Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. Reviews | Glassdoor

Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. Reviews

Updated July 6, 2017
16 reviews

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Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. President Edmund O Schweitzer III
Edmund O Schweitzer III
9 Ratings

16 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Work/Life balance doesn't exist (in 13 reviews)

  • It's in a small town with two major universities nearby (in 10 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "Blood is thicker than water"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Specialist in Pullman, WA
    Former Employee - Specialist in Pullman, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Great benefit plan and a great stepping stone onto a real career.

    Cons

    Be sure to get your weekly helping of “juice” at Friday lunch because you are now one of us, welcome to the SEL Cult. Here you will learn that it’s not what you can do for the company but who you are related to, regularly go drinking with, or sleeping with. Having an opinion or an original thought isn’t welcomed, we are blind followers here. You now live and breathe for SEL, want a family life or a social life? Nope, now you are one of us so you don’t need anyone else. This mentality comes from Leadership and it’s not changing because guess what!? They just keep promoting themselves, don’t believe me? Check out the turnover rate for everyone that isn’t management. Wait, did I just have an original thought, oops not welcomed here. SEL will just keep doing the same thing over and over again. Take a leap of faith and go somewhere else who knows you might increase your salary and have something called worklife balance, try it as it’s an amazing thing.

    Advice to Management

    Will they listen? No. Save your opinions because leadership shares a brain and you have to guess who has it today. I'm sure most of the time someone leaves it at home.


  2. Helpful (5)

    "Run fast, run far!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time

    Pros

    There are some nice benefits, such as the health center and the employee stock program. Also, you will work with some very nice, wonderful people.

    Cons

    There are so many reasons to not work at SEL. First of all, don't believe the hype about the values--employees are the only ones who try to live by them. To management, you are a replaceable part and a number. It doesn't matter how hard you work or how loyal you are to the company--they are willing to fire you at any time if you get on the wrong person's bad side. In many departments, it is a culture of fear, where people keep quiet in fear that if they say something, they will be let go. Overtime is pretty much expected, especially with salaried employees. The vacation time and sick leave are stingy. I could go on and on, but in short, if I knew what I know about SEL today when I was looking at the job, I would not take it.

    Advice to Management

    Live by the values and treat employees like they are important. There is a huge mismatch between what you say you do and what you actually do.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "Must drink the cool-aid to fit in"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant
    Current Employee - Administrative Assistant
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Good Benefits and pay for the location.

    Cons

    It is like a cult.

    Advice to Management

    lighten up a little.


  4. Helpful (5)

    "No work/life balance"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Pullman, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Pullman, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Benefits are decent. Pay, in some areas, is alright. Some great people work there.

    Cons

    It really is out of balance. Weird. Almost cult like, culture. The hourly employees are not treated as well as the exempt employees. The executives come across Like politicians. They talk a great talk, but no follow through. Couldn't take time off to be with my sick grandma because I didn't have enough vacation time.

    Advice to Management

    Look at restructuring. Give the workers some kind of power in the employee owned company. Treat people more humanly.


  5. "Friendly but poorly managed"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Pullman, WA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Pullman, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. (Less than a year)

    Pros

    People were always very friendly

    Cons

    They had no work for me

    Advice to Management

    Make better hiring decisions


  6. Helpful (14)

    "Every job has its Ups and Downs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Moscow, ID
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Moscow, ID
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    SEL is the area's largest private employer. They are technologically advanced for the Palouse. If you want to work in a corporate setting this is the place to be. There are always many positions open and a fair amount of opportunity for growth (for the right person). The medical benefits are by far the best available in Moscow/Pullman. I have learned an outstanding amount at SEL. You are always so busy and it is impossible not to learn! There are also very bright people to work with and some great friends to be made.

    Cons

    The major things that comes to mind when thinking of cons are all the lies and Human Resources whose whole purpose is to further lies instead of advocate for employees. SEL puts extreme focus on its values and running it business like "your mother would want you to." But the values are only applicable in certain settings and are more likely to be used against you than to be followed. And if the way people are treated is how "your mother would want you to," I would rather not meet your mother.

    Human Resources role should at least partially be one of advocating for employees. SEL HR is about making senior management happy regardless of the impact to the employee. Decisions are made on whim and with a "say yes now, think about if makes sense later, leave your employees to clean up the mess" mentality. I would avoid HR.

    Advice to Management

    Accept that you are a large corporation and not a mom/pop shop. Respect your employees and have open/HONEST communication. Investigate HR!! Ask around.

    Keep the great medical benefits, child care center, new product development, and the few amazing leaders you have. Also, remember those leaders are often not managers.


  7. Helpful (8)

    "Lost Direction with Terrible Management"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pullman, WA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pullman, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I have been working at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than 10 years)

    Pros

    Decent benefits, used to be a focused company with fantastic feeling of teamwork and common goals. Still stable employment, nice small university town.

    Cons

    Terrible middle management that takes it's lead from the top management. Middle management is promoted based on technical skills not leadership or management ability. It is a culture of micro management. If you want a place where your skills and ability are constantly questioned and corrected this is the place for you! 100% ESOP company, which means nothing. Ed sold all of his shares to the employees 5 years ago, but make no mistake it is still 100% Ed's company. It's nice to be King and have it both ways! Oh, yea pay on the low side for skilled positions!

    Advice to Management

    Let the talent of the employees shine.

  8. Helpful (1)

    "Excellent Learning experience- Could use an immigration department which actually likes their jobs"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time

    Pros

    Excellent work environment and values. Learning curve of employees goes sky high in no time.

    Cons

    Poor legal department work force. They know what they are supposed to do, but they don't.

    Advice to Management

    Keep your promises to the new hires and update your job descriptions.


  9. Helpful (6)

    "Stable position at a stable company but at below average pay rates."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pullman, WA
    Current Employee - Engineer in Pullman, WA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time (More than 8 years)

    Pros

    -Stable company: Leader in electrical power systems technology.
    -Lot of good, loyal, hardworking folks work here.
    -Good for power engineers starting their careers.
    -Solid customer focus.

    Cons

    -Salary: Sub-standard pay rates when compared to other companies. At the annual performance review, if you meet expectations you get a 1% pay hike! If you exceed expectations you get a 2% increase! This does not even cover the year over year inflation rate. I have seen so many of my co-workers leave to other companies because of this reason.
    -Employee Development: There is a lack of employee development in the company. Primarily because the company is located close to two colleges, there are plenty of new grads who can be hired for dirt cheap and every two years there is a turnover.
    -HR: Does a brilliant job of brainwashing people into the "company culture". They do a good job of maintaining the company's image in the employee's mind and thereby in the community.
    -Travel: Only power systems engineers or managers get to travel outside the company to meet customers or attend conferences.
    -Small town: Small college town living. Suitable for families but there is not much to do if you are single.

    Advice to Management

    To truly motivate your employees, please stop doing gimmicks like meet-the-execs and filling up employees with HR sunshine. Instead focus on better compensation and employee development. This will lead to lower attrition rates, more innovations and better products.


  10. Helpful (11)

    "Great Products, Poor Work/Life Balance & Micro-Managed"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Professional
    Former Employee - Professional
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Inc. full-time

    Pros

    Probably the best equipment and service in the industry where the company competes- cool technology and a great warranty.

    Some of the best, smart, hard working and dedicated people in the world who are willing to sacrifice a great deal of work-life balance to get the job done.

    Company does some cool things to help people during tragedy's (Both Customers and Employees).

    Tuition Reimbursement program & on-site gym in Pullman

    Cons

    Be prepared to work in an environment that is underfunded and understaffed. Even with talented people working smart and doing significant amounts of extended overtime, we often do not meet our artificial deadlines. There is a very negative fear-based blaming culture and good employees are let go regularly. Sometimes it seems like the project deadlines are set not based on sound reason, but to build on the sel industry legacy at break neck speed.

    It appears that so many sel people are overworked that they get stuck telling new employee candidates that the company is a better place to work than it actually is. But if the hiring manager tells the candidate how much overtime will be required of them, they may lose the candidate and then their department continues to stress in extended overtime and far too many projects in play.

    The company is still run very much like it was from the beginning with the founder very involved with just about everything. It is hard for professionals to develop in an environment of intense micro management. When we add the fear based management approach to the micro-management, it really makes it a difficult place to work and stifles creativity and personal-professional development.

    Housing in Pullman is very expensive and sel's wages are very low within the industry. If you do decide to move to Pullman to work for sel, ensure you rent for at least the first few years. You need that long to determine if it is worth staying.

    sel is a company that has an esop retirement plan tied to their competitive success, but SEL is run/dominated by the founder and his family. The board is far to narrow and does not have the expertise or objective influence to help the company grow in a healthy way.

    Advice to Management

    Add full voting representatives to the Board from an open election from within the company. Add full voting representatives to the Board from other industries and society who can bring a fuller perspective and can mentor and hold the sel Senior Leadership accountable for both successes and breakdowns.

    Encourage all employees to exercise their right to access and read the annual company and esop reports to study them, ask questions and even challenge decisions and expenditures where appropriate.

    Treating our customer's like gold is the right thing to do, now please add treating the employees like gold to this effort. We have heard senior leaders say for years that we should "Do what our mothers would want us to do." For the most part, we do that for our customers, but we miss the boat on employee's. Build the real sel legacy, Invest in your people, bring some reasonable solution to work/life balance and start backing away from the intense micro management.

    Believe in supporting your employees using their vacation time with their friends and family. Protect them while they are on vacation from having to work so much. Yes it is 2013, but burning out the employees does not bode well for having healthy, creative long-term employees.

    Don't settle for good, be great!


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