Thompson Sales Co.
Springfield , MO
Overall Rank for 2012: 89
Four times a year, at 11:30 a.m., Thompson Sales Co. (Buick-GMC-Cadillac) closes its doors and puts out a sign informing customers that an all-employee meeting is in session.
For 90 minutes, the store's 100-plus employees share a catered lunch, hear departmental reports and air whatever is on their minds.
That's the best way that brothers George and Lynn Thompson, third-generation owners of the dealership, know of keeping employees informed of developments and fostering communication and camaraderie in the ranks, George said.
"We get together so everyone is pulling in the same direction," he said. "Our success is not about anything we've done, but what our employees have accomplished."
The dealership has been in the family since 1927. Besides the brothers, five Thompson family members work there.
At the most recent quarterly meeting, employees were informed about what to expect from a major store remodeling that is under way, he said.
Those meetings were also invaluable when General Motors was going through its bankruptcy reorganization and shutting dealerships, Thompson said.
Employees were worried. The Thompsons used the forum to assure them that the store would stay open and to urge them to continue keeping customers happy.
"You can't operate with fear," Thompson said.
Occasionally, customers arrive during the meetings or stop by to pick up vehicles from service. Of course, they are waited on, Thompson said.
But the quarterly meetings hold a special place. They are where birthdays are celebrated, achievements recognized and worries shared.
Thompson said employees should not be left in the dark. "We realize that employees have choices where they want to work. No one has to work for you."
-- David Barkholz