Construction, Human Resources, and Small Business & Startups

Employees get kick out of ‘boot party’

Construction services company HighPoint Electric doles out Christmas boot allowance.

December 2, 2016
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When it comes to perks for employees, one area company is looking to the feet.

Leslie Cardinal is co-owner with her husband, Jerry, of HighPoint Electric, a commercial and industrial services provider with a focus on electric installations.

The company, which made $10 million to $12 million last year, has worked on recent projects, such as 820 Monroe with 616 Development, Spectrum Health Muskegon, 25 Jefferson downtown and Calvary Church on the East Beltline.

The company, founded in 2006 by the Cardinals, has about 55 employees in its Belmont office and 15 more in its Colorado location.

Cardinal said a few years ago that she and Jerry noticed a problem: Their employees’ boots were wearing out on the job.

“About six years ago, we took a look around at our employees and realized that the boots they had were getting pretty worn,” she said. “So, we took them down to Mieras Family Shoes on (Leonard), and we gave them a credit of $200, and they get to pick out whatever shoes they want. Usually, it’s work boots.”

So now, every year in December, the Cardinals take all 55 local employees down to Mieras and “flood the store.”

Cardinal said the outing has become like a mini-party.

“We do our traditional Christmas party in January, but getting together at the shoe store in December, we call it our ‘boot party,’” she said.

The idea, according to Cardinal, was entirely her husband’s.

“Sometimes, the guys have to choose between buying a new pair of boots and putting new winter tires on their car,” she said. “They’re going to choose the tires, because that’s what keeps their family safe.

“We just wanted them to not have to make that decision, especially at Christmas.”

Jeff Joyce, fourth-generation owner of Mieras Family Shoes, said he sees HighPoint’s annual boot party as something “really special.”

“I think it’s a really special program for them to buy something as personal as work boots and something that the guys need but is an extra-and-above gift for their team members,” Joyce said. “The guys really appreciate it. They have a great crew, very loyal and it helps keep long-term employees.”

Joyce said Mieras brings in five or six additional workers on boot party day, some of whom are getting paid overtime to handle the extra foot traffic.

He said HighPoint’s boot program helps the local economy.

“It helps with extra hours for our people but also with extra volume that we can put back into more inventory.

“It helps out a long-term established business. We’ve been here since 1922.”

Cardinal said the boot program is not the only way HighPoint facilitates employee morale and a culture of generosity.

In addition to a yearly donation drive in partnership with the YMCA, HighPoint also keeps tabs on pressing internal needs.

“If there (are) needs even within our own organization, it’s the employees coming to us and saying, ‘There’s a need here,’ saying, ‘Can we do this; can we take up a collection?’” she said.

An example Cardinal gave was of an employee whose brother was in a terrible car accident and whose injuries are so extensive he won’t be able to return to work. Since he doesn’t have medical insurance for his rehabilitation needs, his brother decided something needed to be done.

“The employees took up a collection, and HighPoint is matching dollar for dollar what they are giving,” she said.

“The culture here is very family-based.”

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