Meet Wielka Cosgrove, Human Resources Manager
With 37 percent of the commercial and industrial roofing contractor’s workforce being Hispanic, hiring a fluently bilingual claims administrator/HR assistant would benefit the company tremendously. Recognizing this herself, Wielka Cosgrove jumped on board in 2006. “I love that I can help people using my birth language,” she says.
Born in Nicaragua, Wielka’s family came to Cedar Rapids when she was just 9 years old. Spanish was her first language, but it was clear after she moved, that English would quickly need to become her second. With a very small Spanish-speaking population in the community, she picked up English in just three months.
One of Wielka’s fondest memories at D. C. Taylor Co. is when she traveled to each of the company’s other four offices shortly after she was hired. “I translated the Benefit Open Enrollment presentations to Spanish as our Insurance Account Rep did the presentation in English,” she recounts. “For the first time, many of our field personnel realized all the benefits the company provided and that I was truly bilingual and could help them in any way.”
In the 10 years she’s been with the company, Wielka’s bilingual skills have been constantly utilized. “She is an advocate for our Spanish-speaking employees and their families,” confirms Phil Suess, Vice President Human Resources and Finance, Corporate Treasurer. The roofing contractor’s Hispanic workers are sweet and appreciative, often thanking her and calling her an angel. “Maybe they’re having problems finding a doctor or having a claim processed for benefits. Sometimes it’s as simple as an address change. It makes them feel more at ease to do it in Spanish,” she explains.
Helping employees is not only her job, it’s her passion. “She would bend over backwards to help employees,” says Misti Hill, Office Administrative Manager/Receptionist. “She gives praise and makes me feel great about how I’m doing.” Her open-door policy makes her approachable for every employee, not just those on her team. “She is very good at talking to people. They feel very comfortable with her. She has a way of being very personable, while staying professional,” adds Kelsie Hoth, Human Resources Generalist.
Today, as Human Resources Manager, Wielka’s days and weeks are filled with a wide variety of tasks, ranging from recruiting, onboarding, employee training, claims management, benefits, personnel issues … you name it. “There’s not a lot that intimidates her,” says Hoth.
Always striving to improve the workplace and the company’s offerings to employees, Wielka, along with Hoth and executive leadership, is spearheading the company’s newest endeavor: a comprehensive career development program. “Our ultimate goal is that everyone will have a path,” she explains. “We’re starting with the field positions.”
If that program is anything like the wellness initiative that the HR group launched two years ago, success is inevitable. After a preventable illness took the life of an employee, Wielka was motivated to make a difference. “I sat here thinking, ‘what can we do to change this?’ It really broke my heart that we had a person die from high blood pressure that could have been managed,” she says. Making employees aware of at-risk biometrics, issuing health challenges, and promoting workplace wellness have been just a few of the company’s directives. “We had 60-percent participation this year,” Wielka says. The numbers are sure to keep growing.
Her mission to better the lives of employees and their working experience at D. C. Taylor Co. has made her one of the most valued members of the company’s team. On behalf of all those she’s helped, we’d like to say, “Muchas gracias, Wielka!”
Throughout 2016, D. C. Taylor Co. will be honoring its employees by sharing a blog profile of their experiences working for the company each month. We think our people are our most valuable asset. After you meet them, we think you’ll understand why.