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Offering healthcare to our employees isn’t a choice, it’s a principle

When my partners and I bought Bellwether, its employees did not have health care coverage. This wasn’t unusual in the industry then and its not unusual now.

It is a fact of life that in a cut-throat, cost driven market if you offer benefits while your competition doesn’t, you’re at a cost disadvantage, at least on paper. In our case health benefits run us roughly $150,000 each year (~$0.30/ton for the timber crowd). We’ve lost plenty of bids by slimmer margins than that.

But for us it wasn’t a choice. It is a principle of how we operate. And quite frankly, if we can’t successfully run a company AND pay health benefits, we don’t need to be running a company. So we rolled out health benefits (and retirement).

That year I went person-to-person and signed up people on the hood of their pickups. And for that effort we had only 25% of employees sign-up. I was shocked by how little it was valued.

But our team kept emphasizing its importance in hiring and with experienced people. The next year we got to 65%. And now in 2020 and we are at 90%.

Lots about running a small business is hard and tedious. Many victories are unsung. But I have enough to lose sleep over and I’m very happy access, quality and cost of health care for our team during this virus is not one of them.

-Post originally made by Matt Moldenhauer on LinkedIn April 2020

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