2022 – 2023 Employer/Business of the Year
Many people in Sedalia are familiar with David Furnell and the Furnell family. They have been valued business owners and leaders in Sedalia for many years, however, you may not know that David Furnell is also a business owner in 59 other communities in the State of Missouri with over 300 employees statewide.
A good employer is one who is kind, helpful, caring and compassionate. This does not mean that they’re a pushover, but rather the opposite. An employer should be confident enough to show their human, side and we have that in our employer, David Furnell.
As a society, we tend to look at work as something we get through: we have to get through the appointments, the exhaustion, and the stress with the facade that we’ve got it all under control, because if we don’t, we fear our jobs will be impacted. To be greeted wholeheartedly by a boss who truly cares about our wellbeing gives us an opportunity to reexamine how we achieve work life balance. Appointments are met with sincere hopes that everything went well. Exhaustion is met with invitations to take time off. Stress is met with empathy. And joy is met with the joy of someone who’d been there before. David encourages us all to know our limits and boundaries so that we can take a break before we get there.
Many of the 300 employees that work for the Furnell family are mothers, and sometimes mothers require flexibility in order to show up for family the way they need it. These aren’t easy conversations to have at work–bringing them up requires full vulnerability, and a lot of women fear that they will be penalized for doing so. David always encourages us to be there for our families when needed, without guilt for taking time off from our jobs, and many of us find ourselves working more efficiently knowing we have an employer that supports us. No one has to apologize for putting their family first.
He sees us all as professionals and treats us as such. He also sees potential and hasn’t neglected an opportunity to help his employees grow and develop professionally providing them with training, encouraging them to continue their education, or offering professional development opportunities to his staff. His ability to lead with empathy has given him a view to know when to push and when to hold back while encouraging his employees to stretch their skills and their capabilities. He celebrates company successes with the entire staff and makes sure career milestones are recognized with acts of kindness. He has taken the entire office bowling, orders ice cream during Sonic happy hour, or to a movie in he middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday to show his appreciation for hard work.
Charity and community have been important to David and the Furnell family, and he has excelled in his support for “employee causes.” If employees have a desire to personally be involved in a community project or organization, we are supported in our endeavors. He never misses an opportunity to support the myriad of fundraisers and events from sponsoring sports teams, Boy Scout projects, music events, PTA’s, Girl Scout cookies, and any other opportunities for the children of his employees. He has donated his time, money, and personal knowledge to help with projects. Many years ago, employees were rewarded with “Jean Day Friday” which started as the first Friday of the month for $1 donation. “Jean Day Friday” quickly became a weekly event and our Employee Charity Account was formed. David pays his $1 like everyone else and each year employees select a charity for the fund. Over the years, we have adopted families for Christmas, donating toys, gifts, and even furniture. We’ve supported Whiteman Air Force Base soldiers at Christmas, donated to student needs in the Sedalia #200 School District and a variety of other causes.
Employee causes are not the only thing supported by the Furnell family. Each year, David and his family invite the entire community to downtown Sedalia for the Thanksgiving Fireworks Celebration. Designed to be a free family event for anyone, the Furnell family personally funds nearly the entire event as a thank you to the community.
I have been working here for thirty years, other employees have celebrated five-, ten-, and twenty-year work anniversaries with his companies. David is a huge part of the inclusiveness and inspiration that has helped us become productive and successful. We could not imagine working under anyone else, and we are grateful to be a part of his team.
So to our employer on behalf of your employees, “Thank you!”
(The preceding essay is an excerpt from an employee’s submission.)
SBW extends congratulations to Furnell Companies for their award and for being an integral part of the Sedalia/Pettis County Community!