EC Hall of Fame: Deutschmann sees employees as equals

Profit-sharing, full health coverage, home-buying grants among LetterLogic benefits

The Nashville Entrepreneur Center is more than a place for visionary business people and companies. The Trolley Barns facility also has a hall of fame. The range and depth of the Nashville entrepreneurial community is on display with the hall’s inductees, who made their mark in fields that include publishing, hospital management, finance, fulfillment and music business. Combined, the honorees have created thousands of jobs nationwide — but also close to home.

Nashville Post commends this quintet of entrepreneurs for their work and the legacies they have created.

It is uncommon for high-powered company presidents to acknowledge, with no sense of insecurity, that they have shortcomings. It is even more unusual, if not rare, for them to say, at least publicly, they value their employees as much as their customers.

Sherry Stewart Deutschmann is anything but typical. The founder and president of Letter Logic, for example, allows her employees far more flexibility than do most companies.

“Foremost, because it has defined us, our employee-centric culture is innovative, especially in a manufacturing/service environment,” Deutschmann told the Post during an interview for our Most Powerful Women issue that ran earlier this year.

Of note, LetterLogic pays employees by the mile if they walk or bike to work and has installed a shower for those who do so. Similarly, LetterLogic encourages the use of public transportation by providing free bus/train passes for all employees to use any time, 24/7.

There is more. Ten percent of LetterLogic profits are given to the employees monthly, split evenly regardless of job or title. The company provides grants that can be used toward first-home purchases. Employees can bring their kids and pets to work. LetterLogic provides tuition assistance and mentoring and financial assistance to budding entrepreneurs. Lastly, and almost unheard of, the company covers all health insurance premium payments for its employees.

“When people hear about our employee benefits, they are dumbfounded,” Stewart added. “It actually takes a few minutes for them to grasp.  But, within seconds, they begin smiling and nodding and understanding that this is the way to do business.”

Deutschmann’s charmingly quirky persona draws folks to her.

“Sherry is a great executive because she doesn’t see herself as an executive,” Ron Samuels, chairman and CEO of Avenue Bank, told the Post.

Located near Greer Stadium, LetterLogic frequently has been ranked among Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing private companies. Deutschmann said the company grew revenues by 25 percent in 2012 and expects at least such percentage growth by year’s end.