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PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR Finalists

Corporate 401(k) >$10MM - $50MM

JX Enterprises

Eric Jorgensen

TOTAL PLAN ASSETS/PARTICIPANTS: $31,292,828/700

PARTICIPATION RATE: 93.7%

AVERAGE DEFERRAL RATE: 6.92%

DEFAULT DEFERRAL RATE: 6% 

EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION: 3.5%

Back in 2013, truck dealership JX Enterprises, headquartered in Hartland, Wisconsin, embarked on a journey to drive engagement within its 401(k) plan. By the end of last year, the company had seen its participation rate climb to 93.7%. The average deferral rate rose to 7.19% compared with 5.32% at the same time in 2013, and 80% of associates now have a positive retirement forecast.

 “Our organization has taken a proactive approach to helping our associates secure their financial future through a number of initiatives. We had a hard time getting people to enroll,” recalls Vice President of Human Resources Richard Yezzi Jr. “There wasn’t a good understanding around it, and we weren’t doing anything to drive engagement and understanding of what it could mean for employees.”

In order to turn things around, the company reached out to advisory firm UBS Institutional Consulting Group and recordkeeper Transamerica Retirement Solutions to create an ongoing educational program.

“We hire a number of young folks, and we want them to see the power of compound interest and how just a little bit of money now can turn into a lot of money in the future for them to put toward a secure retirement,” says Yezzi. “If they can’t do a lot now, we recommend they start with 1% and then increase it.”

These sessions are recorded and later posted on the company’s intranet. To reinforce the fundamentals of budgeting, saving and other financial obligations, the firm focuses on a multimedia communication approach reflected through digital and print newsletters, emails and other educational materials sent to employees.

This customized approach works well for JX Enterprises, considering it has employees from multiple states, and some work overnight shifts.

“With 21 locations spread across four states, we have a diverse and scattered population,” explains Yezzi. Even in this digital age, that can make communication difficult. Add on our 24-hour operations, … and that makes ensuring that we take the time to talk to our associates about their own long-term futures all the more difficult.”

The company also holds a second 401(k) session as part of its annual open-enrollment offering—another opportunity to discuss personal retirement goals with a professional.

Wendy Pokorsky, Transamerica relationship manager, says JX Enterprises also allows participants to manage their own retirement through online tools. One tool helps employees track their retirement accounts while also pulling outside savings account and other investment data into the system to get a clearer picture of their progress.

“The engagement is what I’m most excited about because a lot of people are logging in and asking questions and looking for ways to do better,” says Yezzi. “It’s been great to see that shift in mentality to excitement and enthusiasm behind the plan.”

Automatic enrollment and escalation features have also improved metrics in JX Enterprises’ 401(k) plan. The company introduced an auto-escalation program in 2014 before increasing the auto-enrollment deferral rate from 3% to 6%. Last January, it initiated a re-enrollment program in which anyone contributing less than 6%, or who was not contributing at all, was automatically re-enrolled at a 6% contribution level. At the same time, the company increased its company match to 3.5% and increased the cap on its auto-escalation program from 6% to 10%. Javier Simon

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