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The Place To Be
A cursory Google search of J.C. Cannistraro reveals plenty of accolades for the company’s business practices.
Two years ago, for example, the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association and Delta Faucet named the company Contractor of the Year during its annual CONNECT conference in San Antonio, Texas.
The award noted that the Cannistraro family's commitment to the industry is reflected in the company's professional involvement: John Cannistraro Jr., president, served as president of the PHCC of Greater Boston from 2007-2009; he served as a trustee in the Joint UA/Contractor Educator Fund and member of PHCC's Union-Affiliated Contractors. Joseph C. Cannistraro, chief financial officer, was serving as president of the Greater Boston Plumbing Contractors Association.
The PHCC award also noted that company took care to re-establish the plumbing museum. However, the award also reminded everyone that the Cannistraro company’s community service outreach has extended beyond New England to Haiti, raising more than $1 million dollars in funds and in-kind donations to help rebuild the country's only teaching hospital following the 2010 earthquake in which 30 percent of the medical staff was killed. Cannistraro provided engineering and prefabrication services and training to Haitian plumbers, allowing local plumbers to do the install themselves.
More recently, the Boston Globe named Cannistraro as a Top Place to Work in Massachusetts for 2017 – and the third time the company has been named to the list.
The Top Places to Work recognizes the most admired workplaces in the state voted on by the people who know them the best—their employees. The survey measures employee opinions about their company’s direction, execution, connection, management, work, pay and benefits, and engagement.
“Our winning companies are all in on a secret,” said Katie Johnston, the newspaper’s Top Places to Work editor, in a press release. “Treating employees well isn’t that difficult, and the payoff – increased morale, retention, and productivity – is huge.”
So, what might the Cannistraro company being doing to make itself the place to be?
For one thing, the company hooks people practically from the very beginning of their careers thanks to a robust recruiting program that reaches out to potential employees while they are still in college.
Multiple co-op (i.e., interns) students from New England’s leading engineering and architecture programs come on board each semester to work side-by-side with estimators, coordinators and assistant project managers on mechanical installations. It is common for students to complete two or even three co-op semesters and then join the firm full-time after graduation.
“Students want to work with the best people and for the best companies,” the company noted in a press release to celebrate its 50th anniversary. “With each passing year, the list of employees with 10, 15 and 20 years of service at the firm grows longer, as does the number of students who interview for Cannistraro internships. The confluence of experienced industry veterans and eager-to-learn, tech-savvy young professionals, results in a more complete, diverse company that is more ready to collaborate than ever before.”
The company typically welcomes between 15 and 20 co-op student each school semester, working in project management, estimating, coordination, facilities, IT and HR. Many students in the co-op program work with the company over multiple semester terms. Plenty also get hired full time after graduating.
Another interesting hiring method the company started using a few years ago is a test given to all job applicants that takes about six minutes to complete.
The Predictive Index is an online assessment that consists of free-choice questions. On one hand, the test asks takers to choose adjectives that best describe themselves; and then, choose adjectives that they think other people would choose to describe them. The results are then compared to four core drives that measure workplace behaviors and motivators.
“The main reason we wanted to do this was obviously so that we could start understanding the drive and motivations of our co-workers,” says Jaimee Chace, HR manager, learning and development. “For managers, it's a tool to better understand behaviors of individuals and the decisions they make.”
Chace gave us this example: If managers have extroverts reporting to them, are the managers giving them opportunities to interact with others?
“We use it a lot with just coaching in general,” Chace adds. “Just understanding the different drives for each person and why helps. How they make decisions, how they delegate, how they communicate. We’re growing so quickly, and hiring a lot of new people so it really is just a way for people to learn to work together.”
And it’s no secret how the test plays out for everyone. At least outside of offices, anyone can see a framed copy of the results.
“So we kind of joke around with each other a little bit,” Chace says. “So, it makes everyone more comfortable with sharing their assessments.