CEDAR FALLS — When there’s an opportunity to nominate CBE Companies as an Employer of Choice, Stephanie Perry is quick to do so.
“I started here as a collector going to college, thinking it was just another job to get me through until I graduated,” she recalled. “After starting, I suddenly found that I had truly met my second family.”
That was 15 years ago. Since then, the company has provided her with a career.
“After getting promoted within the first year, I felt that this company was one that I could have a career with,” said Perry. “Fast forward: I have been given numerous opportunities to grow and develop and find the perfect spot here at CBE that plays to my strengths.”
Perry’s story illustrates what CBE Companies strives to provide employees, said Mary Phillips, chief human resources officer.
“We are a learning organization,” she explained. “We promote from within, and we have many different areas you can work in to expand your skills. … We love to be able to watch people move and grow in our company.”
For example, many employees join the company as collectors and eventually work their way up to the information technology department. Others go on to become supervisors, managers, and directors.
“I love when I hear people say that when they first walked in the door of CBE they did not plan on this being a long-term career, and now they love their job and all the things they learned and the opportunities they have gotten,” said Phillips.
Like Perry, others nominators also found a support system.
“Supervisors are amazingly caring and patient and treat us like family,” said Sheanna “Shea” Strieter.
The nurturing environment makes it easier to try new things, she explained.
“There is a lot of opportunity to learn new skills,” added Strieter. “Management meets with us on a regular basis to provide feedback on not only ways to improve, but they also provide feedback on things we have been doing well. … No good deed goes unrecognized.”
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For 22 years, Nick Michael has worked in what he describes as challenging and rewarding positions.
“CBE Companies lives its core values of integrity, respect, innovation, continuous improvement, and leadership every day,” he said. “Senior management cares and does everything possible to make the work environment fun, rewarding and flexible.”
That’s a tall order in a challenging industry, Phillips acknowledges. Because of the training and development the company invests in each employee, CBE Companies also puts significant resources into retention.
Part of this effort includes volunteering for area organizations and close ties with Lincoln Elementary School in Waterloo, CBE Companies’ Partner in Education.
“We are very active in the United Way campaign and have already set our co-chairs and committee for the October campaign,” said Phillips.
Employees regularly make the company a top Cedar Valley contributor, finishing fourth last year.
CBE Companies also offer a program called “Casual for a Cause,” which raises voluntary donations from employees who wish to wear jeans. The program raises more than $80,000 annually, which gives monthly, impromptu donations to various charities.
Meanwhile, the “Fun Committee” organizes a variety of light-hearted activities — like snowman-building, paper airplane-making challenges and casino games — to help employees de-stress.
When Kristen Rowles joined CBE Companies 13 years ago, she didn’t expect to find such a fun, caring workplace.
The work is rewarding, too. After starting as a debt collector, she’s moved up to her current position as manager of training.
“No one ever says they want to be a debt collector, but it has changed my life to see how dedicated this company is to showing consumers that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “We are here to help and support consumers through what are not the best times of their lives and to ultimately connect them to a solution.”