Sliters Lumber and Building Supply recently received an employer award from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.
The Department of Labor and Industry said the Montana State Council of Employers awards its annual Best Employer Awards in three different categories based on the number of employees. Sliters won in the under 50 category, named by manager Glenn Dutton, who said the family business offered great benefits.
“Sliters offers benefits that are – bar none – the best a small Valley employer can offer,” Dutton said. “Benefits include insurance and pension plans, employee discount, flexible hours and extra days off during holidays so employees can spend with their families,”
Sliters president Andrew Sliter said they were “humbled and honoured” by the award. He said they prioritize teamwork to ensure everyone can enjoy flexible hours and time off. At Sliters, he said they understand work isn’t the only thing going on in people’s lives.
“We’re all humans and we all have things to do,” Silter said. “So if I can cover for someone on their shift, and they can do the same if I’m in a situation where I have to be away, or I need some flexibility, that’s is working as a team. When you can really work as a team, that’s when the magic happens.
He said there’s a common courtesy among everyone who works at Sliters, that you can’t just “abandon ship,” if you need to take some time off. The team emphasizes the value of flexibility while being a reliable employee. They use a “wide-eyed approach”, communicating openly about the best way to get the job done while meeting everyone’s needs.
For example, there is no hard and fast rule they follow when taking lunch breaks. Rather, they communicate with each other until they find a way that works well.
“What we end up finding out is that people tend to appreciate that, that it’s not a factory, we’re not Fred Flintstone where the whistle goes and we bang our heads against the rock until the whistle sounds again. They appreciate that we are a group or a team – sometimes we have a lot of work to do, but communicate with each other and we will get the job done,” Sliter said.
Attitude is the most important quality they look for when hiring new employees. They are also looking for people who enjoy puzzles, helping others and being part of a team.
“In an industry like this, there’s usually a lot of variety, whether it’s its customers solving problems, asking how to fix things, or being naturally curious. So hiring for the right attitude is probably our benchmark. We can teach the rest,” Sliter said.
Sliters has been involved with the Employment Service and other professional organizations like the Flathead Job Service for recruiting, employment, and best practices. It was through organizations like these that they caught wind of the Employer’s Choice Award and pitched the idea to their employees. He said the award is “pretty special”, adding that it’s in their willingness to work behind the scenes and continue to do good things for each other, their customers and their community.
“It’s the lifeblood of our businesses, it’s our people, it’s what makes Sliters special. There are products we sell and services we provide, but what really makes us special is us – our people,” Sliter said.