Florida Company to Give Away 2 Mortgage-Free Homes to Employees in Random Drawing

One Florida company is looking to show appreciation for its employees with drawings that won't raffle off gift cards or T-shirts, but two mortgage-free homes.

The announcement from Mechanical One, which furnishes new developments with air conditioning and plumbing, comes as the U.S. contends with a labor shortage and many companies are offering enhanced benefits to entice workers to join their ranks and stay with them.

To qualify for the drawing, Mechanical One employees must be with the company for a full year and complete 20 hours of community service at their nonprofit of choice. Because it's still a relatively new company after beginning operations in July, no employees qualify yet for the drawing, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

President and CEO Jason James announced the drawing during a December 4 gathering of employees. He told the Sentinel that the privately held company of nearly 100 people is planning to hold the drawing next December.

James said that he considered offering other incentives like a car or vacation but settled on the idea of houses because he wanted his workers to be able to enjoy their homes. He noted that while many employees already own a home, "a lot" of them are renters.

"My passion is really trying to reinvent employee appreciation," James said. "Our business model is really, if we take care of our people, they are going to do more for us than any marketing budget."

Workers must also take a financial literacy course, paid for by Mechanical One, to qualify for the drawing.

"They get a financial education, which helps them get to the goal of owning their own home anyway, and it has an impact on the community," James said.

Company New Home Raffle
Mechanical One, a Florida company that furnishes new developments with air conditioning and plumbing, is looking to show appreciation for its employees with drawings for two mortgage-free homes. The company bought two lots for the three-bedroom, two-bath homes and set aside a $500,000 budget for the project.

The company bought two lots for the three-bedroom, two-bath homes and set aside a $500,000 budget for the project.

The home giveaway is another in a series of steps companies have taken this year to fight against what some call the Great Resignation. Many workers who left jobs during the pandemic have not returned, and a survey by business consultants PwC found that 65 percent of employees are searching for a new job.

Many fast food chains have offered signing bonuses and corporations including Costco, Amazon and Chipotle have raised their minimum wages to $15 an hour or more.

James, 40, told the Sentinel he was inspired to create a company with an employee focus after a stint with Chick-fil-A, which has twice-yearly outings for employees and their families and has a low-cost health care plan.

He had been working in HVAC and plumbing for about six years before starting his own company.

James said he and other new CEOs are part of a changing of the guard in the industry, incorporating more smart technology in buildings and with a keener eye on the labor pool.

"There's a labor shortage in these trades because they're skilled," he said. "You've got to have quite a lot of exposure and training to understand these systems."

Anthony Mitchell, Central Florida plumbing operations manager for Mechanical One, said excitement is already high throughout the company.

"There's nothing like coming home to the wife and saying, 'Honey, I'm bringing home a new house,'" he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.