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$3 million Ring Power initiative focuses on health, saving lives

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image Tractors doubled as ice chests for the health fair, which drew more than 100 employees. Photo Kevin Brady

“Any time you have a wellness program in a company, it pays off for the company because you have healthy employees, which leads to happy employees, which leads to productive employees."

By Kevin Brady

Sitting down for a blood pressure screening at a health fair at Ring Power Corp., the man thought he felt fine. A few minutes later he was in an ambulance and heading for a hospital.

Turns out the local Ring Power employee’s blood pressure was so high he was in danger of a heart attack.

“His wife called me the next day crying, telling me we had helped save her husband’s life,” said Shelly Minzenberg, Ring Power’s wellness coordinator and part of the team that helps organize the company’s health fairs. “You can’t put a price on something like that.”

It’s those kinds of cases that make investing $3 million in employee health a no-brainer, Minzenberg said. “The benefits may not show up in dollar signs, but it shows up with our employees.”

More than 100 Ring Power employees turned out Feb. 8 for the company’s health fair at its Tampa area headquarters in Riverview.

“It’s always important to me to know where I am with my health,” said Pam Kopp, an assistant marketing manager at Ring Power who took advantage of the health fair. “I think being proactive about your health and your body is the best way to see yourself into old age.”

The health fairs are part of a three-year drive at Ring Power’s four largest Florida locations covering nutrition, weight loss, gym reimbursements and preventive health.

“Some of our employees have medical conditions they never knew they had, like heart conditions or diabetes. We have already found some employees today who are pre-diabetic and did not know it,” said Minzenberg, an assistant vice president at Ring Power. The company is a Florida-based Caterpillar dealership covering the state’s north and central regions, and has 400 employees in Riverview.

Minzenberg said that, while many employees expressed an interest in health, nutrition and fitness, “many didn’t know how to deal with that, so we felt it was up to us to assist them, and this is the way to do it in a way that doesn’t cost them anything.”

With an average employee tenure between 15 and 20 years, Ring Power knows health care is an issue that is foremost in many of their employees’ minds. “It’s a very tight-knit group of long-term employees,” Minzenberg said.

The event included screening for diabetes, blood glucose, cholesterol and obesity. Health coaches were on hand to offer advice.

Now in its fourth year, the health fair found employees who didn’t realize they were obese according to body mass index guidelines. As a result, Ring Power partnered with local gyms and the YMCA to encourage exercise. They also brought in nutrition specialists to promote healthy eating. The company also has contracts with local farmers markets to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to each location.

The Healthy Builders program covers gym reimbursements, paying 50 percent of any Weight Watchers fees, and a biggest losers weight contest with prize money.

The biggest loser contest had been very well received by employees, said Vicki Wood, a human resources liaison and wellness coordinator who handles the contest at Ring Power’s Riverview office.

“We had a great turnout already for the contest, which kicks off Monday. There’s been a lot of positive feedback. Everyone wants to lose weight and be healthy. People really like it and want more of it.”

The health fair gives employees better tools to deal with health issues. “A lot of people don’t go to the doctor or go for their annual checkup, but they come here and they get a shock and then they go to the doctor and get checked out,” Minzenberg said.

“Any time you have a wellness program in a company, it pays off for the company because you have healthy employees, which leads to happy employees, which leads to productive employees. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

“The feedback had been great,” said Jaime Sanders of the Bailey Group, one of several vendors with tables at the event. The benefits broker company helps Ring Power employees with their health insurance and retirement planning.

“This is a physical job, so it’s a great benefit to be able to come here and get checked out for free,” said William Berry, an 18-year Ring Power service technician. “It helps you see that you can get yourself back on track with your health. Even my kids come with me now.”

“The fairs help you find out where you are going, and with the health experts you get to know what you need to proceed,” said Jean Wynne, a rental supervisor with 16 years at Ring Power. “There’s no pressure, either,” she said. “They are not there to condemn you by saying things like ‘you are too big.’ They understand and talk to you like a real person and don’t make you feel bad. There’s no judgment there.”

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