BRAMPTON, Ontario—Earning a spot as a Rubber News Best Place to Work is a function of policies, practices and employee satisfaction, certainly.
Best Places to Work: Zochem embodies family, community outreach
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.
Just ask Kelran Bess, an employee at Zochem L.L.C.'s 120,000-sq.-ft. plant in Brampton, in the greater Toronto area, who had high praise for the company's inclusion on the 2023 Best Places to Work list.
"A few years ago, I was in deep financial debt," Bess said. "Where I worked before, it did not provide the pay rate I get now. Working for Zochem opened up more opportunities for me."
Bess cited trust and respect, fairness, an open ear and inclusiveness as the 80-person company's top traits.
"I am learning more each and every time I come to work now," Bess said. "Zochem for life ... (because) Zochem changed my life."
Being named to the 2023 list—the third consecutive year Zochem has achieved the Rubber News' list—also is a function of ownership and authorship.
Company President and CEO Mohit Sharma, several years ago, authored a children's book that educates the reader on the zinc oxide industry, and the company donates proceeds from sales of the book to charities.
This year's sales from "Zochy's Adventures with Zinc Oxide," which details all of young Zochy's interactions with products that incorporate zinc oxide (Zochy's mom works at a zinc oxide factory), will go to Miracle on Main, a children's Christmas charity.
Much like the published president, the owners at Zochem, comprising a board of directors from Zochem and Zinc Oxide L.L.C. (which acquired Zochem in 2017), focus on community and family as well.
And those two outreach avenues do not hurt the cause.
"People talk about that it's the employees—it is the employees," Sharma said. "It is all of these things. Our philanthropy as a company, which comes from our directors, this resonates with all of our employees. And the contributions we make is because of their hard work. If they are not successful, if we are not successful, we cannot help our community to have a better holiday season."
Zochem has donated more than $100,000 to United Ways in Tennessee and Toronto, from its 170,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Dickson, Tenn., and its Brampton headquarters.
"We try to provide for people who may not have the means to have a better holiday season," Sharma said. "We make a concerted effort to support those avenues."
He added that Zochem also tries to be mindful of how society impacts employees, effects that never were more evident than during the pandemic and subsequent inflationary concerns.
"We issued extra bonuses to support inflationary challenges as well, and this was for non-management," Sharma said. "You want to keep employees energized."
And healthy, as Zochem boasts a current ticker of 4,000 straight days (at either plant) without an injury.
"We try not to be complacent about that, and we do not take it for granted," Sharma said. "This is another important element of our business."
Zochem sees just under $300 million in sales per year between its two manufacturing sites, producing about 100,000 metric tons of zinc oxide per year (60 percent from Ontario and 40 percent from Tennessee).
The company has a fourth furnace (an investment of about $7 million, made last year) coming on line in Dickson in the second quarter of this year, increasing Zochem's capacity in Tennessee by between 12,000 and 15,000 metric tons per year.
"We just want to keep ourselves fresh," Sharma said. "This resonates with families, employees, business partners and our customers."
While about 40 percent of demand for the total zinc oxide market (from all producers of zinc oxide) in North America is driven by the tire manufacturing industry, the compound also can be found in motor oil and transmission fluid, dental care products, fertilizers, livestock feeds, over-the-counter flu remedies, sunscreens, vitamins, tile glazes, paints, food additives and even electronics.
"Zochem prioritizes safety, continuous improvement and innovation," Dickson Plant Manager Jimmy Kight told Rubber News. "This helps keep us in the forefront of our industry. Our team members at all levels provide valuable input to continue on our path as an industry leader."
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