Posted tagged ‘Sustainability’

Tesla Motors Employees Killed in Bay Area Plane Crash

February 17, 2010

A small plane crashed this morning in a residential neighborhood near Palo Alto, killing all three aboard. The three killed were employees of Tesla Motors Inc.

I find it amazing that no one on the ground died in this accident. Very sad day for Tesla Motors employees and their families. My thoughts and prayers go out to them!

From the San Jose Mercury News:

It’s a tragic day for Silicon Valley electric-car startup Tesla Motors: A small plane owned by a Tesla employee crashed this morning after takeoff from Palo Alto Airport, killing the pilot and two passengers.

“Three Tesla employees were on board a plane that crashed in East Palo Alto early this morning,” CEO Elon Musk said in a statement. “We are withholding their identities as we work with the relevant authorities to notify the families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

According to the Merc’s report, the twin-engine Cessna 310 owned by Tesla employee Doug Bourn crashed into a residential street in East Palo Alto, causing damage to three structures, one housing a day care center. Fortunately, no one in any of the buildings was hurt.

WSJ: Burgerville’s Health-Care Recipe

August 31, 2009

A great article in today’s Wall Street Journal, written by Sarah Needleman, featuring client Burgerville and their affordable employee health care program.

If you don’t believe that a fast food, quick serve or fast casual restaurant chain can provide their employees with affordable health care, you will be pleasantly surprised!

From the Wall Street Journal:

Four years ago, executives of Burgerville, a regional restaurant chain, agreed to pay at least 90% of health-care premiums for hourly employees who work at least 20 hours a week. Today, the executives say the unusual move has saved money by cutting turnover, boosting sales and improving productivity.

Burgerville’s experience is notable for the food-service industry, where turnover is high and fewer than half of chains offer health insurance for part-time hourly employees, according to People Report, a research firm. The chains that do offer benefits pay on average 49% of the cost for employees working at least 30 hours a week, People Report says.

Burgerville’s initiative “not only improves quality of service but it saves money by not having to replace staff as frequently,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic Inc., a Chicago consulting and research firm for the food industry.

Burgerville, a 39-restaurant chain based in Vancouver, Wash., and owned by closely held Holland Inc., has long followed a distinctive path. It offers hormone-free meat, uses wind energy to power its stores and prints nutritional information on its receipts.

Under Burgerville’s plan, individual hourly workers can enroll in a health-maintenance organization for $15 a month, with no deductible. A worker and spouse pay $30 monthly; family plans cost $90. Salaried employees, whose plans didn’t change significantly, pay $84 a month for individual and $240 monthly for family coverage, and have an annual deductible of $500.

Executives say the plan paid for itself, and more. Turnover in 2006 plunged to 54%, from 128% in 2005. That’s a big deal when it costs an average of $1,700 to replace and train a restaurant worker, according to People Report.

Burgerville Once Again Redefines Fast Food

May 27, 2009

If you’ve been dying to try the new, seasonal, gourmet menu offerings at client Burgerville, be sure to check out a sample of this mouth-watering review by Jake Ten Pas of the Columbian on the latest May offerings: the Grilled Asparagus and Tomato Melt and Golden Fried Asparagus Spears. The full review can be found on the Columbian Web site by clicking the link below.

Over the last four decades, Burgerville has become nationally honored for its innovative approach to quick service and fresh, local, sustainable offerings, winning numerous awards for its healthcare, wind power and recycling/composting programs. But what has always set Burgerville apart from the competition has been its commitment to local purchasing and its high quality, seasonal menu items such as their real ice cream milkshakes made with local berries from Liepold Farms and of course their Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings.

Starting in February of this year, Burgerville added two gourmet, seasonal food offerings to its menu each month that feature a high quality, local ingredient sourced from local partners who share the chain’s commitment to sustainable business practices. With these new, gourmet menu items, Burgerville is not only catering to their current guests ever-changing tastes, they are answering the demand of their younger consumers who want the convenience and cost savings of quick service with the quality and uniqueness of a more high-end gourmet establishment.

If you’re in the Portland/Vancouver area, be sure to stop by!

From the Columbian:

Burgerville has long existed in its own niche among fast-food burger chains by featuring seasonal ingredients grown in the Pacific Northwest. It espoused the ideals of the locavore before that term was in wide use, with seasonal specials such as Walla Walla Sweet Onion Rings and Yukon Gold Fries. As of February, however, Burgerville upped the ante in its bid to appeal to folks looking for a fresh, ever-changing culinary approach. Each month of the year, it will unveil a featured gourmet menu item using a local ingredient that is in season. In March it was rosemary, in April spinach and this month asparagus is in the spotlight. So, the question becomes, is Burgerville high-quality fast food, fine dining at a reasonable price, or something else altogether?

To get a sense of the variety offered when the menu changes monthly, I went to Burgerville in April to sample the spinach offerings, which were built around spinach grown in the Corvallis-Albany, Ore., area. The first was a spinach salad with Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese, grilled chicken, walnuts and dried cranberries from Dallas, Ore. The spinach was a vivid, pine green, which combined visually with the creamy white and blue cheese and the magenta cranberries to create a roughage rainbow. The chicken was moist, though I wouldn’t have minded a couple more pieces. It was served with a red wine vinaigrette that locked down the trifecta of sweet, creamy and slightly bitter flavors that is essential to a good spinach salad, with the nuts providing the textural counterpoint. Their second spinach offering was a breakfast pastry stuffed with sausage, egg and, of course, spinach. The pastry itself was both flaky and chewy, and there was no shortage of egg and sausage, making it filling. If anything, I could have used a bit more spinach, and cheese might have helped to bind the ingredients together.

To display this month’s ingredient, Burgerville unveiled a Grilled Asparagus and Tomato Melt and Golden Fried Asparagus Spears, both made with locally grown produce. The fries, in lesser hands, could have been a disaster. I worried that the delicate flavor of the vegetable would get lost behind batter and oil, but my concern turned out to be totally unfounded. Instead, a light batter clung tenuously to the crisp stalks, allowing the flavor of the main ingredient to shine. Not only that, but there was hardly a hint of grease on the fries, which were served with a delicious garlic aioli. Aioli is like mayonnaise, and the condiment was so simple and tasty that, were it not for the company’s emphasis on locally procured ingredients, they could consider opening up shop in France. Not to denigrate their bar-setting special sauce, but the aioli should be on the menu year-round.

The asparagus melt was similarly delicious, even though it lacked somewhat in presentation.  Again, the asparagus was a rich green and was paired with ripe, thinly sliced tomatoes and a gooey mass of mozzarella and provolone cheese. The bread was golden and buttery, if a bit greasier than the fries, and cradled the subtly Italian flavors admirably.

Restaurants Banking on Hungry Shoppers This Holiday Season

December 3, 2008

It’s a great time to be a fan of eating out at your favorite restaurant or quick serve chain. Many in the restaurant industry are rewarding guests this holiday season with free gift cards with the purchase of additional cards for friends, family, co-workers or just about anyone else you can think of.

Client Burgerville is currently offering guests a $5 gift card for every $25 worth of gift cards purchased at any of their 39 locations now through December 31. I’ve always found in my household that gift cards make great gifts so for those of you in the Pacific Northwest, make sure to share that Burgerville taste you love this holiday season!

Check out the Burgerville Facebook page for more information.


From the Associated Press:

To entice shoppers, chains are increasing their advertising during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, offering freebies to customers who take a break from the stores and giving discounts to anyone who buys a gift card from the restaurant.

“If ever there is a time to actually step up and communicate not only the brand but also the value offerings associated with it, it is now,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research at the National Restaurant Association.

Burgerville Names Janice Williams As New Chief Operations Officer

November 8, 2008

Client Burgerville has named Janice Williams as the company’s new Chief Operations Officer. Williams began her career with Burgerville as a teenager working in the restaurants and quickly learned how to powerfully manage change and serve with love no matter what circumstances she encountered.

As COO, Williams will be accountable for restaurant performance and all resources that impact the operation of each of the company’s 39 restaurants in Oregon and Southwest Washington.  Williams led the creation of Burgerville’s Center for Responsible Community Leadership (CRCL) where she redesigned the company’s management curriculum and training programs.

Burgerville believes in investing in their people’s growth and development. Their business has always been about people: their employees, guests and the people of the communities they serve. Burgerville focuses on growing their people’s leadership abilities in all areas of the company and they have seen the return on investment in developing people to powerfully manage change, contribute fully and serve others while sustainably growing the business.

The Columbian of Vancouver, Washington, has an in-depth article featuring this announcement.

From the article:

Janice Williams, 41, is filling a seat that has been empty since January, when the last COO, Jeff Harvey, was elevated to president and chief executive officer.

“We will continue to look at how to improve our sustainable practices, how we source products from local growers, how we continue to maintain our people and leaders,” Williams said. “We’re always looking to grow our business.”

Before her promotion, Williams headed human resources for Burgerville, which employs 1,600 people in the region, including 430 in Clark County.

“She has been an essential member of our executive team and has demonstrated a deep appreciation of Burgerville’s commitment to the development of our people and each of our sustainable business practices,” Harvey said. “In her new role, Janice will continue to reinforce the relationships within the communities we presently serve and (will) uphold our operating strategies.”

Williams is a strong believer in the company that has defined her career, she said.

Retailers and Restaurants Get Smart to Retain Staff

October 6, 2008

Turnover is generally high in the retail industry because of numerous factors ranging from long hours and tedious work to competition for staff from other companies. Retailers and restaurants that have taken several approaches to worker retention include my client Burgerville, who makes affordable health care available to all employees who have been with the company at least six months and work 20 hours a week, all for just $15 per month. Another company, Finish Line, has developed distinctive strategies to attract and retain Generation Y workers, and a third company, Duane Reade, has deployed a work force management application to boost customer service and scheduling flexibility.

Susan Reda of STORES Magazine has written a great piece featuring these three companies which can be found on the STORES Website by clicking here.

From the article:

Recruiting employees to work in retail stores is the easy part; it’s convincing them to stay that can be grueling.

Turnover in the retail industry is notoriously high. For myriad reasons — everything from long hours and tedious tasks to the chance to earn a dime more per hour at the shop across the mall — retail employees suffer from a collective case of retention deficit disorder. Statistics reported earlier this year by the National Retail Federation estimate industry turnover at 58 percent for full-time associates and 114 percent for part-time employees.

Given the cost of recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training, retailers are understandably frustrated when an employee who has been with the company just a few short weeks or months decides to move on. The prospect of investing in an employee who departs before the season changes is unsettling at best, but return on investment is not the only concern: Customer service suffers when there are not enough associates to assist shoppers, process transactions or provide the knowledgeable insight that a seasoned employee can offer.

Headquarters: Vancouver, Wash.
Employees: 1,400+
Retention Strategy: Affordable Health Care

A 2005 employee survey spelled it out in black and white: The No. 1 concern of Burgerville workers was affordable health care.

“We bet that if we could find a way to make health care affordable for all our employees — most of whom are hourly employees — we could alleviate a huge concern and win their loyalty,” chief cultural officer Jack Graves says.

It was a sizeable bet — approximately $1.5 million — but it has paid off handsomely. Since it began offering an extended and improved health insurance plan, Burgerville has achieved a dramatic increase in employee retention and loyalty.

Prior to implementing the new plan, turnover rates hovered around 128 percent. In 2006, the first full year of the health care initiative, turnover dropped to 54 percent; today the rate is holding steady at 52 percent. Productivity and employee confidence are up, absenteeism is down and, by reducing turnover, Burgerville has conservatively saved more than $500,000 — capital the quick-serve chain would have had to invest in recruiting, training and onboarding.

Under Burgerville’s plan, employees who have been with the company for at least six months and work 20 hours a week are eligible for health insurance; it costs each employee $15 per month, or $90 monthly for family coverage. Burgerville’s parent company, The Holland, pays more than 90 percent of the premium for employees and their dependents.

The package, put together in partnership with Kaiser Permanente, has no deductible — a tipping point for employee acceptance, according to Graves. High school and college students, retirees and young moms working part time “are often on a tight budget,” Graves says. “What we learned, however, was that these employees were less likely to go to the doctor — even if they had some insurance — because they couldn’t afford the deductible.

“Offering affordable health care with a zero deductible was a game changer,” he says.

It didn’t happen overnight, however. “The program was so outside the box that people didn’t believe it at first,” Graves says. “We actually set up a field trip of sorts to a Kaiser clinic to demonstrate how it worked.”

Employee retention isn’t the only metric Burgerville uses to measure its return on investment. “With more skilled employees, our restaurants are running better and they look better,” Graves says. “The food is hotter and it’s served faster, too. There’s a renewed sense of pride and commitment.”

The changes are having a healthy effect on the bottom line, too; Burgerville reports a year-over-year increase in guest counts and a lift in sales.

“Being a local company, word spread quickly of our commitment to providing health care, and guests have rewarded us for that,” Graves says. The company has received substantial feedback from guests indicating that the care showed to its employees separates Burgerville from the pack.

“Many guests have written to us saying that it is this sort of program that keeps them committed to the Burgerville brand,” Graves says. “I’ve got the e-mails to prove it.”

Burgerville employees are at the forefront of what allows the company to live its values to their fullest extent. Without strong, vibrant and healthy people working in each of their restaurants, the company cannot provide the service which their guests expect.

Even more important, Burgerville has been able to live their mission “Serve with Love” and stand by their employees. Burgerville believes that thriving individuals lead to thriving families which helps build efficient and connected communities. This in turn supports a very healthy and sustainable business.