City Life

Executives share keys to workplace success

Read best places to work winners' advice

“We foster a work environment that is open, empowering, pragmatically oriented yet also fun ... Our employees love Friday lunches with beer tastings and free beer!”
Isaac Showaki, president, Octopi Brewing

“We are a very fun, hard-working, rewarding place to be employed by. We retain talented employees because there is a great path for growth within our company.”
Erik Sjowall, president Bunbury & Associates Realtors

“Encourage each co-worker to pursue the personal best career path and help each with that career path even when that’s outside of your organization. This forces your organization to be humble and introspective about change, rather than finding people who will change and fit your organization’s needs.”
Joe Reinardy, president, CenterX

“At every level in the organization, from new student to volunteer to seasoned staff, people have the opportunity to grow in a way that interests them, whether it’s through professional development or, perhaps more importantly, regular new opportunities in their everyday work.”
Jennifer Peterson, senior director of tutoring, Literacy Network of Dane County

“Overall, the most consistent positive feedback we receive is the team’s appreciation for the atmosphere of kindness and collaboration they experience on a daily basis.”
Scott Andersen, co-owner, director of business development, Artisan Dental

“[A best workplace must have] trusting relationships built on care and mutual commitment and engagement to a common cause.”
Michael Luehrs, general manager, Hampton Inn & Suites–Madison/Downtown

“Kindness and high integrity are at the core of the character traits we build our team on. This has created a highly regarded team, both within and outside the organization, proudly caring for people at the worst moments of their lives.”
Carey Cress Fose, vice president, Cress Funeral & Cremation Service

“Workplaces must inspire joy in its employees, its customers and its community in order to be the very best.”
Brad Grzesiak, CEO, Bendyworks

“Every day we have the opportunity to help people achieve their financial goals.”
Shane Kieler, financial adviser, Edward Jones

“[We] provide an environment where everyone counts … People have an opportunity to be free thinkers, contribute to something bigger and develop their own thought processes toward a bigger common goal.”
Peter Pelizza, executive vice president and CEO, Rural Mutual Insurance Co.

“We understand the importance of work and life balance. For example, we take two mid-year, weeklong breaks—coinciding with Christmas/New Year’s and July 4th—to recharge our batteries.”
Susanne Thiede-Barnet, partner, Pilch & Barnet

“QTI employees have the support and flexibility to be involved and give back to our community. Employees appreciate the opportunity to work together to make something bigger than themselves better.”
Londa Dewey, president, The QTI Group

“Our people are our most important asset. We try to live up to this by having an ‘employee first’ mentality. Whether that is flex-scheduling, generous paid time off, paternity leave or half-day Fridays, we try to be a results-oriented company. We trust our employees to get their work done when it’s convenient for their lives.”
Ben Pechan, chief financial officer, Smith & Gesteland

“TDS founder Roy Carlson believed strongly in the importance of education and the pursuit of lifelong learning. TDS offers full-time employees 75 percent reimbursement eligibility for continuing education in work-related certificate/degree programs, which we are very proud of. At any given time, TDS can have over 100 employees enrolled as students pursuing MBAs, bachelor and associate degrees.”
Andrew “Drew” Petersen, vice president of external affairs and corporate communications, TDS Telecommunications Corp.

“Our people are our greatest asset, and we strive to create a diverse and engaging culture in which exceptional people thrive.”
Kevin Heppner, regional managing partner, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP

“Employees must be able to align their personal values with the core values of the organization. UW Credit Union’s mission statement is, ‘To improve the financial well-being of people’ [and] ‘putting the best interests of our members first’.” 
Lee Wiersma, executive vice president & chief human resources officer, UW Credit Union

“The partners at The Digital Ring share their vision for the company with the team to ensure everyone is working toward a common goal and that every employee’s contributions and opinions are valued and appreciated, thus giving them the ability to really own a project.”
Mason Kemp, partner, The Digital Ring

“While we pride ourselves on being able to offer our employees fantastic health insurance and other traditional benefits like 401K matching, tuition reimbursement, and some more progressive benefits such as being a dog-friendly workplace, we believe our most popular perk may just be Popcorn Thursdays and Beer Fridays!” 
Chuck Hulan, CEO, The Douglas Stewart Company

“[We attract and retain employees] by providing meaningful work, offering opportunities to grow and learn, contributing to the community, and believing that the needs of our people and their families come first.” 
Cynthia Prest, human resources manager, TDS

“Eudaimonia is a Greek term from 4th century BC … [It] means human flourishing; a state of being happy, healthy and prosperous. I think a workplace needs to have this mindset to be a best place to work; an ethical framework guided by a higher purpose, to help others flourish by realizing their fullest potential.” 
Matthew Gonnering, CEO, Widen Enterprises

“The one characteristic, practice or philosophy that any workplace must have in order to be a best place to work is simply to have fun. If we’re not having fun at work, we’re simply not having fun at life.”
Brian Swanton, Arizona market president, Gorman & Company

Click here to return to the Best Places to Work main story.


Madison Magazine Subscription

Get Madison Magazine delivered to your office or home.

Gift subscriptions now available!

Subscribe Now

Dining & Drink

E-Newsletter Registration

This Week's Circulars