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J.M. Smucker Tops FORTUNE List of 100 Best Companies to Work For; 107-Year-Old Family Controlled Business Moves up from No. 8 on Last Year's List

Published 12-29-03

Submitted by Time Warner Inc

NEW YORK--J.M. Smucker, the Orrville, Ohio-based maker of jam, jelly and other food items, tops FORTUNE's seventh annual 100 Best Companies to Work For list. The 107-year-old family-controlled company had a total return of 100% over the past five years, and has never had layoffs. Gimmick-free management starts with the co-CEOs, Tim and Richard Smucker, who took the reins in 2001 and adhere to a simple code of conduct established by their father and former CEO, Paul Smucker. "The play-well-with-others approach, as precious as it comes across to an outsider, has clearly won over employees," says FORTUNE writer Julia Boorstin. The list and related stories appear in the January 12, 2004 issue, available on newsstands January 5 and at today.

"It's been a rough couple of years for jobs. But lots of companies still want to be good places to work--and 59 of the companies on the list actually added to their payrolls last year," write Robert Levering and Milton Moskowitz of the Great Place to Work Institute, which researches and compiles the list. Noteworthy list changes include: Only 16 high-tech companies made this year's list, as opposed to 22 five years ago and there are now seven hospitals, up from two in 1998. In addition, sixteen newcomers made the cut, including the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN), highway builder Granite Construction (Watsonville, CA), and mall chain Hot Topic (City of Industry, CA).

Atlanta law firm Alston & Bird, which offers generous maternity leave for mothers (and fathers if they are the primary caregivers) and has an on-site child-care center, is No. 2 on the list. No. 3, Dallas-based Container Store, helps employees reduce stress by offering yoga, monthly chair massages, stretching classes and an online exercise and nutrition diary personalized for every worker. At No. 4 is Edward Jones, the financial services firm based in St. Louis that continues to grow--it added 1,500 employees in the past 12 months--and has not had a layoff in 34 years. Republic Bancorp of Owosso, Michigan, is No. 5. Last year, 300 employees were awarded trips to Aruba, Cancun, and the Dominican Republic, and all employees receive stock options.

Rounding out the top ten are Adobe Systems (No. 6), whose new high-rise in San Jose will include a basketball court; TDIndustries (No. 7), the Dallas company where all employees are allowed 100% reimbursement of tuition, fees, and books at any state-supported college; SAS Institute (No. 8) in Cary, N.C., where employees enjoy three different cafeterias, two Montessori child-care centers, and an on-site fitness center with a ten-lane pool; Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets (No. 9), which offers zero-premium health insurance to employees making less than $55,000 and where 652 workers have been at the company 25 years or more; and Xilinx (No. 10), the San Jose chipmaker that continued its "no lay-off" policy by requiring management to take a 20% pay cut.

"Overall," conclude Levering and Moskowitz, "today's lesson is that perks are nice, but employees are looking for something more basic. They want to be told the truth, especially if the news is bad. They also want, corny as it sounds, to feel they make a difference and to be given a chance to grow."

To create the list, Levering and Moskowitz surveyed 46,526 randomly selected employees from 304 candidate companies who filled out an employee-opinion survey. Nearly half also gave written comments about their workplaces. Each candidate company also filled out a questionnaire detailing its people policies, practices, and philosophies. Companies were evaluated on both the employee surveys and the company questionnaires, with the employees' opinions being given two-thirds of the total score. "The most important factor in selecting companies for this list is what employees themselves have to say about their workplaces," write Levering and Moskowitz.

The 2004 100 Best Companies to Work For package at will include several Web-exclusive features:

  • Each company on the list will have its own profile page, including all list data, up-to-date stock performance information, date each company was founded, and links to FORTUNE stories;

  • Breakdown of list by state;
  • Breakout of companies that employ highest percentages of women;
  • Companies ranked by job growth, both by percentage and actual jobs created;
  • Interactive tool allowing users to search across all lists (1998-2004) to find companies that meet selected criteria;
  • Complete archive of previous lists, from 1998-2003.FORTUNE 100 Best Companies To Work For 2004
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