Ann Belser | August 27, 2015

Pittsburgh's Top Workplaces recognized for their outstanding work

In the world of logistics, perhaps the greatest compliment that can be given to a corporate leader is that he “keeps things going.”

That was how one employee described Charles Hammel, president of the privately-owned Pitt Ohio, a transportation and logistics company with 567 employees in the region. The Strip District company was the winner of the large employer leadership award and came in first in the Top Workplaces awards for best large workplace.

The first place prize was a move up for the company, which placed third in last year’s survey.

In addition to the standard awards, Workplace Dynamics, which partners with the Post-Gazette for the annual contest, also presented a series of special workplace awards.

Re/Max Realty Select, which has its local headquarters in Wexford, employs close to 200 people in the region and took first place among midsize companies. The company is a franchise of the national Re/Max Realty, and owned locally by CEO Ed Rae and his partners, Paul Culley and Chris Murphy.

The company also won the special distinction of being named by its employees as heading in the right direction, or as one agent wrote, “They are always looking for new ways to help the agents do their best.”

First place for small companies went to Select International, a human resources firm in McCandless that helps companies hire well and clearly spends a lot of time on its own hires. Employees who commented during the survey process used “talent,” “fun” and “smart” when describing their co-workers.

The special award for leadership for a midsize workplace went to Janet Sardon, superintendent of the Yough School District in Herminie, who was described by the staff there as knowledgeable, engaged and highly visible. Someone also called her a good decision maker and great leader.

Eugene “Sonny” Bringol Jr., president of Victorian Finance LLC, a private mortgage bank headquartered in Bridgeville, was the winner of the special award for leadership of a small company. Anonymous comments from employees taken during the survey process included statements that their jobs were challenging and that they were part of an “amazing team” where, “Everyone helps each other out to solve problems and help newcomers.”

Kenny Ross Automotive Group, which has its dealerships scattered around the region but is headquartered in the North Hills, won a special distinction for its managers, who were described by workers as respectful, willing to listen, willing to teach and working to resolve their problems.

For employee appreciation, Mackin Engineering, a civil engineering firm in Findlay, was awarded special recognition because of workers who said they were often told they were appreciated by management and said they were included in decision making.

A special award for new ideas goes to Boston-based Continuum Managed Services LLC, which has 150 employees locally who offer information technology services. The company won for new ideas because of comments from employees who said the company asks for their suggestions and ideas, then thanks employees for their insights.

Kennedy Township-based Rex Glass & Mirror, with just 55 employees at its three Pittsburgh locations was given a special award in the category of doers. Employees praised the creativity of the workspace and the overall cooperation of the company.

Scholastic Book Fairs, which is a division of Scholastic Inc, the New York City-based publisher of children’s books, has 64 employees in the Pittsburgh region and received the special award for providing meaningful jobs. Or as one employee wrote, “I am incorporating reading into the everyday lives of children.”

Industrial Scientific Corp., which is based in Oakdale and has operations around the globe, makes gas detection equipment to keep workers safe. The company has received a special award for ethics. It went from public to private in 1999 because “Industrial Scientific felt its business philosophy and mission were in opposition to the demands of Wall Street and outside shareholders.” As one employee wrote, “They are very passionate about what they do. They put their employees and customers first and actually stand behind everything they say.”

West Mifflin Area School District received a special award for “clued in senior management.” The district reported to Workplace Dynamics that 404 people work for the district, which educates about 3,200 children. One employee said, “The principals really care about their staff and helping the students.” Another staff member, when asked, “What impresses you most about senior managers?” answered that it was “The effort and dedication they put into running a sound educational system.”

The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel and Suites, Downtown, has 150 employees and was given the special award for communication. It was given because, as one employee wrote, when they are informed about company decisions, the employees know exactly what to expect.

Most law firms aren’t generally known for promoting a work/life balance, but Downtown-based Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote, PC won the award for work/life flexibility. One employee said, “Flex time is important. The attorneys are more ‘human’ than at many like-sized firms.”

The Arias Agency in Wexford, which represents Waco, Texas-based American Income Life, won the special award for training. Employees praised the continuing education that the agency provides, saying it gives a great understanding of the work of agents, and help them both in business and in the rest of their lives.

Tudi Mechanical Services, a heating, air conditioning and plumbing repair company, won a special award for benefits, which is fitting for a company that has a full gym, tanning bed, sauna and showers in the basement. Employees mentioned they particularly appreciate the fully paid medical insurance.

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