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LifeWay named 5th best among Tenn. employers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Business Tennessee magazine has named LifeWay Christian Resources as No. 5 in its “Best Employers 2004” ranking.

“This is an honor,” said LifeWay President James T. Draper Jr. “A lot of hard work has gone in for a lot of years to make LifeWay a meaningful place to work, and this is a fitting recognition of that effort.”

Human Resources director Steve Lawrence nominated LifeWay, detailing the company’s human resources practices, policies and procedures, and other data. “LifeWay has a proud heritage and a respected place in the community,” he wrote in the application. “As an organization, [it] is somewhat unique in that it is a business with a ministry purpose.”

That ministry purpose is one of the things Bruce Krapf, store manager at LifeWay’s flagship store in Nashville, cited when he was asked to participate in an employee survey, the most heavily weighted item considered when ranking the employers.

“There is a reason we do what we do here,” Krapf, a 20-year LifeWay employee, said. “We run a business that gives us an opportunity to carry out a ministry. You get to make a difference and the work has meaning.”

Business Tennessee recognized several benefits unique to LifeWay in its December issue announcing the top five employers. LifeWay offers telecommuting, employee recognition through on-the-spot rewards and two weeks of paid time off for corporate-sponsored mission trips.

Throughout the ranked winners, all five had an ethics policy, mentoring program, tuition reimbursement, wellness programs and retirement services. “The benefits package is very strong,” Krapf said. “The pension program and 401(k) are getting more rare in businesses these days.”

Of the five employers, LifeWay is one of two based in Nashville and has the second-highest gross income. “We see no conflict between ministry and good business practices,” Lawrence wrote in the application. “We make any necessary adjustments in the operation to remain debt-free, and the company has resources and reserves to take advantage of opportunities that come along to grow and expand the business and ministry.”

The other organizations that made the list are: No. 1, American Healthways, based in Nashville; No. 2, The Regional Eye Center, based in Kingsport; No. 3, Mid-America Apartment Communities, based in Memphis; and No. 4, Memorial Healthcare Systems, based in Chattanooga.
The complete Business Tennessee article on Tennessee’s top five employers can be accessed via www.businesstn.com.

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  • Brooklyn Noel