CDW among best to work for yet again
January 12, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
In today's cost-cutting
environment, can CEOs care about their people? Talk to John Edwardson,
chairman and chief executive of Vernon Hills-based CDW. His people
are his competitive advantage.
the issue on newsstands today, Fortune magazine ranks CDW No.
11 on its list of 100 Best Companies to Work For, the only Illinois
company on the list, and the sixth straight year CDW made the
co-workers make happy customers," Edwardson said in an interview.
"It may sound old-fashioned, but we take it seriously."
credit the tech recovery for CDW's sales increases. Sure, the
economic rebound and equipment purchases by small businesses fuel
sales, which are up 23 percent over year-earlier levels in November
(the last month of reported data). But give Art Friedson, vice
president of co-worker services at CDW, praise.
had a philosophy since our founding that 'co-workers come first,'"
employees, 3,000 of them in Illinois, receive some great perks,
including day care, fitness centers, bagels and Krispy Kreme donuts,
"even trips to Dairy Queen during the summer," says
all kinds of things, but it's the work that has to be important,"
adds Friedson. "If you care about your customer, it doesn't
obviously care. That's why the company delivers 97 percent of
orders (on in-stock merchandise to credit-worthy customers) the
very next day. Performance bonuses for nearly 75 percent of the
work force and universal stock options are powerful motivational
The real difference
at CDW is a management that believes in its people. While other
companies are going offshore to reduce costs and gain an edge,
Edwardson is betting squarely on his employees.
and CDW are incompatible terms," says Edwardson. "The
reason we do well is we attract and train people. We've chosen
not to use outsourcing. We'll probably hire 600 to 700 people
He means here,
not in Bangalore, India.
this month. Let's hope the Illinois congressional delegation watched
some of Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" movies while they
were on recess. This group needs the eye of the tiger and the
competitive spirit. You have to wonder, is our state on its toes
or its heels when it comes to gathering in the coin?
saw passage of the $3.7 billion federal 21st Century Nanotechnology
Research and Development Act.
Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), whose west suburban district includes Argonne
National Lab, with helping sponsor the legislation and getting
it passed by a 405-19 margin in the House.
the energy subcommittee of the House Science Committee. In plain
English, that means she's a powerhouse when it comes to research
and development funding.
How much will
arrive in Illinois? "We don't have specifics," she says.
"Argonne will be home to the Center for Nanoscale Materials
research center. That's $100 million."
sounds confident and delivers on her end, the jury's out as to
whether Illinois will really capitalize on the nanotech opportunity.
It'll take bipartisan collaboration and real finesse to maximize
nanotech legislation passed, President Bush still must put money
in his budget, and Congress must pass appropriations, Biggert
the president presents his fiscal 2005 budget, we want to make
sure that $809.5 million is designated for Illinois. The exact
level of funding is still up to Congress," she says.
of the Illinois Coalition, which supports science investments
in our state, adds, "Illinois Democrat Sen. Richard Durbin
and Reps. Ray LaHood, a Republican, and Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democrat,
members of their respective appropriations committees, will be
key to funding."
2001 to 2003 we received $80 million for new nanotech research
from the National Science Foundation," Biggert said. "That
makes us No. 4 behind California, New York and Massachusetts.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern
University rank fourth and fifth respectively in securing nanotech
research funding [behind MIT, Cornell and Penn State]."
Judy. My question for our political leaders: Isn't it time for
Illinois to be No. 1? I'll rent them the "Rocky" movies
if they haven't seen them.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago based tech-writer and consultant,
and senior vice-president for Hostway Corp., Chicago.