Madison Magazine

Best Places to Work: Loving the 9-to-5 life

These businesses are unsuring trust, building dreams and real-ly great

M3 Insurance (No. 5 in 101+ employees category) and WEA Trust (No. 7 in 101+ employees category)

M3 and WEA Trust, both in the insurance business, have workforces of similar sizes, 140 and 200 employees respectively. In September, M3 moved into a new building with nice employee amenities, including a café with catered lunches, a fire pit and a patio, a fitness center and lots of spaces for employees to interact. WEA Trust is located on a hill right by a walking path where staffers see deer, raccoons and other animals when they go out to enjoy nature.

Employees talk enthusiastically about both companies. One WEA employee made a particularly colorful comment: "We're an awesome sandwich with a side of fabulous!" An M3 worker says, "M3 is simply an awesome place with awesome people."

Another says M3 is "the best place I've ever worked in my ten-plus years in the professional workforce. I feel like a valued member of the team and I enjoy my co-workers and my supervisor."

A WEA staffer says, "It's an incredible place to work. I enjoy my job and love going to work everyday. It doesn't feel like a job."

There's plenty more, but we'll share one more comment about each: For M3, "I really look forward to coming to work every day." For WEA, "I believe [joining] the Trust after being with my previous employer for over a decade was one of the best decisions I've ever made."

CG Schmidt (No. 9 in 10–50 employees category) and Tri-North Builders (No. 3 in 51–100 employees category)

Family is the foundation for both of these construction companies. Tri-North has an on-site daycare and it's not unusual to see kids parading through the office. Because the four Schmidt brothers, owners of CG Schmidt, think of their employees as family, all employees may reserve the Schmidt family's northern Wisconsin cabin any time of the year.

Tri-North has 275 employees, and sixty are in the Madison region. CG Schmidt has forty in Madison. Employees of the two companies speak extremely highly of their employers.

"CG Schmidt is not only an amazing place to work, but a rarity in the industry both locally and nationally. They're beyond honest and work with the highest integrity. It's an honor to represent them," says one worker.

"I've never enjoyed working for a company so much. My profession is known for … high levels of stress, but my coworkers and I have such positive relationships and can all share a laugh to make the hard days a lot easier. I can truly say I love what I do, even on the hard days, which most people can't say even on an easy day," adds another CG employee.

Tri-North effectively embodies the work-life balance for their crew. "This organization is very understanding of the needs of my personal/family life. It's a great place to work!" says one staffer. "Tri-North's leaders have always been a good example of employee management at its best," says another. A third adds, "The on-site daycare is amazing. Our benefits are top-notch and the building we work in is outstanding."

Century 21 Affiliated (No. 12 in 10–50 employees category), Restaino & Associates Realtors (No. 4 in 10–50 employees category) and Bunbury & Associates Realtors (No. 7 in 10–50 employees category)

Employees of these three real estate companies love where they work. While Century 21's Madison organization is a bit smaller, with twenty-two employees versus 150 realtors and staff at Restaino, and ten employees plus eighty independent contractors at Bunbury, all three get rave reviews. 

In terms of size, a Bunbury employee says, "I love the fact that I work for a smaller company in terms of employees, but because of our culture and the number of realtors we have, I feel like part of a much larger company." And although Century 21 is a company five states strong, it prides itself on running very much like a small company, where employees see and talk to leadership regularly—which is inspiring to employees: "The leadership is fantastic! Dan Kruse and Bill Kessler are like the mad geniuses of the real estate world."

Ron Restaino, owner at Restaino, seems to be a mad genius in a way that's a little different. He transformed the office kitchen into the Restaino Lounge, with TVs, comfortable seating areas and an outdoor patio. Bunbury goes all out at its annual December customer appreciation event. The company gives away close to six hundred Christmas trees and wreaths, has horse rides, Santa visits and collects Toys for Tots.

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