The next four large companies

Woodward President Stuart Gulley

Credit: Special to The AJC

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Woodward President Stuart Gulley

Credit: Special to The AJC

Here is a glimpse at why these well-established organizations made it to the top

Rounding out the top five large companies are Arrow Exterminators Inc., Woodward Academy, Homestar and LocumTenens.com. Woodward Academy opened in 1900 and the newest, Homestar, launched in 2002. All five, including No. 1 Brasfield & Gorrie, are privately held. Here’s a glimpse at why these well-established organizations made it to the top.

2. Arrow Exterminators Inc.

This family owned and Georgia-grown pest control business has 2,936 employees working at 155 service centers in 12 states. Its home office, 38 of its service centers, and its national training center are all in metro Atlanta.

Its family culture is its trademark and “by far, our largest competitive advantage,” said CEO Emily Thomas Kendrick. “It always has been and always will be for Arrow.”

The leadership at Arrow — including Kendrick’s father and uncle, who are the company’s owners — aren’t scared to make investments in the team, its growth and its infrastructure, Kendrick said.

“Our family made an investment many years ago in training, when most companies were making general operational cuts,” she said. “We have continued to invest in our people through pay, time off policies, incentives, awards trips, training, technology and other team engagement initiatives.”

The company reported $317 million in revenue last year, despite the pandemic, which “completely changed the way we work, more than anything in our 58 years has,” Kendrick said.

“The company has gone from having absolutely no one working remotely to having 85% of its team working remotely,” she said.

The company’s annual kickoff meeting, training workshops, new employee training and team check-ins have been done largely by video conferencing. Communication also has been ramped up significantly, Kendrick said.

“We communicated A LOT. We were transparent and open about all things related to COVID. We did weekly video messages and gave the Arrow family updates on how things were going, the number of positive cases, and details on resources that were available,” she said. “We also provided COVID pay, and caretaker pay for two years to our team to relieve the stress of not getting paid during quarantine periods.”

The company has a team dedicated to personally reaching out to each person who has tested positive to provide guidance and resource materials from Arrow’s insurance carrier, Kendrick said.

“We loved on our people,” she said. “The communication throughout the entire pandemic from March of 2020 has been exceptional. From vaccination information to CDC guidelines on shortened quarantine periods, we have been open and upfront.”

Learn more: www.arrowexterminators.com.

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Emily Thomas Kendrick, CEO Arrow Exterminators

Credit: special

Emily Thomas Kendrick, CEO Arrow Exterminators

Credit: special

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Emily Thomas Kendrick, CEO Arrow Exterminators

Credit: special

Credit: special

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Emily Thomas Kendrick ceo

Credit: Studio Jaki Photography

Emily Thomas Kendrick ceo

Credit: Studio Jaki Photography

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Emily Thomas Kendrick ceo

Credit: Studio Jaki Photography

Credit: Studio Jaki Photography

3. Woodward Academy

Metro Atlanta’s Woodward Academy, with 2,525 students and 638 employees on two campuses, lives by its motto: “Excellence, Character and Opportunity.” Its mission is to intentionally bring together students from diverse backgrounds, perspectives and experiences to create a richer learning community with exceptional academic opportunities.

The academy’s enrollment has been on the upswing since fall 2020 thanks to its spacious campus, small classes and ability to safely offer in-person learning. The greatest enrollment increase was in pre-kindergarten to sixth grade, where parents were deeply concerned about the toll that virtual learning was having on their young children.

President F. Stuart Gulley said Woodward is one of the most diverse private schools in Atlanta and the country.

“With the gift of this diversity, we are committed to practicing a deep respect for difference, where everyone feels valued and appreciated,” he said. “When we don’t get it right or do it well, we acknowledge our failings and consistently reaffirm our commitment to the hard work of developing empathy for those who are different from ourselves, so that our students will be more expert critical thinkers and thoughtful ethical problem solvers in a world desperate for leaders who can inspire unity rather than sow division.”

Employees of the academy receive the professional development and tools to succeed, as well as the freedom and space to use their skills and talents to the students’ benefit, he said.

“Trust is important,” Gulley said. “We often hear from faculty gratitude for the freedom they have to approach teaching in a manner they believe is most effective. Woodward Academy operates with a culture of transparency. We keep our employees informed on major issues, and we encourage them in the execution of our values of excellence, character and opportunity daily.”

Recent achievements include the implementation of a Compassion Capstone graduation requirement for all seniors, he said. Each Capstone course requires a substantial project of the student’s choosing that will tie the subject of the class to compassion and empathy in our world.

The varsity boys and girls basketball teams won state championships in 2020 and 2021, respectively. For the boys team, it was the academy’s first state championship win. The girls team last won a championship in 1999.

In addition, Woodward has opened a new digital lab at the Carlos Library on the upper school campus. This provides a space for students with a technological interest to connect and explore advanced web ideation, filmmaking, and digital content creation, Gulley said.

The lab was funded by a commitment from the Pechter Family Foundation in combination with grants from the Edward E. Ford Foundation, the Beck Foundation, the Goizueta Foundation and individual donors, he said.

Learn more at www.woodward.edu/.

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Photos of President Stuart Gulley for magazine & promotion

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Photos of President Stuart Gulley for magazine & promotion

Credit: spec

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Photos of President Stuart Gulley for magazine & promotion

Credit: spec

Credit: spec

4. Homestar

Founded 20 years ago by Wes Hunt, Homestar is a full-service mortgage banker headquartered in Gainesville with more than 90 branch offices across the nation.

Steve Lovig, Homestar’s director of human resources, also affectionately known at the company as “Captain HR,” attributes the organization’s success to Hunt.

From the beginning, Hunt set the company’s standards of trust and friendliness across all levels of the organization, Lovig said, adding that Hunt also made it clear the company had vast career opportunities and a caring attitude that permeates every decision.

“Because we ask, leadership understands how each change, each decision might impact our employees, and we use that knowledge to help improve and sustain a top workplace culture,” Lovig said.

The company prides itself on the knowledge and experience of its 728 metro Atlanta employees, and still has three of its original workers 20 years later.

Homestar’s leadership emphasizes the importance of giving back to the communities it serves, focusing on homelessness and food insecurity. Its employee wellness initiatives include onsite health fairs, biometric screenings and chiropractic services.

Much like other businesses, Homestar has been transformed by the pandemic. Prior to March 2020, Homestar workforce was almost entirely in-office; that changed to nearly 100% overnight.

“Today we’re still about 75% remote/hybrid,” Lovig said. “Technology and communication challenges had to be overcome, and we’re still ensuring that leaders are over-communicating with their teams daily.”

Homestar has allowed employees to use as much paid time off as needed to manage their own and their family’s COVID-related health needs.

“We implemented paid parental leave and provided wellness tools to all employees,” Lovig said.

Learn more at www.homestarfc.com.

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Steve Lovig, director of HR at HOMESTAR

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Steve Lovig, director of HR at HOMESTAR

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Steve Lovig, director of HR at HOMESTAR

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Credit: spec

5. LocumTenens.com

A private health care staffing agency in Alpharetta, LocumTenens.com was founded in 1995 and employs 536 people. According to the company, its mission is to improve the quality of health care by providing patients access to quality medical care through innovative staffing solutions.

Keith Newport, the agency’s senior vice president for corporate administration, said LocumTenes.com is “truly a mission-driven organization.”

“It’s a great place to work because of the people,” he said. “Our associates make up strong teams that are working hard for the greater good and fulfilling our mission. Every day our associates get to see the good that comes out of the work they’re doing, both through the lens of the clinicians we staff and the clients we serve. They all know that the work they are doing is making an impact.”

He said the agency also supports its associations professionally and personally.

The company supports each associate’s professional growth by offering classes held during the workday that allow them to build on their skill set, Newport said.

Its campus has amenities — car wash, hair salon and others — employees can use during their workday instead of taking time away from their families, he said.

In addition to traditional health and dental insurance, the company offers pet insurance, discounted legal services, a college savings fund, access to a student loan refinancing tool, adoption assistance and tuition reimbursement programs. LocumTenens.com also runs an onsite child care facility, Newport said.

“We also have several associate networking groups, such as the Women’s Network, People of Color Network and the PRIDE Network, along with our Inclusion Advisory Council,” he said.

LocumTenens.com has received several awards, including the Best of Staffing Award by Inavero in both the talent and client categories for the past three years. It supports Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Foster Care Support Foundation, Open Hand Atlanta and North Fulton Community Charities, among others.

Learn more at LocumTenens.com.

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Keith Newport, the agency’s senior vice president for corporate administration

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Keith Newport, the agency’s senior vice president for corporate administration

Credit: spec

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Keith Newport, the agency’s senior vice president for corporate administration

Credit: spec

Credit: spec