I knew if we were going to be the state's association of manufacturers, we were going to have to go to the manufacturers of Missouri. Meet with them. Have good conversations. Know what they make. Understand their challenges. Learn about their history.
So not long after jumping into the role of executive director, I found myself in the car. I was told to be there by 8:00am. "Don't want you to miss our morning meeting". A manufacturer of around 180 employees, I figured the "morning meeting" was a managers gathering to plan out the day's schedule, etc. Nope.
Soon after arriving, we headed to the shop floor. This is a sizable facility. Folks were gathering around various monitor stations throughout the building, visiting with each other, joking around. "Your morning meetings are with everyone? Every employee?", I asked. "Absolutely", was the response.
We were greeted by an individual on the screen, someone who worked on the floor. "Good morning," he welcomed everyone. He started with a few photos of his family, activities he enjoys, a new baby on the way. I learned that every employee was encouraged to be a daily moderator.
From there, the floor was open to anyone for shoutouts and thank you's - acknowledging other's help and support for various projects or tasks.
It had been a while since I had been in the shop of a manufacturers, but this was not what I remembered the environment being, not what I expected to experience.
Data was shared, goals met or missed from the previous day, how that translated to dollars and the financial impact. Videos of improvements made by individuals were shared so that others might benefit. Some of these improvements were small, while others were on a larger scale. All were acknowledged and celebrated.
There were company announcements, introduction of visitors, stretching and recognitions - taking around 30 minutes. "You do this everyday?", I asked. "Everyday."
At the end of the morning meeting, everyone was dismissed to "clean". Fifteen minutes to clean - your work space, the aisles, vacuum the office hallways and clean the bathrooms. "Everyone cleans the bathroom", I was told. Everyone.
"We don't have a custodial staff. We all share in that responsibility. It is understood and made clear in the interview process. It is our culture." And the place was clean - the entire facility.
I learned about what they manufacturer, and what they believe makes their products better, their constant process improvement mindset, their thinking and their mission. This was not the experience I was necessarily anticipating.
- Manufacturers are passionate and proud people
- Take care of your people
- Manufacturing is not necessarily dark and dirty
- Love those morning meetings