Cooking up Company Culture with a Side of Happiness
Jack Graves has eaten lunch at Burgerville nearly every day of his 38 years with the company. Perhaps not coincidentally, he’s also never missed a day of work for being sick. Jack says it’s because he eats well — including healthy, locally-sourced Burgerville food.
That and milkshakes in moderation, of course.
Serve with Love
The first Burgerville opened in Vancouver, Washington, in 1961. As part of The Holland Inc., family-owned company, Burgerville’s quick-service restaurants now dot the Northwest landscape in 40 locations — employing more than 1,500 people in Oregon and southwest Washington.
“The Burgerville mission — serve with love — started as a testament to serving customers,” says Jack, the chief cultural officer for Burgerville. “But in order to do that, we needed to also serve each other — our employees and the local community as well.”
Jack now manages all of Burgerville’s sustainable and socially-responsible initiatives and was an original champion of creating an accessible health care plan for employees.
The company practices what it preaches, and has gotten attention for going the extra mile as an employer. Burgerville was even featured in the Wall Street Journal for innovative benefits plans — including the way it offers health insurance for part-time employees. BCI Group helps by providing the company with comprehensive benefits, third-party administration, employee education and other benefits consulting services since 2007.
More than 70 percent of Burgerville’s food costs are spent in the Pacific Northwest—from locally sourcing ingredients from 988 farms, ranches and artisans.
The Ripple Effect
In the past, Burgerville’s health care plan,though available, wasn’t affordable for most hourly employees. Jack saw an opportunity to change that. In 2006, with the help of The Stratton Company, Jack was able to broker a deal that provided individual hourly employees eligibility for affordable, accessible health care coverage. The Stratton Company insurance brokerage and team later became part of BCI Group.
Things started to change when health coverage became more widely affordable, says Jack.
He said he could see that employees were happier and had smiles on their faces. When people could care for themselves and their families, their self esteem increased along with company loyalty. Turnover rates decreased, while productivity increased, the restaurants were cleaner, the service was crisper and guests were happier.
“Everything moved in a positive direction,” says Jack. “And when all of those things happen, sales — and guest counts — can’t help but go up, as well.”
Kyle Dean, Burgerville’s chief financial officer, describes the change a step further.
“When we succeed, we’re helping grow the local communities,” says Kyle. “We pride ourselves on investing as much as we can locally. To see other businesses grow because of what we do is really something.”
"When people could care for themselves and their families, their self esteem increased along with company loyalty. Turnover rates decreased, while productivity increased." — Jack Graves, chief culture officer for Burgerville
A True Partnership
“From our products to our partners, we’re really about relationships,” says Kyle.
Jodi Amato is a benefit consultant with BCI Group and has been working with Burgerville for years.
“[Burgerville] cares so deeply about their people,” she says. “They really push the envelope in wanting more for their employees and ask us to think outside the box to make that happen.”
Since the Affordable Care Act, Burgerville and BCI Group have had the opportunity to go the extra mile together. When insurance rates increased, Burgerville remained committed to make coverage accessible, and BCI helped negotiate employee health plans that start as low as $30 per month for individual premiums.
Then, BCI Group conducted dozens of informational meetings in Burgerville locations for both company-insured employees as well as those electing to use the state exchanges, to make sure all employees understood their available options.
“The thing that stands out so much with BCI Group is that we’re always working with them to see what’s next,” Jack says. “We work out solutions together — in a true partnership.”
Jack is proud of the progress. He says the benefits program reflects the heart of the company—one committed to service, supporting sustainable business practices and giving back to the community.
Those are values Jack doesn’t take lightly. In fact, Burgerville named its Igniting Your Future Scholarship Program in his honor. As of 2014, the program has awarded 36 scholarships totaling $80,000 to employees who exemplify the company culture and commitment to service.
BCI is proud to work with a company like Burgerville, setting a new standard for retail employee benefits programs. The next time you pass by a Burgerville, keep an eye out for Jack Graves. He’ll likely be inside, eating lunch, talking with employees about ways to make the company culture even stronger.