John Tsangarinos was the first employee at Precision Overhead Garage Door when it opened its doors 18 years ago.
Tsangarinos, a senior tech and training manager, now sometimes gets stopped at Walmart by people who recognize him from the TV commercials for the growing company. He said the company's success today owes at least in part to showing employees they are valued.
"It really is employees first," Tsangarinos said.
Precision Overhead Garage Door is one of 23 companies to make Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces list this year for the first time. It ranked 21st for small size companies.
The new companies this year range from small private companies like Precision and two nonprofit schools to larger chains such as Checkers and public companies that include information systems defense contractor CACI International, with more than 500 employees.
Tsangarinos said he has watched as Precision grew from him and the former owner fixing garage doors with two trucks to the $20 million operation it is today, with about 75 employees and a fleet of 70 vehicles that travel the bay area. In 2007, the company was bought by Jim Rapp, who employees credit with fostering a culture that shows it cares about employees.
"Jim refers to himself as 'the janitor,' who's there to clean up messes, but the employees come up with the policies," Tsangarinos said. "We feel like a family."
Door design manager Michele Ferris said that employee morale translates to better customer service.
"It feels less like a job and work when you really enjoy the company you work for," she said.
Rapp turned an extra warehouse into a game room with a pool table and arcade games lining the walls, which employees and their families are welcome to use.
"We have a lot of young employees trying to support young families," he said. "We want them to feel safe and create a community."
Other new companies that made the list also credit employee morale as a key to success.
Thomas Butler, chief estimator of Burgess Civil, a Tampa-based contracting company and first-time Times Top Workplace, said employees have left bigger firms because they feel they have more autonomy.
Sean Strickler, West Florida division president of Pulte Group, said he strives to make the Atlanta-based home construction company with a staff of 129 "a place employees want to work at," something he said the company's founder tried to instill within each division.
"(He) used to say people are our biggest assets," he said. "People can copy our floor plans … but people can't copy our people."
The company participates in a Gallup survey that seeks feedback from employees, and each employee is given a personal development plan to know if their careers are on track. The company also has its own kickball league.
Power Home Remodeling Group, which has 108 employees, takes all of its employees and their significant others on an annual trip to Mexico. Michael McEvoy, regional vice president of marketing, said the company also started initiatives to focus on hiring a more diverse workforce base for an industry that he said is typically thought of as male-dominated.
"When you work in sales and home remodeling, both are high-pressure, difficult jobs," he said. "But the company invests in having great culture and great camaraderie."
Contact Divya Kumar at firstname.lastname@example.org or . Follow @divyadivyadivya.
Here are the companies that are ranked as a Tampa Bay Times Top Workplace for the first time:
• CACI International Inc.
• HCA West Florida - South Bay Hospital
• The Oaks Of Clearwater
• EVO Payments International
• Checkers Drive In Restaurants, Inc.
• Ceridian HCM
• Engel & Völkers
• Century 21 Jim White & Associates
• Power Home Remodeling Group
• Espiritu Santo Catholic School
• Energy Professionals, LLC
• Care Team Inc.
• Inside Sales Solutions Inc.
• Spatial Networks
• Precision Garage Door of Tampa Bay
• MGE: Management Experts, Inc.
• Burgess Civil, LLC
• Northside Christian School
• Skoda Minotti
• Halfaker and Associates
• ReedTMS Logistics
Year Founded: 2014
What it does: Construction
Revenues: $13 million
Local employees: 57
Rank: 24, small businesses
Power Home Remodeling Group
Year Founded: 1992
Headquarters: Chester, PA
What it does: Home Remodeling
Revenues: $520 million
Local employees: 108
Rank: 5, small businesses