March 30, 2023

Twenty-two finalists and three Wellness Champions — and they all excel at keeping their employees both happy and healthy.
Below, meet the finalists in the Large (501-1,600 employee) category. Winners will be announced at an event Aug. 25 at Buffalo Riverworks.
100 International Drive, Amherst |
CEO: Anthony Spada Jr.
Product/service: Provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive related services. With approximately 600 associates across three major metro areas – Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse – AAA serves its members 24/7/365 with emergency road service. While we are best known for helping our loyal members on the roadside, we also offer travel and insurance services, and we advocate for traffic safety through our foundation for traffic safety along with our popular driver training programs.
Employees: 530
Founded: 1902
Top three executives: Jennifer Fincik, CFO
HR: Lori deJung
Top wellness activities: Highmark Wellness Program; mental health and wellbeing; walking challenge
Biggest benefits: Healthy, engaged, productive associates who are happy at work and happy at home is our priority. We also benefit by reduction in medical costs.
Program in place since: Over 10 years ago
Why program started: To bring awareness to the importance of wellness for an associate and to help reduce health care costs
Rewards or recognition: Yes
Participation during work hours: Yes
Here’s our advice: Review health plan trends and design programs to reduce health care cost and survey associates to see what they are interested in.
• • •
257 W. Genesee St., Buffalo |
CEO: Dr. Michael Edbauer
Product/service: Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community.
Employees: 1,400
Founded: 1936
HR: Karen Taylor
Top wellness activities: We offer an array of options for our employees to be healthy: onsite fitness center, incentivized team fitness campaigns and digital well-being tools. Additionally, we continue to focus on programs that support overall mental health and work life balance.
Biggest benefits: Our employees being happy, healthy and engaged in their work means they can perform their jobs well. This is critical for the important work that we do to serve our members and communities every day.
Programs in place since: 2000
Why program started: As a company with a strong community identity, our workforce “walks the talk.” They are committed to serving Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield members, leading healthy lifestyles and supporting the community. These pieces are all elements woven into a shared culture that makes our employees excited to come to work every day.
Rewards or recognition: Yes
Here’s some advice: Collaborate with different areas of your organization, engage the support of your leadership team, identify long-term goals from the start and consider an individual’s overall well- being when designing the program by including mental, physical, emotional, intellectual and financial wellness tools and resources.
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55 Dodge Road, Getzville |
CEO: Anne Constantino
Product/service: One of Western New York’s largest behavioral health organizations that provides counseling and medical services for individuals struggling with substance use and/or mental health disorders. We offer person-centered care to help our patients and their families achieve improved health through outpatient counseling, detox and stabilization, inpatient and residential services, medical, psychiatric, counseling and support services.
Employees: 765
Founded: 1975
Top three executives: Erin DiGirolamo, COO/CFO; Brandy Vandermark-Murray, senior vice president of operations; Jake Haacker, CIO/security officer
HR: Veronica Meldrum
Top wellness activities: Treadmills and work-out equipment available onsite for employees to use throughout the work day; walking challenges and mindfulness activities and exercises; additional time off given in the form of a “Your way, Your day” and summer 1/2 Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day to assist with work life balance; sponsored team-building events
Biggest benefits: Our teams can continually see our dedication to their wellness. We are always looking to add opportunities and ways to promote continued work-life balance and a strong focus on our team’s overall wellness. We ask for feedback, take survey results seriously and have created focus groups to continue the conversation on how we can grow our wellness program.
Programs in place since: 2012
Why program started: We wanted to show the importance of employee wellness and our commitment to their overall wellbeing. We not only strive to be a best place to receive care but we strive to be a best place to work!
Rewards or recognition: Yes
Participation during work hours: Yes
Here’s some advice: Listen to your employees. Survey them, keep conversations going and follow up on feedback. They are the voice and we have really enjoyed listening and learning from them to sculpt our culture and increase employee satisfaction.
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100 W. Genesee St., Lockport •
CEO: Paul Reid
Product/service: The Reid Companies have been serving our customers since 1922. Our Crosby’s division operates convenience food stores throughout Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania, while Reid Petroleum markets transportation fuels to hundreds of locations stretching from Central New York to Eastern Ohio.
Employees: 950
Founded: 1922
HR: Bonnie Pusateri
Top wellness activities: Annual wellness screening program Step-tember, smoking cessation
Biggest benefits: We place a high value on the health and wellbeing of our employees and are most proud of the number of employees who are engaged and participate in the initiatives we offer.
Programs in place since: 2014
Why program started: Our leadership genuinely cares about the health and well-being of every employee. From the top down, they regularly inquire as to a person’s health if there is a concern or that of their family members, supporting not only emotionally but referring additional resources and financially, if necessary.
Participation during work hours: Yes
• • •
200 Dunham Ave., Jamestown |
CEO: Denise Jones
Product/service: Leading provider in Western New York for health, behavioral health and employment for individuals with disabilities and other socio-economic challenges.
Employees: 871
Founded: 1958
Top three executives: Kelly Dimitri, COO; Heather Brown, AED program operations
HR: Rhonda Howard
Top wellness activities: Monthly lunch and learns that provide comprehensive health and wellness education on the social determinants of health; regular internal and external challenges; self-directed wellness plans developed with assistance from an internal certified health coach.
Biggest benefits: When a company invests in a wellness program, the biggest plus is that it shows how much employees are valued and cared for. Healthy employees tend to be happier and more productive. It is great to see the sense of engagement and camaraderie that results.
Programs in place since: 2013
Why program started: TRC’s wellness program was created to address the social determinants of health and improve the overall health and wellness of employees through increased accountability and greater affordability.
Rewards or recognition: The greatest reward is the long-term benefits of healthy lifestyle choices and habits. In addition to the natural, intrinsic benefits, members earn incentive points toward tiered savings on health insurance premiums and/or prizes from an incentive catalog.
Participation during work hours: Flexibility is key in bringing all the benefits of the wellness program to staff. Health Coaches will meet a person where they are, both figuratively and physically. Generally, activities and meetings are encouraged during work hours.
Here’s some advice: It is crucial to have buy-in and participation from top level management. Staff are motivated when they see members of management actively participating, as it demonstrates that they are supportive and truly care about staff and the wellness program. It is important to listen to employees to determine what they want and need in a wellness program. It is also helpful to collaborate with community partners in order to maximize available resources.
Business First once again will honor 40 Western New Yorkers under 40 years old for their professional success and community involvement. Nominate today!
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