There’s plenty of workplace coolness going on at Van Meter Inc., which has been recognized as one of the Corridor Business Journal’s Coolest Places to Work for 6 consecutive years. There’s always fresh fruit in the breakroom (and candy at the front desk), ping pong tournaments and Pinewood Derby races, relaxing conversations in the open area around the fireplace and satisfying workouts in the on-site fitness center.
But Van Meter’s investment in a broader “work-to-live” culture is what allows its roughly 500 employee-owners to live a better life – and be their personal best. The company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan is offered in addition to traditional retirement accounts, giving employees even more financial security.
Vice President of Marketing Karmen Wilhelm says the company’s innovation-focused workplace and attractive benefits package that includes flexible work schedules is unusual for a 90+-year-old business that was founded at the start of the Great Depression. Van Meter distributes electrical, automation, datacomm, lighting and power transmission products from 15 Midwest supply locations.
“We are very much a forward-thinking company,” she said. “There’s nothing old or stodgy about us.” Van Meter has been 100% employee-owned since 2005, and monthly celebration meetings provide company-wide updates on the company’s financial health.
“We’ve invested in creating a place where our people can be their best – where they have a voice, where they can make a difference and where they own their success,” said Chief Executive Lura McBride. “When our people are their best – they help our customers be their best.”
Other benefits include adoption and tuition reimbursement programs, 100% paid maternity and paternity leave, professional development training, comprehensive wellness plans, the choice of multiple health plans and volunteer time off. Employees volunteer more than 8,000 hours a year and Van Meter donates more than $250,000 annually to local charities.
“Van Meter supports our communities so we have a great place to work and live,” said Kim Oliver, a pricing data analyst.
An especially attractive benefit for new hires is Van Meter’s TOTAL program, which stands for Time Off to Appreciate Life. TOTAL gives employees at every level the ability to take whatever time they need to be away from work for personal reasons. Wilhelm said the program empowers employees to manage their lives while knowing their company values their commitment to both work and family.
“Other companies may say they offer unlimited time off, but then they have a culture that doesn’t really support it,” Wilhelm said. “Here, we hold ourselves accountable, because we’re all owners with a real stake in the company’s success.”
Jordan Grimm, Van Meter’s continuous improvement specialist, said the company really strips away some of the “bureaucratic corporate dogma” that can weigh heavily on employees. And when those layers are stripped back, innovation is achieved, he said – which improves customer service.
“As cool as we are now, what’s really cool about Van Meter is we’re going to be even cooler tomorrow, and the next day and the next day and the next day,” Grimm said.
“People are just genuinely happy,” said Brittany Moschke, a lighting quotes specialist. “People genuinely come to work loving what they do and who they work with.”corporate culture, Van Meter