Today’s workplace is changing at a rapid rate due to the wants and needs of the modern employee. From flexible hours to accessible and open leadership, workers in 2018 are demanding more than just money and benefits; they want to be a part of something special. The companies featured in the following pages have managed to create that special environment and offer everything from work-life balance to community involvement activities in order to keep the best and the brightest.
These 10 companies were chosen by Nevada Business Magazine’s editorial staff after a lengthy process that included several hundred nominations. The list was researched, narrowed down and verified. The following businesses represent those organizations who have won the loyalty of their employees by consistently providing the best work environment and opportunities.
In order to get a glimpse into what it is like to work at these businesses, the editorial staff did extensive research on each, interviewing executives, and sometimes staff, to get a clear picture of the values each company holds dear. Based on this research, as well as employee-submitted nominations, Nevada Business Magazine is proud to present the 2018 Best Companies to Work For.
CEI Alarm Investing in People —Sparks
An alarm company based out of Sparks in Northern Nevada, CEI Alarm was started by Dave Sinclair, owner and president, 27 years ago. Sinclair began the company in his garage and has worked to steadily grow through buying other alarm companies and building a solid portfolio.
“We are not the largest in town as far as alarm companies,” explained Sinclair. “But, it is a goal that we’ve set, to be the biggest and the best in Reno.”
Sinclair employs 15 people and, over the years, he’s learned a lot about what it means to take care of his people.
“I realized how important employees are and that’s when I started putting an investment into my employees; that pays off 10 to one,” he said. “Pretty soon you become a family. It’s been really good. We try to do a lot of little things. I’d say the number one thing that our team members like is flexibility. I don’t think, in 27 years, I’ve ever turned down someone taking a vacation, even in our busiest time. Those are the little things we can offer that the bigger companies can’t.”
In addition to making sure employees have the time they need away from work, CEI has a “Fun Night” Committee. The committee is responsible for putting together team events outside of work and, in the past, the organization has done everything from hay rides to zip lining and indoor racing. Employee’s families are included and the committee puts together several fun nights a year.
CEI Alarm and its team members are also heavily involved in the community. The organization has created the “Batteries for Life” program, offering free smoke detector replacement batteries for senior citizens.
Moving forward, Sinclair is always looking for ways to build CEI Alarm and better care for team members, from improving the company’s health benefits package to encouraging growth within the organization.
“If they don’t have room for growth, then why would they stay,” Sinclair asked. “You want people that want to grow with you.”
D.R. Horton – The Balancing Act – Statewide
Finding a balance between enriching home and work lives for employees is a point of pride for the Nevada division of D.R. Horton, a nationwide homebuilder.
“We encourage balance,” said Brad Burns, Nevada division president. “We look at balance as an equilateral triangle. We put family on the bottom, work on one angle and rest or relaxation on the other angle. If any of those become out of balance then the other two get out of balance.”
To that end, the company encourages its 162 Nevada employees to be there for their family’s life events, even if they may happen during traditional working hours.
“D.R. was started as a family business,” explained Subrina Duran, HR manager. “For us, family comes first. Anytime something is going on with family, whether it be your personal family or your family at work, we always look at that first and it takes priority.”
Duran started with the homebuilder nearly two years ago and said it was that family atmosphere, alongside the people and culture, that attracted her to working for the company from the beginning.
“My favorite thing about here is the people I get to work with every day,” she said. “All of them come here with the same upbeat attitude, you get support at every level and there’s recognition.”
As part of that recognition, D.R. Horton has employee awards on monthly, quarterly and annual timelines and Burns goes around once a month handing out gold stars for exceptional work. He strives to make sure every employee feels heard and is pursuing their passions within the organization.
“We give people the opportunity to improve and we do that through cross training,” said Burns. That cross training allows employees to move into other interests at D.R. Horton and to have a better understanding of the needs of other departments.
“Ultimately, what makes us unique is our people,” concluded Burns. “I’m nothing without them. The passion all our folks have makes us who we are.”
Ethel M Chocolates – Sweet Freedom – Henderson
Founded in 1981 by Forrest Mars, Ethel M Chocolates was named to honor his mother who helped inspire him to enter the chocolate business. With around 150 employees, Ethel M is a small part of the larger Mars, Incorporated company and focuses on fresh, luxury chocolates. The organization places an emphasis on five principles: quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. That last principle is one of the favorites of General Manager Oren Young who is in charge of Ethel M and its employees.
“I love the Mars company because they gave me a great opportunity to take this crown jewel and run it,” Young explained. “At the end of the day, they let me go and take care of business and when I have problems I bring them back. I love that. It empowers everybody and it’s passed down.”
The company culture from the very top is one of openness that encourages collaboration. Just like the rest of the people he works with, Young sits in a cubicle and is available to listen and support his associates. He added, “Everybody is equal and has a say, a responsibility, [but] we might have different roles. I’m very proud of that and it’s the type of culture we want to create. We can’t have it where senior leaders are not accessible.”
The company employs what it calls an “associate concept” to further that sense of equalness amongst all employees. Anika Applewhite, director, people and organization explained it best. She said, “Our associate concept is the basis for ensuring that every associate is respected and appreciated for their individual commitment to the organization.”
Each associate at Ethel M is given lots of opportunities for personal and professional development as well. The chocolatier subscribes to a “70/20/10” model of growth that encourages development through 70 percent learning from doing, 20 percent learning from others and 10 percent learning from classes, experts or reading.
“Every single associate has development plans in the system,” said Young. “It’s something we’re very proud of and always look at. It helps you from a succession plan to really groom people for the right roles.”
Young added that he’s excited for the future of Ethel M. “We are excited about growth,” he said. “We want to invest in our associates. As our business grows, we’re going to need more talent to come in and help us grow the business even further. We’re excited about those things.”
Food Bank of Northern Nevada – Growth Through Giving – Reno
Having incorporated in 1983, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada (FBNN) serves over 95,000 people each month and has provided over 13.3 million meals annually throughout the region. The organization’s employees are dedicated, caring individuals whose goal is to provide healthy food to anyone in need. New to the food bank is its current CEO, Al Brislain, who has been with the organization for just over a year.
“I’m truly lucky to have gotten this job,” said Brislain. “The food bank has a tremendous reputation in the community. We have some great people on staff from all different walks of life.”
FBNN employs 55 people in addition to working with some school chefs for after school meals. On top of that, the organization has several hundred volunteer staff with almost 30,000 volunteer hours a year. For the non-profit’s full time workers, FBNN offers a benefits package and works to provide competitive salaries. But, Brislain feels the biggest draw for employees to the food bank is the organization’s mission.
“There are a lot of people out there that really do care about the community and care about families facing hunger,” he said. “We just did an employee engagement survey and pretty much 100 percent of people said they were proud to be here and proud of what the food bank’s mission is.”
Stacey Puentes, an HR generalist at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada added, “Not only do they treat their employees extremely well, but the work itself is very rewarding. I love coming to work every day and seeing my colleagues. Knowing that we are all making a difference tops the list.”
To his team and the work they are passionate about Brislain said, “You are making an incredible difference.” He went on to tell the story of a staff member asking a mom, as she was leaving a FBNN mobile pantry, what the food meant to her. The mom responded saying, “You know what this means? I don’t have to pretend like I’m eating in front of my kids anymore.”
LP Insurance Services, Inc – “Run it Like You Own It” – Statewide
Having a sense of pride and ownership is an unofficial hallmark of LP Insurance. The company is a statewide insurance brokerage company with 125 employees and branches in all parts of Nevada, from north to south and the rural areas in between.
“One of the key measurements for success, not only for the management team and shareholders, but also with the employees themselves is having what we call ownership work ethic,” explained Nick Rossi, president and sales executive with LP. “When we bring someone into our world and ask them to share our world, one of the real important aspects of that is, do they own their little portion of that universe?”
That culture has allowed LP employees a sense of empowerment within their careers. It has created a fun work environment where everyone is able to fulfill their own creative visions for their careers, follow their passions and even reinvent themselves when necessary.
“When you’re dealing on a business to business relationship basis, the absolute essential ingredient for success is the quality of your people,” said Rossi. “Let me put it this simply, our brand exists to support the employee, not the other way around.”
He added, “This is a people to people business; it’s relationship business. Our productivity measurements are not built around machinery, large industrial plants or equipment. They’re built around the ability of professional consultants to achieve results.”
LP’s recognition of the importance of employees has lead to a variety of programs that has built a camaraderie stretching across the whole of Nevada. The company has employee recognition programs, a committee dedicated to improving LP’s culture, community involvement opportunities and fun workplace competitions and rivalries to connect team members throughout the state.
“We are workmates, we’re teammates and we’re friends,” said Rossi. “If I had to sum up what I thought the atmosphere of LP is, that would be the best way to say it.”
Martin-Harris Construction – Family First – Las Vegas
For Guy Martin, president of Martin-Harris Construction, treating his employees like family is only natural. The company was founded by his father, Frank Martin in 1976 and stresses the importance of a true family environment within the workplace for each of its employees.
“The legacy my father instilled in me was people over projects,” said Martin. “We don’t go out and take on a bunch of projects that requires a big hiring frenzy and then lay everybody off. Our focus is more about building teams of professionals and giving them a place they can become the best in the industry.”
This attitude, from the top down, has led to low turnover in an industry that is know for turnover. It’s also created a culture that emphasizes personal growth backed by the support of ownership. Between mentorships, training, tools and support, Martin-Harris has made becoming the best at what you want to be a priority.
“It’s a little disingenuous that some leaders make the statement that, ‘we’re all family’ then, when someone in the family needs you, you’re not there,” said Martin. “Our core values don’t allow us to behave that way.”
To keep an eye on the pulse of his family-oriented company, on a quarterly basis, Martin sits down with new employees over a meal and allows them to voice their concerns. He offers straightforward answers and, in turn, seeks to find out their challenges within their new roles. There is an open leadership style throughout the organization that encourages teams to seek advice and help from other teams and collectively present those challenges to leadership to be addressed. In addition, any associate is able to submit a training plan and implement it at one of the company’s 48 training sessions held throughout the year.
Martin-Harris has also placed an emphasis on tapping into the loyalty of the next generation, including millennials. Of the 324 associates working for the construction company, 40 percent are millennials.
“In a true family environment, the family is loyal to its family members first, beyond anything else,” Martin said. “That’s all the millennial generation is looking for, someplace they can be in a family.”
Nevada Rural Housing Authority – Mission Driven – Carson City
Created by the Nevada Legislature in 1973, the Nevada Rural Housing Authority (NRHA) is a multi-faceted housing financing agency that administers housing choice vouchers across 15 rural communities in Nevada. The organization’s mission is to provide and finance affordable housing opportunities for all rural Nevadans.
“We’re hitting affordable housing on every front,” explained Bill Brewer, executive director. “We try to serve folks from homeless to homebuyer and everybody in between.”
The company has 39 employees that are passionate about helping find homes for families in need.
“I can unabashedly say we have the best staff anywhere,” said Brewer. “They enjoy serving the people that we serve and many of them have come through similar circumstances.”
In turn, NRHA leadership strives to make sure their team knows they are appreciated by the organization. NRHA hosts monthly appreciation events, peer recognition programs, award programs, team building events throughout the year and monthly staff meetings for strategic plannings. Because the organization is mission driven, Brewer feels it’s important for everyone to have reminders of what the NRHA mission is. He’ll even hand out a $10 bill at staff meetings to anyone that can recite it.
In addition, agency leadership continually shares with staff where they’re at with various programs and where the industry is at. This transparency encourages participation from staff in setting the goals and direction for the future.
A mission-focus and passion-driven atmosphere is what Brewer intends to foster at the NRHA while growing the team and encouraging inclusion. He added, “That’s our goal, consistent improvement. To not just get the work done and leave. This is very important work and we want to make sure our agency is thriving and growing well into the future so we can continue to serve our clientele.”
Prominence Health Plan – Culture Shift – Reno
It’s not easy to change the direction of a business in motion. However, when Kamal Jemmoua, chief operating officer at Prominence Health Plan began with the organization just over 18 months ago, he made it a priority to boost the culture from the inside out.
“I don’t think you’ll get anywhere on strategy if you don’t change culture,” he said. “Enhancing the culture for employees is a core part of our strategy.”
Prominence has implemented a myriad of programs to achieve that culture shift. One of the most popular is called “You Earned It”. The program was suggested as part of a PR assessment and has since taken off within the organization.
“I love ‘You Earned It’,” said Jemmoua. “It’s an internal social media platform in which employees are able to publicly recognize each other through awarding points.”
The program allows recognition from all levels of employees and team members can award points to anyone else within the organization for everything from assisting on a project or simply acknowledging a job well done on a difficult task.
Another way in which Prominence has worked to change the culture and allow everyone’s voice to be heard is through the establishment of employee engagement committees. Committee leaders are given time in leadership meetings on a biweekly basis to pitch ideas and present recommendations for improvement. One idea that came out of those committees is still in development but Jemmoua thinks it has a lot of potential. It is called the Prominence Imrovement Competition.
“The objective is pretty simple, it’s along the lines of engagement and career development” he said. “There’s all these people with departments at various levels that have skills we don’t always recognize. [The idea was to] set up a competition that looks like Shark Tank in which employees get to collaborate with an executive leader sponsor to come up with a business idea.”
As the company grows, Prominence is taking advantage of these ideas, and others like them, to develop employees and create a culture that allows each individual to present ideas and solutions to help the organization as a whole.
UMC – A History of Caring – Las Vegas
The University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC) has been serving the region since 1931. At that time, there was only one doctor, one nurse and 20 beds. Today the academic hospital is home to the state’s only Level I Trauma Center as well as the only designated pediatric trauma center, burn care center and transplantation center. Growing from the original two person organization, UMC now has 4,001 employees across its entire delivery care system and serves hundreds of thousands of patients each year, including many residents of surrounding states.
Mason VanHouweling, CEO, has been with UMC since April of 2014 and was drawn by the organization’s ties to the community.
“This is really Las Vegas’ hometown hospital,” said VanHouweling. “We all have a piece of ownership and interest in UMC’s success. I love the history that we have; 87 years of caring for the community. As the city grows, so does the hospital.”
A big part of that history is the people that make up the hospital. UMC employees are loyal. The average staff member has been with the hospital for 10 years or more and the organization strives to grow employees internally and promote from within. To further their growth, UMC offers employees continuing medical education, tuition reimbursement and works to create rewarding career pathways within the hospital. UMC also sponsors a Leadership Boot Camp to provide education and mentorship to help move people up in the organization.
“We spend more waking hours together than we do our own families,” VanHouweling explained. “The workplace is an important part of our employee’s lives and that work/life balance is as well. We really value our team players and our employees are loyal to UMC because we value them.”
In addition to the educational opportunities provided by UMC, the organization places an emphasis on employee wellness. “As healthcare workers we need to make sure we are taking care of ourselves as well,” said VanHouweling. The hospital has robust wellness and health benefit packages available to employees including classes, support groups, counseling and free lab testing.
“I’m very proud of the team here and what we do,” said VanHouweling. “They’re making a difference every day, one patient at a time. It’s a very special place here.”
Western Elite – Mentoring Growth – Las Vegas
A waste management company in Southern Nevada, Western Elite handles construction demolition waste and recycling. Company leadership values each of their 255 employees and works to find ways to grow them individually and within the organization.
“We have attracted good help because we treat people like we would like to be treated, the golden rule,” explained Scott Seastrand, vice president and one of the founding members of the organization. “Our culture is very open and accepting of families and I believe that translates into every person feeling comfortable, happy and enjoying the work they do and participating as a team.”
The company’s cultural emphasis on family is evident in a variety of ways from the several community giving activities employees participate in throughout the year as well as the organization’s annual Christmas Express. The free event is held at Western Elite’s landfill outside of town. Employees participate and volunteer, bringing their families and encouraging the “Christmas Spirit” amongst those invited, some of whom include veterans and first responders and their families.
In addition to a family-feel environment, Western Elite places a large emphasis on personal development. Each department has the opportunity to run their own book club. The department head chooses a book applicable to their work or development and takes time out of each week so their team can learn and grow from what they’re reading. The company also has a library of personal and business development books that any employee is encouraged to borrow.
Mentoring has also become a priority for organization leaders and those interested in personal development can sign up. They are paired with a division leader, set goals and then meet monthly.
“Our goal is to bring people into the organization, build them up and have them want to advance both personally and career-wise,” said Seastrand.
He added, “From a macro view, we have a culture that fosters individual growth and that translates into happy team members. When they’re happy, it makes our customers happy because they treat them better. Our culture is to help build strength and personal happiness that can be translated into how we take care of our customers.”
At Anthem, we’re dedicated to improving the health of our fellow Nevadans
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