Now that Rubber & Plastics News' inaugural Best Places to Work in the rubber industry is under our belt, I will say I was quite pleased with how the whole process went. And more than that, I really learned a lot about the eight companies that qualified to be named a "Best Places to Work."
From Reed Rubber, the firm rated as the top place to work, one thing that intrigued me was how they took a program deemed successful, then found a way to make it better. It was the scrap team, which over a six-month period reduced scrap at the custom molder by 50 percent. But the firm's leaders realized that the decisions on what solutions Reed would implement didn't take input from the operators, the ones closest to the operations and in the best position to provide invaluable feedback.
At R.D. Abbott, President Keith Thomas called this honor the most humbling and proudest moment of his career. One of his guiding principles is when he comes across a good person who possesses a talent nobody else at the full service supplier has, he hires them even if he doesn't have an open spot.
Stockwell Rubber celebrates its centennial this year and is in the process of turning the rubber goods firm over to employees through an ESOP. CEO Bill Stockwell said his company empowers employees, and that if someone sees something wrong, they are empowered to stop the job.
For The Rubber Group, President Robert Pruyn said consistent communication is the key. Concerns of employees are addressed quickly, and the firm tries to be transparent about where the workers and company stand.
Sur Seal CEO Larry Faist said the firm's leadership cares about its people and is open to new ideas. It also has a peer-to-peer recognition system called "Living the Values," and has other activities such as "Lunch with Larry."
HB Chemical doesn't want turnover, so it pays above scale on all of its jobs, and would rather hire someone who is a genuinely good person than a superstar who doesn't fit in.
Zeon Chemicals provides health evaluations and awareness programs, aids with student loans, and opportunities for flexible hours and work-at-home options.
When it comes to hiring, R.L. Hudson doesn't necessarily look for prior rubber experience. Founder Rick Hudson wants someone with good judgment and talent, who wants to work and be successful. They can be trained on industry knowledge.
Definitely some food for thought at those wanting their companies to be recognized as best places to work.