Waukesha Chamber Top 10 Businesses: The Roberts Group

Waukesha Chamber Top 10 Businesses: The Roberts Group

When health care is in the news, as of late, the focus typically is negative – high costs, nursing shortages, problems with HMOs, malpractice, etc. But Barbara Weeks Thompson and her employees at The Roberts Group know the good side of the health care industry, and they have worked to promote it for more than 20 years.
"Americans are not aware of the true excellence of health care we have," said Thompson, president and owner of The Roberts Group. "It’s better than any health care system in the world."
The Roberts Group provides communications, advertising and marketing services to the health care industry. The firm is driven by a mission to promote the good that is done in hospitals and health care organizations in communities throughout Wisconsin.
"The media inundates people with negatives about the industry, but health care professionals are devoted to making people better," Thompson said. "There are amazing things going on in community hospitals all over the country."
One of the main improvements the firm has made to its services within the last year is in the way it communicates with its clients. The firm has made use of electronic communication and held more regular conferences with clients to keep abreast of what is going on with the client and in the industry.
As many companies have experienced, one of The Roberts Group’s main challenges recently has been recruiting and retaining talented employees. The key is finding employees who share a company’s values and work ethic, Thompson said.
"You can teach someone how your system works, you can teach them skills, but you can’t teach values to adults," she said.
Thompson believes The Roberts Group has been able to retain talented employees because the firm makes efforts to show employee appreciation. It’s more than just good pay and benefits, she said. Employees want to be recognized as people.
So Thompson will bring in a manicurist or a massage therapist. Free coffee and soda are in the break room. There is a grill on the patio behind the office, and the firm holds barbecues so employees can eat lunch together once in a while.
"All of those things say, ‘I value you as a person and I really appreciate the work you do here everyday,’" Thompson said.
As the owner of a small business, Thompson sees the virtues of small business, especially in light of recent corporate scandals at companies like Enron and WorldCom. Even in tough economic times, she believes the strength of the economy is in small businesses.
"You don’t see the Enron or WorldCom type of scandals in small business because if I steal, I’m stealing from myself," Thompson said. "We (small businesses) are employing a lot of people, and we’re taking care of those people. People coming out of college and looking for jobs are realizing that there often is more stability in small businesses."

Company name: The Roberts Group
Location: 730 N. Grand Ave., Waukesha
Year established: 1981
Type of business: Advertising agency
Main products/services: Communications, advertising and marketing for health care industry
Number of employees: 23 full-time, 4 part-time
Business words of wisdom: "Don’t go into your own business if your objective is you don’t want to work for someone else. You are working for your clients, your employees and many others."

June 27, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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