Schuster completes addition of 9,000 square foot space
LE MARS — An addition to the Schuster Co. main office building brings all employees together in a naturally-lit work environment.
President Steve Schuster and Vice President Jeff Arens shared how the addition evolved.
“We’ve had people in the basement for the last three years, since 2019, just because we were growing so much and that was the only available space. It used to be where we’d have meetings and employee stuff down there, but we kind of just decided we should pull the trigger and add on to the building,” Schuster said.
“We hired CMBA Architects and they came up with a great addition plan and we decided to go forward with it. We have more room than we need now but I guess once you add on you just don’t go to the level you need, you plan for potential expansion,” he said.
The company added a total of about 9,000 square feet on the two levels.
With its continuing growth, there was a need for a larger training room and orientation room for new employees.
“We doubled the size of that, added a recruiting department and added more office space and cubicle space,” he continued.
“When we added on, we put a facelift on everything else,” Arens added.
He continued that 2020 was a planning year.
Dirt work and construction began in March 2021 with the final move into the new space in February 2022.
“Going through COVID in 2020 made us realize we had people on top of people and then everybody had to be six feet apart,” Schuster noted.
Working From Multiple Locations
During the construction phase, employees were relocated to three sites.
“We had people in our north shop in Le Mars and in the old MidAmerican building which I own, and some in Sioux City at the disaster recovery site,” Schuster said. “It made us realize that having people not in the same building is not very efficient.”
A Fresh Look
Once they moved into the new addition and renovated areas, employees expressed their appreciation.
“The employees love it. They say it’s awesome,” Schuster said.
One of the features of the original building that continued through with the addition is the all natural lighting and large windows.
“The building has a ton of windows,” Schuster said.
Arens added the employees who had to work in the basement for a time were happy to get back to a space with windows.
“Everybody enjoys the updates throughout, but I think just having the natural light is probably one of the pieces they love. As people were moved to other buildings as construction was going on, natural light was not a factor in a lot of those places,” Arens said. “Just having everybody back under one roof where, if you need to talk to another department, they’re in the same building again. It’s helped a lot with flow and efficiency throughout the workplace as well.”
Schuster added, “We gained efficiencies by having everyone be able to get face-to-face with people in the same building.”
Even with all the technology, having face-to-face meetings is important to all Schuster employees.
“It’s huge, especially since we’re dealing with the largest piece of our workforce, our drivers, who are over the road. We are in constant phone communication with them, so when they’re on site for maintenance or to meet with folks, they want to have that face-to-face piece of it.
“To have folks here (in the office) to address their problems face-to-face instead of over the phone which they have to deal with the majority of the time, is a huge piece, especially in our industry,” Arens continued.
“Drivers hugely appreciate the fact that if they have a problem with their payroll they can talk to their payroll person, if they have an HR question they can go in and talk to their HR person, they can visit with their dispatcher at any time, or stop in and visit with Steve and myself about things,” he said. “The face-to-face is big because so much of our business is done over the phone that having the ability to do that for the employees when they are on site is huge,” he said.
Arens added, “This way the drivers know who the behind-the-scenes people are. They’re the front line for us and we’re behind the scenes making sure their loads are available for them and taking care of scheduling their home time, so getting to see those folks face-to-face is big.”
Employee Treatment Key
There are 55 employees housed in the main office.
With the remodel came new cubicles and new office furniture.
“With the touch of a button, employees are able to raise the entire desk so they can stand or sit while working,” Arens said. “That allows what ergonomics fit best for you on the sitting piece as well as the ability to stand. But it’s also having the nice work environment for all employees, their own cubes.”
Schuster said it’s important to be good to the employees because, “They make the thing work. My dad always said you’re not a trucking company without truck drivers, and the support staff makes the truck drivers feel at home.”
Schuster’s own corner office has windows that overlook the truck/trailer parking area to the west, a scene he enjoys daily.
A first floor fully-equipped breakroom features full-length windows, and direct access outdoors.
The company hosted a Chamber After Five on July 14 to showcase the new addition to the public.