No one is quite sure what the odds were on “Win Sucker Win” two years ago when the employees of St. Louis–based Beyers Lumber & Hardware were spending their annual summer evening at the Fairmount Park Racetrack in nearby Collinsville, Ill. With guesses ranging from 8-1 to 12-1, however, everyone agrees that “Win Sucker Win” was clearly in long-shot territory, just as everyone also agrees that the thorough-bred, owned by Beyers president Ed Beyers, was a must to wager on. As luck would have it, Beyers employees who dutifully laid down cash on the boss's pony ($20 in wager money was supplied to each employee who elected to attend the annual event) were treated to a post-to-post sprint from the horse, also to the delight of the P.A. announcer, who couldn't get enough of declaring that “Win Sucker Win” was off to the lead, “Win Sucker Win” was coming around the turn, and “Win Sucker Win” was first across the finish line.
That moment in time—Beyers employees banded together behind a common cause, pumped with excitement and anticipation for an event that was ultimately both fun and financially rewarding—serves as a great image to characterize single-unit Beyers, the recipient of the 2006 NLBMDA award for excellence in human resources for companies with less than 50 employees. To be sure, the Beyers team likes to have fun, as is evident in the last of eight customer service and personal conduct commandments in the company's Employees Creed: "I will always smile, so that people will wonder what I have been up to."
In addition to the yearly night at the races, the company also hosts an annual Christmas party and a monthly "Customer Appreciation Day" cookout and hands out four tickets to St. Louis Cardinals baseball games to any employee who asks for them. "It's true that we have fun, that's what it is all about," says Beyers. "You have to enjoy life, and you spend a lot of time at work, so you had better enjoy work. But things like having fun and smiling are also that beginning of great customer service--it starts everything out on a positive note."
For most employees at Beyers, the good times have been rolling for quite some time. Average tenure at the company is more than 21 years, a retention benchmark rooted in the company's family atmosphere and fostered by profit-sharing and bonus programs that create a vested interest in the company's business triumphs among all employees. Specifically, a profit-sharing program contributes 1 to 4 percent of wages to employees on an annual basis, and kicks in every time the company is in the black. Along the way, employees also are eligible for a monthly bonus check from $25 to $300 when sales are in excess of monthly goals. In 2005, expenses were held low enough to further impress Beyers enough to cut an additional $250 thank-you check to all the employees. "I don't mind spreading the wealth as long as we keep going up and keep getting better, and everybody knows that," says Beyers. Indeed, part of the small-company family atmosphere at the dealer means corporate communication is as easy as pulling everyone together for a huddle.