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Standouts Among Large Employers

Best Companies to Work for in Alabama 2014

Edward Jones

With 280 employees in Alabama, Edward Jones is the nation’s largest financial-services firm in terms of branch offices, with 11,000 U.S. locations. The company caters to its more than 7 million individual investors in communities where they live and work.

Local financial advisors “work with clients to understand their personal goals, from college savings to retirement, and create long-term investment solutions that emphasize a well-balanced portfolio and a buy-and-hold strategy,” says Bill Greenwald, Edward Jones financial advisor based in Andalusia. “We embrace the importance of building long-term, face-to-face relationships with clients, helping them to understand and make sense of the investment options available today.”

Edward Jones offers opportunities for financial advisors to build their own businesses with the support of a well-known brand. The company pays advisors to study for their licenses, installs technology and provides all the training and support needed to succeed. They receive help building their businesses by earning a salary plus commissions and bonuses, as well as subsidized benefits during their first few years.

The company is constantly hiring to open new branches in all states. “We believe many individual investors need our calm, well-reasoned advice based on their needs,” Greenwald says. “All income after expenses is paid out to associates through bonuses, profit sharing and partnership earnings.”

In addition to the opportunity to join the firm as a limited partner, Edward Jones offers advisors extravagant incentive trips for ensuring diversification in clients’ portfolios. Families are invited and there’s no limit to the number of trips awarded, Greenwald says. — NJ

Jack Henry & Associates

Jack Henry & Associates is a software technology company for the banking and finance industry. The company was founded in 1976 to provide core information processing solutions for community banks. As the banking industry has become increasingly automated and as banking customers have demanded more technical conveniences, the company’s product arsenal has evolved to include technologies that process transactions, automate business processes and manage critical information for almost 12,000 financial institutions and corporations.

Headquartered in Monett, Mo., Jack Henry & Associates employs 186 people in its three Alabama offices. While the company’s presence in Alabama isn’t large, those employees enjoy the perks and benefits seldom seen outside large corporations. For instance, Jack Henry team members have options for boosting their work-life balance, such as flexible work arrangements, including the opportunity to work remotely.

In addition, employees enjoy working for Jack Henry because of the company’s strong core values, focus on work-life balance and excellent benefits package, says Stephanie Washington, the company’s human resources supervisor. Jack Henry strongly emphasizes employee health and wellness, offering tobacco cessation programs, a “Biggest Loser” style weight loss competition and a Right Track Wellness Program. — NJ

Warren Averett LLC

With a 50-year history of serving customers, Warren Averett has grown significantly through mergers and acquisitions during the past few years. Originally based in Birmingham, Warren Averett now has offices across Alabama and Florida, as well as affiliate offices in Houston and Grand Cayman. Through its recent growth, it has become one of the largest accounting firms in the Southeastern region, ranking among the top 30 firms in the United States.

With 461 employees in Alabama and 800 company-wide, Warren Averett offers depth and experience in a variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, construction, real estate, aerospace and defense, life sciences and technology, nonprofit and public sector, with services that span beyond audit and tax to include wealth management, staffing and recruiting, technology consulting, financial outsourcing, retirement plan administration and investments.

Top recruits join Warren Averett because of the opportunities the firm offers. That includes the “opportunity to work on A+ clients, opportunity for career growth, opportunity to work with the best and be the best, and the opportunity to thrive and help our clients thrive,” says Kelly Cochran, director of human resources.

Employees enjoy Community Day, when they receive paid time off to volunteer on community service projects, and Volunteer for Vacation, which allows employees to convert their volunteer hours into extra vacation time. The firm also prioritizes professional development, offering a leadership development program and an emerging executive group for younger members of the firm. The Women of Warren Averett, also known as WoW!, provides opportunities for female employees to network, gain skills, share experiences and cultivate rewarding relationships. — NJ

Award winners at Baker Donelson’s Annual Awards luncheon.
 

Baker Donelson

Consistently recognized as a top company to work for, Baker Donelson is a full-service law firm, with a team of more than 650 attorneys across the U.S. Offering experienced counsel for a variety of legal needs, the firm takes pride in helping both its clients and team members succeed.

“We believe in giving the same high level of service to one another as we do to our clients,” says Managing Shareholder Keith Andress. “Ours is a culture of commitment to clients, to one another, to our communities. People really look out for one another. It is a very caring environment.”

The firm’s CEO and other officials come through the office regularly and communicate openly with employees. “Transparency is another earmark of our culture, which can be rare in a law firm,” says Andress. “We hold monthly attorney and staff meetings and no topic is off limits. To be a good leader, you must serve the people you want to take you to the next level, and we do that at Baker Donelson.”

Employees receive medical, dental and vision insurance and can choose from two healthcare plans. Baker Donelson also offers wellness initiatives, paid volunteer time, yoga and free parking at every office. Working at the firm may also afford prospects for advancement. “We promote a culture of learning,” says Andress. “Employees have countless opportunities to grow their skillsets and, in many cases, grow their professional path at Baker Donelson.” — TL

Community Bank

The employee-owned Community Bank provides consumer and business lending and deposit services, in addition to financial planning and assistance. Founded more than 100 years ago in Forest, Miss., the bank has grown from a single office to a $2.5 billion, 41-office, multi-state holding company.

Through Community Bank’s Employee Stock Ownership Plan, all staff members are invested in the bank as owners. They are fully funded for a percentage of their income to be invested in company stock. “Community Bank’s employee owners work harder, are more dedicated and have a vested interest in the long-term success of their company,” says coast branch CEO Oliver Latil. “A spirit of teamwork creates close bonds and a family atmosphere that customers recognize and appreciate.”

The open work environment means that all levels of staff are accessible and responsive. “Management sets the bar high, and exceptional performance is rewarded and praised,” says Latil. “Management recognizes the most valuable asset in our company is our people.”

In addition to company stock and standard benefits, employees receive incentives through bonuses, workshop and seminar opportunities and a tuition reimbursement program towards continuing education.

Weekly meetings, newsletters and coaching sessions ensure that staff remain connected and well-equipped to serve clients. “Communication is constant,” says Latil. “Community Bank’s staff performs at a high level because they know and understand why we execute our business plan in the manner we do.” — TL

 

Alacare

Alacare Home Health & Hospice delivers skilled nursing, rehabilitative, palliative and hospice care in their patients’ homes. Alacare is Alabama’s largest family-owned home health agency and retains the family values instilled by late founder Major Charles Beard Jr. “This sense of family assures that the most important aspect of Alacare is doing what is right for the patient,” says CEO Susan Brouillette.

The company’s healthcare professionals understand that their contributions have a tremendous impact on the lives of patients and their families. “Our patients appreciate the care that we provide,” says Brouillette. “This gives our staff a great sense of pride knowing they are helping members of their community during a very difficult time.”

Management travels across the state to visit each branch and speak with employees. “Alacare believes in listening to our staff,” says Brouillette. “We really try to address the obstacles our staff face and implement innovative solutions to problems so our staff can spend their time caring for our patients.”

Alacare’s comprehensive benefits package includes health, dental, vision, disability and life insurance, as well as a matching 401k. Qualifying staff may participate in the Alacare Corporate Car Program and drive an Alacare Altima. The company’s Clinical Ladder Program grants staff access to education and skills training. — TL

Jones Walker

Jones Walker LLP is a full-service law firm spanning seven states. Based in New Orleans, the firm employs nearly 400 attorneys across the U.S., with focuses in a variety of industries and corporate concerns. The Birmingham office specializes in highly regulated industries.

Birmingham Office Head Katherine Musso believes that the company’s non-hierarchical environment encourages streamlined cooperation. “We emphasize team success,” she says. “Everyone is involved in that, from administrative assistants to senior partners. Our people see that their contributions are appreciated.”

Musso and company believe that keeping morale high is vital to sustaining excellent performance. “It’s hard work, but you get positive feedback from clients and teammates,” she says. “When our team members succeed, it benefits our clients and reflects well on the entire company.” Employees enjoy a range of benefits that even include pet insurance.

Jones Walker allows plenty of room for upward mobility and considerable freedom in how employees may advance. “Everyone, including the assistants and paralegals, can identify what projects and training they need and communicate that to the board,” says Musso. “As a professional, you can chart your own way.” — TL

Elwood Staffing

Operating across the U.S. and Canada, Elwood Staffing pairs job seekers with hiring businesses in a variety of fields including automotive, customer service and engineering. The privately owned staffing firm employs more than 900 team members and has been recognized as an outstanding workplace in multiple states.

“Employees feel Elwood recognizes, values and rewards their contributions and places high importance on their opinions,” says Executive Vice President Mike Stockard. “Every team member, regardless of their position, has the opportunity to grow personally and professionally at Elwood.” The firm helps by offering training, certification and mentoring options.

Elwood Staffing’s employees can anonymously rate the support and service they receive from corporate staff through monthly surveys. Management is receptive to feedback and engages in dialogue with staff. “Our open door policy lets employees communicate directly with team members and management,” says Stockard. “All members of the leadership team are accessible. No one is off limits.”

Staff members have the opportunity to achieve industry certifications paid for by Elwood Staffing. Employees also have access to group learning sessions through Elwood Leadership Academy. Additional specialized training is available through an online learning system.  — TL

MAX Credit Union’s LENDOars team poses during Dragon Boat race day.
 

MAX Credit Union

MAX Credit Union provides banking and financial services for personal and business clients.

The Montgomery-based company features extensive online banking options designed for convenience and accessibility. MAX’s services include checking and savings accounts, auto and commercial loans, mortgages, insurance and more.

Management works to uphold a sense of community within the credit union. “MAX leadership is fully committed to meaningful employee engagement, which drives our growth,” says Vice President of Human Resources Sandra Stenger. “All of this is centered squarely on our core value pillars of simplicity, integrity and hospitality.”

MAX holds quarterly meetings with executive and department managers. “Our President/CEO is always present to discuss any questions that may arise during the meetings,” says Stenger. MAX also conducts semiannual performance feedback sessions. “All team members have the opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback on past performance, as well as suggestions for improvement,” she continues. A biweekly video blog keeps employees up to date on company news and upcoming events.

The credit union’s comprehensive benefits package covers prescriptions, dental, vision, medical and disability insurance, as well as bonuses, referral rewards and other incentives. “Our 401k retirement program is second to none, with 200 percent contribution match on up to 5 percent of the enrolled individual’s annual income,” says Stenger. Employees also enjoy generous paid holidays, including birthdays.

Employees also have access to various training options. “Each division of MAX offers formal career paths,” says Stenger. “Our Professional Development department offers a variety of tools and classes to team members wanting to acquire the prerequisites for advancement.” — TL

Columbia Southern University

The vision of Columbia Southern University is to improve lives through education. The 1,104 staff members across the nation go home everyday feeling like they are part of something bigger than themselves.

“We empower students and staff through education,” says Senior Vice President Chantell Cooley. “We also offer quality education to staff at a 90 percent discount.”

The online university was founded in 1993 and offers associate, bachelor and master’s degrees, attracting more than 30,000 students annually. Columbia Southern University is one of the top 10 schools in the nation for military enrollment.

“We are a humble family with humble beginnings,” says Cooley. “No matter how big we get, we will always remember where we came from and will never lose the family culture.”

As an employer, Cooley says communication is key to making the staff know its value. Leadership is also not afraid to admit if a mistake has been made. An exercise room, health classes and insurance packages make sure the staff feels good when they come to work. Columbia Southern University also provides a 401k match and paid holidays — including a paid holiday for birthdays.

Says Cooley, “When we get to change a life, there is just nothing like it.” — LS

Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

In 1995, Ralph Hargrove started Hargrove Engineers + Constructors out of his attic. From that humble start, the Mobile-based company grew into a full-service engineering and construction management firm with 10 offices across the United States.

According to Human Resources Leader Chad Vinson, the leadership at Hargrove Engineers + Construction recognizes that the success of the company is a direct result of the employees. Placards that read “One Team” are displayed over every door in every office across the country. The commitment to the team extends to the family members of each teammate. 

“Our teammates have families so our decisions affect their families. The family members are also part of the team,” Vinson says.

Naturally, the “one team” mentality extends to the clients. Feedback and open communication are encouraged from the team and the clients.

Comprehensive and competitive benefits — life, vision and medical — are available to teammates. Employees also receive discounts on various programs and flexible spending accounts. The health of teammates is paramount, so a strong wellness program is in place at Hargrove Engineers + Constructors. With a strong commitment to each other and the clients, Hargrove Engineers + Constructors attracts talent to the team for the long term. — LS

Boyd Brothers prides itself on high quality employees with low turnover among office staff.
 

Boyd Bros.

In 1956, three brothers decided to bring their farming and truck driving operations together and founded Boyd Bros. Transportation. But the three didn’t stay together for long. Two of the brothers left for other endeavors by 1965, leaving Dempsey Boyd to continue to drive the company to its full potential.

Headquartered in Clayton, Boyd Bros. Transportation is a leading flatbed carrier operating primarily in the eastern United States. Boyd Bros. Transportation and its subsidiaries have about 900 people who transport time-sensitive steel, lumber, roofing and other materials for the construction industry. While driver turnover has risen throughout the trucking industry for a variety of reasons, non-driver turnover at Boyd Bros. Transportation is low.

Employment development opportunities are offered and employees are promoted from within.

“We believe a company is only as good as its people and we strive to keep our hiring standards high,” says Lynn Colley, vice president of human resources.

The employees at Boyd Bros. don’t see their employment as just a job. Workers enjoy a wide range of benefits, a wellness program and a gym. In addition to offering great services safely and economically, the goals of Boyd Bros. include great communication, value and respect for all people. The company’s talented and committed individuals know that they are partners who influence and enjoy the success of the company. — LS

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