SAS Civilization

The SAS Institute sounds like one of the best companies to work for.  It was ranked #3 as the countries best company to work for in Forbes magazine in 1998.  People love it there and there is only a turnover rate of about 4% annually.  What it really comes down to is SAS invests in their employees and they give them every opportunity to succeed.  They hire fun and happy people and they allow them to do their job.  They give them the tools they need and their employees thrive under those conditions.  There is no stress.  The employees do not have to worry about bonuses, commission, health care, retirement, childcare, fitness facilities, and food at work to name a few.  They also leave nothing to chance through out sourcing, they do everything themselves, whether it is publishing, programming, health care, and childcare.  They have their own printing department, development team, doctors and nurses, and child care employees and facility.

As I read this case, I was becoming more impressed after every page.  The CEO Goodnight had everything figured out when he “purchased” the rights from North Carolina State.  What I think was the best thing for this company was that they did not go public.  As the study said, they have never owed money.  Everything was profit and they have been able to reinvest 30% of their profit annually on product development so they do not fall behind their “competitors.”  Most of their competitors are their customers anyways.  They have been growing dramatically year after year.

One of the last things I am going to comment on is the compensation.  They are not a publicly traded company, so there are not stock options and there is also no commission on sales.  They are given a 15% revenue sharing for retirement.  Their sales teams are encouraged to build great customer relations so their customers renew their licensing agreements every year.  They are not sent out in the field looking for commissions because there are none.  Don’t get me wrong they actively sell, but their emphasis is on building a lasting friendship and commitment to their customers.  All of their employees are paid a competitive salary and they receive a performance-based bonus and raise every year.

As I read more and more into SAS, it started to sound like SAS was it’s own civilization.  I started to think it was to good to be true and SAS started to sound like a cult.  I know it is a bad thing to say, but it seems everything their employees do is involved with SAS.   If an employee does not like their job, they can transfer to another department so they do not have to the leave the “SAS Family.”  They have a 200-acre complex with it’s own lake and park and employees are encouraged to use the facility on the weekend.  They have their own health care center, fitness facility, junior and senior high school and dining room where you can bring your family.  They offer scholarships and you can even buy land parcels from them at a discounted price.  Goodnight began to sound like the all knowing and powerful ruler who does what he wants and everyone follows like sheep.

As for modifying the organization, I would not change a thing.  Reinvesting 30% annually will get them to wherever the market wants to take them.  They are going to hire so many new employees that they will be able to come up with some great new ideas.  The only problem I see happening is what do they do when Goodnight leaves.  It is his business and he has to pass it down eventually.  The new CEO is going to have to be someone very important to the company who believes in the same things as Goodnight, like the Vice President of H.R.

I am pretty sure SAS is not a cult and it is a great place to work.  If they had a job for me I would drop everything and move to Cary, North Carolina in a heartbeat, but I do not think it would happen.  I do not know much about computers anyways.


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