TULSA, Okla.—Rick Hudson founded R.L. Hudson & Co. in 1980. He knows the key to sustaining success is to take a step back and let the next generation take the reins.
R.L. Hudson's current management team consists of professionals in their 30s through 50s. Additionally, the company is developing a younger management team in their late 20s and early 30s.
"We do recognize the need to have a continued line of succession," Hudson said.
"We are very proud of the fact that we've had 15 internal promotions in 2019, so our employees know that they have the opportunity to grow within the company."
It's one of the reasons R.L. Hudson has been named one of Rubber & Plastics News' Best Places to Work for 2019 as determined by its employees through a survey conducted by Best Companies Group.
The team at R.L. Hudson has a deep knowledge of material technology, creating cost-effective solutions for the toughest product design problems. Their reliability extends to its track record in global supply chain management, with an on-time delivery rate of more than 99 percent.
With such success comes strategy, planning and training, too.
"Our company provides internal management training as well as reimbursement for outside educational opportunities," Hudson said.
R.L. Hudson employees go to professional training sessions and seminars from a specialized management training company and through the Tulsa Technology Center.
Hudson said the company was recently visited by its largest customer, which spent an entire day auditing manufacturing, engineering, assembly and quality operations. At the end of the day, the customer asked him how the wonderful culture at R.L. Hudson was developed. A question that Hudson said flattered him.
"I've had many employees tell me that R.L. Hudson Company is the best company they've ever worked for. That's a great compliment, but our employees must perform, so we've worked hard to find the best talent available and develop an enjoyable, capable culture," Hudson said.
R.L. Hudson currently has 115 employees in Tulsa, as well as around 38 employees at its tooling company in Colorado that manufactures precision injection molding tooling for the medical and electronic industries.
While there is a focus on the company culture, that philosophy extends outside the business as well.
"We do have a wonderful culture because while we are customer-centered, we also work very hard to treat our employees and our suppliers with respect," Hudson said.
He added that his team spends as much time at R.L. Hudson as they do at their homes during the workweek. So he wanted his employees to enjoy their jobs and work well with their colleagues.
"Everyone gets along here at R.L .Hudson," he said. "We've had some bad apples over the years, but they didn't last long."
When it comes to hiring new employees, Hudson said he's found it's not previous rubber experience he goes after. He had looked for that in the past, but sometimes it would end up that employee had experience with retreads and needed to be trained on industry knowledge anyway. So he looks for something else instead.
"Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment," Hudson said. "I'm looking for someone with talent; someone who wants to work and be successful."
He added a mentor once told him to hire slowly and fire quickly.
"In other words, take your time to hire and if you see a problem, take care of it quickly," Hudson said.
Beyond working on client projects together, the team at R.L. Hudson also put a focus on several charitable initiatives throughout the year that promote teamwork and community involvement.
"Many of our employees serve on local community and charitable boards," Hudson said.
Doing this kind of charity work may also let employees from different departments meet and work together in ways they usually wouldn't.
"When you get over 100 people, not everybody knows everybody," Hudson said. "Except for me. I work hard to know everybody's name and I try to speak to them every day."