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updated: 5/17/2013 12:43 PM

Edward Jones, Skender top 'Best Places to Work' list

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  • Lisa Latronico, left, of Skender Construction accepts the first-place award for a mid-size business, and Kevin Frontone, a financial adviser for Edward Jones, accepts the first-place award for a large company during the Best Places to Work event in Rolling Meadows on Thursday.

       Lisa Latronico, left, of Skender Construction accepts the first-place award for a mid-size business, and Kevin Frontone, a financial adviser for Edward Jones, accepts the first-place award for a large company during the Best Places to Work event in Rolling Meadows on Thursday.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer RICHARD R. KL

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  • Kevin Frontone, a financiail adviser for Edward Jone, accepted the award for being the Number 1 large company at the 2013 Best Places to Work in Illinois awards in Rolling Meadows Thursday.

      Kevin Frontone, a financiail adviser for Edward Jone, accepted the award for being the Number 1 large company at the 2013 Best Places to Work in Illinois awards in Rolling Meadows Thursday.

 
By Richard R. Klicki
rklicki@dailyherald.com

One is a national financial services firm whose advisers are encouraged to be an active part of the community, and whose rewards include all-expense-paid trips to exotic locations.

One is a Chicago-based construction company whose employees are honored for coming up with innovative ideas that improve the company, and sponsors employee outings throughout the year.

And both -- Edward Jones and Skender Construction -- are the top companies in the Daily Herald Business Ledger's 2013 Best Places to Work in Illinois competition.

A total of 60 business were honored Thursday at the eighth annual awards event attended by more than 300 people at Meridian Banquet in Rolling Meadows. The companies selected to the 2013 list were recognized for applying best business practices and embracing high standards advance their business, which distinguishes them from their competitors.

The statewide competition is conducted by the Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, the Workforce Boards of Metropolitan Chicago and the Human Resources Management Association of Chicago. It is administered by the Best Companies Group of Harrisburg, Pa.

Peter Burke, president of Best Companies Group, told the group that 93 percent of the winning companies' employees said they felt engaged or connected to their employer -- far above the national average of 41 percent.

"They have pride in the company brand, they believe what they are doing matters and they will recommend you as an employer to a friend," Burke said. "To have a workforce that committed and connected is coveted, for sure.

"You are living the rarefied air of high employee engagement," Burke added. "Many try and didn't make it, and some just don't care. Those who don't care are missing the boat on what is fast becoming the one common thread of all successful organizations, and that is the focus on creating workplaces where employees love to come to work."

Edward Jones, which ranked Number 1 in the large company category, is the nation's largest financial-services firm in terms of branch offices, with nearly 11,500 U.S. locations. The St. Louis-based company is a partnership owned by about 15,000 associates. All income after expenses is paid out to associates through bonuses, profit-sharing and partnership earnings. Every associate has an opportunity to own part of the company after three years of service, and about 40 percent of all associates are owners.

Each year, thousands of advisers earn all-expense-paid trips to exotic destinations. The company offers an invitation-only conference for its most talented advisers. Associates are encouraged to volunteer in the local community. Employees believe the company cares for them with special attention when there is a sickness in the family or a family emergency arises. Such efforts include extra time off, or special pay arrangements when necessary.

Kevin Frontone, an Edward Jones financial adviser who accepted the award. said the company has 600 branches across Illinois.

"This is a big honor. It is our eighth year being in the top ten," Frontone noted.

Chicago-based Skender Construction is the Number 1 company in the small and medium size business category. The company was founded in 1955 and offers open and honest communication to provide expertise to its clients. Employees at Skender are offered reimbursement for Health Club memberships, monthly birthday celebrations, and quarterly team building events.

Employees are honored for innovation that solves company problems or prevents problems from occurring. Anniversaries are honored with a ceremony and gifts ranging from $250 to $1,000 up to 20 years of service. The company sponsors outings throughout the year including matinees, bowling, cooking classes and pub crawls.

"I'm so overwhelmed and so proud to be among all these wonderful companies," said Lisa Latronico, Skender human resources director. in accepting the award. "It's so inspiring to heard about the things people are doing and it gives us inspiration to go further and further."

Details of all the winning companies will be featured in the June 24 issue of the Daily Herald Business Ledger.

Leadership partners of the event were BPC, B. Gunther and Co. of Lisle and Union Leasing. Corporate sponsors were LeaderBoard Tournament Systems, Meridian Banquets and Conference Center and Thomas Interior Systems.

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