Banking & Finance, Human Resources, and Manufacturing

Universal Forest investing tax savings in employee benefits

February 27, 2018
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Deckorators is a deck and railing brand by Universal Forest Products. Photo via

Universal Forest Products is planning to spend one-third of its savings from federal tax reform on a more customized array of employee benefits.

Matt Missad, CEO of Grand Rapids-based Universal Forest Products (Nasdaq: UFPI), said in a year-end conference call with investors last week the company will “tailor” its benefits offerings to the individual employee.

“Instead of one-time bonuses, we believe that our comprehensive program for compensation and benefits will help us improve retention by 10 percent, which in turn will improve the efficiency of our operations and reduce excessive overtime,” Missad said.

Universal Forest spokesperson Lynn Afendoulis said the details of what benefits will be included in the new offerings have not yet been determined.

“We offer a comprehensive benefits package today, but it’s fairly standardized for all employees,” Afendoulis said. “We are looking to allow more choice, to the extent allowed by law, so individual employees can determine what’s best for their personal needs or situation.”

The company will conduct a listening period to solicit employee input, then roll out changes for its 2019 plan year.

Afendoulis said the broader choice could include more options for health benefits, disability coverage, life insurance, maternity and paternity leave and so on — but it will depend on what the employees request.

All regular, not temporary U.S.-based employees who work an average of 30 or more hours per week would be eligible, she said, although the number affected depends on how many decide to opt in to employer-provided benefits.

The company has 11,000 employees worldwide.

Universal Forest

Universal Forest Products is a holding company that provides capital, management and administrative resources to subsidiaries that supply wood, wood composite and other products to the retail, construction and industrial markets.

Its affiliates are located throughout North America.

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