The Employer Group’s community efforts help net the company a Best in Business Award

Though Madison has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, Angie Heim knows that it still feels like a humble Midwestern town to many of its residents.

That’s just one of the reasons why personal integrity is such an emphasis for her, and why her business, The Employer Group, is the most recent winner of Dane County’s Best in Business Award.

“I always tell vendors that I could see them in the grocery store, so I use that model back with my clients,” said Heim. “Integrity is important to me, and I try to portray that through the staff and with my vendors and with my clients. They can see me in the grocery store, or at the mall, and so I’m not going to compromise my integrity or the integrity of my clients. That’s very important.”

A professional employer organization that helps small to medium-sized businesses manage the administrative complexities of employment, including payroll, tax reporting, employee benefits, and human resources, The Employer Group was chosen in part for its positive workplace environment and its strong community involvement.

Fostering an employee-friendly workplace has been one of Heim’s goals since she purchased The Employer Group in 2007. (She joined the company in 2004, and the company itself was founded in June 1995.)

“I care a lot about my staff,” said Heim. “I think of them as family, so I take great responsibility for them and their families, and it is very important to me to make sure we have a work-life balance here at The Employer Group. I encourage family and family time – and we don’t work a lot of overtime here, but in the 40 or 42 hours that they’re here, I expect a lot, and everybody knows that and they appreciate that.”

The Best in Business Awards, which are co-sponsored by In Business magazine and Total Awards and Promotions, recognize businesses based on their standing among their competitors, how they respond to their customers’ needs, their growth and adaptation to changing markets, and their workplace environment and commitment to the community.

For Heim, those final two criteria often go hand in hand.

“I was born and raised in Madison, and so it’s very important for me to give back,” said Heim. “We typically choose organizations [to support] that the staff are passionate about. We had an [employee] with breast cancer, she was fully recovered, but then we donated to a breast cancer recovery organization. So I keep the staff involved in giving back as well. It’s not just me giving back.

“When we did the Habitat for Humanity house this year, all of the staff went out and helped build that house. We spent countless hours of time, but it was the entire staff. So it’s about everybody here.”

The Employer Group currently has 70 clients, representing 2,300 employees. In 2010, the company had revenues of around $68 million, and its growth rate last year was 9.2%, which contrasted with an industry average of -0.9%.

Growth is an important goal of Heim’s, whether it’s the personal growth of her employees, growth in her own company, or the continuing growth she helps facilitate among her clients.

“Obviously, if the clients grow, then I grow,” said Heim. “And that’s kind of a naive way to look at it, but it’s encouraging when I have clients who grow, because we helped them, not just helped them grow in their own industry but helped them grow as a business.”

In June 2010, The Employer Group received a Dane County Small Business Award, and in February 2011, Heim herself received the Business Woman of the Year Award, which was presented by the Business Women’s Expo.

But while the laurels keep rolling in for her company, Heim remains humbled by the attention.

“It was very exciting,” said Heim of winning the Best in Business Award. “I was very humbled by it. It sounds like the criteria are very stiff, so I felt like I was kind of in an elite group of businesses.”

Best in Business Award recipients are chosen by an award committee consisting of Kristi Shepard, director of leadership giving for the United Way of Dane County; Bob Ansheles of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce; Elaine Beaubien of Edgewood College; Karl Curtis of the Verona Area Chamber of Commerce; Deb Houden of the Family Business Center; Julann Jatczak of the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.; Robin Marohn of Heartland Credit Union; Van Nutt, executive director of the Middleton Chamber of Commerce; and Ann Smith of the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on the Best in Business Awards, click here. For more on The Employer Group, visit the company’s website.

Sign up for the free IB Update – your weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. Click here. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.