Growing up in the small town of Humboldt, KS, there was this little welding shop. It was just a two-man operation, there in the late 80s, building trailer hitches for ranchers and farmers. The hitch they made was something different, the first real innovation in that industry. Over the past 20 years, that business has grown to employ hundreds of people, to lead their industry, and to enjoy some of the lowest turnover and highest employee satisfaction rates anywhere.
One of those cofounders and the owner & CEO is my dad, Joe Works. He’s a humble & caring man and when it comes to being acknowledged for the good he does, he tends towards humility, no want for personal recognition.
But in this economic environment, times are hard. Especially in the automotive industry: truck sales have plummeted; the RV industry ground to a halt due to high fuel prices; the price of steel doubled last year. Times are hard indeed. Today, the shop can’t afford to run their production lines more than a couple of days each week. But despite all this, despite this lasting for months, the company has yet to lay off any employees.
Here’s what they’ve done instead:
B&W has volunteered company employees to do a huge number of community improvement projects:
- building a new baseball field,
- repairing existing baseball facilities like painting dugouts and fixing fences & batting cages,
- doing work at each of Humboldt’s many churches, including installing new gutters and handrails,
- cleaning up Humboldt’s parks, repairing tennis & basketball courts, building new horseshoe pits, and installing grills,
- re-roofing community shelters,
- landscaping and building new welcome signs at the edge of town,
- building new bike racks for the local elementary school,
- and more, continuing today.
What’s more, B&W has also implemented an “Employee Appreciation Program”, whereby each employee can plan a home project day that allows them to stay home and coordinate three other employees to accomplish some much needed home project. These have included residing their homes, trimming trees, doing yard work, fixing fences, and so forth. It has, apparently, been a great success.
During President Obama’s latest speech to the nation, he recognized a Miami banker who shared his $60 million bonus with over 400 of his current & former workers. What an impressive thing to do, I thought, but it also made me recognize the good that a smaller business owner can do, not only for their business and their employees, but for their communities. And I’m very proud of my dad for being just that kind of guy, and for doing the good work he’s done.
I also just found out last night that NBC Nightly News is coming to Humboldt tomorrow to tape my Dad, B&W, and the community for their recurring “Random Acts of Kindness” segment. I don’t know any details about when it will air, but as soon as I find out, I will update this entry and post something to my Twitter account. Please watch, if you can.
My brother Tony has posted a Flickr photoset of pictures of B&W’s Community Projects. Check it out.
Here’s the segment, as it aired: