Principal

Kelly Zwald and Elissia Schmidt boosted Applied Industrial Technologies’ participation rate from 92% to 97.9% in three years.
Principal, Elissia Schmidt and Kelly Zwald.
Principal, Elissia Schmidt and Kelly Zwald.
  • Client
    Applied Industrial Technologies
  • Industry
    Industrial Distribution
  • Client Headquarters
    Cleveland
  • Plan Assets/Participants
    $715MM/4,400

BIOS: Elissia Schmidt is senior client service manager and has work for Principal for 19 years. Kelly Zwald is senior education strategist and has been with Principal for 17 years.


Applied Industrial Technologies, which distributes industrial supplies and technological solutions, nominated Principal’s Elissia Schmidt, senior client service manager, and Kelly Zwald, senior education strategist, to be a Service Star Team for boosting participation to record highs in three years.

However, Schmidt and Zwald say it was Applied Industrial Technologies’ commitment to its participants throughout the COVID-19 pandemic that really motivated them to remain invested.

“Applied Industrial Technologies didn’t pull back on its dedication to increase participation,” Zwald says. “This shows how much they care about their employees’ future.”

As to why the organization was interested in promoting participation, Schmidt says it realized that “increase deferral” campaigns of past years had not worked and wanted to take a new approach.

Zwald and Schmidt boosted the participation numbers through educational touchpoints such as merit and promotion-based increase reminders, lost match notifications, and publishing content to the company’s social collaboration site.

Through its work with Principal, Applied also decided to automatically enroll all employees who weren’t already saving through the 401(k) plan. By communicating the decision in an intentional manner, Applied says the majority of impacted employees made the choice to keep saving once enrolled.

Lee Barney

E_NOTICE Error in file footer.php at line 224: Undefined variable: tag_list