Rosendin Electric offering cost-free vanpools for employees
By Connor Dziawura
Rosendin Electric field engineer Christian Norine estimates he now saves approximately $300 to $350 on gas per month, thanks to a partnership between his employer and Valley Metro.
The two companies are offering vanpool service for workers like Norine, who lives in Buckeye and works in Chandler.
“It’s been great. It saves us a lot of money,” said Norine, who is going on three years with the company. “I live all the way down in Buckeye, and that’s roughly 65 miles I would have to travel from my house to the job.”
Norine’s vanpool, which takes nine workers from the Goodyear Park and Ride to Intel’s Ocotillo Campus in Chandler, was the first of Rosendin’s effort. It launched in July.
The workers meet at the Goodyear Park and Ride at 4 a.m. and have a long day ahead. Their Chandler jobsite is a nearly 90-mile roundtrip from the Park and Ride.
“I’m able to go home and kind of relax a little bit,” said foreman Rod Brown of Avondale, who feels more energized since Rosendin became involved with the vanpool service. Brown has been with the company for over a year and a half.
“I have more energy to go to the gym, play with my kids and actually be alert when I get home, instead of being so tired and going straight to bed.”
Of the nine vanpool participants, four are approved drivers, Norine said. They rotate these duties.
Though Valley Metro vanpools are new to Rosendin Electric, vanpools in general aren’t new. Valley Metro has nearly 400 and provides the van, as well as covered parking with security cameras.
Rosendin Electric covers the cost of fuel, insurance and maintenance for workers. Rosendin Electric is one of the few companies to do this, according to a press release.
“It started with looking at what we could do to attract and retain our field staff, do something different, something that’s not offered to field staff very often,” explained Mike Greenawalt, senior vice president of Rosendin Electric. He admitted that talented workers are hard to find.
Ultimately, the idea to partner with Valley Metro to offer these workers a more cost- and time-efficient ride to work was inspired by Greenawalt’s lengthy commutes as a young worker to the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. Aside from time and money, it also reduces traffic and makes parking easier.
“It’s just absolutely amazing that this program is out there,” Greenawalt said of Valley Metro’s vanpool service. “I think it’s significantly underutilized. The cost is very fair. We decided at that point in time we will provide free rides to work.”
Now that the vanpools are in full swing at Rosendin Electric, Greenawalt said he’s humbled by the reception the company has had from workers, like Brown and Norine.
“It’s awesome. We save a lot of money. I’m not spending as much on gas,” said Brown, who also mentioned meeting new people. “The Park and Ride is literally five minutes away from my house. That automatically saves time. I get to sleep in a little more in the morning and then go to the vanpool. It helps out a lot. I love it.”
Greenawalt stressed the importance of workers to the company, and said both workers and Rosendin Electric are seeing the benefits of vanpooling.
“Your absentee rate’s down, your productivity is up, you cut your turnover rates,” he explained. “I think with the ability, hopefully eight out of the nine people in the van are sleeping on the way to work in the morning, so they are better rested.
“There’s a lot of upside to what Valley Metro offers other than just clean air,” he continued. “I think people perceive it as to save money for the employees to pool and clean the air and get the trucks off the road, but there’s a lot more to it. The people in those vans are, I think, better employees.”
With the partnership between Rosendin Electric and Valley Metro now up and running, further interest will dictate how the program expands at the former – and so far so good.
“I think you’re going to see more,” Greenawalt predicted. “There’s still a significant amount of people from the North Valley and the West Valley that are starting to ask questions, so it’ll continue to grow.”
The company has four vanpools to take workers from Surprise and Goodyear to the Chandler jobsite. Additional vanpools are in the works. Though the starting locations are unconfirmed, their destinations are in Tempe, at ASU and a Rosendin office. Another van will eventually pick up workers at the Goodyear Park and Ride.
“Hopefully this catches on,” Greenawalt said. “It would be good to see our competitors do it. I know that would kind of level the field with us, but in the big picture, if we can make Arizona a better place for construction workers to move and to stay, it’s very transient for us.
“We want them to move here and stay and not just move here and pass through. So, if we give them a better experience for work and lifestyle, it’s important to our economy. That’s the way we think.”