Manufacturing Today - May/June 2017 - 96
According to Barnes, The Holden Industries CEO as
well as Vac-Con President Darrell LeSage believed that
every worker should be able to retire in dignity. The company became an ESOP just before a nationwide downturn
"Becoming an ESOP really got us over the hump in the
recession," Barnes adds. "What we really did was invest
in ourselves, and as a result our stock went up while the
overall market was headed in the other direction." And
while growth in Vac-Con's international business certainly
helped, Barnes says giving employees ownership is what really made a difference. "They know they are not just coming
to work," Barnes says. "For workers who are motivated, they
are given opportunities to participate and advance."
In addition to offering them opportunities for growth, VacCon is known for educating its workforce. In late 2016,
Vac-Con won the First Coast Manufacturers Association
(FCMA) award for workforce education.
FCMA's nearly 300 member companies in the Jacksonville, Fla., region routinely visit each other's facilities, sharing
ideas on best practices. Vac-Con feels so strongly about the
organization that it will pay for workers to attend the FCMA
Vac-Con also pays college tuition for its employees, allowing them to move from the manufacturing floor to other positions such as engineering and marketing. It also works to educate its community and local schools about manufacturing..
As Vac-Con continues to grow and expand, Barnes is passionate about continuing to improve its processes. In fact,
he doesn't refer to Vac-Con's workers as "workers." He
prefers to think of them as "process improvement owners." "Everyone is a process owner," Barnes says. "Because
if something goes wrong, we can always go back and review
the process, and see what failed." And the reason for this
approach is straightforward. "It's a process that promotes
continuous improvement," Barnes says. mt
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manufacturing-today.com MAY/JUNE 2017