Inc. 500/5000 Names The Sartell Group to its 2011 List of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America

Inc. 5000 | July 2012

In August, 2011, The Sartell Group made the prestigious list of Inc. magazines fastest growing companies in America.

As noted by Inc. “This achievement puts you in a rarified company, especially if you consider there are nearly 7 million private employer-based companies in the U.S.A. The elite group you’ve now joined has, over the years included companies such as Microsoft, Timberland, Vizio, Intuit, Jamba Juice, Oracle and In fact, many of today’s most successful U.S. companies received their first national recognition when they appeared on the Inc. list.”

To be selected as one of the fastest growing companies, The Sartell Group met a series of requirements, including annual revenue growth. Also considered was the increase in the number of employees over a period of years. Since 2007, the company has grown from 6 to 20 full time employees and has added positions in the areas of account management, project management and quality assurance in addition to adding to the staff of experienced developers.

Sartell Group featured as small company working to make health pay

Star Tribune | March 2012

Lunchtime at Sartell Group brings on a swirl of activity. A couple of employees chop vegetables for a communal salad, while their co-workers root around the full-sized kitchen for sandwich fixings or bowls of fresh fruit and yogurt.

Each week, owner Pam Sartell stocks the pantry and fridge of the downtown Minneapolis office with healthy food and snacks to encourage her workers to eat better.

It’s more than a goodwill gesture: Sartell pays 100 percent of the medical and dental costs of all 20 employees — and their families.

“My bookkeeper says, ‘Ooh, this is kind of high, Pam,’” she said. “But I see the benefits 100 times over. I want my employees to be productive and healthy and happy.”

Software developer Sartell Group is bucking the trend. Nationally, the number of small businesses offering insurance at any level dropped last year, despite a new tax credit designed to encourage it.

While 99 percent of U.S. companies with 200 or more employees offered health insurance in 2011, just 57 percent of those with fewer than 50 workers offered benefits, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Times are about to change for small businesses and their workers. In 2014, the Affordable Care Act will require businesses with 50 or more employees to provide insurance or give their workers money to buy it themselves on state-run exchanges.

But in certain industries, health insurance is already essential to attract good employees. That forces entrepreneurs to figure out ways to afford coverage.

Henry Bromelkamp has been providing fully paid insurance with no copays or deductibles for 33 years. He says he does it because it makes good business sense.

“People’s first reaction is, ‘Henry, that’s so generous,’” he said. “Actually, I think I’m a very good businessman and capitalist. I’m doing it to make money.”

Bromelkamp Co., with 16 employees, develops software to help nonprofits and foundations manage grants.

Recruiting tool

Bromelkamp says it’s vital to offer a competitive benefit package to attract the best job candidates.

In addition to paying all of his employees’ health insurance, Bromelkamp funds the maximum amount allowed in a Simplified Employee Pension Plan account.

In return, workers earn significantly less in wages.

“When I advertise for employment, I don’t tell people what their salary is,” Bromelkamp said. “I tell them what their compensation package is.”

The trade-off puts more money in the workers’ pockets and into the business because of reduced taxes, he said.

He tells the story of a woman who interviewed at his company four years ago and was making about $80,000. He offered her $55,000.

To ease her jitters, Bromelkamp presented a spreadsheet breaking down her current paycheck, showing that about 40 percent of her take-home pay went to pay for health insurance, 401(k) contributions, child care, Social Security, Medicare, and state and federal income taxes.

When Bromelkamp picked up the tab for health, retirement and child care, the worker moved into a lower tax bracket, avoided taxes on health care expenses and had more in her pocket despite a 30 percent pay cut.

Bromelkamp said he wins, too. He reduces payroll and the taxes tied to it — including unemployment, worker’s compensation and disability — and he can deduct the cost of health insurance.

“I don’t know why every company doesn’t do this,” Bromelkamp said. “It’s not like health care is a luxury. You can’t say to an employee ‘we can’t afford health care anymore.’ Somebody’s going to pay for it. And it might as well be in pretax dollars.”

Aside from making sure the kitchen is chockablock with breakfast food, fruit, juices (and some bite-size candy bars), Sartell encourages lunchtime walks and subsidizes health club memberships.

The focus on wellness may be paying off, she said, as premiums declined this year.

Sartell buys a small group policy through Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. She has a mix of male and female workers, ranging in age from the 20s to 60s. Employees pay deductibles, and Sartell Group reimburses them immediately.

“I don’t want my people to have to worry about medical issues when they come up,” Sartell said.

“The costs might be higher upfront,” she said. “But I have healthier people because they go to the doctor for checkups. And I have a stable base of longtime employees. I’m not having to pay for retraining and rehiring.”

Mary Maruska, an account executive at Sartell Group for the past five years, said health care costs can add up quickly with a husband and four children, ages 5 to 15. Her previous employer covered only a portion of the costs.

“I don’t hesitate to go to the urgent care center or doctor,” she said, as she sliced avocados and cucumbers. “My kids are healthier and I take less time off. And, it leaves more money in the paycheck.”

Pam Sartell is recognized as a business leader in the state of Minnesota

Financial Commerce | February 2012

Who is driving business and economic growth in Minnesota? That’s the idea behind Finance & Commerce’s new awards program called Progress Minnesota. F&C Publisher Steven Jahn announced Tuesday that 13 individuals and 15 companies and organizations throughout the state are the first recipients of the Progress Minnesota awards.

The publisher worked with dozens of chambers of commerce, trade organizations, economic development officials and government agencies involved with job creation and development throughout the state to establish the awards program

“We believe, as do these organizations, that it is important to encourage, promote and reward the entrepreneurs and organizations that are investing time and energy for the betterment of the Twin Cities and Minnesota in the areas of economic impact, job creation, and business and industrial growth with proven staying power and regional impact,” Jahn said.

The honorees will receive awards at an April 11 event at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis. Their accomplishments also will be featured in a special publication in F&C.

Individual honorees
Pam Sartell
The Sartell Group, Minneapolis

"Making it Better" Initiative Honors Pam Sartell’s Commitment to Creating a Healthier Workplace | February 2012

Running a successful business takes a mix of the right ingredients. High productivity from happy employees and a great benefits package are just part of the recipe. For Pam Sartell, owner of The Sartell Group in Minneapolis, many of the employee benefits start in the kitchen. Sartell stocks the company kitchen with healthy ingredients for breakfast and lunch, and proves that the more you give, the more you get back. Since she started purchasing groceries for the staff, Sartell has seen higher retention rates, fewer sick days and higher overall energy levels in employees.

Not only do employees at The Sartell Group enjoy healthy meal options, but they also receive additional wellness benefits like specially designed ergonomic workspaces, lunchtime fitness opportunities and an in-office wellness room for relaxation and power naps. ”I looked at what I had missed as an employee, ” said Sartell. “That’s how I saw the benefits of making sure that my employees were taken care of and had healthy opportunities provided to them.”

And the secret ingredient to keep the business thriving and fun? A healthy dose of humor. “Humor is a huge part of this company,” Sartell continued. “We like to have fun here, and the more you laugh, the more relaxed people will feel, and I think that’s a promotion to health. ” Employee Jan van Oppen sees a similar connection. “We do a lot of hard work, and we have some pretty serious deadlines, ” van Oppen said. “But at the same time, we have a lot of fun. It’s hard to say what the right mix is between hard work and fun, but somehow at The Sartell Group, we have found the right mix. ”

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Sartell Group's Creativity Lab Wins Supplier Connection Contest for "Best Idea to Add Value to Your Business"

The Supplier Spotlight | November 2011

If you’re a small to midsize business, you probably know the Supplier Connection. In December, they asked their online community, “Which idea adds the most value to your business?” Six companies submitted responses, and 800 votes later, The Sartell Group won with 63 percent of the vote.

Our winning submission showed how The Creativity Lab helps our employees flex their creative muscles and our clients get great work. Two key ingredients for business success.

The Sartell Group

800 Hennepin Ave, Suite 400
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 548-3100

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612 548-3100

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