Employees Find ‘Home Away from Home’ at Ancra Cargo

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This content is sponsored by BE nky.

By Lee Crume, CEO of BE nky Growth Partnership.

At Ancra Cargo, President Larry Bethel leads a company where 200 employees work hard and thrive, but also have a lot of fun at the same time. 

The company’s culture of respect, kindness, and understanding has created an environment where many employees see Ancra as their “second family.”

Bethel has worked for Ancra for 11 years, eight of them as President. When he joined the company, he was looking to get away from large, multi-national corporations and Ancra gives him flexibility, range and authority, enabling him to demonstrate his breadth of capabilities. 

“It felt like they were really supportive of my professional development,” said Bethel. “I felt really valued here. I felt like I was making a difference every single day.”

Bethel leads in a similar way, giving employees the tools and support they need to be the most successful person they can be.  

“It’s my core leadership belief,” he said. 

Why is company culture so important? A supportive work environment not only helps employees stay happy and engaged, but it also saves a company money. According to a 2022 Retention Report from Work Institute, the cost of turnover for the average U.S. employee is $15,000. 

In 2021, the costs of turnover to employers exceeded $700 billion. These costs are incurred through many channels, including exit interviews, job vacancy communication and advertising, job instruction, and lost productivity. 

Tenured employees increase the efficiency of a company’s workforce. Customer Service Manager Julie Barlow joined Ancra Cargo 29 years ago, straight out of high school.

When others ask how she has been with the same company for so long, the answer is simple: she loves her job and the people she works with. Barlow, her co-workers, and even her customers, have watched each other’s kids and families grow. Her son races dirt bikes, and Ancra sponsors him. 

When Barlow was dealing with her mother’s illness, she didn’t want to take a leave of absence because she cares too much about her job to be away for long. Ancra allowed her to “do what she needed to do,” and she worked 11 days from her mother’s bedside. 

“I can’t even put it into words how much it meant to me,” she said. 

Senior Regional Environmental Health and Safety Manager Christan Powers was hired in March 2022. Even though she is relatively new, she knows she made a phenomenal decision to join Ancra after 27 years at her previous employer.   

“This company didn’t hire me, they’ve adopted me,” she said. 

On Powers’ first day, Ancra implemented a program where employees receive $3 toward a Kroger gift card for every day they came into the office to help offset rising gas prices. A few months later, when prices increased again, Ancra raised the allocation to $4 per day. 

Powers said, in Ancra’s work environment, everyone supports one another and is encouraged to do what is right, even if it takes more time or costs more money. Everyone is welcome to bring their knowledge and experience to the table. 

Powers said the company motto is “GSD”: Get Stuff Done. 

“The culture is such a professional, kind, very generous culture,” she said. “We all work for a common goal, to get our jobs done, but to do them as professionally and kindly as possible. And we really do ‘GSD’ here. We really do.”

Powers is appreciative of her job every day and knew it was a fit from the moment she interviewed.   

“I walked out thinking ‘I really could work here,’” she said. 

Ancra provides many opportunities for employees to advance in their careers. Receiving Lead Luis Rivera manages products and shipments and has worked for the company for 15 years. He started out as a packer and worked his way up to his current position.

He enjoys coming to work, likes to stay late, stay busy, and sometimes will volunteer to come in on Saturdays. He feels comfortable at Ancra and comes to work to give it his all. 

He loves the atmosphere of the company, where everyone is kind, respectful, and cares for one another. 

“I don’t think I’ve been somewhere else that it’s been like this,” said Rivera. 

The company celebrates all major holidays, but also “minor” ones like National Pizza Day and National Chili Dog Day, bringing in food for employees. Employee appreciation week features events, games, gifts, and even more food. Bethel said these are just small recognitions for how hard his employees work every day. 

Outside of work, employees can participate in bowling and fantasy football leagues. The company moved its headquarters into a new building this year, and Bethel wanted to design a space that made employees excited to come to work. He asked for employee input on the new building, which now features a café, sitting room, basketball arcade game, and a ping pong table. 

“I spend most of my time thinking about how to have a more engaged workforce,” said Bethel. 

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