April 01, 2017
The Best Places to Work in Direct Selling 2017 Honorees
by Andrea Tortora
Table of Contents
There is power in the group. This is supremely evident at Zurvita, where the corporate office is one big open space with no walls, no offices and no doors. The openness clearly creates a positive experience for the company, which has earned the Best Places to Work in Direct Selling achievement for two years in a row.
The set-up also “fosters open communication,” said Luis Rodriguez, a compliance and business analyst. “We brainstorm a lot between departments and we have team consults all the time, especially if we have a doubt or need more information from another department.”
What Rodriguez likes most about working at Zurvita, a Houston-based maker of nutritional and weight management products, is that managers truly listen to ideas and observations of their employees.
That kind of corporate culture is the embodiment of Zurvita’s founding principles:
- To build a company that honors and glorifies God
- To develop a company with humble leadership
- To create an environment where people can win at every level
Co-founders Mark and Tracy Jarvis and Co-CEO Jay Shafer set the tone for what Brian Altman, Senior Vice President of Business Operations, describes as an environment where employees can grow personally in their faith but also professionally.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership and the focus on Jesus Christ and the Christian values is a very refreshing way to conduct business,” Altman said. “There are a lot of business basics in the Bible and that is practiced here.”
At Zurvita, people are the priority. “We lift people up and mentor them at all levels,” said Debbie Travis, Vice President of Customer Service.
In fact, customer service is a bit like the farm team for the rest of Zurvita. It’s where many employees get their start and the training they need to grow, develop and move forward. Case in point, all but one employee in the sales department started out in customer service, as did everyone in the commissions department and several from IT.
Training and development is ongoing and managers “really have a heart for their people,” Travis said. A Vice President of Ministry Services is always available to talk with employees about any issues they face, whether it is personal, spiritual or professional.
Employees enjoy generous health care benefits, access to Zurvita products, gym memberships, company lunches and many rewards and recognition events.
A special focus this year on leadership development saw Zurvita buy John Maxwell books for every employee. Each department is reading it together and discussing the ideas in their own way. But the common belief is that “if we can grow our people than we can grow our business,” Altman said.
Adriel Thurston is Executive Assistant to Mark and Tracy Jarvis. She started in marketing and worked her way up. Now she manages Zurvita’s philanthropic efforts through Zurvita Ministries, including the Feed 500 program, which helps Consultants create volunteer efforts in their own backyards to feed the hungry. “Here, it is people first and work second,” Thurston said. “I don’t feel like I have a job, I have a purpose.”
When Thurston travels to a market to organize a Feed 500 event, she coordinates a fellowship meeting on Friday night, to discuss with Consultants and volunteers how to reach out to others in the community to sustain the Feed 500 efforts. On Saturday morning volunteers gather to prepare box lunches. Sometimes those lunches are delivered door-to-door, other times they are distributed from a central location.
Very often, other needs arise that the Zurvita team handles, such as helping a family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, restore its electrical service and or providing Thanksgiving dinners for 20 families in Houston, Texas.
Thinking about one’s relationship with Christ, as well as one’s personal journey and spiritual walk helps put life in perspective. That’s something Zurvita’s three executives model every day, Altman said. “It definitely made me take a step back and look at how I conduct myself with people who report to me and how I serve them,” Altman said.
Altman noted that even when things might not go as planned, he is able to maintain his competitive drive in a way that does not steal the joy from work. Instead, he encourages his team to look for the best solutions to meet their goals.
Which gets back to the power of the group. When work needs to be done, like moving dozens of boxes into a hotel before a large meeting, executives and warehouse employees are often up together at 5 a.m. to unload a truck.
“It’s about being able to step in and to understand that to become the greatest you must become the least,” Altman said. The philosophy is one that Altman has tried to ingrain within himself. “It’s opened up my heart to serve others and to help them get what they need to do their job.”