ST. LOUIS—Companies spend a lot of time and effort developing vision statements to drive their success. Clark Reed, co-owner (with son Oliver Reed) of Reed Rubber, believes one of the many reasons his company continues to be awarded Best Places to Work is because of its "simple and compelling vision statement."
Best Places to Work: ‘Simple, compelling' vision defines Reed Rubber
BEST PLACES TO WORK
For the 2023 Best Places to Work, Rubber News is publishing features—in no particular order—on each of the nine companies honored until we reveal this year's No. 1 Best Place to Work on Friday, March 3.
"The company's vision statement says we will help our customers, our employees and our community succeed and minimize our impact on the environment," Clark Reed said in an email interview. "In addition, we respond quickly to our employees' suggestions. Our production manager encourages our operators to identify whatever bugs them about their work and then we work hard to fix it. Being responsive encourages employees to volunteer more and more ideas at the ground level, and this drives continuous improvement."
Reed Rubber is celebrating its 101st year, having been founded by Reed's grandfather in 1922.
Starting with just two or three employees at the time of startup as the Reed Rubber Co., it grew to over 60 employees. In 2008, Reed Rubber Products split off from Reed Rubber Co. to focus on producing extrusions. Reed Rubber Products has more than doubled its number of employees since its beginnings.
Today, the company produces thermoplastic rubber extrusions, primarily for the fenestration (windows and doors) and HVAC markets, and offers expert engineering design services. Reed mentioned they also perform some related fabrication of these extrusions, such as cut-to-length, hole punching and splicing.
Reed shared several ways the company provides helpful services for employees, including:
- Sponsoring free vision exams and prescription safety glasses;
- Bringing in licensed nurses to offer flu shots and measure blood pressure;
- Offering barbecue lunches; and
- Sponsoring charity volunteer days and toy drives
"The volunteer days help the community, but I think it also creates an esprit de corps among the employees," Clark Reed said. "We also communicate company progress through daily huddles and monthly all-employee meetings to convey that we are serious about furthering our mission/vision statement. Out of that, we believe employees become more engaged. However, that is the hoped-for benefit, not the end in itself.
"We treat our employees with respect and try to further their personal and professional success in life. I like to think that we respond to employee suggestions, are transparent with employees on company objectives and metrics, and have a vision that is easy to understand and appeals to all the stakeholders."
Keeping an eye on the future is always important to any company's growth. Reed mentioned that staying focused on particular markets and making sure technology is up to date has been important to Reed Rubber Products' growth.
Last year, the company narrowed its sales outreach to just fenestration and HVAC, when previously it pursued a half-dozen other markets. It also changed the sales incentive program to increase base pay dramatically and divide sales commissions from a common bonus pool among all business development managers versus having individually assigned accounts.
This year, Reed Rubber Products is installing new ERP software, which Reed Rubber said "will be a major investment in both time and money."
Reed is especially keen on the company's future focus. He plans to retire at the end of the year and has been thinking a lot about legacy, and hopes employees, customers and the community remembers Reed Rubber Products warmly.
"There is nothing more important to me personally than this," Clark Reed said.
To him, having Reed Rubber ranked as one of the Best Places to Work is an important indicator of how the company has remained true to its values over the years.
"It is very gratifying to have made the short list of the Best Places to Work for four years in a row. As I step back and the next generation takes over, it helps assure me that the company's values are consistent and will continue in the decades ahead," Reed said.
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