Make us your home page


Lucky 13: How these companies made Top Workplace rankings every single year

At the Ditek Corp., a Largo company making surge protectors, manufacturing employees asked for a four-day work week and their bosses figured out how to make it happen.

Over at the St. Petersburg public accounting firm Gregory Sharer & Stuart (GSS), a partner learned that an employee got a guitar as a Christmas gift and then went out and bought the worker three months of lessons.

Five support and service employees at Bouchard Insurance in Clearwater earned a Mexican cruise for their outstanding work.

Related coverage: A complete breakdown of Tampa Bay's Top Workplaces of 2017

Each of the 13 companies that have ranked in the Tampa Bay Times "Top Workplace" list every year since its launch in 2010 has a slightly different recipe for keeping employees happy. Outsiders can see those individual business philosophies play out in the tiny details not seen in even the thickest employee manuals. They're the intangibles that make a company hum.

Yup, all these companies also talk about the over-arching themes that make good employee relations and, in the end, good business, too.

Those include good communication, a tightly knit workplace and excellent salary and benefits. But it's often the small stuff that reverberates.

The Times interviewed both management and employees at Ditek, GSS and Bouchard, three of those 13, to get a flavor of what makes that elite 13 tick. What separates them from the pack?

Here is a sampling of what we heard:

• "I know people get tired of hearing about that family atmosphere. But you know, when you hear the same thing over and over again, there's got to be some truth to it." — Bob McIntyre, CEO, Ditek.

• "We've retired five partners. And we've made a commitment to remain independent. So we've funded their buyout… We were able to write them a check and say, 'Here you are. And we owe you the balance over a period of years.' So we have made it so that new people can come on board and take over and continue to grow the firm without the thought, 'Are we going to sell to another firm or be merged in?' It's not going to take place… We control our own destiny. If you make partner, you don't answer to anybody. You're the boss. And so if you are with a national firm, it's a long way to go before you become the decision-maker. You can be a partner. But you're one of a thousand. So here we're one of 11." — Jim Newman, managing partner, Gregory Sharer & Stuart.

• "This is a great place to work. It's so basic, but yet true. We've been fortunate to create a culture where employees like each other and they like working with each other. It's not about the facilities we have… or leadership. It's about the people who rub shoulders with one another day in and day out. They're working on projects together. They're also asking each other about their personal lives, what they did this weekend, their kids… That creates a culture of caring for one another." — Doug Bishop, CEO, Bouchard Insurance.

• "Company upper management communicates very well. You understand what their true beliefs are and their direction of the company. That really makes for a very nice atmosphere for everybody because there's no guessing where you are or what's going on, or how things are done. And it really leaves you with a sense of belonging. (CEO Bob McIntyre) comes in on a daily basis and walks through the production floor and says hi to folks, chats with everybody, makes them feel a part of the team. And you know, when it comes to drive, we're all willing to drive." — Roy VanNostran, engineer, Ditek.

• "The view is amazing. Sadly, we're not in the office enough. When I am, I don't mind taking an extra five minutes in the break room just enjoying the view." — Rob Mainelli, assurance services manager, GSS, speaking of the view from the firm's sixth-floor office at the City Center building in St. Petersburg.

• "People are happy to be here. The company supports them and allows them to focus on our communities. And we support employees for being involved. One employee does a mission to Africa every year to help support orphans. The company and other employees support her efforts (through donations and other aid). When she goes, the whole company feels as if they are a part of it. In a sense, we're going with her, too." — Kelly Newton, HR director, Bouchard Insurance.

Contact William R. Levesque at Follow @Times_Levesque.

8 years

on the list

Top Workplaces in each of the survey's eight years


• T-Mobile US

• The Progressive Group of Insurance Companies

• Capital One

• JSA Healthcare, a division of DaVita Inc.


• Century 21/Beggins Enterprises

• Bouchard Insurance

• American Strategic Insurance Corp.

• USAmeriBank

• Banker Lopez Gassler, attorneys

• SouthEast Personnel Leasing

• FrankCrum Corporate


• Ditek Corp.

• Gregory Sharer & Stuart

Lucky 13: How these companies made Top Workplace rankings every single year 04/07/17 [Last modified: Friday, April 7, 2017 12:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband


    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  2. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  3. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location


    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  5. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder on Wednesday further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    Vishal Mahtani (left), vice president of business development, Alexis Grant (center), executive editor, and Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, celebrate the news with their staff  Wednesday of making the new Inc. 5000 ranking of fastest growing companies in the country. They enjoyed champagne during a catered lunch at their office in downtown St. Petersburg after ranking 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the just released 2017 Inc. 5000. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times ]