Lisa Mantooth has spent her entire career focused on supporting the southwest Tennessee communities she grew up in. It's where she raised her two now-adult children. And there isn't anywhere else in the world she would prefer to live.
So when the opportunity to join Wacker Chemical Co. to lead its community-based initiatives at its growing Charleston, Tenn., campus arose, Mantooth jumped at the opportunity. Despite it being her first job of any kind within the manufacturing sector, she dove headfirst into the role. That included educating herself on Wacker's products and rubber manufacturing processes in general so she could effectively communicate with local business leaders and residents. The transition was made easier because her brother, Sam, had already worked for the company in physical analytics for several years.
Mantooth wasn't intimidated by the career change because her goal was made very clear: Build Wacker's community presence by working with team members. It was enough of a move to motivate her to leave a position she enjoyed at the Cleveland Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
Since joining the company in 2016, Mantooth has learned about everything from the chemistry involved in polysilicon and silicone products manufactured at the site to what those products are used for.
"I've worked to learn about the background and processes of the company because I want to be able to tell others how (Wacker) makes products that will improve the lives of so many people," she said.
While corporate communications at the German company's largest U.S. plant is a part of her role, the community outreach portion is not only her main objective but fits her personal passion. With more than 800 employees at the roughly half-developed 550-acre site, she is tasked with helping team members become involved in charitable and other supportive efforts in ways that fit their personal preferences and causes. The focus is on giving back, from mentoring students in local districts to leading STEM programs to building houses with Habitat for Humanity.
Not surprisingly, Mantooth has been the perfect fit, adept in leveraging her knowledge, skills and experience as a nonprofit executive and local community influencer to help position Wacker as a caring and compassionate company. She consistently plans, develops, implements, and organizes special events for the company and organizes volunteers to serve as community ambassadors to advance the company's mission and goals.
Mantooth enthusiastically organizes community outreach programs, coordinates special events, and positively influences public opinion and collective knowledge related to the company's products, services and mission. She believes the key is getting to know fellow team members so she can better understand the charitable and community passions they have. The more passionate a person is about a cause, the bigger advocate they will be.
"It's about finding what sparks their interest, and that's one of the things I love to do," Mantooth said.
She was the perfect hire because Mantooth has long been a fixture in the Charleston and Cleveland, Tenn., communities, from the time she was adopted as a young child. Her work laid the foundation that helped align community engagement with Wacker's strategic decision making. She has been involved with many organizations in Bradley and Hamilton counties, serving on such civic and nonprofit boards as Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland; Junior Achievement of Ocoee Region; Business & Corporate Committee for Partners in Industry; and the Education Innovation Center.
Mantooth has initiated several groups and organizations contributing to employee appreciation and greater job satisfaction. She previously worked full time for the local United Way chapter and has served as a mentor to youth and young professionals, often helping them find new jobs and improve their individual skill sets.
Friends and family members of Mantooth are no strangers to being recruited for an event or cause. She considers herself a resource for Wacker employees to utilize for helping them find that community and charitable passion. She'll visit team members directly on the manufacturing floor if she has to.
"I'm always interested in finding out what (my colleagues) are passionate about because we all have had experiences which impact our lives and what we are drawn toward," Mantooth said.
After all, she added, they live in the Volunteer State.
"That (nickname) is about more than just football. When you have a passion about something you can inspire others. And that is the greatest gift you can offer."
Over the next few years, Wacker's presence in Tennessee is expected to grow, giving Mantooth more opportunities to expand the company's community efforts. During that time, she hopes to recruit more internal "champions" for specific community causes.
"There is so much potential here and given we expect to grow, (its community impact) will grow as well," she said.
Years with company: 7
Years in rubber industry: 7