When we decided to start our first ever attempt at a recognition program for the northwest Louisiana business community seven years ago, we had no idea it would reach the heights we’ve seen.
From a small but deserving list to growth, even surviving a pandemic year that saw many businesses stressed like never before, I’m proud to say this is our biggest and best edition of BIZ. Magazine’s Best Places to Work.
It is a blessing to be able to hand out awards to the employees and leadership of local businesses. I always say that it’s one of, if not the, highlights of my year — recognizing a team for their culture, their performance, their focus on customers and each other is always something that should be celebrated.
It’s important because we in leadership sometimes get so focused on the end goal that we forget that the people who make our business possible have to commute, troubleshoot, play nice with others, handle customers/clients, meet expectations, consistently perform at a high level, and have a personal life with its own demands and challenges. After a while, the expectation of doing a good job becomes the norm.
That’s why we take a second to applaud those employees with our annual Best Places to Work awards. We want to recognize the businesses that do it right and do right by their people. We celebrate companies here in our community that have strong leadership who then empower, reward, and support their employees. And those employees do the same to each other.
We always praise companies for their performance or achievements, but what gets lost is how those people — the same ones who are performing day-to-day or making those achievements possible — get treated on the way there. Creating employee engagement and loyalty can be almost impossible, but there are businesses here filled with people who truly appreciate the company for which they work, who have coworkers who rally around them in times of need, managers who publicly praise their performance, take pride in what they are doing for clients and customers, and give back to their community. And in this edition, you’ll learn about these companies and hear from employees about why they love where they work.
This year, the response was so overwhelming that we have expanded our honorees to 14. We hosted a survey on our website that asked nominees to breakdown their workforce, policies, and perks — everything from the make-up of their employees, benefits, health initiatives, volunteerism, and team building — completed surveys were then taken into consideration and analysis by the BIZ. editorial board. Criteria considered include survey responses, whether the business is locally based or headquartered, and reputation/standing among the business community. No priority is given to past or current advertisers or personal affiliations with nominated businesses.
Our 2022 winners are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Carter Credit Union, Dillas Quesadillas, Graybar Electric, Kean Miller, Lauve’s Pediatric, Nelson and Hammons, North Louisiana Economic Partnership, Providence House, Red River Chevrolet, Sealy and Company, and Willis-Knighton Health System. And for a record sixth time, Citizens National Bank.
The nominations and awarding process is an evolution. We know there is always room for improvement (and we’re open to suggestions). This edition is not for the sake of advertising. We do this edition because we want to reward the companies that foster a great culture and keep the economic engine in NWLA running.
As the number one business publication in northwest Louisiana, we are honored to recognize the great things our business community is doing. And that’s why I encourage you to read on — because I want NWLA to be filled with amazing places to work.
David A. Specht Jr. is publisher and editor of BIZ. and President of Specht Newspapers, Inc.