While unpacking old boxes from storage recently, I gained a rare glimpse back in time. I found a note that I wrote to my “future self,” penned originally while I was in high school. I wrote about a variety of things gave me a good laugh, but one thing in particular stuck out. I wrote that one day I aspired to be president of a large company.
It was a lofty goal at the time, being from a very small “two-stoplight” kind of town in rural Georgia. Neither of my parents had graduated high school, and if accepted, I would be the first person in my family to attend college. But I was determined, so like many others, I paid my own way. It was tough, but there were moments along the way that I’ll never forget. One of those moments was the first scholarship I earned. It was like winning the lottery. The scholarship came from an accounting firm that saw something in me, and they sent me a check for $1,000. Recently on my drive in to work at PGT Innovations, I remembered what that check meant to me and my future. It was a step that helped me move in the right direction of fulfilling my “presidential” dream.
Initiatives like that scholarship are just one way that a company can set itself apart in the eyes of a potential employee. In a tight labor market—like the one we’re experiencing now in our local area—employers need to think outside the box to attract and retain talent. Companies have to create something special that people want to be a part of.
At PGT Innovations, we already had a top-notch health benefit package, which is the number one concern among most individuals. Earlier this year, our executive team fulfilled a long-term goal of alleviating the second biggest challenge for working families—child care—by opening a PGT Innovations-owned child care center. But the program our team put in place last year is the one that hit closest to home for me—the PGT Innovations Inspire the Future scholarship program that entitles every team member to $1,000 per child per year to send their kids to college or a trade school. To date, 57 team members have taken advantage of that program, and it’s an incredible accomplishment. It’s just one more way that in a time when companies are fighting to find the best people, PGT Innovations sought to create an environment of people helping people.
Whether it’s giving every team member 10 shares of PGT Innovations stock so our entire company is made up of shareholders or establishing a group that encourages female leadership in our organization, we continue to look for the “next concern” of our team members so we can find a way to help.
As I look back on that high school paper, which earned a ‘B-‘ by the way, I know now that being president of a company means so much more than just the title. It means being accountable for creating a culture that encourages inclusion, diversity and ownership with shared values of growing together. To that end, we hope you will join us at our upcoming career fair at PGT Innovations on Sept. 15 from 8 a.m. to noon at our location in North Venice to learn more about opportunities to become part of our innovative team. This event isn’t just about landing a job; it’s about securing a career.
Jeff Jackson is CEO and president of PGT Innovations