According to studies of Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For®, corporate cultures with a high level of trust among employees and leadership have significantly lower turnover and better financial performance compared to industry peers. These companies also experience increased innovation, higher customer satisfaction, greater brand recognition, more success in attracting and retaining top talent and increased agility and speed. In human terms – greater success and higher spirits.
In October 2016, Gas South established its Great Place to Work (GPTW) Team to help foster that sense of trust by uncovering meaningful insights and making positive changes to create a better overall employee experience.
The goal of the team is to understand what’s most important to our coworkers so that working at the company is an amazing endeavor for employees every day – and to set the standard for providing a productive and fulfilling company culture.
After more than a year of combined effort, the team has enhanced the flex/telecommute policy, modified work shifts for the Customer Care Center Reps, improved the tuition assistance policy, inspired one another through a companywide recognition program, and created unparalleled career development activities.
By continually launching new purpose-driven initiatives and improvements, Gas South’s GPTW Team is proud to help the company continue to lead the way in cultivating a truly outstanding work environment.
Mentoring the Kell Robotics Team through the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Leadership Foundation takes real heart – something Rajiv Thomas, Gas South systems engineer, knows well.
The Kell Robotics Team is a group of about 16 high school students who participate in two regional competitions each year in hopes of making it to the state championship and ultimately, the world championship.
Every January, competing teams take part in a kickoff event at Georgia Tech where they’re tasked with building a robot in 60 days. That robot then has to complete a challenge to move forward in the competition.
Rajiv is part of a group of volunteers that mentor the team which meets at least twice a week to plan, design and build the amazingly efficient robot and ensure that it’s ready for the showdown.
Last year, the Kell Robotics’ team won the Chairman’s Award at the Georgia State Championships to make it to the world championship in Houston. And even though their robot didn’t place, the kids who get to learn from these experiences are the real winners.
“Anyone can build a robot and compete, “said Rajiv. “We push kids to problem solve on their own. We don’t do the work for them – we just guide them. It’s truly fulfilling to watch the kids think outside the box and work through obstacles.”
The Chairman’s Award recognizes teams for how they encourage STEM education – it honors the team that inspires others to get involved in STEM. The Kell Robotics Team has proudly won the award a few times.“We encourage a love of STEM – and see our students become better people,” Rajiv added. “When we were at the World Competition, the team from Israel was not able to get their batteries through Homeland Security. Our students offered to let them borrow our batteries when we weren’t using them. That was a proud moment for me.”
Rajiv tirelessly encourages students to grow outside the classroom. He’s passionate about igniting the imaginations of young minds and is truly an inspiration to others who also have a desire to be a fuel for good.
For Kristen Hopper, Gas South Operations Analyst I, cheerleading is more than just a sport. It’s a way to connect with young women in her community, and help to build their confidence and develop important life skills through performances and friendships.
In high school, Kristen developed a passion for working with kids with special needs after volunteering with the Special Olympics. She was coaching cheerleading when she decided to put her talents to work to make a difference – and that’s how the Fabulous Flames Cheerleaders were born. The cheerleaders range in age from as young as five years old, to women in their 20s. They also have a wide range of abilities – there’s no disability that can preclude someone from joining. All that’s needed is a desire to cheer and a will to learn!
The Fabulous Flames perform at local cheerleading competitions through Impact Cheerleading, a competitive league that brings together faith and a love for cheerleading.
When Kristen established the team in 2011, there were only seven girls on the team. Today, it has now grown to almost 30 members.
“I’ve been so blessed to see the original seven as well as the rest of the team grow up together over time – becoming more mature, kind and ever-loving each year,” said Kristen. “Our biweekly practices are simultaneously the most high energy and most relaxing hours of my week. There is just something about our team that leaves you both recharged and serene after being with us.”
Kristen is pursuing her own desire to Be a Fuel for Good. She’s elevating her community and positively influencing the lives of the girls she mentors every week. She’s also inspiring others to get outside of their comfort zone.
Kristen – Thank you for your dedication to warming the lives of friends and neighbors!
Nearly a century ago, Veteran’s Day was established to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served our country. As Veteran’s Day celebrations take place across metro Atlanta, we took the opportunity to speak with two employees – Ida Susan Graham and Judge Montgomery – about their service and what Gas South is doing for veterans.
How is Gas South committed to honoring our veterans?
Judge Montgomery: We offer special deals and discounts for those who served and still serve our country. As a special “thank you” to the men and women in our armed forces, Gas South provides a 2-cent per therm discount on both variable and fixed rate plans for veterans and active military personnel. And we won’t charge you a deposit to setup your service.
Ida Susan Graham: We encourage vets and active duty personnel to take advantage of the discount, particularly with colder weather around the corner. Especially since it has been predicted that there will be an increase in natural gas bills due to colder weather headed our way this winter.
Other than the everyday deals and discounts, how else does Gas South pay it forward to veterans?
Judge: Gas South is committed to making a difference in the community year-round. This year Gas South gifted a Marine and his wife an energy efficient makeover in partnership with Cobb EMC and the Cobb Heating and Air Association. The total value was an impressive $20 thousand, and they received two years of free natural gas from Gas South!
Ida Susan: Wes and Shannon Pilgrim of Marietta, Georgia, were nominated by their neighbors. Wes is known in his neighborhood as the type who would do anything to help – and it was great to be able to help him in return.
As a Gas South employee, what is the company doing to salute veterans?
Ida Susan: I feel blessed to work for a company that truly takes care of their employees. This year Gas South veteran employees have been given Veterans Day off, so we can spend time with our families. It’s a great way for Gas South to take that extra step to show they care.
Judge: Kevin Greiner, president and CEO, also personally thanked each one of us and presented us with a gift to show his appreciation of our service.
As veterans, how was the transition to Gas South?
Judge: The military gave me a higher sense of discipline and accountability. After serving nine years in the military, I’ve learned to adapt to my surroundings – and I’ve learned to apply the same discipline and accountability to my position at Gas South.
Ida Susan: I served more than 20 years in the U.S. Army and USAR. My military time has been my life, and without it, my life would have not blossomed into my three flowers – my children. I served in many places and learned so much. It’s truly helped me to be the leader I am today.
Yesterday, I was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 2016 Women Who Mean Business. Each year, this distinction honors women leading, inspiring and shaping Atlanta.
When I found out I was among the 20 honorees, I was shocked, honored but mostly just humbled. I’m grateful to have my efforts in the office, the natural gas industry and our local community at large acknowledged in such a heartening way. I try to base everything I do on helping whoever I can, whenever I can, in whatever way I can and to the very best of my ability. This is what drives me forward every day.
“Always speak to people with kindness and respect because it may be the only positive interaction they have that day.” Those words of advice, spoken to me by a close friend, have remained with me throughout my career as one of the best lessons I’ve learned. I believe every person with whom I come in contact can say that’s true of me.
Decades later, my advice to others, particularly women climbing the corporate ladder, is to always reach back and reach out. I believe we ascend the ladder of success, rung by rung, with the support of others. I try to uplift others by spreading positivity and enthusiasm, offering career advice and volunteering my skills. We should all be helping and supporting others at every moment possible.
Doing the right thing is sometimes a simple act, yet the results can be powerful. I want to give the sincerest thanks to the Atlanta Business Chronicle for this award and to my friends, family, mentors and colleagues for their continuous love and support.
We spoke to Brenda Turner, residential channel coordinator, to learn more about Hands on Atlanta Day and what it means to her to volunteer in the communities where we live, work and play.
By: Brenda Turner
One of my favorite things about being a Gas South employee is the company’s dedication to giving back to the community. We participate in many local service programs year-round, and most recently, I had the opportunity to lead Hands On Day Atlanta Day 2016 – the largest and most prestigious corporate volunteer day of service in Atlanta.
Approximately 50 Gas South employees volunteered a total of 200 hours at Camp Timber Ridge in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta. We helped spruce up the campground – chopping wood, clearing roadways, putting up new tents and painting pavilions.
Though it may be what they’re best known for, the Girl Scouts do a lot more than sell delicious cookies – just like Gas South does more than market natural gas! But don’t take my word for it. Check out this short video about our experience volunteering with the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for Hands on Atlanta Day.
Alternative fueled vehicles have attracted a lot of attention in the last few years, but the media buzz has mostly centered around electrics due to improved battery efficiency and Tesla’s loud arrival on the scene. However, petroleum has another competitor looming on the horizon: compressed natural gas (CNG). Yes, the same fuel used to heat your home also powers many of the commercial and transportation vehicles you see on the road every day. Last year, for example, MARTA announced plans to buy 270 new CNG buses, adding to the 420 already in its fleet.
With an abundance of domestic reserves to draw from and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a 90- to 97- percent reduction of carbon monoxide emissions versus petroleum, CNG is primed for continued growth. We’ve also seen significant enhancements to CNG’s commercial infrastructure and an increase of refueling stations. In Georgia, Gas South has helped lead the way by supplying stations, transit systems and waste management fleets with natural gas.
How long will it be until you’re fueling up on CNG? Probably not for a few years, but don’t rule it out in the future. CNG vehicles are already being introduced into the consumer marketplace, albeit without media fanfare, and by most measures they’re showing early promise. In fact, one of our mid-market sales account managers, Craig Hallerman, recently acquired one, a 2016 Chevrolet Impala hybrid. So, we thought it’d be a great idea to share his thoughts on his new ride, which has been attracting a lot of attention among travelers and car enthusiasts on Atlanta’s highways.
Q: Why did you take the plunge and get a CNG vehicle? A: “I wasn’t in the market for an alternative fueled vehicle but because I work in the natural gas industry, I looked into it. Gas South took care of wrapping the car in company branding because I do a lot of driving, so it gets lots of visibility – and compliments. I average about 500 miles a week, and as a clean-burning fuel, CNG is considered better for the life of an engine, so that’s something that caught my interest.”
Q: How does the car perform in general – notice any major differences? A: “It’s super nice and really comfy. Honestly, it feels like I’m driving a regular Chevy.”
Q: But it’s a hybrid, meaning it runs on gas and CNG. Sounds complicated. Is it? A: “Not really. There are two separate tanks – a traditional gas tank and the natural gas tank is behind the back seat. There are also two fuel gauges – the car defaults to natural gas until it runs out, and then it switches to the regular gas tank.”
Q: Tell us how you go about fueling the vehicle. A: “I don’t have a home-fueling device so I go to a commercial station to fill up on natural gas. There are 15 stations in the city, including one that’s on my way home.”
Q: Fuel efficiency is a major reason why people look at alternative fuel options. Are you noticing any differences between the two? A: “On the highway, natural gas certainly gets better mileage but regular gas seems to do better in the city. Right now, I’m averaging in the high 20s on the highway and about 18-20 in the city.”
Q: Have you found any other perks of driving an alternative fueled vehicle?A: “Yes, one big one: less traffic because Georgia gives alternative fueled vehicles HOV-lane access. That makes it easier driving around Atlanta, especially during rush hour…and my job requires a lot of driving.”
Q: Is obtaining a CNG vehicle the same as you would expect for a regular car? A: “It’s different. It started with a conversation with GM reps and then I went to a dealership to build the car. It was a six month process. The Impala was built in Canada and then sent to Detroit for outfitting.”
Q: How long can you drive on the tanks before refueling? A: “I can go up to 500 miles before running out of gas, which means that I can use the vehicle for all of my needs.”
Have a story to share about a CNG vehicle or a question for Craig about his car? Just let us know in the comments.
As an HR professional in the natural gas industry, drawing the connection between a career pipeline and a gas pipeline was an ‘aha’ moment – and a teachable lesson that really resonated with me. Here’s an excerpt from my recent presentation at the Women’s Energy Network, Greater Atlanta Chapter meeting on four professional development lessons from a natural gas pipeline.
Maintenance: Over time, gas pipelines require regular maintenance and upkeep to ensure they continue to safely and properly deliver natural gas to homes and businesses. Most industries are ever-changing, which requires you to continually fine-tune your skills and hone your craft to stay on top of your game. Every day is an opportunity to continue learning and finding ways to add more value.
Growth: Maintenance alone isn’t enough – gas pipelines need to be primed for long-term sustainability so they continue to serve the growing needs. Similarly, your career needs to be targeted for growth opportunities. As you move up the corporate ladder from refining skills to refining behaviors, you’ll polish more nuanced competencies such as interpersonal skills, organization habits and critical thinking.
Supply and Demand: As supply and demand have leveled out recently, so has the pricing of natural gas. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for today’s job market – especially in the metro Atlanta area where the supply of job candidates far outweighs the demand for available positions. If you find yourself hitting a road block in your career path, take a risk and find a new area where the demand is high but the supply is low. I’ve done this with my career, and it’s taken me in new, exciting directions from lobbying to PR.
High Quality Service: Natural gas is a commodity, which makes it a very competitive environment for the 13 natural gas marketers in Georgia. At Gas South, we differentiate ourselves by providing an exceptional customer experience and always going above and beyond for our customers. Consistently producing a top quality work product and lightening the load for others around you will help you standout in your career and get a leg up on the competition.
It’s mid-summer and everyone is working hard to get in shape and make healthy decisions to look and feel their best! Gas South’s Wellness Committee works year-round to provide employees with educational tools and resources so they are able to become the best version of themselves. For this month’s Employee Spotlight, we spoke with Harli Gawronski, human resources coordinator, to learn more about the committee, their initiatives and why it’s important to provide employees with tools to succeed. Harli leads the Wellness Committee which is a team of six employees from different departments at Gas South.
When did the Wellness Committee start?
The committee started about three years ago in order to provide Gas South employees with more awareness about healthy lifestyle choices.
Why was the Wellness Committee created?
It was originally created to help employees get up and move, considering the majority of our employee sit at a desk all day. Since the start three years ago, we now have more concrete goals, leadership buy-in, employee engagement, participation and focus. We are currently working through a three-year implementation plan that aims to encourage employees to take more responsibility in managing their health and wellness. In 2015, we raised awareness about being healthy and the costs when employees make poor lifestyle choices. In 2016, we are requiring employees to take responsibility for themselves – employees will pay less for coverage by knowing their health numbers, and engaging in activities to get their numbers in the healthy range. In 2017, employees will receive financial rewards towards their medical coverage premiums tied to the results of the biometric screening, rather than just participating in the screening.
What are the focus areas and goals of the committee this year?
Since we want employees to take the initiative to be responsible for their healthy or unhealthy lifestyle decisions, we are focusing on nutrition in order to address, and then impact, the risk categories from our biometric screens – which take into consideration BMI and waist circumference.
What are the specific initiatives that will be implemented to reach those goals?
Every other month, we bring a local vegetable farmer into the office to encourage employees to investigate healthy eating options. We also provide employees with a voucher so they do not need to spend any of their own money to make a purchase, unless they choose to purchase additional produce. We also continue to have fruit delivered every other month to create a culture of healthy eating.
Another initiative, the Wellness in Action Run/Walk Program, promotes movement and physical activity. We’re encouraging Gas South employees to walk or run in local road races throughout the year. Gas South sponsors a walk/run each month for up to ten Gas South employees and we have already had a few successful walks/runs to date!
Gas South also recently gave all employees portion plates to correspond with our initiative to improve and educate employees about nutrition’s role in a healthy lifestyle. The plate stresses healthy portion sizes and is split up into three sections – fruits and vegetables, grains, and proteins.
Do you have any employee challenges planned?
We are implementing a nutrition challenge in July and a weight loss challenge at the beginning of the year.
Why does wellness play such an important role at corporations?
Wellness can impact so many different areas of a corporation from retention to engagement to work/life balance. Wellness is also a major driver or healthcare costs.
Why is it important to you, personally, to be involved with the Wellness Committee?
To me, wellness is a lifestyle and I feel very passionate about it. Wellness is not only physical, but also mental and spiritual. It’s a holistic experience that bleeds into every part of one’s life. Secondly, being part of the Wellness Committee enables me to impact other people’s lives and for that, I’m very grateful.
Wellness committee members include:
Tonya Long (Millennium Benefits)
On November 11, 1919 President Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day, also known as Veterans Day, to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces. According to History.com, there are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States, 7.8 million of those veterans served during the Vietnam War era (1964-1975), including Gas South’s own Sandra Hamilton, which represents 33% of all living veterans.
To honor the veterans that work at Gas South, we spoke with four employees about their service and what Veterans Day means to them. Don’t miss the opportunity to thank a veteran in your life for the sacrifices they have made for our safety.
Juawana Glass, Navy
Location of service: Mayport, Fla.; Diego Garcis, Chagos Island; Agana, Guam; Atlanta, Ga.
Length of service: 8 years
Wars: Global War on Terrorism
Job/Assignment: Religious Program Specialist (RP), also known as a Chaplain’s assistant
Medals/Citations: Junior Sailor of the Quarter, runner up for Junior Sailor of the Year, President of the Junior Sailor Association, Navy Good Conduct Service Medal (2), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal (for serving during a war time), Overseas Deployment Service Medal (for serving overseas), Humanitarian Service Medal (for continued volunteer work), 9MM Pistol and Sharpshooter Ribbon, 14MM Rifle Sharpshooter, Letter of Commendations (5)
What does it mean to you to be a veteran? It means sacrifice! Sacrifice of your family for the dedication to your Country. I am proud to have served the time that I did – I often contemplate returning to duty. The comradery that you get in the military is irreplaceable!
LaTitia “Tish” Winbush, Army
Rank: Specialist, E-4
Location of service: Charlotte, N.C.
Length of service: 6 years
Job/Assignment: Unit Supply Specialist
What does it mean to you to be a veteran? A veteran to me means that you have separated yourself from the rest of your peers and have done something the normal person wouldn’t do for their country. It means that you are willing to give up your life for someone else’s and be proud of who you have and will become.
Sandra Hamilton, Air Force
Rank: Airman 1st Class
Location of service: San Antonio, Texas (Kelly and Lackland Air Force Bases); Fort Collins, Colo.
What does it mean to you to be a veteran? Pride and honor to be able to serve our country and protect our freedom.
Stephon White, Army
Rank: Specialist (SPC)
Location of service: Fort Polk, La.
Length of service: 4 years
Wars: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Job/Assignment: Administrative Specialist
Medals/Citations: National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal
What does it mean to you to be a veteran? Simply put, it means I had the opportunity to serve and protect the greatest country on earth.
Tiara Allen, Army Rhonda Garrett, Army Sandra Clark, Army
Gas South offers a 2-cent per therm discount on Variable and Fixed Rate plans to military veterans and active military personnel. No deposit is required to establish service. Visit http://www.gas-south.com/residential/rate-plans.aspx and click on Military Rates for more information.
Thank you to veterans across the U.S. for their sacrifice and service!