Volume 35, Number 8, August 2000


Working Nine to Five

The Companies Where Employees Love to Work

 by barbara self


What do the glass industry’s best companies to work for have in common? They all boast an impressive list of benefits and a company culture that promotes positive employer-employee relations. In today’s tight job market, employers know it’s smart business to hold on to talented employees. Many offer a wide array of benefits that only a generation ago, would have been offered by only the biggest companies.

To determine our selections for the “best companies,” we asked our readers for nominations. Those companies were then asked to respond to questions about their employees and benefits. The results are summarized in the table on page 52. The primary benefit offered by all our best companies is medical insurance, no surprise with medical costs skyrocketing. All of the companies on our list contribute towards the cost of health insurance premiums, some contributing as much as 100 percent. Vision care is typically limited to whatever is included in medical insurance, while dental care is often a stand-alone benefit.

Likewise, all the “best” companies enroll their eligible employees in a retirement plan. By far the most popular program is the 401K Profit Sharing Plan. These plans involve a voluntary, pre-tax contribution from employees with employers making either a matching or discretionary contribution, or both. Auto Glass Specialists, headquartered in Madison, Wis., offers its employees both a 401K plan and an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). In an ESOP, each participant has an account balance that increases in value as the company increases in value. After five years, employees are 100 percent vested in the stock in their account. This employee ownership in the company is why its employees are referred to as “employee-owners.”

Continuing education is another benefit all the companies on our list provide. Most reimburse employees for up to 100 percent of the cost of tuition and fees for field-related courses. Many also provide benefits for higher level education regardless of the curriculum.

Today’s “best” companies work at creating a positive environment for its employees. Stacy Friedman, human resource manager for Ohio-based EPG Inc. says, “We want to be the employer of choice in this area. We offer our employees a great environment. Open communication is of the essence. Our people are our most valuable asset.” The company’s attitude is receiving attention. EPG was also selected as one of the top 99 companies to work for by NorthCoast 99, a group whose goal was to identify 99 of the best Northeastern Ohio employers which excel in such areas as compensation, benefits, safety and training.

Employees appreciate the personal touch at our “best” companies. Juan Albardo, lead person in bevel assembly at Glastar Corporation of Chatsworth, Calif., says the company treats its employees “more like a family than an employee. They get everyone involved in the company.” Marie Barrella, a 20-year veteran at Glastar, in charge of purchasing and inventory control, agrees, “You’re not just a number here, there’s lots of warmth.” Each summer, Glastar president Dianne Howard sponsors a trip for all employees to an art glass-related event. This year’s excursion was to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to see a stained glass exhibit. The Saturday event included travel, entry fees and lunch for employees and their family members.

Dave Ryan, sales and marketing manager for Granite State Glass in Belmont, N.H., says it’s not unusual for owner Bill Marcotte to buy brunch at break time for everyone in the office and fabrication shop. He’s also been known to charter a boat and invite everyone to go fishing for the day.

These little extras pay-off. The average length of employee service for our companies is more than 11 years, with the most senior employees ranging from 15 to 43 years of service.

Offering competitive benefits and recognizing the value of employees make our industry choices “The Best Companies to Work For.” Look over our comparison charts on pages 52-53 and see how your company stacks up with the “Best of the Best.”


This is our first annual list of the best companies to work for in the glass industry. Let us know what you think. If you have suggestions for categories or details to be added, or if you’d like to nominate a company for our second annual list, we want to hear from you.

Fax your suggestions and comments to USGlass magazine at 540/720-5687 or e-mail to bestcompanies@glass.com.


Copyright 2000 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.