Gold Award/Small Business Category
Located in Denver, Precision Medical Products engineers, manufactures and packages life-saving medical devices that are used by its medical, dental and pharmaceutical clients. Needle assemblies are a specialty of the company. The needle design used in smallpox vaccinations is exclusive to Precision Medical.
The Unique Factor: Hospitals the world over use products made by Precision Medical. “Nobody sees our name,” explains Bob Rhoads, the company’s executive vice president. Precision Medical, which has 100 employees, went into high gear following 9-11, when the government placed an order for an unprecedented number – 400 million – of smallpox-vaccine needles.
“Healthy living” has become the philosophy that guides Precision Medical Products. “It’s just something I’m passionate about,” says Bob. “In order to be part of this industry, you have to care about people, and here, that starts with our employees.” Most notably, it extends to company benefits. Medical insurance is free of charge (family members can be added at a low rate). “A benefit should be just that,” Bob theorizes. “It should be helpful and beneficial.” Coupled with that are low deductibles and free immunizations, mammograms and well-baby checkups.
The company’s headquarters is stunning. Constructed of glass, metal and rich woods, natural light floods the building’s public spaces, offices and common areas. Walking trails wind around the property. Patios provide spaces to enjoy breaks and meals in the fresh air. The campus has been smoke-free from day one. “Proving an environment that is clean and safe is important,” Bob comments.
Bob is a convert to leading a healthy lifestyle. “Back in my 20s, I weighed 250 pounds and led a sedentary lifestyle,” he remarks. “A friend from church provided the push I needed to change my ways.” He got moving, changed his diet and within six months had lost 50 pounds. “Walking the talk is important, and it needs to start at the top,” he notes.
Like other companies, Precision Medical began to feel the pressure that increasing health-insurance rates were putting on the bottom line. Determined to retain the free benefit, Bob began to explore how costs could be controlled. “Health insurance is different from any other kind of insurance,” he explains. “With health insurance, there’s no incentive to be healthy; there’s no accountability,” he stresses. “Everyone is treated the same. The only accountability that’s involved is on the employer’s part.”
So, Bob initiated a program in which employees are held accountable. A Wellness Committee, which is composed of nine employees from all levels of the company, oversees HEARTS, which entails education, nutrition and physical activity. If employees participate in the program, their health benefits continue to be free of charge. If they elect not to participate, they must contribute toward their premiums. (Less than 10% of the workforce falls into that category.) “Employees drive our program,” Bob notes, naming Denise DePaul, the company’s human resources manager, and Laura Poole as being in the driver’s seat. “We need fresh ideas and people who are willing to go along for the ride.”
Participants must earn 40 “hearts” per year. By getting flu shots, regular dental exams and a yearly physical, employees are well on their way to earning their hearts. A HEART program for spouses was also launched; participation helps to lower insurance premiums.
Hearts can be earned any number of ways. Professionals involved in the food industry are invited to conduct Lunch & Learn sessions that entail demonstrations and seminars. A personal trainer visits once a quarter. For those wishing to further utilize her services, discounts are offered for classes. (A group she works with has collectively lost 150 pounds.) A Health & Safety Fair enables employees to become acquainted with health providers and health-related businesses in the community.
Hearts can also be earned by being good stewards of the community and participating in 5Ks and other fundraisers that involve physical activity. “A lot of our employees do things together outside of work,” Bob notes, pointing out that camaraderie builds good relationships that transfer to the workplace. A Hiking Club attracts family participation.
Like other companies, Precision Medical is exploring healthy options for its vending machines and has adopted a policy that food brought in for meetings must include healthy options. Employees also take part in Healthy Eating Days and look forward to sharing recipes. “Food equals love,” Bob notes.
And, Precision Medical is thinking outside the box, taking into account that physical health can be affected by outside stressors. For example, seminars have addressed such topics as fiscal responsibility and identity theft. “Stresses can come at you from all sides,” Bob says, referring to factors such as marital strife, children’s issues and aging parents. Help kits are made available to employees to take home. Seminars are also recorded and made available to employees and their families.
Mental health is also being addressed. The company is encouraging its employees to take full advantage of the EAP program. “The mind is just as vulnerable as the other organs in our bodies,” Bob says. “The stigma connected to mental illness has to be removed.”
Bob takes pride in the strides Precision Medical has taken. “The success stories are endless,” he says. “One classic couch potato is now running half marathons. Our program is helping to make us a better company. By building relationships, the work atmosphere improves. Everyone communicates better. Stress is reduced. Trust can be a powerful thing.”