Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • January 2016
Written by 

Bassett Mechanical Named Compassionate Employer for 2015

The Jay Sauter family experienced such intense caring and concern last year from Jay’s employer, Bassett Mechanical, that they nominated the Kaukauna company for the 2015 Compassionate Employer Award. Bassett, winner of many industry awards, now holds this title, setting it apart among northeast Wisconsin employers.

Founders of the award, New North B2B magazine and Community Benefit Tree, Inc., intended the prize to recognize companies who have gone above and beyond their usual policies to help an employee struggling with a severe medical crisis.

Heidi Frederickson, executive director of Community Benefit Tree, said, “Employers who go above and beyond their normal policies to help employees struggling through a medical crisis deserve to be acknowledged.”

Sean Fitzgerald, publisher of New North B2B, added, “Our hope is that the Compassionate Employer Award becomes more pervasive among northeast Wisconsin employers. We hope that more companies will recognize the importance of having policies in place to work with valued employees who may have to temporarily shift their attention to more personal matters when illness or injury affects their own health or that of a family member.”

The experience was a positive for the company as well, Patty Van Ryzin, Bassett’s VP of Human Resources, believes. “Being involved in the journey with Jay and his family brought everyone closer together. It gave us a greater appreciation of our caring environment and a reminder to appreciate it every day.”

Sauter was easy to like and, Van Ryzin said, “He handled his illness with such grace and dignity. He never once complained and always focused on what he needed to do next. One of his goals was to take a family cruise with his wife and daughters, his parents and his brother. When he got back, we all enjoyed seeing the wonderful pictures and memories created for his family.”

The trip meant even more to the Sauter family because their older daughter, Elizabeth, is a vocalist and music director on the cruise line. Kris and her daughters now have pictures and memories of Jay in flip-flops, Hawaiian shirts and swim trunks, and a wide-brimmed hat, all given to him by Bassett coworkers wishing him the best.

When Kathryn, the Sauters’ younger daughter, participated in the Relay for Life at St. Norbert College to benefit the American Cancer Society, Van Ryzin said, “She set a goal of $500. We did a used inventory auction and gave her a check for over $5,000.”

In the end, Kathryn raised more than $15,000 in the Relay, as members of the Bassett leadership team cheered on the family and even walked in the event to show support.

“I can’t even put into words what their care and concern meant to our family,” said Kris Sauter. “There probably wasn’t a day that went by that Jay didn’t receive cards, notes, emails or texts. They did a lot to keep his spirits alive and provide humor, a real day brightener when you’re going through all of that.

“I tend to think that Basset has employee longevity because they treat people well and they have a lot of respect for the people who work for them. They value them and let them know they’re important. Through the years we witnessed a lot of other examples when colleagues encountered health difficulties or other challenges and the Bassett team rallied around them to support their families.”

Congratulations to Bassett Mechanical, the very deserving Compassionate Employer of 2015!

Kathi Bloy

The Community Benefit Tree Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization governed by Christian values. Our mission is to help individuals and families struggling with a medical crisis financially, emotionally, spiritually and with practical resources. We celebrate people’s lives and support by helping family, friends or co-workers plan a Celebration of Support event for their loved one. In the last 10 years, these one-day events have helped more than 500 families with funds for living and medical expenses. Community Benefit Tree also provides education, support, resources and financial assistance for families. For more information, visit or contact CBT staff at 920-422-1919.

Kathi Bloy is a freelance writer from Appleton.

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