A Blue Zone Success Leads to Happy Employees.

Since 1938, corporate commitment to investing in employees has been a major factor in gaining national recognition for highly technical/complex centrifugal pumps. According to Megan Randoll (Human Resources Manager), “We are proud to be a preferred workplace in the Muscatine, Iowa area. We have 93 employees with an average tenure of 15.74 years. One guy just celebrated his 50th anniversary with us.”

Supportive Environment

In addition to a generous pay structure, all Carver Pump employees receive the same share of the company’s profits and bonuses. Megan says they also emphasize the importance of employees contributing to their 401(k). “We match each employee contribution. We hope some day they will be able to look back and realize they are at least financially OK thanks to Carver.”

Megan explains that unlike traditional machinist shops, the company manufactures extremely specialized products. “It’s not unusual for us to make a pump and not see the same piece of equipment for many years. To ensure we employ the highest level of machinists, we offer a unique internship program. We pay for their formal education, while they get to apply that knowledge here in the shop with our skilled personnel, who train and mentor them on how to use the machines. The academic program would typically be 2 years if you were going full time, but in this scenario it may take over 3 years to complete. As long as an intern maintains at least a B average in their classes, they get $1/hour raise after completing the first 8 hours of training, and every 8 hours thereafter.”

Other internship programs are available for engineers and contract management personnel. Megan underscores that focus on quality employees doesn’t stop with the internships. “If someone wants to go back to school and it’s a program relevant to their job, we reimburse them. Anyone who expresses a goal to be promoted, we send to leadership training. If someone wants to further develop a skill, we send them to programs specific to that skill; if someone is struggling with conflict, we send them to a resolution program. This year, we asked everyone to go through a Disc® communication assessment. Almost 100% participated and it received great reviews. I’m already seeing employees apply what they’ve learned in meetings and working relationships.”

Focus on Flexibility and Family

Megan points out that Carver Pump realizes the best workers lead happy, fulfilling lives outside the company. “We enjoy a very family-oriented atmosphere here. Whenever possible, as long as an employee puts in their 8 hours, we don’t care whether they come to work at 7:30 AM or 5:30 PM. Being able to balance the demands of family with work is one of our most highly appreciated benefits.”

Emphasis on family doesn’t stop with generous flex-time policies; the company hosts family-oriented programs throughout the year, including:

  • Holiday celebrations
  • Bowling parties
  • Pizza parties and picnics
  • CPR and first-aid training
  • Midwinter banquet recognizing employee anniversary milestones.

Volunteers coordinating these events keep them fun and high-energy — supplying the food, and planning a wide variety of raffles and activities. Megan strives to balance focusing on wellness in these incentives and giving back to the community. “We try to provide healthy options at our banquets. We’ve given tickets to local baseball games, Fitbits®, a NASCAR driving experience at the nearby speedway, and gift certificates to local restaurants. We support the arts as well, with tickets to the local dinner theater and comedy club. Basically, we want to see our folks getting out in the community and enjoying themselves.”

Grassroots Fitness

The company owner’s son had been very active in the Muscatine Rugby team. At that time, the team bought many pieces of used equipment from a fitness center. After the son left the area, the equipment ended up in Carver’s basement. Megan recalls, “Last year, we wanted to provide more in the way of basic fitness resources. The owner said we could have whatever we wanted from the basement including space for a center. Some equipment was not salvageable, so we formed a committee and invited volunteers to help evaluate each piece and clean up what could be used.”

Volunteers also cleaned out an area full of old files and furniture for the fitness center. Megan laughs, “We actually held a garage sale to get rid of unneeded stuff and raised money to augment the $10,000 the company committed to outfit the center. Our master machinists got involved by creating new free weight bars to replace the old rusted ones. Employees donated items from home and yard sales to stock our renovated kitchen area. Now we have cardio, free weight, and exercise areas with mats and mirrors everywhere. We used company vendor points to buy a big-screen entertainment center to show exercise videos and play music. We’ve branded our program, Carver Commit to Fit, and issue incremental prizes for anyone exercising in any way they choose.”

More Wellness Programs

Not all employees wanted to exercise but did want to be involved in other quality of life initiatives, so last year Carver Pump formed a very popular gardening committee. An engineering manager was the driving force and donated seeds from his personal large garden. The COO’s hobby is working with wood, so he helped build a raised garden and donated all the material. Not only can employees use the fruits and vegetables at home, but at each harvest there’s a potluck where people bring dishes made with the produce. This year adds a healthy eating committee.

Megan wants to give employees as many ways to be healthy as possible. The committees have now merged, and employees who contribute 500 or more minutes are eligible for prizes. Every month someone volunteers to market one of the programs to staff and put together an event like a group bike ride, 5K charity run, or other community fundraiser.

Another wellness benefit provides an information number any time of day to access healthcare, legal, and financial professionals. Megan makes sure their healthcare providers, as well as all supervisors, are familiar with this program. “If a counselor on the Care-24 help line feels an employee needs further assistance, they have a reference list of local services.”

Megan is particularly proud of the company’s new Buddy Program. “If someone in the program volunteers to sign a contract and encourage a buddy to participate, when they both reach 500 minutes, they receive $25 in Chamber bucks to use at any Chamber of Commerce business. As a result of this program, 12 people who didn’t do anything last year have already surpassed the 500-minute minimum.”

Cost Containment

Despite being a health-oriented company, their insurance rates were becoming an increasing concern. Megan explains, “Until this point, no initiative was data driven. We needed to get employees more aware of how their healthcare decisions drive costs. We chose a vendor, HealthCheck360º. They offer us the data we need but also the flexibility we wanted. In addition to a detailed biometrics analysis, we have access to telephone and face-to-face health coaches. Employees are reimbursed their $30/week premiums for participating and achieving health goals. While we are early into the program, we have already seen some individual successes.”

Blue Zones® a Win-Win

Carver Pump earned its Blue Zones worksite designation in mid-2014. Megan sees it as a natural fit: “The Carver family is known for philanthropy in the community. I was already involved in the Blue Zones school program and some of their committees. It never occurred to me to submit Carver Pump until Jodi Hansen from Blue Zones encouraged me to do so after following our activities on the company’s Facebook page. Basically, we just documented all the good things we were doing. In fact, because we were already doing so much, we completed the application process in only 2-3 weeks, where most companies may need a bit longer to achieve the necessary points.”

Megan can’t imagine the Muscatine community without the Blue Zones Project. “It’s kind of taken over. Their plant-based cooking classes led to our healthy eating committee and were particularly helpful in achieving those goals. Thanks to Blue Zones this is a bike-friendly area, with community gardens throughout the town. Whether a company becomes a Blue Zones worksite or not, answering the questionnaire and taking pictures of what your company is doing can open a lot of eyes and stimulate thought processes. We saw things we weren’t doing that we realized we could do… for instance, their idea about walking meetings and groups led to departments taking breaks and walking together.”

Thanks to the synergy between Carver Pump and the Blue Zones Project, Megan says she’s won the job lottery. “Our employees go out to the community and tell people about what we have here. They take those ideas back to their companies. It’s a win-win for everyone… including me. I’ve developed deep and lasting relationships that I truly cherish.”

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