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Saturday, May 28, 2022

High Marks on ‘Treating Employees Like Adults’

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Anaheim-based drug maker Questcor Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s work environment is a mix of professionalism, perks and what its chief executive calls “treating employees like adults.”

The mix works—Questcor topped this year’s rankings in the large-companies category of the Business Journal’s annual Best Places to Work list (see list, beginning on page 40).

Questcor makes H.P. Acthar Gel, an injectable drug approved for 19 uses. Questcor primarily sells the drug for treating nephrotic syndrome, a kidney disorder, and multiple sclerosis flare-ups. It also has run a trial program for rheumatoid arthritis.

The company has 273 workers in the U.S., with most located in Hayward in Northern California. About 20 of them, including Chief Executive Don Bailey, work in Orange County.

Rosie Hatch, a project analyst who works in the company’s Anaheim office, says Questcor is “the best company I’ve ever worked for.”

Promoted

Hatch started at the company in August 2011 as an entry-level receptionist. She was promoted to her current job in January.

“I started working on other projects for different individuals in different departments,” Hatch said. “They promoted me from there to project analyst. So I was given a great opportunity to build my resume.”

Hatch said she liked working at Questcor “because indirectly, I feel like I’m helping people.”

Bailey said fostering a quality workplace environment is a “major function” of the drug maker’s senior management team.

“We want our people to feel like they’re treated like professionals,” Bailey said. “People like to be treated as adults, and that often means saying please and thank you.”

Questcor’s benefits include a PPO healthcare plan that’s completely paid for by the company, with vision and dental that comes on the first day of employment. Employees contribute only to the cost of covering other family members.

“Our health benefits are probably the best that I’ve ever had,” Hatch said.

Matching Plan

The company also provides life insurance and a 401(k) retirement plan featuring matching contributions of up to 6% of an employee’s salary.

Employees also are offered a stock-purchase plan from day one that allows workers to buy shares at a 15% discount.

“We want people to feel like owners, and it starts right from the beginning,” Bailey said.

Also part of the Questcor experience: a fitness trainer, who comes in on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to teach classes and work with employees. Questcor’s Anaheim office has two areas filled with treadmills, weights and other exercise equipment.

“Google-Like”

Marilee Moy, the company’s vice president of human resources, said Questcor is “somewhat Google-like” in providing snacks and drinks to employees, a common practice in Silicon Valley. There also are free car washes once a month.

Hatch said such “little perks” are unique in her work experience to date.

The work environment also is important to Questcor, Moy said.

“We really try to make working for Questcor special for people,” said Moy, who joined Questcor three months ago and works from Hayward. “The facilities are really attractive. I’ve been to all of them now. Last week, I went to our Maryland facility for the first time. There’s a very modern, professional look and feel to each of these offices.”

Questcor’s personal touch even extends to the road.

Bailey said that he often will take Questcor employees out for breakfast, lunch or dinner when he’s traveling around the country.

And he’s also taken job applicants into various meetings and ride-alongs when he’s been out in the field.

“People love going out with the CEO when I’m doing my job,” Bailey said.

Questcor tries to keep its workers’ families in mind, such as when it sent home iPads to celebrate the drug maker’s performance last year.

“So the kids could fight over it,” Bailey joked.

Company executives believe in keeping a calm course, even during trying times. Questcor has seen its stock price gyrate in recent weeks.

Setbacks have included company criticism by short-selling bloggers on investment websites, news of a government probe of its marketing practices, and an announcement by Aetna Inc. of a decision to restrict insurance coverage for Acthar to the relatively rare condition of infantile spasms.

“Shenanigans with Wall Street certainly have an impact on employees,” Bailey said. “So the best thing to do is communicate.”

He added that Questcor strives to inform its work force within 48 hours after relevant news hits, either in meetings or conference calls.

“The main thing is let people ask questions,” Bailey said.

Bailey is a Yorba Linda resident who moved Questcor’s corporate office to OC in 2010. He previously commuted by air to Hayward.

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