Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019 - 38

way," he says. "When recruiting new
associates, we routinely share our strong
active commitment to the environment,
community service, safety and diversity."
Over the years, Milliken has learned
to emphasize mutual cultural fit when
conducting hiring interviews, bettering its
chances of finding associates with the same
alignment of values and making a long-term
engagement with the company likelier,
says Haydamack. It also offers continuous

TURNING TO EDUCATION
o help address hiring challenges, some companies are working
with local colleges and universities to find talent. For example,
this year in partnership with Spartanburg Community College
(SCC), Milliken & Company (Spartanburg, S.C.) launched the
Textile Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship.
"Currently, two students completing their AA degree in mechatronics
will participate in a four-year program, pairing 8,000 hours of on-thejob training from Milliken with job-related technical education at
SCC," says Craig Haydamack, senior vice president, human resources.
"Upon completion, the apprentice will be a fully credentialed Textile
Maintenance Technician by the U.S. Department of Labor."
Bud Weisbart, vice president of A&R Tarpaulins Inc., a Fontana,
Calif.-based manufacturer of engineered products primarily made
of fabric for the trucking, aerospace and other industries, says his
company partners with a nearby university, community college and
high school, offering on-the-job experience through internships, doing
this since the 1980s.
Interns, who are paid minimum wage, must be in school. Most stay
at least a quarter or semester, some stay a year or two, and some even
longer (about seven or eight of the company's 37 full-time employees
started as interns). Depending on their schedule, interns work between
10 and 20 hours weekly.
Currently, two students from California State University, San
Bernardino, are working as interns. One is an accounting major; the
other is majoring in marketing.
"Her big project right now is preparing documents for our GSA
application," says Weisbart of the marketing major. "She'll graduate
in June and will come on as an employee."

38 REVIEW JUNE 2019

learning for all jobs throughout the
company, making this an integral part of an
environment of continuous improvement.
RETENTION-FOCUSED
WORKPLACES
Milliken deploys a variety of methods
to uncover what benefits and qualities
are most important to its associates and
how they view the company, including
culture surveys and focus group. Leaders
also informally and formally engage with
their teams asking for input and addressing
questions and issues.
"We also constantly monitor trends
in the regions where we operate," says
Haydamack. "Much of the data we glean
from our research directly impact what
we offer associates and what we need
\to implement in order to remain
an employer of choice."
Among other retention efforts, the
company has recently conducted a
production facilities wage review initiative,
has updated its nursing rooms and finetuned its flextime policy to achieve a better
work-life balance for all associates.
Considering the cost of losing
employees, the effort is worthwhile.
"Turnover can cost the company as
much as one time an associate's earnings,
so turning over a single associate can cost
upwards of $40,000 per year," says Barry
Adams, president of Peachtree Awnings
and Tennessee Awnings. "It's easier and
less expensive to keep an associate than to
go out and find a new one."
Headquartered in Atlanta, the
company manufactures custom
commercial and residential awnings and
canopies. With 20 associates, Adams
places his turnover between 10 and 12
percent. Retention has improved as he's
built a solid benefits package that includes
flextime, medical, paid vacation/paid
holidays and 401(k)/SIMPLE IRA. He
also provides team-building activities like
bowling, zip lining and company picnics,



Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019

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