Building Great Places to Work

March 12. 2014

Winner Spotlight: Main Street Gourmet

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March 12. 2014

Main Street Gourmet is a bakery manufacturer located in Cuyahoga Falls, specializing in a wide variety of custom foods such as cookies, muffins, granola, brownies and desserts. Steve Marks and Harvey Nelson, co-owners and CEO’s of the company, have been in business together for more than 25 years.

For the past 4 years, and 7 times overall, it has also been among the winners of the NorthCoast 99 award. We got the exciting chance to speak with the owners and employees to go beyond baking muffins, and find out what really makes this company a top workplace in Northeast Ohio.

 “Winning the NorthCoast 99 award really validates what we are trying to do,” says Marks. “We want people to be happy here, and satisfied employees’ results in productive employees. I don’t want anyone to work here and be miserable, so to be awarded for having a great workplace where people like to come to work is amazing.”

But how did Main Street Gourmet not only get a reputable status for baked goods, but also one as a great workplace for employees and the community?  

Wellness in the Workplace 

It has received multiple wellness awards for its popular employee wellness program.

 “We have received wellness awards from The Ohio Department of Health, Cleveland Museum of Natural History (Wellness@Work) and NorthCoast 99 for our wellness program,” says Phil Plumley, HR Administrator. “Our voluntary wellness program supports anyone that wants to make improvements on their overall health in terms of better diet choices, exercise, and just general lifestyle.”

The wellness program offers opportunities such as the walking club, bicycles that can be signed out during lunch hours, biggest loser challenges, and a cash payout if you earn enough wellness credits during the year.

“As a group, everything has been wonderful in terms of great blood pressure and blood sugar levels, so we think we are doing more good for people then not. Receiving wellness awards from experts is all a validation in what we are doing and that we are doing it right,” says Plumley.

Events and Diversity in the Workplace

Plumley also says Main Street Gourmet holds multiple employee appreciation events, such as Wii Bowling competitions, catered food events, raffles and gift card drawings. But Main Street Gourmet is more than muffins and fun activities. It also prides itself on its diversity efforts. 

“We are very passionate about diversity here,” says Kelly Loebick-Frascella, HR Director. “Since 1993, we have had a group of individuals with disabilities in our prep department that are referred to us by the Summit County Board of Disabilities. They are so wonderful and love coming to work every day.”

Also, currently 15% of employees at Main Street are foreign born, representing 13 different countries, which is a large percentage given it is only a company of about 120 employees.

“In 2013, we started a citizenship reimbursement program in which we pay 50% of employees’ fees to obtain citizenship here in the United States,” says Loebick-Frascella. “We have had 2 employees complete it thus far and have 4 employees currently working through that process. It’s very impressive to us and it just ensures that we are doing the right thing. It’s within our culture and it’s definitely engrained… diversity is a powerful piece of Main Street Gourmet.” 

Recycling and Community Efforts in the Workplace

The company’s recycling efforts go noticed as well. According to Michael Braun, Plant Manager, the State of Ohio has recognized Main Street Gourmet for implementing recycling programs such as recycling paper products, cardboard, office paper and plastics, to save more than 810,000 pounds from going to landfills over the past 5 years. It also partakes in a food composting program, sponsored through Summit County, that’s saved 62,000 lbs of food material. Both programs not only help recycling efforts within the company, but within the community as well.

But without hesitation, one of Main Street Gourmet’s most popular community events is No Muffin Left Behind, a tri-annual bake sale like no other.

“We have teamed up with the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank and bring anywhere from 30-40 thousand pounds of food products for everyone to buy for a $1.25 a pound. Whatever is left over goes to the foodbank and we usually go through about 15-20 thousand pounds. The community loves it. It’s crazy how everyone keeps coming back,” says Nelson.

Muffins, Cookies and Work, Oh My!

If you ask any employee, they will tell you they love working at Main Street Gourmet because of the free cookies and muffins. But Laura Gerrard, a customer service employee, says the perks of working at Main Street go beyond the free cookies and muffins.

“There is a great team at this company. I was really impressed with this organization when I started working here,” says Gerard, who moved from Canada to Ohio for this job after finding out about Main Street on the NorthCoast 99 website. “There are a lot of great incentives, such as the wellness program, the teamwork, the friends you meet here- you are just always laughing. Steve and Harvey really do look out for their employees and everyone is awesome.”

There is no doubt because of Main Street Gourmet’s impressive wellness programs, community involvement and diversity efforts, that it is a deserving recipient of the NorthCoast 99 award.

“It sounds cliché, but it’s true: We are only as good as our employees. We have learned so many things and if we can unleash the power of people’s expertise, we can be an unstoppable company,” says Marks.

Click for more information on Main Street Gourmet.

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