experience and an amazing effort. A culture of ongoing training is key to not only attracting but retaining staff, many of whom came from a culture where there was resistance to training on grounds of cost. Not so at Red Level where employees are encouraged to maintain their already high level of expertise, results of which are posted-”another example of transparency in the office.


Southfield, Mich.
At REDICO, the purpose is to create and maximize value for the REDICO team, its partners, its customers and the community. The company finds value in relationships, financial success, community stewardship and fun. Its mission, the actions it takes everyday to achieve its purpose, is to communicate, execute and focus through teamwork. The company’s first corporate goal is that “Our employees will be proud, highly satisfied and committed members of the REDICO team.” REDICO, a real estate development and investment company, is a five-time winner of the 101 Best and Brightest to Work For in Metropolitan Detroit competition. The company offers an exciting place to work plus market competitive compensation and benefits.


Saginaw, Mich.-¨
In an environment as demanding as public accountancy, a firm like Rehmann needs to be seen as investing in associates who will work 65 hours a week during peak seasons. That’s about investing in a career, not a job, says CEO Steve Kelly. One of the ways the firm helps is by allowing associates to work remotely, including from their homes. And the results speak for themselves: team members who were not in the same location with their leaders were actually more engaged and committed -” and rated the same leader higher-”than team members sitting right nearby. That kind of flexibility goes a long way in ensuring Rehmann associates are empowered to get client work accomplished around a time that is mutually beneficial to the clients and themselves. When people are treated as professionals rather than just worker bees, there’s also an opportunity to create an environment where fun is encouraged, especially when team stress levels are at their peak. Whether it be a week of themed dressing (“Spirit Week”) or various other events (chili cook off, Easter egg hunt, spa day), the ideas work. Staff who work late (or on weekends) get dinner on the house. And throughout the year social activities and events help foster an environment of comradeship with each office recognizing birthdays and anniversaries. “Our culture begins from the perspective of our firm’s vision to be the ‘Firm of Choice’ for our clients and associates,” notes Kelly. “The recognition that our values and brand promise impact every interaction we have–”with each other, with our clients, with our prospects and with our referral sources.”

Reliance One

-¨Auburn Hills, Mich.-¨

Reliance One Sales Incentive trip to Cancun.

As a staffing company, it’s not unusual that Reliance One would make employee engagement a high priority. How it does it is special, through a combination of communication and goal setting, with the organization divided into cohesive teams that work closely to achieve success. The teams, coached and mentored by a member of the leadership team, set daily and monthly goals which are tracked and measured. Add to the picture a culture of continuous improvement with systems and processes to support those efforts and you begin to understand just how powerful the effort can be. Make no mistake-”this is a firm where people work hard and play hard. “Every employee sets goals and is strongly encouraged to have their own professional development plan,” says CEO Jim Beath. Employee compensation is directly tied to goal achievement with health care, 401K, retention bonuses and incentive trips part of the mix. Reliance One also provides a fully furnished gym and programs to promote health and wellness and the company recently purchased pedometers for everyone, with a walking contest that included prizes for participation. Reliance One is not alone in its constant quest for new employees, having opened up an internal recruiting department to focus on its needs. A big component of its recruiting strategy is working with area colleges and universities to spread the word about the opportunities, and the company is using career fairs and other networking events on a regular basis.

Dr. Timothy Roney DDS & Associates-¨

Shelby Township, Mich.-¨
In Dr. Timothy Roney’s dental office, the staff take a multi-pronged approach to keeping employees engaged in the work, through multiple reward and bonus opportunities that apply to the entire office but also individuals. Team outings where staff can bond, weekly team meetings and other educational options-”even a “shout out” board in the office are part of an overall strategy to keep motivation and productivity high. Making sure employees are respected and valued at all times is the key objective, with staff striving to work together gracefully as a team while acknowledging that all employees are individuals as well. Searching for those “perfect” employees is thorough, with a process that includes interviewing, personality testing and even a working interview to make sure there’s an office fit. But it doesn’t stop there. A culture of training is part of the office, the object being to give clients the best possible care. It’s also a family atmosphere, both for clients and employees. That attitude helped during the recession where patients were given different payment options. And there’s sensitivity to the needs of employees to be able to manage their work-life balance with the help and flexibility of the rest of the office.

Ryan LLC-¨

The leadership of this global tax consultancy (with offices in Michigan) strongly believes you can’t have one without the other, in this case, the best business results without happy, productive and enthusiastic employees. “We do everything we can to build an organization and implement innovative programs that encourage employees to be productive and focus on work-life success,” says CEO Brint Ryan, one of the founders of the 22-year-old firm. “Our workplace flexibility program is one great example that our employees love to talk about in the many external and internal surveys that we participate in each year.” The program, based on founding values of innovation, entrepreneurship, and results over time, clearly demonstrates the respect Ryan has for its employees by giving them complete ownership of their time. The firm also recognizes its success is due to the hard work and commitment of its employees. At its 15- and 20-year anniversaries, employees and their families were sent on all-expense paid trips to Disney World in Florida or Las Vegas. And plans are under way for a 25th anniversary trip in 2016. Even now, Ryan is constantly looking for creative ways to enhance an already impressive set of perks. Indeed, many of the firm’s newest benefits and innovative workplace programs are based on employee input.

Sachse Construction

-¨Birmingham, Mich.-¨
It’s not enough to want your employees to work hard and play hard. What’s required, says CEO Todd Sachse is the infrastructure, in technology as well as policies, to make that happen. The firm strives for a great work-life balance by allowing flexible schedules, the ability to work from home when needed, having a generous bereavement leave and unlimited paid jury duty leave available from day one, allowing additional paid time off for religious observance that are beyond the normal paid holidays, and rewarding longevity with not only wonderful personalized, meaningful gifts for years of service but also giving a four-week paid sabbatical at 10 years and every five years thereafter. At work that includes having flat screen TVs located through the office so people can take mind breaks by catching up on the hot news items, sporting events, or the occasional cooking show. And monthly catered lunches, monthly happy hours, after work games, and charity golf outings are also part of the picture. “We feel informed employees are satisfied employees so we make sure to communicate what is happening with the company on a regular basis,” adds Sachse, who adds that the standard the company expects from our employees is exactly the standard the company upholds when seeing to its employee needs. That includes living up to its core values. Sachse says the company works hard to make sure it doesn’t fall into a cookie-cutter approach to meeting those needs.

Schechter Wealth Strategies-¨

Birmingham, Mich.-¨

The Schechter Wealth Team explores their creativity at Painting With A Twist in Farmington, MI.

At Schechter Wealth Strategies, keeping everyone on the same page boils down to two words: total transparency. Quarterly team meetings where everyone gets up to speed on the state of the enterprise (and sees where they’ve contributed to the success) is a key part of that commitment. And having employees involved in a power planning exercise to bring their initiatives into the mix is another key part of what makes Schechter Wealth Strategies work so well. Among various fun activities that are interwoven throughout the calendar, the firm has a special and generous bonus program that includes all employees, regardless of start date, title or role. A decision made to invest in long-term training has paid off at Schechter Wealth, certainly in its ability to attract new talent and bring them through an “onboarding” process that has in its own right delivered dividends to the firm. So has a company decision to return a small amount that had been withheld voluntarily to keep the staff intact. As the economy rebounds, Schechter Wealth’s core values continue to serve the firm well. The management team continues to support all team members personally and professionally and the team atmosphere allows employees to cover for one another when personal issues arise or when some are overloaded at work. Plus management supports an increased workload by engaging outside services when needed instead of working employees to hard.

Schupan & Sons Inc.

-¨Kalamazoo, Mich.
Schupan may focus on industrial recycling, but building its employee base into one where wellness reigns supreme is one of its most important goals. It starts by inspiring, creating and maintaining a workplace and environment that supports and encourages each employee’s healthy lifestyle choices. It’s also about encouraging and empowering employees to take responsibility for their own health. One way to accomplish this is by striving to provide a better understanding of the true cost of health care, strengthening the partnership between the company and employees. An annual biometric screening (done on site at no cost to employees) provides a wealth of information that can lead to better health and wellness. And a wellness coach follows up, based on an employee’s request. Complimentary flu shots are part of a comprehensive plan to help employees become healthier individuals.

Seco Tools

Troy, Mich.
Why work for Seco Tools? The company says it simply enough: “Our people and our culture.” Three fundamental values help shape Seco’s corporate culture: Passion for its customers, family spirit, and personal commitment. At Seco, these are not just buzz words. The company strives as individuals to uphold these ideals. As a member of the team, employees are valued and supported with the tools they need to perform their job, and are surrounded by an environment that encourages them to be heard. Employee programs are designed to encourage and reward colleagues who are dedicated, responsible, creative, willing, eager, forward-thinking and proud. The culture within the company breeds a spirit of trust and mutual respect by focusing on transparent communication and a true open door policy. With that foundation, Seco builds internal and external relationships that are mutually beneficial. This culture better positions the firm for achievement of its strategic goal of growing market share. In short, Seco is a successful company driven by a strong culture.-¨


Southfield, Mich.
Recruitment becomes easier, even in times when good staff is scarce, when one of the biggest sources is the people who already work for you. That’s the philosophy of Secure-24’s founders, including co-CEO Matthias Horch, who formerly worked for one of Germany’s largest SAP consulting firms. When his company’s plans to expand into the U.S. market evaporated with the dot-com bubble, he and co-founder Volker Straub went on their own. Perhaps that history is why Secure-24 has developed such an accommodating culture, one that encourages employees to drive and run with ideas and innovations. Indeed, the company encourages individuals to take on new initiatives that improve work-life balance and contribute to the community, whether it be employee-run blood drives for the Red Cross, recycling programs, or Earth Day green initiatives. While some firms promote from within, Horch believes Secure-24 has taken that approach to a new level, by providing advancement opportunities and leadership tracks for everyone. “Our focus on nurturing leadership is based on a widespread belief that everyone with passion and a unique talent should be given a chance to succeed,” Horch says. “We have a deeply rooted commitment that everyone is supported to succeed, and that through supporting each other, we provide the best support to our clients.”


Troy, Mich.
SERPEO is a small company that’s big on culture. It’s one that embraces its core values: “Can Do” attitude, Knowledge Driven, Passion for Success, Customer-Focused Teamwork and Do the Right Thing. In honoring its knowledge driven core value, the company trains and develops its employees to their full potential, recognizing that people are the firm’s most valuable asset. Employees are rewarded for a job well done and SERPEO is committed to providing a work environment that is challenging, inclusive, and fun. SERPEO provides human resource outsourcing, benefit and payroll services to its clients, leading by example and providing employees with a comprehensive benefit package. The firm believes that human resources is about partnering with employees to help them become engaged and productive members of the team. SERPEO’s tagline is “helping people succeed” and the organization embodies this concept. When people come first, it shows a true desire to help them succeed; it follows that the companies served will succeed and so will SERPEO -¦ creating win-win-win situations. SERPEO client companies are of great importance to the firm-”devoted to providing them with the same tools and philosophies that have made SERPEO a winning organization.

Service Express Inc.

Grand Rapids, Mich.
How does a company average double-digit annual growth over the past decade? For Service Express, which provides on-site hardware maintenance for mission critical servers, it’s about having the vision to help employees achieve their personal, professional and financial goals. As CEO Ron Alvesteffer explains: “SEI’s values are integral to our culture and our ability to achieve our vision.” Every employee has the opportunity to choose a path and have a meaningful impact on the company, which in turn, creates great opportunities to determine and achieve those goals, he adds. At the same time, it’s critical for employees at SEI to embrace the idea of becoming a lifelong learner. To that end, every employee has a professional development plan that includes learning activities and coaching sessions to enhance their knowledge and skills. Using a systematic approach to the education and development of employees is key, with new employee orientation, SEI culture training, peer mentoring, technical mentoring, executive coaching, SEI internal training programs, systematized management practices, conferences, seminars, professional development libraries, cross training and a management development program in place to achieve that strategy.


Troy, Mich.-¨
It may not be an original statement but CEO Adrienne Lenhoff nevertheless takes it to heart: “We focus on a work-to-live environment rather than a live-to-work one.” Being able to have employees shape the culture and corporate footprint with a focus on creating an environment where people want to come to work each day is a big part of making that happen. In Lenhoff’s marketing and public relations company, all employees are cross-trained and no one is stuck in a solitary role or job function. “We believe that happy and motivated people who have the work-life balance they need make the best employees and we do everything we can to foster that,” she adds. “Often we have to tell employees to take their vacation days or to leave the office for the day.” Lenhoff says she loves to hear laughter, knowing employees are enjoying working with one another. Need a day off? Employees sign out in the calendar and take the time they need. “Life is too short not to have an environment where you enjoy the people you work with,” adds Lenhoff. Training at Shazaaam!/Buzzphoria includes guest speakers and internal training, with employees encouraged to participate in virtual and in-person professional association conventions and executive learning conference calls, as well as local, regional, national and international development events.


Livonia, Mich.
Managing our 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. Everything Skanska has at offer is made from scratch, for the first time. 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.


Southfield, Mich.-¨
In an industry as fast-paced and exciting as IT, having a company as nimble as Sogeti is a good thing. A firm with a rich history of innovation in services that aren’t, after all, more than a few years in existence, Sogeti has put in place a robust infrastructure at its worldwide offices, including Southfield, where vice president Tom Keuten leads the team. When someone joins the firm, they select a practice, much the same way as they may have declared a major in university. But that’s not the end of the story. If their passions change, they get to choose on an annual basis where they might like to go next. “Since they decide where their career is going and follow their passion, they are engaged in their work,” notes Keuten. Each practice has a regional and national leader that provides guidance and helps shape the careers of Sogeti consultants. And each office also has a consultant advisory board that solicits input to better understand how people in the office would like to get to know each other better-”the idea being to stay connected and engaged. “People are attracted to and stay with Sogeti because they like a variety of work assignments and an opportunity to see more and do more than they can typically get in other employment experiences,” says Keuten. “Because of our local business model, our consultants don’t travel as much as they would in careers with other top consulting firms, which helps us with retention.”

Stout Risius Ross Inc.

Southfield, Mich.
Employee engagement is key at this financial advisory firm. That means continually communicating the corporate vision, says CEO Craige Stout, although he adds that being serious all the time isn’t what the firm is about. “We place a great importance on providing a fun and engaging work environment for all of our employees.” At the same time, sharing financials and strategic plans is also an important part of what makes SRR successful, as is an employee recognition program. But communication is among the most important activities, says Stout. “Communication between individuals and their management is encouraged to be frequent, particularly as it relates to the individual’s performance. We also have an open door policy that encourages comments and ideas from all employees.” Even then, SRR is striving to be better at what it does, especially as needs change. One example of that is a sabbatical policy that grants four consecutive paid weeks of vacation, allowing employees to re-engage with families and friends. Stout says the intent is similar to all initiatives designed to improve corporate life. “Our continual goal is to implement programs, policies, and practices that show we have put a substantial amount of thought into creating a mutually beneficial workplace between the firm and its employees.”


Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
While Taubman began as a private, family-owned enterprise in the early 1950s, the culture remains a closely-knit one, especially one that believes its strength and success is a direct reflection of the people that work there. For that reason alone, Taubman, which focuses on the development of dominant retail malls, goes to great lengths to hire top talent. “We understand that success requires more than hiring the right people -” we need to help them stay engaged in their work,” notes CEO Robert S. Taubman. That means paying attention to what drives employee engagement, which Taubman does through an employee survey that gives the company the data needed to keep that enthusiasm alive. Today Taubman is stronger than ever and poised for continued growth as a best-“in-class industry leader. And again, it comes back to employees, every one of whom, at every location, at every level in the organization, has an individual plan for professional development. Taubman is clear about how important training is to the company. “We believe helping employees learn and grow professionally positively impacts both employee engagement and business results.” What follows is a robust offering of development opportunities to address basic and advanced leadership development, business and functional skill development, and competency development. “We believe this effort pays off,” adds Taubman. “It’s an investment in not only our people, but in the future of the organization as well.

Taylor Special Care Services Inc.-¨

Southfield, Mich.-¨
In an organization that’s dedicated to providing care to those who need it most, it’s not surprising that Taylor Special Care Services uses a variety of formal and informal mechanisms to recruit and retain most qualified individuals in the industry. But once those team members are on board, keeping them happy and productive is just as important. A structured training and development program is part of what ensures employees have a consistent experience and background knowledge. And it’s that consistency that’s particularly relevant for Taylor’s basic policies and procedures. “We believe the total work experience within our organization is superior to that at other companies in our industry because we identify unique people policies, processes and programs that demonstrate our commitment to employee growth, management development, ongoing employee recognition, and community service,” notes COO Simon Pop. “The central reason people choose to commit themselves to our company is because we stay contained within our value proposition. We actively communicate the employee value proposition in all recruitment efforts, and in letters offering employment, and take the focus off of compensation as the primary ‘offer.’ We believe that personal job satisfaction is driven by far more than financial factors such as salary and benefits.”

Still, Taylor’s Special Care Services knows and understands just how important engagement can be in creating and maintaining job fulfillment. “We understand that motivating high performance and aligning talent with business strategy requires getting to the heart of what matters to employees. So we engage our employees. We listen to employee feedback and encourage it. And we support career path development by formally mentoring our workforce. Employees see there’s a future for them because of our commitment to growth.”

Tognum America Inc.-¨

Tognum America Inc., formerly part of MTU Detroit Diesel, is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Germany’s Tognum AG. While the company name has changed, the brand has not. MTU, the hallmark brand of the Tognum Group, is built on a long line of premium diesel engines that dates back as early as 1909 in Germany and 1938 in North America. As GM Diesel and later Detroit Diesel, the firm’s first North American engines were compact, lightweight, 2-Cycle products for power generation, industrial and defense applications. Later, heavy-duty engines were developed. By 1965, it had produced its millionth engine in North America. That same year, GM Diesel was renamed Detroit Diesel. Detroit Diesel and MTU formed a partnership in 1994 to develop a next generation of heavy-duty diesel engines: the Series 2000 and Series 4000, engine families that have since become legendary for their reliability, emissions control and fuel efficiency.

Turner Construction Co.

Whatever the skyline, building or experience that first sparked an interest in construction, Turner Construction is ready to talk to people who have an interest in working with the firm. Every Turner project starts with a team of dedicated employees. The company is looking for individuals who are eager to develop their skills and apply them together to create the buildings where people play, work, learn and live. Naturally, Turner is interested in candidates with backgrounds related to construction management or engineering. But, like any other company, it is also looking for individuals in fields like finance, accounting, human resources and business development. People who work at Turner will not just build buildings; they will build a portfolio of skills and experience that will sustain their entire career. The work Turner does is collaborative, but the firm encourages its employees to set big goals and will help them achieve them.

Turner Enterprises Inc.-¨

Bingham Farms, Mich.-¨
Turner Enterprises is a consulting firm that specializes in management training, outsourced sales and new client acquisitions, working with service-based Fortune 500 companies across a variety of industries. Its approach to doing business is unique. It manages the customer relationships personally and locally with clients depending on loyalty to make the long-term revenue their shareholders depend on. Loyalty, the company believes, comes from a great customer experience. The company says its results, coupled with industry conditions, have put the firm in a remarkable position to grow exponentially. Since 2011, Turner Enterprises has been contracted with some of the nation’s largest and most respected clients. Turner Enterprises believes the success of a company directly relates to the success of each individual involved. It values integrity, work ethic and continuing personal and professional development. Based on these values it continues to hit its goals and fulfills its clients’ needs.

UHY Advisors MI Inc.-¨

Sterling Heights, Mich.-¨
It’s never been easy to attract Certified Public Accountants, but UHY Advisors is better than the average, at least in part by having its compensation and benefits package make sense to employees. There’s also a sense of flexibility involved, with associates being able to purchase days off from their bonus, an attractive idea given the nice summer weather that is in a slower time of year. And what about the recession? Professionals at UHY were still doing great work and were rewarded for their achievement. Management also looks for innovative ways to recognize employees, whether it is a special breakfast, a company picnic, or holiday parties. The flexibility involved in working at UHY covers even the long hours near tax filing, when the firm adds staff to help carry the workload. Training is also a key at UHY, a firm that continues to support education requirements as staff work toward completing their CPA exam.

United Shore Financial Services LLC

-¨Troy, Mich.-¨
Yes, United Shore Financial has a new building. And it’s rightly proud of having an environment where staff members are excited to come to work every day. But the leadership has no elusions about what really counts. It’s the people and making sure those that work at United Shore are satisfied more than bricks, mortar, glass and steel. It’s about communication. “Our team members are emotionally invested in what the company is striving to achieve, because we work hard together toward the same defined goals,” says CEO Mat Ishbia. “Every USFS team member knows our goals and understands how they contribute to achieving those goals. We have set a clear direction for the future, and we bring real meaning to work.” Continuing that effort, the firm has developed a “Brilliant Ideas” initiative that makes it easy for employees to share their voice. One way the firm has followed through is with a multi-pronged approach that helps people stay healthy, meet their financial goals, protect their income and their family, and balance the demands of work and personal life. As Ishbia adds: “The same spirit of teamwork that we exhibit inside the office carries over into our after-work activities. We look after one another, like family. We like our jobs -¦ and each other. And it shows.”

University of Michigan Athletic Department-¨

Ann Arbor, Mich.-¨
For those who live, breathe and (some might say) bleed the University of Michigan colors, it might go without saying: The University of Michigan Athletic Department is a great place to work. But let’s dive a little deeper. Its branding is recognized around the world and it’s ranked among the premier collegiate athletic programs in the nation, both on and off the field. And it has a unique culture, rich history and celebrated traditions. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t hard work. “Our department team members are required to work in a very intense, fast-moving and highly competitive environment,” says Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd director of Athletics. “We demand integrity; we work hard to win championships; and we want to do a great job of preparing our student-athletes for success in their lives after athletic competition.” But there are clearly returns. “We will do everything possible to be a great place to work. We will assist them in growing and improving as people and within their chosen career pursuits. We want the long hours and commitment they make in our department’s success to be rewarded with a commensurate amount of unique experiences, celebrations, rewards and FUN!” Those initiatives, some of which are part of the surroundings, include being able to cheer the U-M teams, wellness events, wearing adidas apparel, a discount to the golf course and various facility rental and discounts. Brandon continues: “At Michigan Athletics, we believe the combination of exceptionally talented workers and a unique, positive-energy culture, will create the competitive point-of-difference that will be key to helping us achieve the high expectations we have for our department.”

University of Michigan Health System

Ann Arbor, Mich.
With tens of thousands of admitted patients and more than one and a half million clinical visits, the University of Michigan Health System (which includes a medical school and nursing school), remains one of the region’s premier facilities. The medical school was the first in the nation to own its own hospital and among the first to admit women. It was also the first major medical school to teach science-based medicine.

US Foods

Wixom, Mich.
The 10th largest private company in America, US Foods has more than $20 billion in annual revenue and employs approximately 25,000 people in more than 60 locations nationwide. A comprehensive and competitive benefit package is made available to all employees, including a company match with 401(k), after 30 days of employment. The company maintains a strong focus on growth in a high-performance environment. Employees are rewarded for their hard work; the company offers free onsite massages to its employees once a month and employees engage in community initiatives that support customers and the communities it serves. A Special Events Committee helps plan monthly employee activities. US Foods is a foodservice distributor to restaurants, health care and hospitality facilities, government operations and educational institutions.

Valassis Communications Inc.-¨

Livonia, Mich.-¨
At Valassis Communications, engagement is a big deal, an initiative that plays out through a variety of programs and initiatives. From the Associate Council that serves as a policy sounding board for discussions about ideas, to a Giving Committee that manages corporate donations and fundraising events, the central idea is that people have the opportunity to be involved. Even helping the environment is a group effort, with a Green Team that identifies ways the company can enhance its commitment to the planet. Valassis, a marketing and media services company, has also developed a comprehensive Total Rewards program that includes instant recognition for those who strengthen core values. As part of an overall talent management strategy and system, training is seen as a way to make sure there’s a meaningful learning and development plan for employees. Plus a flexible workplace initiative, rolled out company-wide in 2013, has given some employees the ability to work from home, depending on the nature of their job.

W3R Consulting

Southfield, Mich.
At w3r Consulting the firm takes pride in providing a true work/life balance for each and every employee. This is much more than a recruiting company; w3r is a partner with its employees. It has a commitment that at every stage of a consultant’s professional and personal development there is support and guidance. w3r has the “work hard, play harder motto.” People there work hard for employees by offering a competitive and complete benefit package. The firm has a strong leadership team that believes in mentoring junior employees and organizations to assist in growth of all levels. Staff is recognized for the value they provide and work to retain the team by continuously challenging them with additional roles and responsibilities. Finally, the firm loves to have a great time with its consultants, hosting a company golf league, sports outings, Employee Appreciation Days, luncheons, dinners and ongoing networking internally.


Keeping employees around is something for which Walbridge, an internationally acclaimed privately-held construction firm, understands the value. That’s where the fun begins. “We created a setting for collaboration through physical and virtual spaces where team members can work together and strengthen ideas,” says John Rakolta Jr., the firm’s CEO. “We did this by restructuring our work spaces to encourage team members to openly discuss ideas while still maintaining their personal privacy. We gave all team members virtual meeting tools to enable them to participate in corporate gatherings or private video chats with other team members regardless of location. And we provided virtual meeting spaces to keep track of group work product and promote ongoing communication. We also created a private virtual space for team members to list and track both corporate and private goals for their personal development.” At the same time, Walbridge has developed a deep sense of empathy for what employees may be going through in difficult times. “Employees have never been asked to accept furloughs or take pay cuts to help balance corporate coffers,” says Ralkolta. “We have also created a healthier and greener place to work and encourage our team members to use their benefits to enhance their mental and physical well being.”

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Grand Rapids, Mich.-¨
When Warner Norcross & Judd partnered with an external organization for a firm-wide engagement survey, the first hint of how key this would be was the 91.5 percent response rate. And the results? Double the industry norm. “We undertook this effort to be certain we had a true sense of our areas of strength and areas in which we should concentrate future efforts,” says managing partner Doug Wagner. “We now have a road map to improve on our solid foundation.” The firm recognizes that as a professional services firm the success of the business is 100 percent dependent upon the quality of the people it hires and retains. “People new to the firm frequently comment that there is something ‘different’ about working here,” says Wagner. “I believe the difference is born of our culture, our emphasis on the team over the individual, our willingness to celebrate our successes and all the hard work that goes into them. It is found in our desire to be inclusive while acknowledging -“ and celebrating -“ our differences. It is in our commitment to service in all its many forms, whether it is delivering the highest caliber legal services to our clients or providing community service as a weekend volunteer. And, it is underscored by our commitment to be the best at everything we do, while having fun doing it.”

WOW! Internet Cable Phone

-¨Detroit, Mich.
These are exciting times for WOW! Internet, Cable and Phone. With more than 3,200 employees across the Midwest and Southeast, the Wide Open West team is made up of professionals who are proud to show they care about our customers and each other. Although the team is made up of individuals working in different regions, they share one common set of values, including respect-”treat others as you would wish to be treated; integrity-”choose to do what’s right; accountability-”own your part of any situation and work toward a solution; and accountability-”servanthood. WOW! differentiates itself competitively by working the WOW! Way, putting customers first in everything it does and by putting employees first.

Yeo & Yeo, CPAs and Business Consultants

-¨Saginaw, Mich.-¨
Yeo & Yeo provides the venue for individuals who have the desire and drive to grow as leaders in the accounting industry. Its standards are high, but the atmosphere is lively, friendly and stimulating. Among the top 200 CPA firms in the country, Yeo & Yeo has consistently grown throughout its inception in 1923. It fuels that growth through resources and capabilities that have allowed it to compete with the largest of firms, but with the service and personal attention of a local firm. Team members at Yeo & Yeo have the chance to get involved in various types of client engagements and work with clients early on in their careers. Young professionals experience a variety of opportunities to expand interest and expertise areas and see what fits for them. The firm also takes time to celebrate its successes and takes time to cultivate friendships with year-round social events and activities. From office parties and team retreats to its Yeo & Yeo sports teams, accountants have fun too!

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.