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Hawaii Window Company Keeps Military Employees in the Family

By Sara Moore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2008 – Because it always has been a family-owned and -operated business, it’s no surprise that Coastal Windows, a small Hawaii company, knows how to take care of its employees.

Coastal Windows applies its family philosophy in taking care of all employees, including those who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. For its support of employees who serve part-time in the military, Coastal Windows is being awarded the 2008 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award.

Coastal Windows has 62 employees, and at present, only one of them serves in the National Guard, said Bob Barrett, Coastal Windows vice president. However, that one employee, Army Sgt. Mike Echiverri, is well taken care of when he’s at home and when he’s deployed.

Echiverri has been on two deployments and is preparing to leave for his third. While he’s gone, Coastal Windows maintains all his benefits, including health, dental, vision and retirement plans. He also continues to earn sick leave and vacation time, and he’s given additional time off to spend with his family before and after each deployment. The company also takes care of Echiverri’s family, Barrett said, including them in company functions and keeping them informed with the company newsletter.

Supporting an employee who serves in the military is something that comes naturally to this small company, Barrett said. “We’re a family-run business, and people who work here are part of the family,” he said. “To us, it’s not just an employee that goes to war, it’s a family member.”

Coastal Windows extends its support of the military to the community. The company participates in the Marine Corps “Toys for Tots” program each year and has provided a window for a vehicle used by the Army Rangers.

“It’s our way of serving the country,” Barrett said of the company’s efforts. “It’s kind of like serving the country through proxy. We can help support them so they can do their job.”

Having an employee who serves in the military benefits the company in more than one way, Barrett said. Servicemembers are disciplined and work well on a team, which helps with daily tasks, he said, and having Echiverri as part of the team brings all the employees closer together.

“It gives everyone something to cheer for,” Barrett said. “They all know [Echiverri] really well, and they’re happy to see him come back in one piece. It gives us something to bring us together.”

Coastal Windows also employs many people who have spouses or other relatives in the military, Barrett said, and the company is happy to assist them as well. The company is flexible with time off and helps with communication when family members are deployed. “Pretty much whatever they need, we’ll help with,” he said.

Barrett said he is honored that Coastal Windows is receiving the Freedom Award. He said it came as a surprise, however, because no one in the company was looking for recognition when they were supporting Echiverri.

“To us, it’s not something that we really have to work at; it’s just taking care of your family,” Barrett said. “It’s something that comes natural to us.”

Coastal Windows will receive the Freedom Award along with 14 other companies in a ceremony Sept. 18 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here. The Freedom Award was instituted in 1996 under the auspices of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve to recognize exceptional support from the employer community.

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Related Sites:
National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award


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