Evolution Wireless, a local authorized seller for Metro PCS, has been nominated for the 2013 Secretary of Defense Freedom Award.
The award recognizes employers who provide exceptional support and service to employees who are in the National Guard or Reserves. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) sponsors the annual contest.
A total of 2,899 businesses from across the country have been nominated this year, including nine from across Rhode Island.
Enrique Rodriguez, a sales representative at the Warwick Mall location, nominated Evolution Wireless. Rodriguez is a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
“I nominated them because they never made it an issue,” said Rodriguez in a phone call. “Anytime I’ve ever needed time off, there were no questions asked.”
As a member of the Reserves, Rodriguez is required to participate in an annual two-week training session and must serve one weekend a month. Rodriguez says he is required to do something Marine-related 11 months a year.
“They’ve never complained about it,” said Rodriguez.
While on other interviews, Rodriguez often felt employers were hesitant to hire him because he would require so much time off, but that was not the case with Evolution Wireless.
“We understand at Evolution Wireless that when people get a job here, it may not be a permanent job,” said Mike Cobbs, Evolution Wireless district manager. “We allow for employees to pursue things they are passionate about. [Being a Marine] is something Enrique is passionate about.”
Cobbs explained that the employees at Evolution Wireless are one large family and have a special team mentality. Rearranging the schedule to accommodate Rodriguez’s Marine duties is not an issue or a concern.
“We schedule accordingly,” said Cobbs.
As for the business’ nomination, Cobbs is speechless and honored.
“It’s definitely a humbling experience,” said Cobbs. “It is humbling to receive anything.”
Evolution Wireless was nominated in the small employer division; other divisions are large employer and public employer. Rhode Island companies nominated include Cranston Public Schools, CVS/Caremark and Twin River.
“We are grateful to the 2013 nominees for providing our Citizen Warriors with the assistance and encouragement they rely on while answering the call of duty,” said ESGR National Chair James Rebholz in a press release.
According to Beth Sherman of ESGR Public Affairs, only a guardsman, reservist or family of the service member can nominate employers. The nominator must write a letter explaining why the employer deserves to be nominated and send it to the local chapter of ESGR. The letter is then scored, and the top three employers in each division from each state are nominated.
Sherman explained that the nominations are scored based on a variety of factors, including employer policies and programs that support employees, families and the military community as a whole.
Following the initial nomination, the letters will be scored again and roughly three employers from each state will be named semi-finalists on April 23.
In mid-May, 30 finalists will be announced (the top 10 in each division).
Finally, sometime this summer, up to 15 winners will be named. The Freedom Award recipients will then be invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C. later this year.
According to Sherman, in 2005, Citizens Financial Group Inc. became the state’s first and only recipient of a Freedom Award. Last year, however, Cranston Public Schools was in the Top 30.