For the second year in a row, the Eureka Casino Resort is ranked as one of Fortune Magazine’s 2019 list of Top 100 Medium Workplaces in America. The company is ranked 35th on the list of 100 companies in the nation.
The Eureka is one of two employee-owned casino companies in the United States having adopted an Employee Stock Ownership Plan corporate structure in 2015.
In naming the Mesquite-based company to its list, Fortune Magazine cited employees as saying, “We are one huge family and deeply care for one another. Our leaders are so inspirational and keep us highly motivated to always be a better version of ourselves, not only at our jobs but also in our personal lives.”
Greg Lee, Eureka Chairman is excited to earn a top spot on Fortune’s list. He commented, “Our employees have learned that their livelihood, their enjoyment of work, and their daily happiness are all tied together.”
In an exclusive interview with the Mesquite Local News, Eureka Chief Operating Officer Andre Carrier bore out those tributes but more to the employee-owners than to himself and Lee.
“It’s a fascinating validation,” Carrier said. “It’s easy to go day-to-day and know there are things we can do better. You can look at every item on the menu, every guest experience and say, ‘yes, we could do better.’ But that doesn’t allow you to stop and say, ‘hey, we accomplished something with this kind of award.’”
He reflected on the joy the employees felt when they made the list for the first time last year. “We knew it was saying something that 93 percent of the people who work here described it as a really good place to work. But this year when we cracked the top 50 and then made it into the top third of the best medium-sized businesses to work was a drastic moment of validation.”
Carrier said that by its very nature, an award like the Fortune Magazine list “is not something you can win alone. It’s bigger than that. It’s getting the vast majority of people to come to work each day and try to be a good version of themselves.”
He attributes that to “the inertia of happiness, the inertia of love, the inertia of joy. When you can put all that inside a couple hundred thousand square feet of a business, it tends to replicate itself and grow geometrically.
“Our people treat each other in such a way that they describe their place of work as a great place to work. They feel respected and appreciated. No one person can do that.”
An Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) structure is a long-term retirement plan under federal law that allows employees to gain retirement benefits that are tied to a beneficial ownership and equity of the company without any personal financial investment.
Essentially, the company’s operating profits are shared by all employees and in the Eureka’s case will be vested in retirement benefits. Employees become fully vested after six years on the job. There are approximately 550 Eureka employees participating in the ESOP.
When the company adopted the ESOP structure, Carrier said “we never contemplated that it wouldn’t go well. In large part, our employees already had an ownership mindset. We just aligned the final piece which was actual ownership. What we’ve done had a logical progression of outcomes.”
Summing up the Eureka’s success with the change that culminated in the Top 100 Great Places to Work award, Carrier said, “It’s been fun to do.”
He also said, “we have become very accustomed to companies being represented by iconic figureheads like Jeff Bezos at Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook. People tend to think of successful companies that way – innovator downward. When you take away the ‘I’ and you create an ‘us’ it’s really hard for people to rewrite the story. Now, our company is an ‘us.’”
This year, Eureka purchased The New Seabrook Park, formerly Seabrook Greyhound Park, a 75-acre, off-track betting (“OTB”) and casino in Seabrook, New Hampshire, just over the Massachusetts border. In addition to a lively poker room, the park offers table games such as blackjack, roulette, and Mississippi Stud.
Fortune Magazine compiles the list annually with their research partner, Great Place To Work, and examines businesses with 100 to 999 employees for the Top 100 Medium Workplaces category. To see the full list of recipients, visit http://fortune.com/best-medium-workplaces.