2020 PLAN SPONSOR OF THE YEAR
Corporate 401(k) <$25MM

American Metals Supply Co. Inc.

FINALIST
Chrissy Nardini
President
  • Plan(s)
    401(k)
  • Total Plan Assets
    $24.3MM
  • Number of Participants
    110
  • Participation Rate
    92%
  • Average Deferral Rate
    6.3%
  • Default Deferral Rate
    6%
  • Default Investment
    T. Rowe Price Retirement Target-Date Fund
  • Automatic Enrollment
  • Automatic Escalation
  • Employer Contribution
    100% match of 6% + possible profit sharing, up to 6% Provider(s): Recordkeeper, Fidelity; Adviser, UBS
  • Provider(s)
    Recordkeeper, Fidelity Investments; Adviser, UBS
  • Financial Wellness Educator(s)
    Fidelity Investments


The single-largest account-balance holder—with more than $2 million saved for retirement—is not an owner or an executive, just a long-tenured employee who saved year after year.

“Millionaire status” may seem like an impossible goal, but at American Metals Supply Co. Inc., a metals distributor headquartered in Springfield, Illinois, employees feel confident they can reach it by retirement. In fact, the single-largest account-balance holder—with more than $2 million saved for retirement—is not an owner or an executive, just a long-tenured employee who saved year after year.One reason for such high balances is the company’s generous 6% dollar-for-dollar match, plus possible 6% profit sharing, allowing employees who take advantage of the match to save a total of 18% toward their future. In addition, the company offers a $1,000 health savings account (HSA) match. 

“It’s pretty unheard of these days, even in much larger companies than ours … so it’s something we really have as a point of pride,” President Chrissy Nardini says of the match and profit sharing. “It ties back to our core values: the commitment to improving employees’ lives.”

Nardini works hard to educate her predominantly hourly, blue-collar workforce about the match. For instance, she emphasizes the value of the match offered in American Metals’ 401(k) plan and explains that it is much more powerful, down the line, than slightly higher hourly pay at another company might be. “We try to give lots of different illustrations [from recordkeeper Fidelity] of the power of compounding,” she says. 

American Metals began with just a profit-sharing plan but added the 401(k) in the early 2000s, she says. During the 2009 economic recession, when American Metals’ business went backward 30%, Nardini says, the company still offered the profit sharing plus the 401(k) match. “We’ve never deviated from that match or profit sharing,” she says.

The sponsor also doesn’t allow 401(k) loans, which helps participants build savings, over time. “I might feel differently about the loans if I did 25 cents to their dollar [match],” Nardini says. “Ultimately, I know we’re doing the right thing in the long run.”

To aid employees who may fall on difficult times and request a loan, the company instead has an employee hardship fund, with assistance through United Way, which it began offering in 2016. Fidelity also offers tools to help an employee create his own personal financial statement so he can see a profile of his entire assets, plus debts, and create a plan to accumulate more savings. 

“I think the main message is meeting people where they’re at in their overall journey,” says Kristin Wessels, director, relationship management at Fidelity. 

American Metals works closely with adviser Greg Power of UBS, who meets with participants one-on-one. He also ensures the 401(k) plan is at the forefront of all design standards with features such as Roth plan accounts added a year ago, as well as automatic enrollment that begins at 6%. 

American Metals also transitioned its HSAs from regular bank savings accounts to Fidelity a year ago; this streamlines things for employees who want to log in and see the balances of both plans in one place. “So we encourage them to think of that as another route of savings they can have in the future,” Nardini says of having an HSA. “Showing them the power of what you can do between those two accounts for the future.”

It’s all adding up: Today, more than 70% of participants have a total savings rate of 15% or more when factoring in the employer match. In addition, the average participant balance is nearly $215,000.

“It’s really about making sure everybody knows they can save for retirement and be as successful as they want to be,” Wessels says. 

“We sleep well at night knowing we are helping our employees be well-prepared for retirement,” Nardini says.

—Corie Hengst

 

 

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