Tommy Harmon, President and CEO of Sonnax Industries, with Congressman Peter Welch during a tour of the company’s facilities in Bellows Falls in
Tommy Harmon, President and CEO of Sonnax Industries, with Congressman Peter Welch during a tour of the company's facilities in Bellows Falls in September. (Kayla Rice/Reformer)

BELLOWS FALLS -- Vermont Business Magazine recently named an employee-owned company in the village as one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont.

Sonnax Industries, Inc. had won the honor in 2012, which was the first time it participated in the annual statewide survey and awards program recognizing company workplace excellence. The company creates high-precision parts for the automotive aftermarket.

"The entire team at Sonnax is very proud and honored to receive this award," Sonnax President and CEO Tommy Harmon said in a statement. "I believe this award represents success in executing one of the strategies of our mission statement: 'Provide our employees with a rewarding career experience that is respectful and challenging.'"

According to Sonnax, the Vermont Business Magazine's awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in the state, benefiting its economy, its workforce and businesses. The program is presented in partnership with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Vermont Department of Labor, the Vermont Department of Economic Development, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) -- Vermont State Council and Best Companies Group.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) visited Sonnax in September and toured its facility. He said he marvels at how the company is run by its own employees and the success story it tells.

"I'm excited about it," he said when the Reformer informed him of the fact. "They always focus on quality and the employees tend to be there for a long time. This is great news."

Welch said honors like this one enhance Windham County's reputation as a good place to do business and will likely encourage other enterprises to set up shop here. He said the way Sonnax is managed helped it prosper during the economic collapse and the near collapse of the American automotive industry.

Sonnax was founded in 1978 and become 100-percent employee-owned in 2010. It is headquartered in Bellows Falls and maintains sales offices and technical centers throughout the world.

Companies across the state began the two-part process in 2013 to determine the Best Places to Work in Vermont. The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company's workplace policies, practices, philosophy, systems and demographics. The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final rankings. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process in Vermont, analyzed the data and used its expertise to determine the final rankings.

"We already believed we were one of the best places to work in Vermont, and receiving this recognition confirms that belief," Harmon said.

There were 27 businesses named as Best Places to Work in Vermont.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.