The Middleby Corp. appeared on Forbes list of Top Employers for 2021. The list is published in the midst of a labor shortage impacting all industries as companies struggle to recruit and retain workers.

Forbes partnered with Statista to interview 150,000 part- and full-time employees of multinational companies in 58 different countries. Participants rated their employers based on if they would recommend them to their friends and families and were asked to comment on past employers that stood out, both negatively and positively. Survey participants were also asked to evaluate their employers based on image, economic footprint, talent development, gender equality and social responsibility.

The Middleby Corp. supplies equipment and processing solutions in the food and beverage industries in three platforms: residential, foodservice and food processing. The multinational company represents more than 100 companies and brands within these platforms.

Clay Miller, president of Burford Corp., one of the many companies Middleby has acquired, says that Middleby stands out because, despite being a large publicly traded company, it doesn’t feel that to its employees.

“They have a very lean corporate structure in Illinois, and they empower the brands to run their respective corners of the business,” he says. He added this lean and flexible business model enables individual brands such as Burford to pivot quickly to meet customer needs.

In a sense, corporate Middleby largely allows its acquired brands to do what is best while providing a global footprint and resources to strengthen and foster growth.

“We’re all working within the same industry— food and beverage — but we’re individual brands that get to retain our founding cultures and histories,” Miller says.

This creates a very diverse Middleby network with unique perspectives.

“At the core of Middleby is innovation, and they definitely encourage it,” Miller says. “But corporate understands that innovation inherently comes with a risk of failure. That allows us to make quick decisions at the local level because you know that if you’re going in the direction of innovation, you’ll get support from corporate and satisfy the customer.”

As a company that has grown through acquisitions, it would be easy for Middleby to shoehorn smaller companies into its own culture, but Mr. Miller said that’s not the goal and that’s what has made the company gain this level of attention.

“The mindset is not to merge and create something huge in Chicago,” he says. “There’s no merging, no relocation. You’re in your local community where your brand means something. The idea is to grow and enhance what you already have.”