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Connecting the Firm to the Community

May 01, 2009 |

Some time ago, when Deborah Bermond was interviewing a prospective employee for a management position at Roy Anderson Corp, the VP of human resources suggested that the candidate walk the halls to get a feel for the general contracting firm, headquartered in Gulfport, Miss. When the prospective employee returned to Bermond's office, he jokingly asked if the event had been staged, because everyone he encountered was so friendly and approachable, they must have been tipped off.

The candidate's encounter with some of Roy Anderson Corp's 375 employees was not staged, and those walkabouts are now a routine part of job interviews at Roy Anderson Corp (which omits the period in its name), says Bermond. She says that candidates often cite the unsupervised walkaround as a deciding factor in choosing to work there.

There's a reason the Gulf Coast firm embodies a family-friendly feel: 54 years after its founding, in 1955, by Roy Anderson, Jr., the firm is still 100% family owned and going strong—with more than $500 million in construction revenue across the southeastern U.S. in 2008. The senior Anderson retired in 2001, and his son, Roy Anderson, III, is now president and CEO.

The concept of employees as an extended family is evidenced in some of the firm's more personal efforts:

When a member of the accounting department was diagnosed with breast cancer, the whole company wore pink ribbons on the day of her surgery. Following her recovery, the employee donated a pink rose bush that the blooms outside the main entrance of the Gulfport home office.Hourly field employees with family outside the U.S. may take unpaid leave (typically three to four weeks long) to return home without loss of their jobs or benefits.

Other benefits at Roy Anderson Corp:

Annual performance bonuses, ranging from 10-30%.Payment of professional membership dues, courses, and licensing feesReimbursement for tuition and school-related expenses for employees taking courses at Mississippi community colleges or the University of Southern Mississippi. The firm established a delayed tuition payment plan so dues are owed at semester's end; employees don't pay anything up front and out of pocket.Monthly lunch-and-learns and in-house training programs. LEED certification training has led to 20% of operations/pre-construction personnel achieving LEED Accredited Professional status in response to the firm landing more federal projects that require LEED certification.Bank-at-work program offers employees free checking accounts with Hancock Bank; bank officers go to Roy Anderson Corp's offices to process loans at discounted rates for employees.Company-sponsored Weight Watchers at Work, a program now in its third year that's led to a collective loss of 1,398 pounds. “By getting employees to focus on health we can also reduce our healthcare costs and claims,” says Bermond. (The firm's healthcare claims are below industry average, according to Blue Cross.) Additionally, the firm pays 100% of employee health plans, including vision.

Community ties are equally important to Roy Anderson Corp. For more than five decades, the firm and individual employees have given service to the communities in the states it serves: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Employees have volunteered with and served on the local boards of such organizations as the United Way, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the Humane Society, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity.

In 2007, Roy Anderson Corp was asked by the Mississippi Development Authority to assist in creating and hosting a free, nine-week Model Contractor Development Program to educate small and minority-owned contractors on ways to hone business practices and increase bonding capacities. Last year, the firm developed an online version aimed at groups in rural areas who can't attend the program at the Roy Anderson office in Gulfport. —Jay W. Schneider, Senior Editor


Surviving Hurricane Katrina

When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in August 2005, many Roy Anderson Corp employees were caught in the devastation. Within two days, the firm had generators powering the office lights and air conditioning. The HR department found temporary housing for displaced employees and provided on-site daycare for three months, until schools and daycare centers reopened. Employees pitched in to secure basic supplies—bottled water, personal hygiene items, and clothing—for the families of colleagues in need. For two months, RAC employees voluntarily prepared up to 500 meals a day for employees manning the home office in Gulfport, Miss., and those in the field assisting in rebuilding efforts.
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