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Team players
Team players
Badger Mining Corporation
Berlin, Wisc.

Quarterly meetings, in which no topic is off limits, are just a part of the progressive benefits package offered by Badger, the fifth largest industrial sand company in the United States. Other benefits include 20% profit sharing for all 170 employees (including management), a 401(k) with up to 6% matching funds, 100% of a health insurance premium and free long- or short-term disability pay.

Can't quit smoking? Badger provides $350 for a tobacco cessation plan. Need a financial planner? Badger offers $200 to hire one. Such investment is expensive in the short-term, admits president Tim Wuest, but well worth it in the long run.

It's a lesson that Badger learned more than once. Originally founded in 1949 by Clifford Chier, the company was renamed Badger Mining Corporation in 1979. After years of intense growth, profits dropped during the recession of 1981-82, forcing management to rethink the way they were doing business.

"When we came out of that, we looked back to see what we could have done differently," explains Wuest. The solution was to remember what made the family-run business special from its earliest days. "We lost touch with the way were treating people," he says. "Chier treated people right -- on a Friday if workers got done early, he'd let them go or he'd take all the employees out for fish."

Read more about Badger's flat structure, where bosses "coach" and staffers help call the shots.

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