News Archives

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How Was Your Lunch Today?

For 27 VAA employees, lunch was spent learning life-saving CPR / AED techniques. Saving a life can happen any place, any time at any age.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) kills more than 350,000 Americans every year and the national survival rate is less than 10 percent. Did you know SCA is not the same as a heart attack? This unexpected medical emergency kills more than 7,000 seemingly young, healthy kids every year.

As part of their ‘Heart Safe Plymouth’ initiative, the Plymouth Rotary Club provided compression-only CPR and AED training. By participating in the training, VAA contributed to the City of Plymouth continuing its ‘Heart Safe’ community designation adding to the number of area residents and organizations educated in CPR / AED use. Since the program began seven years ago, the Rotary Club has taught 5,700 people and held 200 training sessions. Lub-dub!


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High Five for Five Productive Years as Mary Pettit Retires

Since Human Resources (HR) Manager Mary Pettit, PHR, SHRM-CP, joined VAA five years ago, the number of employees increased by 65 percent and the firm’s uptick in HR initiatives have made it an even better place to work. Mary retired in mid-March after building upon the HR structure and policies in place by her predecessor.  

“I like to develop people and it has been so rewarding to build an HR team that supports our employees and Partners,” said Mary. “I’m a good listener and I developed good relationships with employees because they know they can talk to me.”

Among the influential changes that occurred on her watch, a high-deductible health plan and generous company-sponsored HSA were introduced the year Mary started as she helped educate employees on the details. Mary also introduced Predictive Index, a behavioral assessment that aids in hiring, team building and conflict resolution.

Other milestones include an expanded Wellness and Outreach Program, including volunteer opportunities with Feed My Starving Children, True Friends, Habitat for Humanity and many others to enhance community engagement; charitable paid time off (PTO); and on-site bio-screening that provides employees with confidential health information such as blood pressure, cholesterol level and BMI.

A Peer Welcome Group was also established to help connect and on-board new employees and make them feel welcome. The Group serves as a resource to field questions as employees begin their career with the firm.

“VAA employees embrace the work HR performs and Mary has been key to the evolution of the HR department by applying policies fairly and consistently in the warm way that she is known for,” said Partner, Mark Mielke, PE, P.Eng. “Mary has advanced who we are at VAA and helped us evolve into a more effective organization by helping solve issues and identifying challenges that can threaten our culture. She has remained an advocate for all employees with her sincerity and patient demeanor.”

President Keith Jacobson, PE, “we wanted someone who was passionate, professional and capable. Mary has done a great job helping us grow and hire a lot of great people. She cares immensely and really connected with our employees.”

In retirement, Mary plans to volunteer, garden, travel, serve as caregiver for her mom and enjoy some pontoon time with her adult children. “Whenever employees leave they say they’ll miss the people the most, and it’s also true for me. We have wonderful people and VAA is a great place to work.”

We thank Mary for being a tireless professional, a caring leader who enhanced our VAA environment and we wish her well as she shows us how much fun is possible in retirement.

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Gene Haldorson Retires as VAA's Longest Tenured Employee