September 29, 2023
Zuri Mabry
Zuri Mabry Project engineer - Beck Group (No. 3 Large), Tampa

Photo: Gregg McGough

Jeff Nowak
Jeff Nowak Chief solutions officer - Premier Eye Care (No. 3 Midsized), Boca Raton

Photo: Andrew Miline

Kara Guertin
Kara Guertin Brand development associate - IMS ExpertServices (No. 12 Midsized), Pensacola

Photo: Jennifer Hazeldine

Marcy Ray
Marcy Ray Legal assistant - Jill S. Schwartz & Associates (No. 1 Small), Winter Park

Photo: Eric Cuccione

Natasha Blumenkron
Natasha Blumenkron Senior account manager - Elite SEM (No. 1 Midsized), Fort Lauderdale
Tina Graham
Tina Graham Commercial account manager - Brown & Brown Insurance (No. 5 Large), Tallahassee

Best Companies to Work For in Florida - 2018

New-Hire Perspectives

Employees talk about what attracted them to the companies where they work and what they now like best.

Amy Martinez | 7/23/2018

Zuri Mabry

Project engineer - Beck Group (No. 3 Large), Tampa

Mabry, 23, joined the commercial construction and architecture company in February after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business from Florida A&M University.

First impressions: “I met the company at a career fair my junior year. I could tell they were really genuine. Most companies just want to know your technical skills and your GPA. Beck wanted to know about me as a person. They looked at potential and work ethic, and that’s me all the way. I didn’t know construction, but I wanted to learn. My impression of the company is still the same, which is a good thing.”

New-hire training: “New hires get flown out to our headquarters in Dallas. Literally, you learn about the company for days. Then, you do technical training and learn about your particular role. Being new to construction, I didn’t know what to expect. The training really helped me figure things out so that I wouldn’t go into the job blind. Going into anything blind is just setting you up for failure.”

What a good day looks like: “A good day is when I’m able to analyze a problem in the field and get to the bottom of it before it can mess up the schedule. Also, a good day is when my manager comes to me with a task and I’m able to see it through to fruition. I love to see the finished project and understand what I did.”


Jeff Nowak

Chief solutions officer - Premier Eye Care (No. 3 Midsized), Boca Raton

Nowak joined the managed eye care company 18 months ago from a managed care software firm in Tampa.

Why he took the job: “I was familiar with some of the leadership here. We had been acquainted with each other because we had been on the same board. We got to talking one day and recognized that there was a need for what I can provide and an opportunity for me to do something that was different and would allow me to make a big impact. I wouldn’t necessarily say I was looking for a new job.”

Pay and benefits: “We try very hard to have pay equality for all associates. The organization historically has been focused on providing a full range of benefits that I think many companies of our size are not as passionate about. We believe in making sure that we provide for our associates and that they have the things they need to be successful at work.”

Favorite perk: “Every day, there are apples, bananas, grapes and other things like that, as well as granola. It’s not that we’re feeding everybody every day, but there’s a really good selection of things people can have if they get hungry. And they’re all healthy options.”


Marcy Ray

Legal assistant - Jill S. Schwartz & Associates (No. 1 Small), Winter Park

Ray, 60, joined the employment law firm two years ago. She had previously worked at a local non-profit, Hospice of the Comforter, where she first met Schwartz during a fundraising event.

The boss: “Jill is amazing. She empowers us to reach our highest potential and take as much responsibility as we’re comfortable with. She’s very approachable. If I need help 10 times a day, she’ll be available 10 times a day.”

Workplace culture: “We have a weekly staff meeting where we’re all encouraged to participate. On Mondays, if your birthday or firm anniversary is that week, you get a little gift — something like a fruit salad or a cupcake. You also get a gift certificate to go out and get something for yourself, and you can invite two or three employees to go out to lunch with you. Once a month, we have meetings on health, and there’s always a healthy lunch afterward. She has trainers come in and speak to us about exercise; somebody once came in to speak to us about vegetable gardening. Every year, we have a firm picnic where we celebrate the successes of everyone’s children, even the tiniest children. Somebody once got an award for potty-training a child.”

Pay and benefits: “She pays 100% of our dental, health and eye insurance costs. She has a retirement plan where, if you’ve been here at least a year, she puts money in regardless of whether or not you contribute to it. The benefits are crazy good.”


Kara Guertin

Brand development associate - IMS ExpertServices (No. 12 Midsized), Pensacola

Guertin, 23, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, joined the legal services firm in November as a receptionist/data quality assistant and was recently promoted to brand development associate.

Why she took the job: “My true intentions were to get my foot in the door, do a good job and move up within the marketing department. There’s a great opportunity for ‘leading up.’ I’m the newbie on the block, but I’m always asked for my opinion on things. Generally, I don’t think you see that at other companies.”

Workplace culture: “There’s a family feel here. Our CEO cooks a lot. One week, he was on a soup kick and brought in a different soup from a family recipe each day. I can almost rely on there being bagels somewhere in the office every morning. Not too long ago, we had a crawfish boil and played corn hole.”

Professional development: “Early on, I expressed my goals with my director and talked about how I’m young and I want to learn. So we’ve made outside learning a priority. I can spend paid time working on certifications or taking courses. I get to learn and grow.”


Tina Graham

Commercial account manager - Brown & Brown Insurance (No. 5 Large), Tallahassee

Graham, a longtime insurance industry professional, joined Brown & Brown last December.

Reason for taking the job: “They’re known in the industry as a great company to work for. It’s a solid company, and they do a lot for the community in terms of charity work. That’s really important to me.”

Workplace culture: “Before anyone is hired, you’re given a personality test to see if you’ll mesh well with your teammates. When I tell you there’s no drama, there’s no drama. We all get along. We all pitch in and help where we can. It’s a good feeling when you wake up in the morning and think, ‘Ok, I’m ready to get to work and start my day.’ ”

Best day so far: “I had probably been here only four months when I came into the office and somebody told me congratulations. I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ They said, ‘You were chosen as teammate of the month.’ The fact that they would recognize someone new to the organization says a lot. From day one, I’ve felt welcome here.”


Natasha Blumenkron

Senior account manager - Elite SEM (No. 1 Midsized), Fort Lauderdale

Blumenkron, 27, joined Elite SEM 10 months ago after hearing from a recruiter about an opening at the digital marketing agency.

Why she took the job: “I was looking for a company that was willing to invest in its employees and their happiness. I went on Glassdoor and looked at what employees were saying about the company, and there was really nothing but good things. That’s pretty unheard of in the agency world.”

Workplace culture: “They’re open to having you work remotely or from one of their many offices. We have biweekly and monthly meetings to keep everyone informed, and once a year we have a retreat where we bring the whole agency together for a few days. The higher-ups are very transparent. They’re always sending out polls with one or two questions to get a pulse on how everyone feels about things that are going on. If they get negative feedback, they jump in and start making some changes, but they always involve everyone in the process.”

Favorite perk: “You can choose what your workload looks like. We work on a meritocracy basis — you have a base salary and then you can earn more based on the revenue you’re driving. If you have a lot going on in your life, you can choose to work less and make less. It’s really up to you. This way, you’re kind of building your own salary structure, which is great.”

Tags: Best Companies 2018

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