Volume 36, Issue 8, August 2001


The Best Compannies

  To Work for

Employees Who Work for Our Best Companies Reap Great Benefits - and We're Not Just Talking About a Great 401K Plan.
by Tara Taffera


Betty Lou, who works for a glass retailer that shall remain nameless, can’t believe her organization won’t pay for her continuing education costs. “Why won’t they pay for this?” she asks. Doesn’t every employee want this benefit? Shouldn’t my company offer this in order to stay competitive?

Meanwhile, Betsy Lou, who works for a small, 12-person business, is thrilled that her employer recently decided to add a retirement plan. In fact, although she loves her job and the people who work there, she was going to start looking for another job—after all, she has to think of her future. 

Although Betty Lou and Betsy Lou believe continuing education and retirement are important, a dozen other people may list another benefit that they “just have to have” in order to accept a job offer. So, USGlass magazine decided to find out, on average, just what benefits are most important to employees in the glass industry. Achieving this goal was a massive undertaking. In April, we sent a survey to all of our readers which asked a variety of questions about their employee benefits. The results are found in the charts on the next few pages. 

Along with telling us about the benefits they receive at their respective companies, respondents were also asked to rank these in order of importance. For example, medical coverage received the highest amount of number one votes. But, many people agree with Betsy Lou, ranking retirement as the next most important benefit. Betty Lou, on the other hand, only has a handful of people agreeing with her that education is most important. 

        Dental Benefits - 62% of respondents received dental benefits
        Percent of benefits paid by employers...

      100%  75-99%  50-74% >50%
Why all the Effort?
Besides wanting to know who is in the majority, we had another reason for conducting this survey. Once we analyzed this information, we would be able to determine those companies who qualify for the Second Annual USGlass Best Companies to Work For in the Glass and Metal Industry. Once we determined which benefits ranked most important by the industry as a whole, we weighted the benefit by that ranking. These numbers were then applied to our list of companies, and those organizations who offer those benefits most important to people emerged at the top of the list. Once we had our list of best companies we sent the same survey to company representatives to verify the information offered by their employees and to have them answer a few more questions. 

When you’re looking through this year’s best companies issue, you’ll notice that it was enhanced greatly from last year. The response to the 2000 article was amazing. Readers offered their input on how this year’s effort could be improved upon, so we made significant changes. Last year, readers only had to nominate a company to have it included, whereas this year the companies had to meet the criteria mentioned earlier.

                                            Additional Benefits
Evaluating the Winners
When looking through the list of winners, there are several things to keep in mind. 
• Maternity leave: Most offer unpaid leave in accordance with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (see story page 39). However, only companies who offer paid leave were given points for this benefit. 
• STD and LTD: Stands for short-term disability and long-term disability.
• Auto glass companies ineligible: You won’t see any auto glass companies on the list because these companies will be featured in a 2002 issue of our sister publication, AGRR. It is important to note that companies such as Auto Glass Specialists and Pfaffs Auto Glass were ranked high but could not be included for this reason.
• FSP: Stands for Flexible Spending Plan.
• Points system: If a company offers a benefit such as medical or retirement, it was given a specified amount of points based on the importance of that benefit to employees. But, we did not take into consideration items such as how much money, if any, employees contribute to their medical insurance, etc. 
• More than one winner: When looking through the list, you will see that several companies tied for number one, two, etc. So, it is up to you to look at the details of each entry to see what, if anything, sets these companies apart. For example, the “Other Benefits” category, may be a good indicator. 

                                                Medical Benefits
        100% employer          75-99%                50-74%            >50% employer
         paid                    employer paid       employer paid                paid               


More than Benefits
Many of our winners told us that more than just benefits make a company stand out from the crowd. For exaple, David Ryan, director of marketing for the number seven company, Granite State Glass, says, "Being part of the 'Best companies to Work For' is more than just benefits and raises. It means growing as a person and a professional. Our company promotes that growth."

Get Creative
So, what if you're a small company and you can't afford to offer a 401K plan or contribute to higher education costs? Well, employees of our best companies say it's also the little things that matter. For example, to many people, it's the small gestures like holiday gatherings, company softball games - events that foster teamwork and camaraderie - that really make a difference.

Once you look through the best company entries, you will see that many of these offer one or more of the benefits suggested above.

As this year's "Best Companies to Work For" feature differs dramatically from last year, we're sure the 2002 list will be improved upon as well. If you have some input or suggestions, or if you would just like to tell us why your company is one of the best, e-mail us at bestcompany@glass.com.  


blueribbons First Place
Harmon Limited, Bloomington, Minn.
Employees: Approximately 500.
Medical: 11 percent employee-paid; 89 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 16 percent employee-paid; 84 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: 100 percent employer-paid.
STD: 100 percent employer-paid.
Life Insurance: Annual base salary plus $10,000.
Stock: No.
Vacation: Flexible time-off plan. Dependent on length of service, 15 to 33 days. 
Sick: Included in flexible time-off plan.
Personal: Included in flexible time-off plan.
Education: 75 percent employer-paid; 25 percent employee-paid. Up to $2,000 maximum annually.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: 6-8 weeks paid under STD.
Training: Computer skills, seminars and other job specific training.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Profit-sharing plan, business travel accident paid, paid bereavement leave, paid jury duty leave, nine paid holidays, employee assistance program, referral bonus and co-worker recognition program. 

When someone asks an employee of Harmon Ltd., owned by CH Holdings, “What is the best benefit of working there?” the employee iHarmonltd.s probably hard-pressed to find an answer. From handsome referral bonuses to co-worker recognition programs, it’s no wonder the company tops our list. Take a closer look at some of their programs.
  • Employee Assistance Program. Harmon offers a 24-hour phone line to which employees can call to receive counseling on anything from how to cope with alcoholism issues to how to raise their teenage children. The confidential service is available to employees as well as their families.

• Referral Bonuses. Employees who refer someone for a job posted at Harmon receives a $1,000 referral bonus. If the job is defined as “hard-to-fill,” the amount is increased to $2,000. Employees receive the bonus after the new hire has been employed at Harmon for six months. 

•Co-Worker Recognition Program. Employees who recognize the time put in by another, whether it’s someone in their department or someone in another area, can nominate the employee for Harmon’s co-worker recognition program. The program is based on the TEAM concept: Together Everyone Achieves More. According to Elaine Inman, Harmon benefits administrator, “While an employee may say, ‘that’s just my job,’ another employee can see that the employee is recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty.” The employee receives the surprise recognition at one of the company’s quarterly meetings. While Inman says the employee does receive a small gift as a token of the company’s appreciation, “The warm recognition is of much higher value than the award.” 

• Time-Off Flexibility. Harmon’s flexible time-off program gives employees a set amount of time to take each year, ten days of which can be carried to the following year. The days include personal, sick, vacation, etc. “The plan is particularly good for young mothers who may have to take time off for a sick child,” said Inman. Speaking of children, what if a child’s daycare plans fall through, or another such emergency arises, and the employee has to go into work that day? Inman says it is not frowned upon if employees have to bring their child to work. “People may stop at work with a child to finish a project or meet a deadline,” she said. “With that dedication we’re not going to say, ‘don’t bring your child.’” Inman added, “The employees ensure that it doesn’t encroach upon others.”Also interesting about Harmon’s time-off policies is that employees begin accruing time immediately; they can go five days in the hole; and they can go online at any time to get an update on the time they have accrued up to that point.

blueribbons First Place
Viracon, Owatonna, Minn. 
Owned by Apogee Enterprises Inc.
Employees: 1,668.
Medical: Employee contribution: $19.75 single, bi-weekly; $54.30 family, viracon
bi-weekly; Employer contribution: $64.30, single, bi-weekly; $176.83, family, bi-weekly.
Dental: Employee contribution: $1.25 single; $3.50 family; bi-weekly; Employer contribution: $7.18 and $19.68.
Retirement: Pension and 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Up to five times salary.
Stock: No.
Vacation: Begins at 40 hours per year for new employee. Longtime employees earn up to 200 hours a year.
Sick: Well-pay program pays up to 48 hours a year.
Personal: 2 days.
Education: 100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: 6 weeks paid.
Training: Variety, including on-site undergraduate college courses. 
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Attendance and safety incentives, banking programs, fitness club discounts, service awards, sports teams sponsorships, employees’ club, stock purchase plan, among others. Viracon’s profit-sharing plan is open to full-time employees who have completed a year of service. These employees are eligible to receive a quarterly payout, based on the company’s profitability. Over the year, it adds about a dollar an hour to an employee’s pay. 
Why Unique: Viracon is a growing company with many opportunities for career advancement.
Why the Best? We are the leader in glass fabrication. We are values-driven. Our values are employee development, teamwork, a customer-focus, good to our word, innovation and growth-orientation. 

blueribbons First PlaceYKK
YKK, Atlanta
Employees: 506.
Medical: Both employees and employers contribute.
Dental: Included with medical benefits.
Retirement/Pension: Pension. 100 percent employer-paid. 401K available with partial company match.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Two times annual salary. 100 percent employer-paid. Supplemental for employees, family and dependents available (employee contribution).
Stock: No.
Vacation: Up to 22 days.
Sick: 8 days.
Personal: 2 days.
Education: 80 percent employer-paid (100 percent if requested by YKK)
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: Not a separate policy. Covered under other policies or benefits; i.e. STD, salary continuation, etc. 
Training: Any job-related courses approved by management.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Travel, life and dismemberment, dependent scholarships, vision care, dependent care assistance and affiliated with credit union.
Why Unique: Japanese-owned; Diversified inter-cultural environment.
Why the Best? Our philosophy of dealing with our customers, employees and the local communities. The philosophy known as “cycle of goodness” simply stated is that, “no one prospers, unless he renders benefits to others.”

Second Place
Harmon Inc., Golden Valley, Minn.
Owned by Apogee Enterprises Inc.
Employees: 870.
Medical: 14 percent employee contribution; 86 percent employer contribution.
Dental: 25 percent employee contribution; 75 percent employer contribution.
Retirement/Pension: 401K and pension.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: One times salary up to a maximum of $150,000.
Stock: Yes. 
Vacation: 15-28 depending on years of employment. Included as part of flexible time off plan. 
Sick: Included as part of flexible time off plan. 
Personal: Included as part of flexible time off plan. 
Education: 75 percent up to a maximum of $2,000 per year.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: Up to 12 weeks unpaid leave as part of the FMLA.
Training: Various types offered.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Stock purchase plan and eight paid holidays per year. 
Why Unique: Personal Development Program based on job families.
Why the Best? Our people!

Second Place
OFC Glass, Tulsa, Ok.
Employees: 80.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 100 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Annual salary.OFC
Stock: No.
Vacation: Up to 20 days.
Sick: Up to 48 hours.
Personal: Up to 48 hours.
Education: 100 percent for A grade; 90 percent for B grade, etc. 
FSP: No.
Maternity: 6 weeks. Paid after 29 days.
Training: Safety.
Pay Increase: Ranges from 90 days to annually.
Other Benefits: Kids Klub, sporting event tickets and profit sharing. 
Why Unique: Highly employee-oriented.
Why the Best? Forward thinking—looking for ways to improve quality of product and workplace environment. 

Virtually all of our best companies host events for the whole family, but at OFC Glass kids have a club all their own. Jackson Whitacre, general manager for the 80-person OFC Glass, says there are lots of children at OFC Glass, whether it be children or grandchildren of employees, and these children have their very own Kids Klub. “The Kids Klub is extremely popular,” said Whitacre.OFC2

It’s no wonder. The club has events at least three times per year which may range from spending a day at a nearby water park which the company rented out, to getting a block of tickets for a sporting event. 

But, the adults aren’t left out of all the fun—they get to enjoy sporting events as well. According to Whitacre, the company gets a block of sports tickets at least four to five times a year and all employees are invited to attend an event which might range from arena football game to a Texas Rangers baseball game.
“We’re looking for ways to improve the quality of products and the workplace environment,” said Whitacre. In regards to the latter, it looks like they've succeeded.

Third Place
Alumicor, Nova Scotia, Canada
Employees: More than 70.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 20 percent employee-paid; 80 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: Yes.
LTD: 100 percent employer-paid.
STD: 100 percent employer-paid.
Life Insurance: $20,000 CND. 100 percent employer-paid.
Stock: Yes.
Vacation: Up to 20 days.
Sick: 5 days.
Personal: Yes.
Education: 100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: No.
Maternity: Unpaid.
Training: Safety, first aid and computers.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Picnics, profit sharing and opportunities to buy shares.
Why Unique: Pride!
Why the Best? Constantly trying to achieve what others say cannot be done; Setting new standards. 

Third Place
MTH/Glass America, 
Employees: 125.
Medical: 80 percent employer-paid, 20 percent employee-paid (except for union members, where 100 percent is employee-paid).
Dental: 80 percent employer-paid, 20 percent employee-paid (except for union members, where 100 percent is employee-paid).
Retirement/Pension: Pension plan for union employees. 401K for non-union employees.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Minimum of $10,000.
Stock: Yes. (Closed plan, not all employees can participate.)
Vacation: 10 days first year. Up to 25 days after 15 years.
Sick: 6 days.
Personal: 6 days.
Education: Usually 100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: No.
Maternity: Up to 90 days unpaid.
Training. All types, some individually-tailored to employee needs.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Various incentives and reward programs. 
Why Unique: The only thing that makes our company unique is its people. The company has a long and colorful history. Its reputation is unsurpassed.
Why the Best?: Technically, there are few companies that can operate at MTH’s level. Nationally recognized within the construction industry as a responsive, talented, creative problem-solving group. 

CRLaurence Fourth Place
C.R. Laurence Co. Inc., Los Angeles
Employees: More than 600.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 70 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: Voluntary. Employee-paid.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: One times annual salary. 
Stock: No.
Vacation: 5 to 15 days.
Sick: 4 days (personal/sick).
Personal: 4 days (personal/sick).
Education: 50-100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: For insurance premiums. 
Maternity: 12-16 weeks unpaid. May use vacation and sick days. 
Training: Technical, customer service, ISO 9000 quality, safety, drug, CPR, first aid and fork lift. 
Pay Increase: At least annually plus merit increases when deemed appropriate. 
Why Unique: We truly believe what is unique about C.R. Laurence is our commitment to doing what we say we do. That commitment provides an environment of great trust where our customers, vendors and employees can all flourish. Some companies will tell customers what they want to hear or what sounds good, but then not follow through. Often times it is well-intended, but they are just not willing to put in the time and effort necessary to make it happen. At CRL, from the top down, we are willing to work hard to make sure what we say is going to happen actually happens. 

Fourth Place 
Kawneer Company Inc., 
Norcross, Ga.
An Alcoa Company
Employees: More than 3,000.
Medical: Depending on program selected, employee contributes anywhere from zero to a nominal amount depending on their elections, with a $10-$15 co-payment per office visit. After employee contribution, employer pays balance of costs for most medical expenKawneerses.
Dental: Depending on program selected, employee contributes anywhere from zero to a nominal amount depending on their  selections. After employee contribution, employer pays for most routine dental services at 100 percent and non-routine at 85 percent, after a $25 deductible.
Retirement/Pension: 401K, company match.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: One to eight times base salary plus target incentive/bonus.
Stock: Amount set by the board for 
specific Alcoa job grades.
Vacation: Up to 20 days, depending upon years of service.
Sick: No set number of days.
Personal: No set policy. Determined on an individual basis between employee and manager.
Education: Employer pays 100 percent of tuition. Employee pays for books and other incidentals.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: Generally, between six and eight weeks and is covered under short-term disability policy. Time is paid.
Training: Yearly plans developed jointly between employee and manager; based on employees’ needs and career development plan.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Vision coverage; prescription drug coverage; matching grants for educational institutions through the Alcoa undation; Alcoa Foundation’s Sons and Daughters Scholarship Program recognizes outstanding academic achievement by high school seniors; incentive/bonus plan; discounted long-term care plan extended to employees and immediate family members; credit union access; Neighbors Program that includes such events as a community environment, Health and Safety Festival, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life team event, Habitat for Humanity volunteers, company picnics, cookouts and other corporate recognition; Discount purchase programs through major suppliers such as Dell computers, Ford automobiles, office supplies, AT&T cell phones, amusement parks, etc.
Why unique? Our dedicated and experienced employees and our commitment to being the best company in the world.
Why the best? Dedicated and experienced employees, strong, highly-capable customer base, a broad, highly engineered product line and a well-known, highly recognized brand in the market. And, we are part of the world’s largest aluminum company—Alcoa. 


 Are you an employer who is not sure how much time off, if any, to give your employees for maternity leave or other family-related matters? Or are you an employee who is not sure how much time off you are entitled to regarding these family matters? Well, although you may think that it’s the employers right to decide what is fair, this isn’t always the case. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 outlines specific rules which must be followed by certain employers.

Employer Coverage
FMLA applies to:
• Public agencies, including state, local and federal employers, local education agencies (schools); and
• Private sector employers who employed 50 or more employees in 20 or more workweeks in the current or           preceding calendar year and who are engaged in commerce or in any industry or activity affecting commerce—including joint employers and successors of covered employers.

Employee Eligibility
To be eligible for FMLA benefits, an employee must:
• Work for a covered employer;
• Have worked for the employer for a total of 12 months;
• Have worked for at least 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months; and
• Work at a location in the United States where at least 50 employees are employed by the employer within 75 miles.

Leave Entitlement
A covered employer must grant an eligible employee up to a total of 12 workweeks of unpaid leave during a 12-month period for one or more of the following reasons:
• The birth and care of the newborn child of the employee;
• Placement with the employee of a son or daughter for adoption or foster care;
• To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition; or
• To take medical leave when the employee is unable to work because of a serious health condition.

Additional Provisions
Subject to certain conditions, employees or employers may choose to use accrued paid leave (such as sick or vacation leave) to cover some or all of the FMLA leave. The employer is responsible for designating if an employee’s use of paid leave counts as FMLA leave, based on information from the employee.
A covered employer is required to maintain group health insurance coverage for an employee on FMLA leave whenever such insurance was provided before the leave was taken and on the same terms as if the employee had continued to work.

Upon return from the FMLA leave, an employee must be restored to the employee’s original job, or to an equivalent job with equivalent pay, benefits and conditions of employment. 

For more information on FMLA, visit www.dol.gov.  

Fourth Place
Sheffield Plastics, Sheffield, Mass.
Employees: 170.
Medical: Yes.
Dental: Yes.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Yes.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 10-15 days depending on years of service.
Sick: Yes.
Personal: 3 days.
Education: Yes.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: Yes.
Training: Yes.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Gain Sharing Program for all employees, recognition awards, company picnic and Christmas party, hams and turkeys at holidays, discounts on parent company products. 
Why Unique: A strong customer focus by all employees across all departments and our employees. 
Why the Best? Empowered employees that can make the right decision for the customer quickly and who actually care about the outcome. 

With child care costs taking a huge chunk out of parent’s paychecks, AFG Industries offers a program that aims to help parents defray this cost. With the company’s dependent care reimbursement account, employees can pay into a designated fund with pre-tax dollars. “The plan is wonderful,” said AFG director of corporate communications Betsy Pardue. “I saved a lot reimbursement of money for my children’s daycare costs using this plan.” 

The plan also covers daycare for a parent who may have to be cared for during the day, though the parent has to meet certain criteria to participate. 
“The plan is very popular,” said Pardue. “Why wouldn’t anyone take advantage of it?” 

The company also offers a medical reimbursement account, which is based on the same principle. Employees can pay into the account with pre-tax dollars for items not covered under the company’s medical plan, such as vision, doctor co-pays, etc. For example, since Pardue wears contacts and her kids have braces, she puts enough money into the account throughout the course of the year that will cover these costs. She also puts in a little extra to pay for deductibles and co-pays. 

Pardue said putting money into the account is a bit of a guessing game since you’re not sure what your exact costs will be throughout the year. But she said it is well-worth it, making the reimbursement account an AFG benefit of which employees will definitely want to take advantage. 

lee&cates Fifth Place 
Lee & Cates Glass Inc., 
Jacksonville, Fla.
Employees: 230.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 100 percent employee-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K with company match.
LTD: Available to officers only.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Up to one-and-a-half times annual salary with $50,000 cap.
Stock: No.
Vacation: Up to 15 days per year.
Sick: 2 days per year.
Personal: 2 days per year.
Education: Yes. There are no set limits. Usually 50 percent employer-paid. 
FSP: No.
Maternity: Unpaid, in accordance with the FMLA.
Training: Vendor training.
Pay Increase: Every six months.
Other Benefits: Paid holidays, safety incentives, section 125 plan and workers compensation.
Why Unique: We are a family business that has been in business since 1926. We treat our employees as number one, not necessarily the customer.
Why the Best? I feel it is what we have to offer our employees. When we make them happy, they excel at making our customers happy. 

Fifth Place
Parrett Manufacturing Inc., Dorchestor, Wis.
Employees: 102.
Medical: 15 percent employee-paid; 85 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 15 percent employee-paid; 85 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: $25,000.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 1 to 4 weeks.
Sick: 3 days.
Personal: 3 days.
Education: Yes. Contributions vary.
FSP: No.
Maternity: Six weeks unpaid.
Training. Safety and task specific.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Employee product discounts and paid holidays.
Why Unique: Dedicated management team.
Why the Best: Quality labor force. 

                                        crlaurence2 COMMITMENT REIGNS AT C.R. LAURENCE
A company can say they're one of the best, but a true indicator of this is the company's employee retention rate. At C.R. Laurence Company Inc., the company's high retention rate, based on a firm commitment to its employees, confirms that CRL definitely deserves its spot on the best company's list. 

According to Charlene Kull, corporate communications director for CRL, nearly half of the 600-plus employees have been with the company for more than five years. "Not counting the very newest employees, who were added because of growth or normal attrition, the average age of service is more than 11 years."

Kull says CRL’s people make the company unique. "One reason for the success of our company is management's appreciation of the value of each employee," she said. "CRL's ongoing theme is, that in addition to the customer, employees play the most important role in the company. 

Rigorous Training
One of the reasons for CRL's success is its commitment to training. The company has a customer service school where new employees are trained in an intensive educational program. Branch managers and assistant branch managers train for years before being promoted. 

Additionally, CRL management starts at the bottom up, to gain an understanding of the company's inner workings. "Virtually every member of the upper management team began working with the company in an entry-level position, and every CRL branch manager or assistant branch manager started working for the company in warehousing," Kull said. 

Promoting Diversity
CRL fosters a corporate culture that evaluates people based on skill. "We hire anyone who walks in the door and has the type of skills we're looking for," said Michael Sedano, human resources director and manager for customer relations. "We administer tests to remove the subjectivity out of the hiring process and evaluate people regularly based on performance."

The company has a diverse workforce and it works to meet the needs of these employees. According to Kull, since more than 50 percent of Southern California is comprised of Spanish-speaking people, CRL translates key personnel documents into Spanish, so all who are not fluent in English are trained and well-informed in their native language. Work instructions, employee manuals and all relevant printed signs and materials are produced in Spanish and English. "If people have the qualifications and desire to achieve, we don't hold them behind," Sedano said.

This is just another one of the things that convince employees to make CRL their home. 

Fifth Place 
Quality Glass Service, Goshen, Ind.
Employees: 85
Medical: Employee contributes $10 per week, single; $40 per week for a family.
Dental: Included with medical.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: $10,000.
Stock: No.
Vacation: Included in personal days.
Sick: Included in personal days.
Personal: 10 to 20 days.
Education: No.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: No.
Training: In-house training provided by outsourced human resources company. 
Pay Increase: Two times per year.
Other Benefits: Employee assistance program, travel club discounts, employee purchase discounts, Disney club discounts and uniforms provided by company. 
Why Unique: We are a family-owned business, which gives employees more opportunity for input to processes, etc; A real “family feel” between employees and management. 
Why the Best? Employees and management both care about customer safety and satisfaction and care about the company’s reputation. 

Fifth Place
Tubelite Inc., Reed City, Mich.
Employees: 200.
Medical: Employer pays 100 percent of premium.
Dental: Employer pays 100 percent of premium.
Retirement/Pension: 401K with company match.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Two times annual salary for salaried employees. $25,000 for hourly employees.
Stock: No.
Vacation: Varies from 1 to 5 weeks depending on years of service. 
Sick: In accordance with FMLA.
Personal: 3 days.
Education: Employer pays $1,500 per year.
FSP: No.
Maternity: Unpaid time off according to the FMLA.
Training: If there are courses/classes that will enhance the employees performance in their current position the company will pay 100 percent of cost. 
Pay Increase: Annual.
Other Benefits: An incentive plan that is calculated and paid quarterly. The amount paid is based on the level of accomplishment for corporate financial goals and level of accomplishment for individual goals. 
Why Unique: The above-mentioned compensation plan rewards individuals for their accomplishments but also on how they accomplished their goals. This requires a true team environment and helps to break down walls between departments. 
Why the Best?: Tubelite’s reputation is for dependable products and service with excellent value for the dollar spent. We continually strive to meet on-time delivery goals. 

Sixth Place
AFG Industries Inc., Kingsport, Tenn.
Employees: 6,000.
afg Medical: Employee contributes $10 for single; $26 for a family. Employer contributes $166.34 for single, $450.12 for family.
Dental: Employee contributes $7.13 for single, $24.50 for 2, $46.61 for family. Employer contributes $7.13 for all groups. 
Retirement/Pension: Defined Benefit plan. Direct Contribution plan (401K).
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: One times base salary.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 10-25 days based on years of service.
Sick: No.
Personal: 2 days.
Education: Employer pays 100 percent for books and tuition up to $4,000 per year.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: Up to 4 months off. Time is paid during disability period only, which is usually 6-8 weeks.
Training: Supervisory, technical and 
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Medical Spending Plan, Employee Assistance Plan and Dependent Care Reimbursement Account.
Why Unique: Every employee works to provide our customers with what they need when they need it.
Why the Best? If it can be done better with glass, our people will find a way to do it. 

Seventh Place
Granite State Glass, Belmont, N.H.
Employees: More than 100.
Medical: 30 percent employee-paid; 70 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 30 percent employee-paid; 70 percent employer-paid.
Retirement/Pension: 401K.
LTD: No.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: $15,000.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 1 to 4 weeks based on years of service.
Sick: 3 days.
Personal: 3 days.
Education: 100 percent dependent on grade (B+ and above) and relevance to work. 
FSP: Yes (field service personnel). 
Maternity: Unpaid time off (benefits are paid while on leave). 
Training: Yes.
Pay Increase: One time per year on average.
Other Benefits: Flex time, glass show trips (one per year), fishing trips (one per year); company clothing, company lunch (two per year) and company party (one per year). 
Why Unique: Although our company has grown steadily, ownership is still readily accessible to any matter and always puts team members in the best position for success.
Why the Best? Integrity. Our average length of employee service is more than 12 years. Why? Retail shop managers are given autonomy in running their shops but there is a common thread that is woven throughout the company. That thread is integrity and it is used with clients, vendors and team members. The example is set at the top by the owner and absorbed by team members at every level. Active, value-oriented leadership at all levels is the key to every team member being put in the best possible position to succeed each day. Being part of the “Best Companies to Work For” means more than benefits and raises; it means growing as a person and professional. Our company promotes that growth. 

Seventh Place 
Carter Glass Co. Inc., 
Kansas City, Mo.
Employees: Approximately 50.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 100 percent employer-paid.
Retirement: 401K.
LTD: Yes.
STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: $125,000.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 14 days.
Sick: 5 days.
Personal: No.
Education: 100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: No.
Training: First Aid, OSHA and skill improvement courses. 
Pay Increase: Two times per year.
Other Benefits: Bonuses at Christmas and vehicles for some employees. 
Why Unique: We operate as a family and treat employees as such.
Why the Best? The way we treat our employees directly reflects in the quality of service to our customers. 

While many companies may say they incorporate the team approach or they work together to solve problems, Pilkington North America has an impressive program in place to back up such claims. The company relies on a program of operating excellence, an overall improvement initiative aimed at lower production costs and improving quality. 

According to Ed Kopkowski, vice president of operating excellence and modular products for Pilkington, the initiative began about four years ago, and consists of a few key elements including an 8-Step Problem-Solving Model and rigorous Six Sigma Training.

8-Step Problem-Solving Model
“It is human nature that causes someone to jump right into fixing a problem before taking the time to determine what the real problem is,” said Amber Macksey, director of communications for Pilkington North America. To remedy this, the company utilizes the 8-Step Problem-Solving Model which Macksey describes as a very high standard of manufacturing excellence that teaches people statistical methods for solving problems.

Pilkington defines a problem as “a performance gap between the expected and the actual.” Recognizing that on the path to solve a problem, a map is needed, Pilkington uses an eight-step process consisting of the following:
1. Describe the problem. 
2. Analyze current results. 
3. Prioritize.
4. Perform root cause analysis. 
5. Implement activities/countermeasures. 
6. Evaluate results. 
7. Standardize improvements. 
8. Recognize success. 

Six Sigma
“The 8-Step Model is the foundation for all that we do,” Kopkowski said. An example of a problem being solved by a team using this approach could be improving yield on a flat glass production line. 

“But, for more dedicated efforts we train people as ‘Black Belts’ as part of our Six Sigma Program.” These people can then go in and help various teams use advanced statistical techniques to solve more complicated problems. One example of the work of Black Belts is the reduced scrap rate for an Isuzu quarter window by 75 percent which resulted in an annual savings of $950,000. “The dollars saved as a result of this program are quite amazing,” Macksey said. 

No wonder the training process is so strenuous. In fact, Black Belts require 160 hours of training, and the company currently has 70 Black Belts. 

So what employees qualify to be Black Belts? Kopkowski says Pilkington has identified certain roles in the company that require the skills of a Black Belt. So, while not everyone needs to be a Black Belt, Kopkowski says it is Pilkington’s ultimate goal to have everyone trained in the eight-step problem solving model. 

So, when a problem needs to be solved, Pilkington employees are definitely ready. 

Eighth Place
Vistawall, Terrell, Texas 
Employees: 1,700.
Medical: Employee contribution: 25 percent of premium; Employer contribution: 75 percent of premium. 
Dental: Employee contribution: 25 percent of premium; Employer contribution: 75 percent of premium. 
Retirement: Base, Defined Benefit pension. 401K with 30 percent company match.
LTD: Yes. STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Up to three times salary. Company paid.
Stock: Company contributes stock through 401K.
Vacation: 2 to 5 weeks depending on years of service.
Sick: Short-term disability based on need.
Personal: Vacation, paid leave.
Education: 100 percent employer-paid.
FSP: Yes.
Maternity: 6-8 weeks paid under STD policy. 
Training: Technical training and supervisory management development training. 
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Gain sharing—productivity and profit-sharing plan. 
Why Unique: The culture at Vistawall; Team-environment and gain sharing program. 
Why the Best? The quality of people who make up Vistawall across the nation and Vistawall’s ability to keep quality employees; Longevity of personnel. 

Ninth Place
CraftCraftBilt Bilt Manufacturing Co., Souderton, Pa.
Employees: 80-100.
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid.
Dental: 100 percent employer-paid.
Retirement: 401K.
LTD: Yes. STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Yes.
Stock: No.
Vacation: 10 to 20 days.
Sick: 5 days.
Personal: No.
Education: No.
FSP: No.
Maternity: Three months unpaid.
Training: Team training.
Pay Increase: Annually.
Other Benefits: Company luncheons, two extra half day paid holidays at Christmas and Labor Day, annual family outing, company uniforms, participation in continuous improvement teams, profit sharing for all employees, holiday bonus and profit based compensation for key managers.
Why Unique: Family-owned and 
operated since 1946. Enthusiastic employees is the first part of our mission statement—truly a team spirit. 
Why the Best? Excellent safety record, loyal customer base, dedicated employee team and a team-based management 

Ninth Place 
Nilsen Glass & Mirror, 
Sarasota, Fla.
Employees: 35.
Medical: Employee pays 20 percent; employer pays 80 percent.
Dental: 100 percent employee-paid. 
Retirement: 401K.
LTD: No. STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: $10,000. 100 percent employee-paid. 
Stock: No.
Vacation: 5 days.
Sick: 5 days.
Personal: 2 days.
Education: No.
FSP: No.
Maternity: 30 days unpaid.
Training: Fabrication, installation and management.
Pay Increase: Semi-annually.
Other Benefits: Paid holidays and year-end bonus. 
Why Unique: Reputation. Started company in 1954—we do very little advertising. We depend on “word of mouth” and satisfied customers to keep us here.

Ninth Place 
Pilkington North America, 
Toledo, Ohio
Employees: 5,500.
Medical: Yes. Contributions vary by location and retiree group and market conditions. 
Dental: Yes. Contributions vary by location and retiree group and market conditions. 
Retirement/Pension: Defined Benefit plan.
LTD: Yes. STD: Yes.
Life Insurance: Yes
Stock: No
Vacation: Yes
Sick: No
Personal: No
Education: 100 percent with C or better
FSP: Yes
Maternity: 12 weeks per FMLA. If not STD related, time is unpaid
Training: Six Sigma Green Belt, Black Belt and Master Black Belt in problem solving
Pay Increase: Annually
Why Unique: Our excellent employees
Why the Best?: Our drive for continuous improvements in manufacturing and customer service.


Tenth Place
Glass Wholesalers Inc.,
Houston, Texas
Employees: 175
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid
Dental: No
Retirement: 401K. Company matches 40 percent
LTD: Yes STD: No
Life Insurance: One-year salary
Stock: Determined based on merit
Vacation: Yes
Sick: 5 days. Depends on seniority
Personal: 5 days. Depends on seniority
Education: 100 percent employer-paid
Maternity: Unpaid time off as needed
Training: Customer service and glass handling
Pay Increase: At least once per year.
Other Benefits: Employee of the month and employee of the year, per division per job type, ash and trophy awarded. Company picnics and Christmas party, company golf tournament and office vs. shop softball game (both annual events).
Why Unique: We strive to maintain our small company and family atmosphere. Every employee is considered a member of the sales group.
Why the Best? Our employees have the most talent, best attitude and maintain a passion to please our customers. 


Eleventh Place
LCS Precision Molding
Elysian, Minnesota
Employees: 48-51
Medical: 25 percent employee-paid; 75 percent employer-paid
Dental: 25 percent employee-paid; 75 percent employer-paid
Retirement: 401K
LTD: yes STD: No
Life Insurance: No
Stock: No
Vacation: 5 days to 20 days depending on years of service
Sick: 5 days
Personal: 4 days
Education: 100 percent employer-paid
FSP: Yes
Maternity: 6 weeks unpaid
Training: Introduction to molding safety, quality, computers, etc.
Pay Increase: Annually
Other Benefits: Profit sharing and 50 percent dollar match to 10 percent and a cafeteria plan.
Why Unique: Respect for family - family comes first.
Why the Best?: Each and every employee truly cares about our customers needs and requirements. Many times employees take work home or come in on their time off to ensure a rush order makes it to the customer on time.


Eleventh Place
Northland Glass and Metal Ltd.
North Bay, Ontario
Employees: 22
Medical: Both employees and employers contribute
Dental: Employer contributes
Retirement: Yes
LTD: Yes STD: No
Life Insurance: two times salary
Stock: No
Vacation 5 to 20 days
Sick: 5 days
Personal: No
Education: Yes. Employer-paid if the class is completed
Maternity: No
Training: DHI courses (employee contributes up to 50 percent).
Pay Increase: Every 2 years
Other Benefits: Christmas party and boot and clothing allowance for outside workers.
Why the best?: Our employees.


Twelfth Place
Lafayete Glass Co.
Lafayette, Ind.
Employees: 25
Medical: yes
Dental: Yes
Retirement/Pension: Profit-sharing
LTD: yes STD: No
Life Insuarance: $10,000
Stock: No
Vacation: 2 weeks
Sick: 4 days
Personal: 4 days
Education: no
Maternity: 60 days unpaid
Training: no
Pay Increase: Semi-annually
Other Benefits: Cafeteria Plan. Three weeks vacation after 15 years of service.
Why unique: We have company parties and have a family atmosphere.
Why the best?: We are flexible with work hours to allow for personal time or school classes. We have helped employees purchase their new home or a new car.


Thirteenth Place
Roadrunner Glass Co. Inc.
Phoenix, Az.
Employees: 23
Medical: 100 percent employer-paid
Dental: 100 percent employer-paid
Retirement/Pension: 401K. 100 percent employee paid.
LTD: Yes STD: Yes
Life Insurance: $10,000, 100 percent employer-paid.
Stock: No
Vacation: 10 days
Sick: No
Personal: No
Education: No
Maternity: 42 days unpaid
Training: Accounting
Pay Increase: Annually
Other benefits: Credit Union membership
Why unique: Our never-ending commitment to customer satisfaction.
Why the best? Quality service and customer satisfaction.


Send your input regarding this year's "Best Companies to Work For" to ttaffera@glass.com

Tara Taffera is the editor of USGlass magazine. 


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