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Company Culture

Schatz Bearing Corporation: Small Parts, High Stakes

When people think of industrial manufacturing, often times gigantic heavy-duty equipment comes to mind. The truth is, many companies are tasked with building small parts designed to be used in everything from commercial equipment to classified defense projects. Within the city of Poughkeepsie, lies the headquarters of Schatz Bearing Corporation. This company has been around in the Hudson Valley since 1910 and has evolved greatly to meet the needs of the 21st century manufacturing sector. Schatz Bearing Corporation was primarily focused on the automotive industry, providing them with ball bearings designed for cars.

Today, the company caters to aerospace and defense companies which require highly precise parts made from quality metals. Company President, Stephen Pomeroy had mentioned to HV MFG that innovation, customer service, and teamwork have played crucial parts in paving the pathway towards success. However, Schatz Bearing Corporation went through a complete overhaul to get to where it is today. During the 70’s, the company had to deal with turbulent years of layoffs and labor strikes. In addition to that, the decline in the American automotive industry caused work to be sent overseas to reduce operating costs eventually resulting in Schatz (then known as Schatz-Federal) to file for bankruptcy. In 1981, the company closed its doors until the name and equipment were purchased from a liquidator. The company name was changed to Schatz Bearing Corporation and was eventually bought by the Pomeroy family in 1985.

Stephen Pomeroy began working for the company in 1989 and switched focus towards quality instead of quantity. Schatz knew it could not complete with the low-cost competitors in other countries like China. So, the company focused on producing ball bearings that require a sophisticated level of engineering. Aerospace companies like Boeing and Airbus need parts that can withstand the demands of commercial aircraft while ensuring they will not fail. In order to make sure the products meet the standards of their customers; Schatz produces ball bearings in smaller volumes to guarantee quality will not be sacrificed in addition to streamlining the production line to cut down on time needed to fill orders. Plant Manager, Bob Lanser explained that machine setup’s that could take up to 8 hours have been reduced to just 30 minutes. Utilizing this model, has developed trust between Schatz Bearing Corporation and its customers who know the company is up to the challenge.

In order to produce quality products, Schatz Bearing Corporation seeks out qualified employees to work at their plant. Competitive wages and an in-depth training program give Schatz an advantage that candidates are attracted to. The company also focuses on developing a positive work culture to reduce turnover which can cause instability. Schatz Bearing Corporation is a great example of how focusing on quality products, listening to customers needs, and focusing on a positive work culture lead to company growth and help overcome obstacles.

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Workforce Diversity: New Ideas Within the Manufacturing Industry

 

When we think of diversity, many of us tend to think about physical characteristics. However, workplace diversity entails much more than that and for good reason. In a working environment, each employee brings their own unique personality and work ethics to an organization. An article published in HV MFG’s Fall 2016 issue, highlights the benefits to hiring a diverse workforce. First, bringing different mindsets into a company can help challenge the status quo and use critical thinking to create new ideas. This is becoming increasingly important within the sector of manufacturing as competition continues to grow both domestically and internationally.

In order for a diverse workforce to be truly advantageous to a company, certain steps first need to be met. For example, the organization must be committed to hearing new ideas and accepting criticism when necessary. Having a “it’s always been like this” attitude not only silences the voices of others, but it can lead to stagnation in company growth. In addition, the company culture needs to be open to change, otherwise new employees may start to conform for fear of not being accepted.

To ensure those steps are met, first management endorsement is key for current employees to embrace change rather than fear it. If the management level of an organization is not thrilled about new ideas, no one will be. Interestingly, research has shown that holding numerous diversity training workshops might not be as effective as people think. Often times, individuals will forget most of the information given during the training sessions and it might spark backlash. Instead, focusing on eliminating bias opportunities has a more positive impact. For example, having supervisors objectively evaluate each employee to see who deserves a promotion rather than going with a gut instinct or a supervisor’s personal feelings.

Another important step is to avoid blaming individuals and lecturing employees, this will only cause problems to worsen. Rather, supervisors should rotate employees around to different departments. This not only allows the employee to meet new people, but also helps train them in various skills that could be used in the future. Finally, a workplace should embrace conflict and instead re-frame it as an opportunity to learn. Change can be daunting at times; however, it is necessary in our fast-paced and globalized world. A diverse workforce exposes people to new ideas and fosters growth; all important attributes in the modern-day manufacturing industry.

 The full article on Workplace Diversity on HV MFG’s Magazine can be found here. 

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Create Your Championship Company Culture By Modeling a World Series Champion

 

By Guest Blogger Skip Weisman

You would think that creating a championship culture is easy with athletes making multi-millions of dollars each season.

But, in my experience, it is just as hard creating a championship culture in that environment as it is creating it in a small manufacturing company.

Baseball managers have to deal with players that show up with attitudes, behaviors and performance similar to your employees.

I know that’s hard to believe but they have to deal with athletes with…

  • inflated egos,
  • an inability to take feedback and coaching,
  • closed minds to changing how they are doing things because they’ve had a lot of success doing it their way for a long time,  not believing their way will not get their performance to the next level.
  • an attitude focusing more on the position they are asked to play, or their playing time, rather than what is best for the team overall.

All of those issues are just like the complaints I hear from the small business owners and CEOs I speak with. 

Does any of that sound familiar?

If so, you may want to take an approach like Alex Cora used during this baseball World Series championship season for the Boston Red Sox.

First-year manager Alex Cora created a unique culture among his team and led his team to victory in five games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Red Sox beat the Dodgers when you consider that in the midst of the team’s playoff run one of Los Angeles’ key players, Manny Muchado, was quoted as saying, “I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line, that’s not my personality, it’s not who I am.”

I’m not sure Muchado would have fit with the Red Sox culture that Cora created.

You don’t win a record 108 games during a 162 game season for a .667 winning percentage, among the best in the history of Major League Baseball, as Cora’s Red Sox did in 2018 with players who have that type of “personality.”

Your company, regardless of the industry its in, be it manufacturing, banking, law, accounting, or any other service company with employees with attitudes like that.

Cora’s was a simple approach.

He treated each of his team members like a human being and not an object, that was simply a means to an end goal.  

That may seem like an obvious strategy, yet I’ve seen too many business leaders do the latter and not the former. As a matter of fact a recent client, the owner of a 20-employee construction restoration company told me, “Skip the biggest thing I’ve come to realize in my six weeks of working with you is that I’ve been objectifying people. I’ve been seeing my employees solely as objects to help me achieve my goals.”

Here are two examples of Cora’s championship culture building approach:

  1. After losing Game #3 of the World Series in a record 18-innings over seven hours… “Cora walked into the clubhouse and called everyone together. He looked at each one of them and said he was grateful for their effort and proud to be part of their team.” “It was emotional,” shortstop Xander Bogaerts said. “By the end of it, we felt like we won the game.” (ESPN.com, Tim McKeown, Oct. 29, 2018)
  2. “Asked whether he ever gets angry with his players — in other words: Is your calm exterior an elaborate lie? — he said, “No, I don’t. I talk to them. If I have something to tell them, I just sit with them. Casual, very casual. I try to have good conversations.” (ESPN.com, Tim McKeown, Oct. 29, 2018)

It’s not rocket science, it’s human science. It all comes down to good championship caliber communication. Which is always prompt, direct, and respectful. It sounds easy, and it’s not. If it were you’d be getting championship performance at your company.

You can create a Championship Company Culture just like Alex Cora did with his Boston Red Sox. All you need is your own game plan and a commitment to championship caliber communication.

Easier said than done, I know. A good place to start is simply looking at your company work environment as if it were an athletic team. If it were, which of the four categories would you place it in:

  • Losing
  • Winning
  • Playoff
  • Champion

In 2017 the Red Sox were a playoff team. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. They changed managers.

The new manager changed the culture and became a champion.

Are you the manager who can create your own championship company culture that will achieve high-performance results like Alex Cora?

If so, where would you start?

Here are two questions you can use to evaluate the best place to start:

  • What is happening in your workplace that MUST stop happening?
  • What is NOT happening in your workplace that MUST start happening?

Your answers will identify things you’ve been tolerating in your work environment that have been preventing your team members from doing an even better job. Start cleaning up those and you’ll be on your way to creating your championship company culture like Alex Cora and the Red Sox.

 

About the Author:

Skip Weisman is a professional keynote speaker, author, business coach and consultant working with business owners, CEOs, executive teams, and non-profit organization leaders, PLUS their employees to create Championship Company Cultures.

Skip served as President & CEO of the Hudson Valley Renegades between 1994-2001 and was instrumental in relocating the Renegades from Erie, Pennsylvania bringing professional baseball to the region in 1994.

Skip served as CEO of 5 baseball franchises beginning at age 26. Skip’s teams were affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, Tampa Bay Ray, and Texas Rangers. Over his last eight years in baseball

Skip has been with small businesses since baseball in 2002 and has worked with members of the Council of Industry and others in the manufacturing, insurance, banking, accounting and other technical business services companies, including Micromold Products, Inc., Empire State Bank, Hudson-Greene Federal Credit Union, Ulster Insurance, and RBT CPAs.

To learn more about Skip visit www.YourChampionshipCompany.com, or email him at Skip@WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com .

 

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