No. 1 Large Company, Coolest Overall
Sixth time on list (Second as No. 1 Coolest)
By Steve Gravelle
As a perennial fixture on the CBJ’s Coolest Places to Work list – it has made the list a record six times, and earned its second “Coolest of the Cool” designation this year – Clickstop now faces the challenge of sustaining and growing its progressive workplace policies.
“It definitely takes intentional effort and discipline,” said Clickstop’s Monica Steffeck. “Our business strategy is to grow and engage our people, so they grow our business and engage our customers.”
Ms. Steffeck is chief talent enrichment officer for the Urbana-based e-commerce company. Her unusual title reflects Clickstop’s core values and their priority in dayto- day operations.
“We’ve kind of separated out some of the traditional duties of human resources,” Ms. Steffeck said. Functions such as benefits, payroll and administration are handled by the company’s finance department, allowing Ms. Steffeck and her colleagues to focus on “the more culture-focused pieces of HR.”
It’s the sort of organizational detail that might seem radical in a more traditional workplace but makes sense at Clickstop, where everyday practices emphasize the company’s core values:
- Be adventurous! Embrace and drive change
- Communicate openly with confidence and respect
- Expect greatness in yourself and inspire it in others
- Promote a winning team spirit
- Think big and make it happen
- Make time for fun and family
“We’re really fortunate in that we have people from our front line all the way up to our CEO who are really engaged in our core values,” Ms. Steffeck said.
“Our core values set individuals up for success,” one employee wrote in their survey for this year’s Coolest competition. “They are the guiding principles.”
“We have core values that are not only talked about, but employees are rewarded for living them out each day,” wrote another.
Part of that reward includes the company’s generous benefits, which stack up well against the Corridor’s largest employers: 10 weeks paid maternity leave, 100 percent company-paid medical premiums and an employee stock ownership program (ESOP).
The ESOP was announced just two years ago, with its first balances set to be announced next month.
“It’s been a lot of work to bring about, but we’re on the road to being part ESOP,” Ms. Steffeck said.
The company also offers a range of perks that one might associate with Silicon Valley tech giants: an onsite restaurant (Fuel, open to the public), fitness center and game area, wellness programs, quarterly recognition of outstanding employees and an annual companywide retreat – in this case, every December in Dubuque.
“We’re kind of in the middle of the cornfields, so being able to bring in those things to make people’s lives more efficient and convenient really means a lot,” Ms. Steffeck said.
But such tangibles are really a reflection of the company’s deeper values, she added.
“The culture and experience of working at Clickstop I believe would be rated just as high if we took away all of those perks and benefits,” she offered. “I think it ends up as just the overflow of what the personality of the organization is.”
It’s a “personality” Clickstop founder and CEO Tim Guenther has nurtured since launching the company in 2005. Clickstop has grown rapidly since then, and now employs 155, servicing 10 brands in areas ranging from cargo-handling equipment and moving supplies (U.S. Cargo Control) to storage space organizers (SpaceSavers), T-shirts (Greatness Apparel) and even hot pepper seeds (Pepper Joe’s).
The company’s new $6 million addition, spanning more than 40,000 square feet, includes conference rooms and collaboration spaces, room for internal and external marketing staff, and the Fuel restaurant. It also includes a manufacturing facility for U.S. Cargo Control’s ratchet straps and other products, some of which were made in China before being onshored back to Iowa.
“We do everything from answer the phone to shipping the product, and there’s actually a wide variety of products that we manufacture onsite,” Ms. Steffeck said.
Clickstop’s diverse range of products and services reflects the company’s entrepreneurial bent and ability to seize on opportunities as they arise – even more so with its latest. With the launch of Leverage, a new consulting firm focused on helping companies grow via marketing, IT and culture, Clickstop is now sharing its values and experience with companies across the country.
“We basically looked around at all that we’re doing at Clickstop, and said ‘What services are we providing internally to our brand that other businesses could really benefit from?’” Ms. Steffeck said. “It’s been just a lot of fun figuring out how to run a service organization after having been an organization that’s focused on retail, but that’s been really what we’ve been doing all along.”
Who knows: Maybe Clickstop will have future Coolest Places competition from a Leverage client.
“There’s a lot of companies that are learning how to run great workplaces and being able to communicate what it means to be a great workplace,” Ms. Steffeck said. “So I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more competition.”
Cool culture, at a glance:
- Onsite employee development workshops
- Quarterly “Rock Star” and core value awards, with bonuses
- Onsite restaurant and treatment room for chiropractic care and massages
- Business launch pad and accelerator team
- 10 weeks paid maternity leave
- 100 percent paid medical premiums
- Employee stock ownership program (ESOP)