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Focus on employees (and free beer) help make a ‘top place to work’

Transportation company BlueGrace Logistics puts care into recruiting and supporting its people.

Focus on employees (and free beer) help make a ‘top place to work’

Building a strong company culture is one way to keep your workforce engaged and productive. For BlueGrace Logistics, a B2B transportation company that specializes in supply chain services, putting a focus on employee happiness, personal development and career growth has helped it rank consistently as a top place to work in Tampa, Florida. And part of the culture? Beer.

“We drink beer on Fridays,” says Jamie Kaplan, senior manager of enterprise implementation at BlueGrace.

“BlueGrace Logistics is the only company I have heard of that has Free Beer Fridays,” adds Chris Vega, customer loyalty account manager.

Other cultural traits include company-wide monthly theme days, lots of volunteer opportunities and “taking holiday decor to an unimaginable extreme,” Kaplan says. “BlueGrace Logistics is the prime example of work hard, play hard.”

Hiring for success

The company’s 176 employees work hard for clients and each other, Kaplan says. “The reason why we have been and will continue to be successful is because we recruit service experts and surround them with good people, great entertainment, daily motivation and constant opportunity for advancement,” he says. “Our culture is hands-down what makes us unique, and the No. 1 reason why I love working here.”

CEO Bobby Harris says BlueGrace’s people are carefully selected and have “tremendous experience” in the industry to create simple and effective shipping programs for businesses. “Most employees have friends beating down our door to try and get involved with what we’re doing because they see the fun and hyper growth we have via social media,” Harris says. An in-house recruiting staff keeps an eye out for new talent as well.

Vega says the company’s success, as well as its reputation as a top place to work, attracted him to BlueGrace. He’s been there for a little longer than six months, “and I am looking forward to years ahead with this company.”

Engagement and recognition

The company puts a strong focus on peer recognition, communication and engagement. “Each Monday we have company-wide meeting to cover achievements, upcoming events, recent implementations and so on,” Kaplan says. “The meeting is opened by our COO, with a five- to 10-minute segment from a member of the executive board, and closed with a Q&A session from Bobby Harris.”

Every Wednesday, employees receive a survey from TINYPulse, which gives them the opportunity to voice opinions, put ideas forward and share “Cheers for Peers,” “which is a shout out to another BlueGrace employee for something they’ve done exceptionally well,” Kaplan says. This material is used for weekly, monthly and quarterly rewards.

“One night I received a call from a co-worker stating they needed a shipment booked and needed me to stay a little later and help her out,” Vega says. “I stayed later and we got the shipment covered. Unexpectedly, the next day, there was an impromptu meeting and our COO was present. I was given an award we have here known as a “Peer-2-Peer” award in which a co-workers can nominate one another and receive $50 for representing one of our core values we have here at BlueGrace.”

Harris says the company makes an effort to hire people who will fit in. “It starts with them liking each other and that’s possible because we make a hard stand on the cultural misfits and manage them out of the business,” he says. “This helps create a very positive workplace.”

Vega, who worked at a large logistics company before coming to BlueGrace, says he likes the the close-knit culture. “The biggest difference between that company and BlueGrace is how close everyone here is and how we are all like one big family,” he says. “Additionally, I feel that I can make a difference with a small business because when I am successful in what I do here, I am recognized for it and can see the fruits of my labor grow as the company grow.”

This week, we're profiling a series of small businesses and their company cultures. Check out this profile on Gaslight, a tech development firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the origin story of Acme Business Consulting, and a profile on business tech solutions company TechnologyAdvice.

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