CarePro Health Services wins 2012 Company of the Year award CarePro Health Services was awarded 2012 Company of the Year of the Iowa-Nebraska Chapter of the ESOP Association on February 29, 2010, in recognition of their commitment to promoting their ESOP to their employees and the community. Members of the CarePro ESOP Advisory Committee accepted the award at the Iowa Nebraska Chapter’s Winter Conference in Lincoln, NE.
The Iowa-Nebraska Chapter of the ESOP Association includes over 40 members of companies and firms of all sizes and many industries, ranging from new and mature employee-owned businesses. The Iowa-Nebraska Chapter is linked with 18 other chapters throughout the United States through the National ESOP Association. Along with winning 2012 Company of the Year of the Iowa-Nebraska Chapter, CarePro Health Services will be submitted to the National ESOP Association for consideration for the 2012 Company of the Year of the National ESOP Association award. The winner will be announced at the 35th Annual ESOP Conference in Washington D.C. on May 10, 2012.
ESOP Advisory Committee’s Nomination Essay
Seventy percent of CarePro’s employees are enrolled in our organizations Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). Cultivating an Employee Ownership Culture is very important to CarePro and our ESOP Advisory Committee (EAC). Our EAC strives to communicate with each employee in our organization through a series of ESOP events. To begin our story, CarePro Health Services was established in 1971 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by pharmacist Ray Buser and became an S Corp ESOP on January 14, 2004. Over the last 40 years, it has grown from a single pharmacy to a multi-line business with several locations across eastern Iowa. CarePro Health Services connects customers and healthcare providers with people, products and answers – when and where they need them. We are made up of four different business lines that make us a complete health care resource: Pharmacy, Home Care, Home Medical, and Healthy Living.
CarePro’s employee owners are very active in our local ESOP chapter. All members of our ESOP Advisory Committee have attended ESOP conferences and two employees of our company were speakers at those conferences. CarePro sponsored a hole at the ESOP Golf Outing in June, and EAC members sat at the hole to play games with the players and talk about our company and ESOP.
CarePro is also active in ESOP legislation and chapter events. Our CFO, Gary Kaufman, is currently president elect of the Iowa-Nebraska ESOP chapter and current chair of the legislative sub-committee. Our accounting manager, Trisha Cornwell, also serves on the Iowa-Nebraska ESOP chapter’s executive committee as chair of the marketing sub-committee. Members of our ESOP Advisory Committee and individual employee owners have written letters to our Representatives and Senators in regards to ESOP fiduciary concerns. Several of our CarePro employee owners have personally communicated with our elected officials at the national conference in Washington DC over the past five years.
We are continually growing every year in regards to community involvement. CarePro hosted a PM Exchange in September, where over 200 members of the Chamber of Commerce walked through our business after hours and employee owners visited with them, talking with them about our organization. Our company also established a Meals on Wheels route with Horizons Family Service which provides life changing services to our underserved population. Many CarePro employee owners now volunteer over their lunch hours to deliver meals to senior citizens homebound in the community on a bi-weekly basis. In addition, CarePro donates $5.00 to Horizons for each goal made by the Cedar Rapids Rough Riders hockey team and for each run scored by the Cedar Rapids Kernels baseball team. Selected CarePro employee owners present the checks to the Horizons group on a company event game day.
In 2011, CarePro Health Services ESOP Advisory Committee displayed exemplary communication skills when it came to building employee ownership culture and awareness within our company. Twenty dollars in CarePro cash was distributed to each employee at the beginning of the year for the sole purpose of being transferred to other employees as a way of showing appreciation. CarePro cash is an internal currency that employees can use to buy company apparel.
A survey was given out to our employees in 2010, asking them for the positive and negative aspects of our company and its culture. From that survey, The Great Game of Business and CarePro Health Services derived a list of results to present to our management team. In terms of employee representation among upper management, our EAC is very involved. An example of this is during yearly management training where we have two elected EAC members that attend strategic planning with upper management and help to create the upcoming year’s critical number. Our organization defines the critical number as a financial ratio that when affected, will impact the long-term performance of our company. Focusing on the critical number can be tied to the success of our company and to our employee incentive plan.
Based off of the information received from the management strategic planning day, the two EAC members present the critical number to the Employee Advisory Committee. Our EAC breaks the critical number down into understandable terms and determines the communication routes that the information will be best received by our co-owners. This process takes place during a one-day off-site planning retreat. The goals of the retreat are to determine the upcoming year of EAC activities, develop sub-committees/leaders (ESOP education, CarePro education, and recognition) and to develop budget that can be approved by our CarePro Board of Directors.
During 2011, the critical number was a company year-end sales goal which was broken down further into a smaller more comprehendible number for each full time equivalent (FTE). We overcame the difficult communication hurdle of this information by introducing the idea within a survey roll-out road show. Representatives from our EAC committee, along with our CEO and CFO, went to each location and explained: what the critical number was; how it affected each employee, and examples of how the goal could be obtained. Thereafter, we distributed 8 packets throughout the year that each contained a newsletter, product sheet, and activity. The roadshow newsletters highlighted each CarePro location and their products. In addition, the product sheets included examples of products that could cross-sell and how each person selling one of the featured products would impact the bottom line. Activities, such as crossword puzzles or word finds reinforced the employee ownership ideas and concepts. Employees who read the packets of information and completed the puzzles were then eligible to win CarePro cash.
To keep the ball rolling, when we gave out the financial stock statements during our Piece of the Pie celebration, we reinforced our critical number by doing another set of location meetings. Employees watched a skit about our ESOP’s beginnings performed by our CEO, CFO and EAC members. Employees also participated in a game called “Who Wants to be a CarePronairre,” which included questions about our products and services that had been highlighted in our monthly newsletters. Employees competed for internal currency that could be spent on CarePro apparel when won.
Additionally, throughout 2011, the ESOP Advisory Committee distributed printed quarterly newsletters with messages from upper management about company standings, financial updates from the CFO, community updates from our CEO, wellness initiatives, and branding information. We also included an educational piece about ESOP and employee ownership culture and announcement pages, where employees could share special news or accomplishments. A bi-weekly e-newsletter called the E-Connection was also emailed to our employee owners containing company news and reports. A calendar was developed monthly that shared employee birthdays and hire anniversaries. Our EAC and CFO also developed a “projection calculator wheel” that was given to each employee to show what their potential ESOP balance could be after considering: salary, company growth rate, and years to retirement.
The ESOP Advisory Committee raised $2,000 in donations to purchase logoed polo shirts for all employees to wear on each Friday of ESOP Month and at the PM Exchange. We also held a poster contest. Employees could submit poster ideas that would reflect the concept of employee ownership for 2012. The employee with the winning design won $300 and the poster is displayed at all locations.
To kick off Employee Ownership Month, we had a company dinner, where we played another elaborate but well-received and educational version of “The Price is Right.” Employees who were contestants had to guess prices of products that we sell to win prizes that focused on wellness, such as weights, yoga mats, and workout DVDs. All managers were involved in helping with the game, displaying and giving out prizes. Our CEO also recorded a video to be played at the beginning of our festivities that night. We celebrated Employee Ownership Month with weekly competitions such as Pumpkin Decorating, Office Olympics, Chili Cook Offs, and Halloween Costume Competition. For the entire month, employees competed in a company-wide BINGO competition. Instead of letters, each square held facts about our ESOP and our products.
We also have a birthday celebration, which highlights how many years we’ve been an ESOP. We delivered fruits and veggies to celebrate our ESOP birthday.
As a result of strategic planning and EAC communication, CarePro is continually developing an open book management style:
– Our CFO has established an open door policy within our organization to answer financial questions for anyone at any level.
– CarePro “report cards” are being developed to be given to each manager on a monthly basis. These report cards will help our managers understand how they are comparing to their submitted budgets, other similar CarePro divisions, and the overall company goals in relation to the critical number.
– Sub-committees have been developed. Two examples of sub-committee purposes were to analyze supply usage by streamlining ordering processes in order to keep office supply costs down and to develop ways to save money in processing confidential paperwork.
Our ESOP culture is constantly developing and has really taken off in leaps and bounds since its initiation eight years ago. The adoption of the Employee Stock Ownership Plan has been very important to our company and employee owners. Our Employee Advisory Committee feels that CarePro is standing out in the health community as a company of integrity because of our employee’s belief in our company.