Before stepping on board with Wayne Homes, new hires undergo a rigorous process, culminating with an in-home interview. 

Hiring procedures at the Ohio-based builder—No. 62 on our BUILDER 100 List—include a written aptitude test called the Berke Profile, and an accompanying two-to-four hour "exhaustive" interview conducted by your would-be direct manager. By the time that same person is sitting across the living room couch from your family, you’ve likely decided to sign on with the company. 

An on-your-lot builder across Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, Wayne Homes relies on what its leadership refers to as an empowered company cultured. Kelly Sumey, the firm's human resources coordinator, says putting the direct manager in charge of the process means recruits, and their families, understand who they are working with from the start. 

“While the Berke profile is helpful for placing the candidates in the right departments, the final in-home interview is about making sure our employees have support from start to finish,” says Sumey. “They sit down with the people who are important in your life. Be it your boyfriend or your husband or your wife or your children, because changing your job is really important.” 

Mike Leckie-Ewing, vice president of organizational development, says once new hires with the right “attitude and aptitude” are on the bus, his job is to empower them to do the right thing at just the right moment. “Doing custom at our size is a unique animal," he says. "It takes a lot of systems, a lot of processes."

Mike Leckie-Ewing, vice president of organizational development, with human resources coordinator Kelly Sumey.
Mike Leckie-Ewing, vice president of organizational development, with human resources coordinator Kelly Sumey.

The in-home aspect of the hiring process is not a requirement, says Sumey, and the team would be happy to meet a prospective employee and their family at a neutral place. Such occurrences are rare, however. Wayne Homes has been named one of Ohio’s Best Places to Work for Top Talent by NorthCoast 99 for four years running, and neither Sumey nor Leckie-Ewing were shy in describing their company culture as familial and friendly. 

“I think we have a real family culture here," says Sumey. "That coupled with the wellness program and the RAK program (Random Acts of Kindness), where we promote spending time together inside and outside of work.” 

On any given day, multiple systems are at work connecting the company’s scattered field offices to their administrative team in Uniontown, Ohio. “What really matters is the ability to respond quickly when something isn’t going quite right," says Leckie-Ewing. "Feedback for us is critical." 

The Opportunity for Improvement (OFI) system, a practice the company learned from David Weekley Homes, is the company’s formalized feedback system. “The OFI system allows us to quickly get feedback in front of our decision makers, a team of managers here at the home office who represent all the disciplines," says Leckie-Ewing. "From there, we can make an adjustment quickly, rather than let feelings of ‘this just isn’t working’ fester.” Items raised for improvement may range from customer service issues to product specifications, with close to 1,000 suggestions a year. 

The Blue House program offers a more informal line of communication. It is a peer-to-peer recognition system sent out daily through the company e-mail system “We have no real criteria for what constitutes a Blue House," says Leckie-Ewing, "it’s all positive and about building each other up." 

The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) program encourages employees to take 16 paid hours a year to contribute volunteer work in the community. “They can do half-day or whole-day time increments, and it’s paid time," says Sumey. "You’re welcome to join a company event or make time on your own." 

A Wellness Committee of front-line employees dictates the spend and scope of the wellness program. In recent memory, Sumey recalls a family-oriented canoe trip, a picnic event complete with a competitive obstacle course, and “know-your-numbers” biometric testing offered in-office.

The Steering Committee, another group of non-managerial employees, is at the forefront of these initiatives.

A well orchestrated welcome home for Brian Phillips, returning from Air Force Reserve deployment.
A well orchestrated welcome home for Brian Phillips, returning from Air Force Reserve deployment.

“The steering committee is dedicated to delivering outstanding customer and employee experience,” says Leckie-Ewing. “Delivering service to your teammates is what enables you to in turn deliver that experience to the customer.”