Omaha's best places to work: American Title Inc. emphasizes communication and workers' happiness

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Posted: Sunday, May 4, 2014 12:00 am

Winning in the “Best Places to Work in Omaha” competition is a nice recognition, but Bill Mackintosh would participate in the employee satisfaction survey no matter the results.

“It's good information for us to identify how we can become a better employer,” said Mackintosh, president of American Title Inc. “It tells us 'Let's work on management training or benefits or whatever it is employees think is important.' Satisfied employees do a better job of taking care of customers.”

In fact, he finds the Best Places to Work in Omaha survey so helpful that he also conducted it for the Melbourne, Fla., office he opened last year.

Mackintosh acquired the Omaha business 10 years ago. His daughter, Ashley Horgan, and son, Mike Mackintosh, are executive vice presidents.

American Title Inc. provides real estate information on residential properties to large banks. The Omaha-based company has the ability to research every property in the United States, and places more than 500,000 orders each year.

“We have a one-page strategic plan that identifies quarterly, annual and long-term goals that we share with employees. The expectation is that we meet and exceed customer expectations,” Mackintosh said.

The company also won a “Best Places to Work in Omaha” honor in 2011.

Corporate trainer Kelsey Kern remembers being puzzled when American Title emphasized “family-owned” in the job listing that brought her to the company.

“I didn't think it was that big of a deal,” she said. “What I've learned is that they treat everyone like family. You can walk down the hallway, and Ashley, Mike or Bill knows your name.

Communicating and listening to employees are key to being a “Best Place,” Mackintosh said. “It was more important during the real estate downturn in 2007 and 2008 that we communicated with people. It's even more important to communicate in challenging times than good times.”

Kern likes the company's open-door policy.

“They are open to hearing suggestions you have or feedback. People see that if they have a great idea, they can take it to the management executive team.”

She recalled her first quarterly town hall meeting.

“Bill, Mike and Ashley talked to the entire company about the state of the company — what's happening, where are we going, what goals we want to accomplish.”

Kern's degree is in landscape architecture, but she has no plans to pursue a job in her field of study.

“I'm happy where I'm at. I can be independent. I have goals I want to accomplish. I am challenged here.”

Mackintosh said communication also is facilitated through one-on-one meetings with employees and an annual meeting held outside the office.

Employees find even more opportunities to ask questions at monthly lunches held to celebrate each person's anniversary with the company. For example, everyone hired in the month of May celebrates the anniversary at lunch.

“If you keep your people happy, they do good work,” Kern said. “That grows your business.”

Here are some of the elements that keep employees happy and make American Title one of Omaha's best places to work.

Work from home. Some employees are allowed to work from home, as long as they show up at the office at least once every two weeks. The number of employees working at home in their pajamas can increase during bad weather. “Our customers in California may not have snow,” Mackintosh said.

Volunteer to Vacation. The company's Volunteer to Vacation program awards employees extra paid vacation days for doing volunteer work.

Education. Tuition reimbursement is available for classes in disciplines that employees can use in their jobs. Internal training also is provided.

Compensation. Compensation is based on contribution. “We are a meritocracy,” Mackintosh said.

Awards. Three “employees of the month” and one “employee of the year” are honored.

Gym reimbursement. Employees are encouraged to live a healthy lifestyle.

Fun. A cookout in summer, Joe on the Go coffee, an ice cream truck and holiday celebrations are examples of fun events held at American Title. “I was the first winner in the Halloween costume contest,” Kern said. “I was dressed as Flo from the Progressive (Insurance) commercial.” Make-your-own-pizza day was a hit with employees, as was a wear-your-pajamas-to-work day that included breakfast in the office.

“If you keep your people happy, they do good work,” Kern said. “That grows your business.”

American Title Inc.

Fourth place, Large category

Offices: Headquarters in Omaha; office in Melbourne, Fla.

Employees: 321 in Omaha; 53 in Melbourne

Primary business: Provides real estate information on residential properties to large banks, primarily for use in home equity loan transactions.

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