Top midsize and small company winners go the extra mile for workers

Joseph Carberry of the Glenn Mills-based Medical Solutions (Joshua Fernandez / Philly.com)

So when do you think your boss will take you on an all-expenses-paid trip to a tropical resort in Mexico?

When hell freezes over, perhaps?

The employees of Power Home Remodeling Group don’t have to wait for a polar vortex to sweep through Hades. Each December for the past five years, Power has invited all its 1,350 employees – and a guest – to spend four days at a resort in Cancun, Mexico.

Power earned first place for medium-sized businesses this year in Philly.com’s annual Top Workplaces awards, based on employee surveys conducted by Workplace Dynamics, of Exton. Medical Solutions Supplier was named the top small-sized business.

The two companies are in completely different industries. Chester-based Power is an exterior home remodeler selling windows, siding, roofing and doors. Glen Mills-based Medical Solutions Supplier provides pneumatic compression pump therapy to treat chronic wounds, lymphedema, venous disease and arterial disease.

What they have in common is that they view their employees as an extended family. It’s a word a lot of organizations like to toss around. But when it comes up over and over in conversations with everyone from top managers to rank-and-file employees, you’ve got to think there is something to it.

Hiring the right people is the key to creating the culture the companies want: supportive, collaborative, with innovative ideas often originating with front-line employees.

“No one knows better how to do a job than the people doing it,” said Joe Carberry, executive team leader of Medical Solutions Supplier.

Steve Kantor, who founded Medical Solutions Supplier in 1994, said he was always told to avoid hiring family and friends. Kantor has an opinion on that: The sanitized version is, “Bull.”

Ten years ago, Kantor was golfing with his friend Carberry, 28 years his junior, when on the 15th hole he hired him to build an outside sales force for Medical Solutions Supplier.

Kantor said the company has grown each year since then and has 57 employees.

Marie Morroni, a team leader for case development, said employees are motivated to help patients as well as support each other. If someone makes a mistake, it’s used as a learning experience. If an employee needs time off to deal with a personal issue such as a sick child, it’s not a problem.

“This is an amazing company,” Morroni said.

In addition to being the top small business, the company received a special award for Meaningfulness. Of all survey responses received, Medical Solutions Supplier’s employees’ submissions best matched the concept “My job makes me feel like I am part of something meaningful.”

Meanwhile, Power Home Remodeling Group has grown rapidly in recent years while creating a workforce that is a “net of interconnected family,” said co-Chief Executive Officer Asher Raphael.

Fifty-one percent of new hires are referrals from employees, an indication they like their jobs, Raphael said.

Power was founded in 1992 and opened a second office in Northern New Jersey in 2009. It has since expanded to 12 states, with 1,350 employees, 431 in the Delaware Valley. Revenue last year was $310 million, and Qualified Remodeler Magazine recently ranked the company the second-largest remodeler in the U.S.

Raphael and co-Chief Executive Officer Corey Schiller started at entry-level positions on the same day in 2003 and became co-owners with founders Adam Kaliner and Jeff Kaliner, who are cousins, in 2011.

“We’ve been successful because we’ve focused on developing our people and helping them achieve their dreams,” Raphael said.

Matt Fleming, who oversees remodeling projects, said he had always wanted to do something “special and unique” with his career, but had a hard time finding it. “I finally feel like I’ve found a place where I belong,” he said.

Stephen Mast, a regional project manager, was still in college when a friend approached him about working at Power. At first he was not interested in working in the home remodeling industry, but he is glad his friend persisted.

“Everyone watches out for each other, and that’s where the success of Power comes from,” Mast said.

Raphael said the trip to Mexico is the company’s way of thanking its employees, whose only obligation on the trip is to enjoy themselves. Many employees describe it as a family reunion.

Sales representative Eli Branzburg said, “Imagine Spring Break in college, only everyone is mature.”

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