The three things that attract employees to Van Meter and convince them to stay is the workplace culture, the other workers and the company’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan. The plan is so respected, it was named the 2011 ESOP Company of the Year by the ESOP Association.

“The energy and the atmosphere is unique – you can feel it when you walk in the door,” Lura McBride, Van Meter’s COO, stated in an email. “As an ESOP, everyone is an owner –how cool is that?  In addition, the company truly reinvests in its people, facilities, fleet and inventory.”

Among the company’s amenities for employees are a golf simulator, basketball hoop, wellness rooms for quiet time and break rooms. There are training opportunities, tuition reimbursement, a paid volunteer day, parental leave policies and flexible schedules. There are many group fitness events for employees, as well, including the recent participation in GORUCK in Des Moines, an event that supports wounded Green Berets.

“Van Meter believes in their people – and people have a true voice,” Ms. McBride stated. “They are empowered and driven to continuously improve the business.”

Not anyone can land a job at Van Meter, Ms. McBride noted. The hiring process is lengthy, which adds to the workplace culture, she said.

“A lot of people that work at Van Meter say, ‘The hiring process was lengthy – it took a long time to get a job there.’ We are picky and we have high standards. It’s a true privilege to be an employee-owner at Van Meter and it takes the very right fit. We don’t track ‘time to fill’ metrics for that very reason.”

As one employee stated in the company’s Coolest Places to Work questionnaire:

“Working at Van Meter, you are part of something special. It is the culture and employee ownership that sets it apart from other companies. You feel you have a stake in the success of the company and that every position is interconnected to the next. Opinions are respected here and continuous improvement is always encouraged. We ask ourselves every day, ‘How can we do better? Be better? Work smarter, not harder?’”

-Gigi Wood