Des Moines Register Names VGM Group a Top Workplace in Iowa
It can be easy to get lost in the crowd at a large company, unless that company is VGM Group, where chief executives are close at hand and the founder dresses up as an elf to pass out Christmas bonuses.
Even as it has grown, the business-services company has maintained a close-knit feel, said Amy Streeter, VGM’s manager of talent acquisition and development.
“You spend eight hours a day with these individuals, but yet you still want to go home and get your families and their families together and spend time together,” she said. “Not very many companies can you say that for.”
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VGM’s growth is noticeable. The company had about 500 Iowa employees the last time it made the Top Workforces list in 2013, compared with about 650 this year.
Even now, VGM is adding a fourth building to its Waterloo campus to hold more offices.
“We wouldn’t have any of the success we’ve had if our members weren’t successful. They have to make a profit before we can ever make a profit,” she said.
Amy Streeter, manager of talent acquisition and development at VGM Group, shows the restaurant
style break room Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, at their home office in Waterloo. (Photo: Michael Zamora/The Register)
Streeter said the family feel is helped by VGM being 100 percent employee-owned, crediting CEO and founder Van Miller with that move.
“Listening to him say why he did that, he sees the success of this company comes from the individuals who work here,” Streeter said. “We’ve created this company, we’ve made this success happen.”
Since VGM is employee-owned, workers have an added incentive to work together and do a better job, she and others said.
“I’ve never been anywhere that has a work environment like VGM’s. There’s just a lot of positive energy, a lot of good people that work here,” said Jason Bienemann, a program manager for VGM Insurance Services who started in 2012.
Lauri Wright, a 14-year veteran of VGM, echoed that sentiment while taking advantage of the company’s free, on-site fitness room.
“We work as a team. Our individual goals aren’t obtained individually, they’re obtained as a group,” said Wright, a contract manager for the food and beverage division of VGM Club, the company’s club and golf division.
Lauri Wright with VGM Club works out in the employee gym Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, in Waterloo. Wright said she comes three times a week to work out in the gym, which is free for employees and their families. (Photo: Michael Zamora/The Register)
There’s also nothing stopping VGM’s executives and employees from mingling.
“We’re not a 25-floor building where they are on the top floor and never see anybody … There’s no tension that if you’re an entry-level employee you can’t speak to someone who’s at an executive level,” Streeter said.
For example, Miller has made a habit of calling employees individually on their birthdays and work anniversaries.
“He talks to the employees just like he’s known you for years,” Bienemann said. “He’s just engaging and outgoing. It’s not like what you might think in a normal corporate structure.”
The VGM Group in Waterloo has been named one of the Top Workplaces in Iowa.
(Photo: Michael Zamora/The Register)
•Iowa employees: 653
•Top executive: Van Miller, CEO