Christmas giving has come to Realityworks

Realityworks has supported the iHeartMedia’sChristmas is for Children campaign every holiday season for the past four years. This October, the Charitable Giving Committee announced a new company challenge: A Penny War-funded charitable giving drive to support the program. The twist: First prize would be an executive-served pizza party; second prize would be an executive-served donut party and third prize would be two pies in the face of a third company executive.

Realityworks has supported the Christmas is for Children campaign every holiday season for the past four years. In 2017, enough funds were raised through a non-competitive giving drive to support the purchase of holiday gifts for 16 children. This year, the group hoped to raise a few hundred dollars by giving this annual drive a competitive spin; instead, it was announced that the employees had raised $2,615.98.

“Finding out how many kids we could sponsor was my favorite part of this event,” added Terri Lokken.

The Penny Wars competition drove so much more giving this year, that the 70-person Realityworks team will be able to support 74 local children.

“It was really impressive to be able to support so many kids this year, and I think everyone took a lot of pride in it,” said Tiffany Olek. “We didn’t expect it, but we ended up creating a huge impact and it was a great success!”

Penny Wars Benefits Local Charity

Realityworks is an employee-owned company and celebrates Employee Ownership Month (ESOP) every October with various activities. On October 1, the Charitable Giving Committee announced a new company challenge: A Penny War-funded charitable giving drive to support iHeartMedia’s Christmas is for Children program. The twist: First prize would be an executive-served pizza party; second prize would be an executive-served donut party and third prize would be two pies in the face of a third company executive.

Realityworks has supported the Christmas is for Children campaign every holiday season for the past four years; in 2017, enough funds were raised through a non-competitive giving drive to support the purchase of holiday gifts for 16 children. This year, the group hoped to raise a few hundred dollars by giving this annual drive a competitive spin; instead, it was announced on Halloween that the employees had raised $2,615.98.

“What we did made a lot of cents,” said JJ Smieja. “It was really impressive to see each team get so involved,” added Tiffany Olek.

The Penny Wars competition drove so much more giving this year, that the 70-person Realityworks team will be able to support 74 local children.

“Finding out how many kids we could sponsor was my favorite part of this event,” added Terri Lokken. “A close second was seeing Timm and Scott get a pie in the face.”

Timm Boettcher, President & CEO,  and Scott Jameson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, tied for third place, meaning they both received a pie in the face from Mary Boettcher, CFO & Vice President of Finance.

“The ESOP ownership model fits our all-for-one, one-for-all culture perfectly, as Realityworks employees have always been encouraged to adopt an ownership mentality,” said Boettcher. “This competition is a great example of the success that can come from collaboration – and a little competition!”

Trade Up & Go Green: How our RealCare® Baby Trade-In Program Impacts the Environment

By Emily Kuhn, Realityworks Marketing Communication Specialist

Here at Realityworks, we are constantly looking at the impact of and waste produced by our products and reevaluating as needed to determine where improvements can be made. Why? We believe that it’s our responsibility as a company to help make the world a better place, and we work to accomplish this through our programs and our everyday actions.

Those actions include redesigning products in the middle of a life cycle when needed, and rewarding customers who return old products to us for recycling.

For example, the latest generation RealCare® Baby 3 relies on rechargeable batteries for operation rather than alkaline ones. This redesign has not only saved customers money but also reduced the use and disposal of more than 192,000 C batteries per year.

Additionally, the design of new RealCare Babies allows programming to be done on a computer rather than a hand-held unit, reducing unnecessary plastic and electronic materials. This eliminated over 2,000 standalone boxes per year – a dramatic reduction of approximately 2,000 pounds of plastic and electronics waste annually.

Furthermore, our current RealCare Baby Trade-Up Program offers customers the chance to earn up to $100 in credit towards the latest generation RealCare Baby 3 for every old model they trade in. We even offer an additional reward for those who physically mail their infant simulators to us for recycling!

Through this program, we have recycled more than 250,000 pounds of materials to date – some of which has been used to make recycled lawn chairs! It’s definitely proven to be a successful way of collecting and properly disposing of unused materials that may have ended up in a landfill.

RecycleBaby-500wide

Our mission clearly states that “our community, country, and planet can look to us as responsible corporate citizens,” and our RealCare Baby Trade-Up Program is just one of the ways in which we strive to achieve that mission. Click here for details about our trade-up program and learn how your old Babies can earn credit and help you go green.

What do you do to help ensure your programs and actions are environmentally sustainable? Share your stories and ideas in the comments below.

Back to School Supply Drive

As a part of our yearly charitable giving and volunteer efforts, the employees at Realityworks recently took part in our annual Stuff the Bus competition. This yearly school supply drive pits the seven departments against one another in an effort to gather the most supplies for each team’s designated school. The teams get to choose which school their supplies are donated to, and are often able to choose a school that one or more of the team members’ children attend.

This year, the teams chose to support the following local elementary schools: Halmstad, Meadowview, Stillson, Altoona, Oaklawn, Lakeshore, and Ridgelawn.

The sales department took 1st place in this friendly competition. We’re all excited to take trips to the schools to drop of the supplies before the start of the year.

Charitable Giving as a Company Philosophy

Each year Realityworks employees get the opportunity to nominate organizations to receive contributions of volunteer hours or outright donations for program assistance.  Our community can look to us for support and assistance.  Additionally, employees are encouraged to participate in local organizations’ committees and directional boards as a way to better our community through service. We can’t wait to share more of these great opportunities with you!

 

Ready for the Workforce: Realityworks’ Youth Apprentices Share Projects with State Governor

“See those wires there? We’re trying to get rid of them. We want to make the whole thing smaller, so you can hold it in your hand instead of display it on the tabletop.”

If this statement was overheard outside the office of a mechanical engineer, you wouldn’t think twice. After all, it’s their job to develop, build and test the mechanics of tools, engines and machines, adapting and modifying as needed. In fact, this statement was made by 18-year-old Seth Kooiker, a senior at North High School in Eau Claire, WI and one of two youth apprentices at Realityworks, Inc.

Run by the State of Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program is part of a statewide School-to-Work initiative. It gives high school students the opportunity to spend 1-2 years getting hands-on learning experience in an occupational area. Seth and Gabe LeGore, also a North High School senior, have been working at Realityworks since June 2016.

On Friday, January 5, Seth and Gabe had the opportunity to present some of their recent projects to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who made a brief stop at the high school to see examples of premier youth apprentice programs in the area. As they explained to Governor Walker, the two had been tasked with modifying Realityworks’ Electrical Wiring Kit, a portable, battery-operated kit that allows students to practice basic electrical wiring skills. Seth and Gabe’s efforts thus far have included rewiring, prototyping and simple machine operation.

“We’ve had dozens of students come to Realityworks through Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program, and we’ve always gotten a lot of value from it,” said Realityworks Engineering Manager Jeremiah Bauer, who mentors the company’s apprentices. “These students spend the first few months getting up to speed, and by their second year, you can send them a project and they can take it and run. Seth and Gabe are a great example of that. You can trust them to contribute, and they’re getting a jumpstart on the working world.”

The Electrical Wiring Kit is one of many projects that Seth and Gabe have been tasked with modifying, improving or creating since their 2-year apprenticeships began in June 2016. Other projects include developing an aquaponics kit, a blood pressure simulator and several other electronic and software prototypes. They’ve used imaging programs, learned machining programs and mathematical statistic programs.

“The level of knowledge gained by our youth apprentices is easy to see and forthcoming. The level of benefit to the company is unforeseen,” said Realityworks Mechanical Engineer Mike Zaborowski, who works closely with Gabe and Seth. “When you realize that you have helped guide a young mind to a future role, its only then you can clearly see the future of industry and business. The youth apprentice program makes the future very bright.”

Realityworks is Thankful for…

The team at Realityworks has so much to be grateful for this year. Here are the words that came to mind when asked what we are must thankful for this Thanksgiving:

A few team members shared more about what they are grateful for:

“I am thankful for friends, old and new.” – Sarah Philen, Account Manager

“I am thankful for my co-workers, some of the most supportive and hard-working people I know!” – Casey Kooiman, International Business Consultant

“I am thankful for all of the regular things…like kids, dogs and a warm house. But there are those that do not have what I have, and I am thankful for caring people who GIVE at this time of year so others can have also.” – Christine Medina, Account Services Representative

“I am most thankful for getting to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family.” – Lisa Rolf, Marketing Intern

“I am thankful for all of the dedicated educators around the world that take the time to care, nurture, inspire, and prepare our youth for a successful life journey.” – Timmothy Boettcher, President & CEO

Realityworks is On the Move!

Realityworks just finished taking part in a 12-week On the Move online challenge spanning April, May and June of 2017. Overall, eighty-four companies representing more than 85,000 employees participated in this challenge. Realityworks was designated as one of the top five most active companies in the Small Business category of the national On the Move Company Challenge! The On the Move Challenge, developed by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA), partners with organizations around the country to incorporate more movement and improved cultures of well-being for employees.

Here is what some of our employees have said about the On the Move Challenge:

“Participating in Realityworks’ On the Move challenge was a fun, easy way to ensure I was getting regular exercise – nothing like a little friendly competition to stay motivated! Completing the weekly assessment modules took only a few minutes every week, and I was able to sync my activities with my Fitbit so logging move points was super easy as well. I’m very thankful to work at a company that works so hard to promote health and fitness, from standing desks to challenges like this!” -Emily Kuhn, Communications Specialist

“The On The Move Challenge was a great way to get conversations going with coworkers about health and fitness. It was fun to motivate each other to be more active and talk about ways we could do that. I’m looking forward to keeping those conversations going now that the challenge is over.” -Kati Stacy, Marketing Communications Coordinator

“I enjoyed the On The Move Challenge because it motivated me to stay active all the time, while providing a fun and easy to use interface to keep track of my progress!” -Alex Baca, Business Development Representative

When asked about why WELCOA creating the On the Move Initiative, Ryan Picarella, President of WELCOA responded, “On the Move was designed to build a culture for more movement into an organization. Traditional wellness program challenges do not zero in on culture change or connect employees with ‘whys’ for being active that matter to them—so we created something that did.” Realityworks shares this vision and is excited to have been a part of changing the conversation around physical activity to help employees live a thriving life of meaning and purpose.

To learn more about Realityworks and our company culture visit our website at: https://www.realityworks.com/about

Why I judged at the HOSA International Leadership Conference, and you should too!

By Denise Bodart, Realityworks RealCare Product Manager

Have you ever considered volunteering to be a judge at the HOSA International Leadership Conference (ILC) for the student competitions? I signed up to judge this year and am so glad I did!

This year 14,000 people attended the conference, of which 10,000 were students. 7,400 of these students participated in one of the student competitions. Hundreds of volunteer judges are needed each year at the HOSA ILC. I received an email invitation to consider being a judge since Realityworks was signed up to be a vendor at the Expo. I thought it would be an interesting new way to engage with the students and learn more about what they do, so I decided to sign-up.

During the sign-up process, I was able to choose a preferred category for judging. A month before the conference I received an email with information to read about the judging process along with a video to watch to help prepare me for the experience.

On the day of the competition the judges in our category attended an orientation dinner and more information was shared on exactly what to expect. Each room had two judges, a timer and a facilitator. We were prepared to judge for a 4-hour stint with no scheduled breaks. Each student in our category chose their own topics and did a 6-minute presentation on a lesson they prepared on a health-related topic. The score was based on the presentation and on the written portfolio that students prepared.

Over the course of the night we learned about safe sex, personal hygiene, dental health, how to safely dispose of medication for older adults, the importance of safety goggles, skin cancer and much more. The target audience for these educational initiatives ranged from 3 to 90.  It was obvious from the presentations that many hours and months of planning and preparation went into the student projects. In short, the experience was very positive.

I’d like to encourage anyone who has considered volunteering for judging at the HOSA ILC to give it a try. These students represent the best and brightest future health care workers. It’s rewarding to see the efforts of their hard work and creativity.

Realityworks Employee Spotlight: May Edition

Meet Casey Kooiman, Realityworks’ International Business Consultant

Casey Kooiman was born and raised in Wisconsin Dells and later moved to Hammond, WI, at the age of 12. She spent seven years in Washington, DC, where she studied at American University and later worked as an International Market Specialist in the automotive industry. Casey’s fondest memory of DC life was when she worked in the media department for the Washington Capitals.

“I attended all of their home games and would get to go to the locker rooms after the games to interview some of the best players in the league,” she explained.

As a self-proclaimed Midwesterner, Casey moved back to Wisconsin in 2012. She lived in Milwaukee for three years before relocating to Eau Claire for her position with Realityworks.

“I handle just about everything pertaining to selling our products abroad whether it be working with our many distributors, lead generation, researching new markets, etc.” she said.

Working with our international distributors is her favorite part of working with Realityworks, Casey explained, because they are all incredibly unique.
“We have our small, mom-and-pop type shops like Virtual Parenting (Australia) and Babybedenkzeit (Germany) to our larger partners like Camera Mundi (Puerto Rico) and Studica (Canada & Nordic),” said Casey. “I am privileged to have the opportunity to work with them on a regular basis, whether it is via Skype or in-person.”

Casey has found the international travel to be the most interesting part of her job.

“I can’t get enough! For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a passion for learning about and experiencing new cultures, particularly when it comes to cultural differences in how one does business,” Casey explained. “I’m always reading The Economist for world news updates, asking our distributors and international friends about their perspective on world events, and of course immersing myself in the culture when I do have the opportunity to travel.”

As for a favorite Realityworks product, Casey’s is RealCare Baby.

“When I explain where I work to family, friends (both domestic and international), and business contacts, they may not always know the name Realityworks, but they almost always know about RealCare Baby,” she explained. “RealCare Baby is where the company began, it provides a great segue to explaining our mission and it is darn cute too!”

Spotlight – March Edition

Allen Jacobson has been a Designer at Realityworks for over five years. He grew up on a hobby farm in Alma, WI. They had chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, beef cattle, horses, pigs, dogs, cats and even a pet crow named Heckle. He and his wife Kim have been married for over ten fun-filled years and are the proud owners of a German Wirehaired Pointer and a Boxer. Two very energetic dogs.

When not at work, Allen enjoys travel, running, biking, hunting, golfing, basketball, kickball and most of all working on new projects. Growing up, Allen wanted to be an architect. Though he took a different path, he said he still enjoys dabbling in this field when working on homes and cabins.

“I’ve had my hand in constructing/remodeling over 10 homes with my dad. This all started at around the age of 12.”

Although he has fun building and remodeling homes, Allen enjoys smaller projects with faster results, like a bike trailer he modified out of an old burley and a pot rack he made for his kitchen.

As the Designer at Realityworks, Allen works on the website, literature, ads, videos, tradeshow displays, packaging and new product concepts.

“My favorite parts of working at Realityworks are the super friendly I work with and I get to work on so many different projects,” he said. “I really do think I have the best job.”

The best memory he has from working at Realityworks so far was at a recent trade show that he attended.

“At the 2016 ACTE show, when the booth was set up, Rick Jurmain (Realityworks co-founder) stopped to talk/gush about how impressed he was with the booth, new products, the great new people (in the company) and the overall growth of Realityworks into a real CTE company,” he recalled. “It was a very cool moment.”