In a time when many CEOs and business owners are cutting their employee’s hours and eliminating health insurance, Israel Brown, President and CEO of Essayon Progress Management (EPM), is determined to protect his workers and their families. Essayon Progress Management is a construction management firm located in Marietta, Ga., which provides professional services for the construction industry. The title of the company, Essayon, is French and it translates into “Let us try.” “ I mean your probably thinking, man it’s weird to have a guy name Israel with a company name Essayon,” said Israel Brown, “but there is a story behind Essayon, I’m a combat engineer with the Army as well.”
“It’s not like I think I can do it, it’s more of fourth quarter, I want the ball, 10 seconds left on the clock, give it to me,” says Brown. “So when we started the company we wanted that same type of can-do attitude.”
Brown carries the can-do attitude and commitment qualities from the battlefield over into his business. As a former project manager and estimator with Brasfield and Gorrie General Contractor, Brown decided to start his own company in the middle of a recession. “Of course, I had worries when we decided to open a new business. There's always risk involved, recession or not,” says his wife, Danyea Brown. “We felt confident in our abilities, networks, and our niche, being a minority-owned, veteran-owned construction business.”
Brown is determined to make sure his staff and their families are covered during the onset of the Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare. “There was a tiny bit of worry and a whole lot of faith. Having three little ones running around, definitely felt vulnerable knowing that at some point our insurance benefits could run out.”
- Currently EPM has four full-time employees and one part-time employee. Essayon provides 100% insurance, for their employees and their families. Under the guidelines of the Affordable Healthcare Act, employers do not have to provide insurance for their part-time employees. Individuals who work under 30 hours a week are considered part-time employees. Some companies and business owners have cut the hours of employees that work over 30 hours a week.
“I know it is a real cost though, it is a real operating cost because I’ve got a part-time employee that is my admin, she works 20 to 25 hours a week,” said Brown. “But our deal is, once you start working 30 hours consecutively or you know when the work picks up and I need her more, then she’ll go to full-time with full benefits.”
The percentage that Essayon paid with Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance increased by 30% during this time. “We were with Blue Cross Blue Shield and the rate jumped up to 30%,” Brown explains, “so we had another quick enrollment and we switched to a company called Coventry, that could keep us at a lower rate until the next 14 months.” Brown believes that a number of factors could have contributed to the increase.
- The Affordable Healthcare Act has received a lot of criticism and backlash since its inception into law. There are some who believe that the Act is a failure and will negatively impact individuals, employees and business owners.
Brown's main focus is supporting his staff and providing affordable health insurance for his employees and their families. “I want to do what’s right for the guys, and I want to make sure I’m taking care of the family and the guys that work for me.” At a time when many business owners are finding ways to cut costs with their companies, by reducing the amount of hours their employees work per week in order to avoid paying for health insurance, EPM is determined to find ways to keep their worker's insurance plans intact. “I want guys that work for me to feel good about working for me, and I want them to grow and thrive. I want their families to be proud of where they are working. I want that team and I want that family culture.”