By COLLEEN DALTON | Moonshine Ink

We walk into a business and see the front end we’re meant to see. But it’s the story beyond the reception desk, the teams of employees behind the scenes of our favorite shops and services, that create a positive work environment and good company culture. Tahoe/Truckee employers strive to provide the best incentives, perks, and benefits that recruit and retain staff, in turn creating a satisfied customer base. We sat down with the owners of Tahoe Getaways, Mountain Hardware & Sports, and Quality Automotive and Smog to discuss how proactive staff care translates into better businesses all around.

Jim Winterberger



Your staff are fairly young; how do you recruit millennials? What perks and benefits particularly appeal to this demographic/psychographic?  

Property management can be a very taxing job. Managing millennials was a big challenge initially … [They] seek more than a steady paycheck. Personal fulfillment, opportunities for innovation, work/life balance, and company culture have all proven to be priorities among this demographic … Transparency in recruiting is essential — millennials want to understand exactly what the job will entail, and how they will be compensated, upfront. Property management is not all flowers and roses, and we try to be as up front about that as possible. That said, for bright, hard-working people, Tahoe Getaways offers opportunities for rapid growth. It’s not uncommon for our top up-and-comers to double their pay every 18 months.

As a vacation rental and property management business in a saturated local tourism industry, how does your business stand out?

Tahoe Getaways has been locally owned and operated for almost 20 years. Staying local is written into our mission statement. With numerous vacation rental companies managed from afar, we see our employees’ local knowledge as one of our greatest assets. And in a job market full of seasonal positions, Tahoe Getaways employs every member of its team year-round, entry level positions included. Investing in our people and offering them a career track allows us to develop and retain local talent.

How do these benefits/perks interact with your long-term business goals?

Tahoe Getaways strives to be a leader in the industry, and without a doubt our people are our greatest asset. Providing benefits that have meaning to those we employ means our team moves forward together. We are a small business that operates at a frantic pace. Minimizing turnover and increasing productivity is key! Happy, productive people allow us to deliver better service to our guests, gain market share, and reach our financial goals.

EMPLOYEE-OWNED: In 2001, Mountain Hardware & Sports founders sold their business to their employees and it still operates under an employee stock ownership plan. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

Doug Wright


You’ve been a community staple in the area for 41 years. How has your philosophy surrounding employee perks and benefits changed with the times?

[We recognize] that our associates are our most important and valuable assets. When our founders decided to sell the business to their employees in 2001 as their succession plan, it validated their commitment to their staff and the community. The Employee Stock Ownership Plan has allowed the associates a financial stake in the business results and it allows the company to continue to offer additional benefits as we grow.

How does being an entirely employee-owned business affect the experience of your staff?

Considering we are three small business in resort areas, our tenure is pretty incredible. We still have turnover, but we have somewhere around 40 associates in our company with at least six years of service, with several over 20 years.

You offer a wide range and some very unique benefits and perks to your employees. Give us some examples you offer that you don’t think many businesses do and why they are mutually beneficial to your employees?

We have to start with the idea that once our associates qualify, they become beneficial owners. They are being rewarded for their contribution to our success. The benefits include employee ownership, 401(k) Safe Harbor plan, health, dental, and vision insurance, gym memberships, California Gold Pass ski passes, a generous associate discount program, bonuses, and we have never had a layoff in our 41 years.

PLAY HARD TO WORK HARD: Quality Automotive & Smog buys their staff lunches every Friday and eats together over staff discussion topics. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink

Bill and Sheila Greeno

OWNERS |  QUALITY AUTOMOTIVE & SMOG                               

Car care and repair looks different in the mountains. What challenges do you face in your line of work that aren’t present in the auto repair industry elsewhere?

Vehicles traveling in the mountains require more maintenance and premium parts. For example, traveling up and down Northwoods Boulevard or over 267 every day could result in more wear on brakes. A discount brake job from a shop in Reno isn’t going to hold up over time and provide good braking power. A battery purchased at a chain store in Sacramento isn’t going to hold a charge over the long haul when the temperatures dip below freezing for months … During storm cycles, we do a lot of snow clearing, which includes customers’ vehicles that have to be left outside. After a day of shoveling and then moving around a vehicle your muscles can get pretty sore. It’s important that our employees stay healthy, so we offer free chiropractic care, active release therapy, and massage through two practitioners in town.

What do you offer that allows you to recruit and retain staff that is highly skilled and specific to the automotive industry?

By far our company culture is a big draw. People come to us and want a job because they know we treat our employees with respect and make them part of the company. Typically, automotive repair doesn’t promote employee involvement. Our competitors were quite surprised that we pay for lunch every Friday with our employees to discuss various topics. As a company we offer a 401(k) profit-sharing plan and financial planning, medical benefits, and paid vacation.

How have these benefits/perks helped you and your employees create and sustain a positive work environment?

We truly care about our employees, our community, and our customers. “A rising tide raises all ships.” … A good company begins with great employees who are given opportunities to advance themselves and the organization they work for.

How do these benefits/perks interact with your long-term business goals?

[We aim] to have long-term employees, long-term customers, and cars that last a long time. Mike drop.

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