The Manufacturing Executive
The Manufacturing Executive

Episode · 4 months ago

Why the Employee Bathroom Is the Key to Leadership w/ Mark Whitten

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

If you’ve ever been curious how well management takes care of its employees at any given organization, there is one really simple way to find out: 

Check out the employee bathroom. 

That may seem funny, but… think about it — if management can’t take care of the bathrooms, how well can they really be taking care of its employees?

That simple test is wisdom today’s guest, Mark Whitten , President & CEO at Spartanburg Steel Products , has learned over years of successful leadership in which he has lived by a maxim that seems to have fallen by the wayside: Lead by example. 

In this episode, we discuss:

-Why leaders should work alongside their employees (and keep the bathrooms clean)

-How to achieve 2.0 transformation as a leader

-How leaders in manufacturing should respond to Gen Z’s entrance into the workforce

To ensure that you never miss an episode of The Manufacturing Executive, subscribe on Apple Podcasts, or Spotify.

You can't transform a company by sittingin an office and barking out orders and expecting that the workforce will just comply. It doesn't happen that way. If I'm not out there shoulder to shoulderwith employees, leading by example and showing them and teaching them and helping them, then it ultimately doesn't transform. Welcome to the manufacturing executive podcast, wherewe explore the strategies and experiences that are driving midsize manufacturers forward. Here you'lldiscover new insights from passionate manufacturing leaders who have compelling stories to share about theirsuccesses and struggles, and you'll learn from B tob sales and marketing experts abouthow to apply actionable business development strategies inside your business. Let's get into theshow. Welcome to another episode of the Manufacturing Executive podcast. I'm Joe Sullivan, your host and a CO founder of the Industrial Marketing Agency guerrilla seventy six. Any business leader can talk a big game. We're retooling our business tomeet the demands of a new era. We're investing in our people and buildinga culture of excellence. We're committed to innovation, Blah Blah Blah, allof this, frankly, is just lip service, that is, until youcan prove it, and my guest today is leading an organization that's doing exactlythat. From putting their leaders in the trenches next to those on the frontline, to letting the words they hear from their customers and their prospects physicallyimpact the evolution of their facilities, to putting AI and smart factory initiatives inmotion, this particular organization is actually walking the walk and, as its leaderwill tell you, the rewards have been plentiful on a number of fronts.So, on that note, let me introduce him. Mark witten started hiscareer as a shop floor employee at freightliner heavy trucks. He then had theopportunity to work with cameo automotive, the joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki, for a few years before joining magna international in two thousand. Over thenext fifteen years, mark worked in a number of different roles across multiple magnetdivisions and in different countries, including Canada, Mexico and the US. In latetwo thousand and fifteen, mark took an opportunity to run a small seatingsupplier in Cleveland before joining Martin Rhea International in two thousand and sixteen. Therehe ran their largest facility in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and became director of OPSbefore joining Spartanburg steel products in early two thousand and twenty. Mark, welcometo the show. Thanks for having me, Joe. Appreciate it. Awesome.Will Mark, I know you took the reins just a few years agoat Spartanburg Steel, the company that's been around since one thousand nine hundred andsixty two, and I also know you've made a lot of really positive headwayalready, consistently surpassing a lot of the goals you set out to achieve.So wondering if you could start things out by telling us a little bit aboutwhat what were some of those goals, the associated key metrics and how hasSSP performed? Great you know, I...

...appreciate a great question. Thanks forhaving me again. Yeah, so Spartan Burg is being s a rounds thisninety sixty two. The family that currently owns it's we're privately held as ownedit since one thousand nine hundred and eighty two. Great Ownership, Great Company, Great Leadership Team here. And so when I joined I had a mandateto, you know, to improve the results, to improve the culture,to really drive the top line in bottom line, and so we went aboutwith the leadership team here back in early two thousand and twenty, we startedto deploy a strategy and we really for me, it was really important thatwe defined, you know, where we want to go. We refer toas our vision statement, or true north. You know what we want to achieve. That's the goals, and then how we're going to do that,and that was SSP to point, or the strategy we deployed in order toachieve the goals and make sure that we stayed true to the to the dothe Vision Statement, which is to become a world class company. We dowant be very specific. It's a you don't be a world class manufacturing company. We want to be world class and everything we do. So we're reallyfocused on, and I use these examples, like if we hire someone, wewant to do it in a world class way, we want to onboard people in a world class way, we want to train people in aworld class way, we want to have world class results. So we knowtoday we're certainly not a world class company, but we have a vision to bethere. And what I've always found in my career and whenever I've dealtwith successful people, they always have a vision or five year plan, youknow, where they want to be how they want to get there, andso I think it was really important for us to project ourselves into the futureand they we want to be world class, and so therefore our behavior has tobe focused on being world class and ask ourselves, you know, inevery case, are we doing things that are, you know, truly aworld class company would do them or not? So that that was one thing toyour question. We then had to determine what is it we're trying toachieve here, and really we're doing that in buckets of a year. Sowe said, okay, we got three things that we have to focus onin two thousand and twenty one, and that is revenue, top line grow. So we set a goal to grow our revenue from what was a hundredand six million to two hundred million by the end of our fiscal year oftwenty one, which ends October. Thirty One, two thousand and twenty one, or second goal, was to have a profitability target. So in twothousand and Nineteen and two thousand and twenty we were not profitable. In Twothousand and twenty one, we said we have to be profitable and we seta target. So we said we got to be we have to have anet profit number of x and we have to have that by the October thirtyone, two thousand and twenty one. And then the last goal, andthey're all really interconnected, but the last goal was quality improvement, our customerperformance in terms of quality results. So we said we must improve our qualityperformance from X to y by October thirty one. So we had a specificnumber of customer complaints that we had to drive it down to. So sothat's really that the goals that we set. And then below that is really thehow. How we going to do all this? And that's all SSPtoo awesome. Can you dive into SSP two point on a little bit more, like some people, more about what that means? Yeah, of course, I love talking about you know, when I joined here it was importantfor me to be respectful of that, the current leadership, the ownership,the employees, and I certainly know in...

...a walk in here and say Iknow better and we're going to do this and what it what you guys havedone is not good enough. That's not true. I mean this, thiscompany's being a BMW supplier for many years at great successes in the past andI wanted to honor that. So we really we said, you know what, SSP one Oh is a foundation. It's what got us to where weare today. We've been successful for many years. We've done a lot ofthings in the community here. We've had employees that have bought houses and theirchildren work here, and so so this has been a good company for thecommunity and it's employees. At the same time, of course, we haveto change. The world's changing, and really that was the two piece.So we honor the past, but reflect and look forward to today and nextyou know, and next years are really about developing a world class company,being two and and that two really is broken into many buckets, you know, first and foremost as leadership, and I talk about having the right peopleon the right seats of the bus. It's about culture, it's about employeeengagement's about manufacturing operating systems and quality systems and all of those things are trulyimportant and we had to we had to make sure we had all of thosethings as a foundation in order to drive to Oh to ultimately achieve our goals. So a lot of effort around and again leading by example. Many,many things. I mean it's I use these this example of more specifically,you know, one of the things that really is important in any transformation ofany organization is that leadership must lead the transformation. Cultural changes. You know, culture is just in my opinion, is just the result of people's behavior, and that behavior ultimately is driven by management's behavior. If management is leadingby example, is on the shop floor shoulder to shoulder with employees, helping, removing road blocks, pushing the teams but removing, you know, helpingthem to ultimately be successful, that's when you truly see transformation take hold.You can't transform a company by sitting in an office and barking out orders andexpecting that the workforce will just comply. It doesn't happen that way. IfI'm not out there shoulder to shoulder with employees, leading by example and showingthem and teaching them and helping them, then it ultimately doesn't transform. Andthat's my experience and I realized that. So it's super important in the twopoint Oh world and in an a vision of a world class company is thatwe go out leaders, to the executive leadership team, and we get outthere and we clean, we organize, we help with the daily meetings thatI attend every eight am meeting every day in three different areas of two plants, because it's important, because it's super important that the employees understand we getto drive our business. We got to be consistent. I'm going to leadby example. I've shared this before as well. I mean in a parkinglot behind me, you know, management went out and painted the curbs.We did that because it had to be done, but I wanted the peopleto understand that it doesn't matter what it is. will go paint curbs,will clean up, you know, dirt in the plant, will sweet floors, will do whatever we need to do to be successful and I feel verystrongly that if leaders lead in that fashion,...

...then the people will follow because theyhave they have a person that they can get behind and they believe inthat and that's that's truly important. So that's really a lot of what twopoints about leading by example, really pushing the organization but helping, removing roadblocks and doing the right things for our people. How do people respond tothat curious inside of Spartanburg when they see leadership kind of in the trenches andworking hard to understand what goes on there, what people are experiencing in their theirdaily job on the front lines. You know that the initial reactions theythey laugh at us, you know, they see us out there sweating and, you know, picking up garbage and there's a lot of there's a lotof joking around it, but we're consistent doing it. We do it twicea week, we're always out there doing it. So, you know,it goes from being kind of a funny thing to a serious thing and I'vehad many, many employees stop me or come over ere. Here's an interestingthing on out they're struggling picking up something have an employee walk over from,you know another well, sty've grabbed the end of it and help me moveit. They started appreciate a long time ago, but these they start appreciatingthat weren't just out there trying to help. You know, we're doing whatever wehave to do. So it really became and I've had many of themstop me out there and say I really appreciate what you're doing here. Youknow, I really nobody's ever done this before. We've never seen management outhere cleaning the plan. We've never seen management do this and and again.That's it. Goes back to your introduction and Joe, I mean I startedon the shop floor and I got to experience terrible leadership. I've seen greatleaders and horrible leaders and I they both taught me some great things what notto do and what to do. And you know, the worst thing inbeing a leader is trying to lead by thou shalt, you know, dowhat I say, not what I do. You cannot, you will. Peopleare smart, you know, and they're not going to follow people likethat. They'll only find my opinion. They'll follow people who lead but dowith what they say they're going to do every single time. And I've alwaysstressed that to my management team. You know, if you say it andyou got to do it, you can't back away from that because the minuteyou the minute you do, you lose all credibility. It's that other thing. You could do a thousand great things and one thing wrong, and onlything people ever remember is that one thing wrong. You did so so yougot to be perfect and what you do. So anyway, a lot to yourquestion. A lot of great feedback from employees. They get a kickout of here's an interesting point where a unionized company. United Steel workers havebeen unionized for many, many years before I got here. You know,and there's specific language in a contract that states that. You know there's there'sbargaining committee work. So management can't perform or salary employees cannot perform bargaining committeework. Yet the president of the Union and I met with her very earlyon in my career and I said, listen, I need your support.I know what the contract says and I know how to interpret the fact thatmanagement can't go out there and do what would be considered bargaining committee work,but I need you to get behind me here and help me, because I'mnot I'm not taking people's work away. I'm trying to help them and Ireally don't want to. I don't want to get in a situation where weare you know, we get into a debate about whether managements doing bargaining commnywork. We're not trying to we're trying to lead by example. She understoodthat and supported me through that. And...

I've never had an employee ever cometo me and say, you know, you're doing work that belongs to aburning it. Never said that. They've always supported the action because they understandall we're trying to do is make us better. Mark You told me reallyinteresting story a couple weeks back about a major automotive manufacture that SSP quoted yearsback and lost the bid, and then you mentioned that you went back andyou spoke with their decisionmaker about the reasons SSP wasn't selected. Whether you usethe name of the company or not doesn't matter so much to me, isas much as you telling that story to our audience and sort of what proceededto play out since then. When I first joined here in March of twothousand and twenty, right right around that time, maybe a couple weeks intoto the role, we received feedback that we did not win a very,very large package from a truck it's actually a heavy truck manufacturer. We wereworking on that probably six months before I got here. The team was workingon all the quotes and felt very strongly when I arrived, they felt,the team here felt strong that we would win the business and when a couple. Three weeks into that, when I arrived, we receive feedback that wedidn't actually win. The business is a forty million dollar packager and this wassignificant amount of work. So I, you know, being the new guy, I I said, listen, I'm going to reach out to the seniorbuyer and I'm just going to ask questions. I'm knew I, you know,no dog in his fight at this point. So I did. Icalled her. She took my call and I really appreciate it that and wehad about a half hour conversation and I said, listen, I'm new here, I just want to understand, if you can share it with me,you know, your logic around not sourcing Spartanberg, because what I was ledto believe is that we would. We in fact, were they're leading.We were leading this bid and we were expecting to win it. She saidwe she had a she had a little bit of an internal debate with hercompany. She had kind of a group of buyers that were pro or supportingSSP and she had a group that were not, and she said, youknow, I made a decision to come to Spartanburg with both groups and doa fullblown audit of your company, that quality performance, delivery performance, theshop floor. You know all the management systems, she said. You know, the audit didn't go very well at all. We came there, shesaid, frankly speaking, the the the shop didn't look very good. Qualityperformance was not where it needed to be. We didn't see that the proper qualitymanagement system in place. Your delivery performance wasn't very great. Very goodstory, and I got it, by the way, because my first weekin here, as I walk the floor, I thought to myself, man,I wouldn't source work here either. You know, I wasn't to thestandard that I would expect. So I wasn't surprised by her comments. Itmade sense to me and I understood it. She sent me the audit. Igot the chance to go through the entire audit and everything in there isvalid and it's true and at the end of the day, you know,they made a decision based on that and that's fine. Fast forward to itwas about two months ago. She reached out and said that she was theywere in the neighborhood bull of all, visiting another supplier and they wanted tostop buying and meet with us. So they came over and I had nevermet her in person. I met her in person, we had a littlechat and I said, listen, I'd like to walk you through Startan BirdSteel produccesses be two point no strategy, and kind of bring you up tospeed from when we spoke a year and...

...a half ago to today what we'vebeen doing. So she was great to was, you know, happy todo that. I presented exactly what I want you and I are speaking aboutkind of, you know, vision, statement, goals and sspt oh.But I went into great detail with her what the strategy was and why andwired to playing and, you know, in the boardroom, you know,she was that sounds great and, you know, looks really good, etc. So I said let's go to the shop floor and go for a walknow, and we walked out and we got to the shop floor. Wewalked about ten feet in and she stopped and said this looks like a bring, like an entirely different shop. I don't remember it being like this,and I said, well, that's good news, because it I certainly hopeit isn't like you remember. So we walked around, we spent some timeand I, you know, basically pointed out the different management systems we puton, the visual management systems we put on the floor and we're using asystem called funnel cloud to use PLC real time data so we can see ourperformance. Ohee and downtime and delighting. We put all brand new led lightingin the plant. We've polished concrete floors, we've striped walkways, we've, youknow, visual management everywhere and her feedback was, you know, humbly. To me, I get goosebumps because, I mean again, I'm so proudof the team here, but she was very excited and said, youknow, this is she said, I would have never expected to see this. I'm shocked, and followed by the statement that I'm sure that there's somework we can do together. And you know, and from there they've sentus a bunch of RFQ's. So it's super powerful. I understand why theydidn't sources to work. It makes complete sense. The audit makes complete sense. We've worked very hard to fix our systems and implement, but also tochange the environment of our shop. You know, I always consider myself asupplier but a customer whenever I go anywhere and I'm always looking and watching andtrying to understand culture and try to understand how a company runs. And Ican tell you when you when you go to any shop floor, you canpretty soon, pretty early, and you can tell how the company runs orhow the performance or the results are if it's dark and dingy and unsafe andsmoky and all these kinds of things. I'm pretty sure that I had hazarda guess that there's some quality issues and make the safety issues and different thingslike that. And I mean, I know it's not a perfect science,but I've found in the past it typic the work. So back to thislady and her visit. It was it was great for her to come back. We think we can grow our business with them again. We learned agreat lesson from that and we've improved since that time and I think that thatI'm glad you gave that feedback in a glaciers avery open and got a chanceto visit us again. Yeah, that's a really cool story and mark.There a couple things I sort of take away from this example. You know, one, talk to your customers and listen, like proactively go to them, and not only the ones where you lose. I think it's great thatyou went back. You talked to somewhere. You lost the bid, but youknow your existing customers to do the voice of customer work. Find outwhat from there, in their words, like what things are we can webe doing better, like understand their buying process, understand what matters the mostto them, because I think a lot of companies just sort of make assumptionsand all of a sudden something changes and their relationship with the partner of venderand they're like, well, what happened?...

I didn't see this coming, andI think a lot of those things can be sort of cleaned from justhaving open conversations and asking customers what they want. But I love that youwent back and talked to this particular woman. We've lost a very large bid,because I think the other thing that happens here is it shows that you, as a new leader in the organization, are interested in making changes, you'reinterested in figuring out what matters to the customers and by making yourself vulnerablein that sense, all of a sudden the opportunities back right like had younot reached out to her and had that conversation, you know you could probablyassume she probably wouldn't have called you when she happened to be in the areato come back. So I think it's pretty cool. Good lesson there.You're absolutely right, great points to make. Well, I could go off onthis one forever, but you need to be humble as a leader.You know, in any organization the only way to learn is to listen,to ask questions, to be humble. You know, we often think toomuch, we know too much, we already know, we already understand.I don't think you know. I would say that's a challenge. That statement. I've spent a great deal of my energy here focusing on learning from thecustomers we currently have and what's their optics, you know, the long term partnersand customers, and I realized a lot of what their expectations are andwe've been working on shorting the soup. But to your point, I've alwaysfound customers are willing to help if you're willing to listen. If you're arrogantand you know you don't want to listen and you don't respond to the customer, but then they'll treat you that way. But if you're humble and you listenand ask for help and they'll they'll be fully willing to help you.You know, BMW is here. I can speak about them. I meanBMW Spartanburg plant ten is a huge plant here. It's a big important companyin terms of this community and it's a customer of ours and I can tellyou they're tough customer, very tough. They your expectations are very high,but they're also willing to help. You know, when we ask for help, when we say this, when we got problem, we don't understand,do this, they send people over here and they help us to understand whattheir expectations are. They spend the energy on their supply base to teach you. They're high. Again, they're tough, but they're willing to help if you'rewilling to listen. And we've put a lot of energy into being humbleand listening because we know we've got a lot of things we got to fixhere and so we can learn from great companies like BMW and Vovol and othersthat can help us at teach us. So great point you raise. Coolmark committed an interesting comments to me in a previous conversation that I wanted tobring back here. You said one of the first things you'll do when youyou're evaluating a potential vendor or partner for Spartanburg is, you'll go into thebathroom at their facility and you'll immediately learn something about the culture just by howit looks in there. I thought that was really smart. Tell me moreabout that. Yeah, I go into the employee bathrooms. I don't gointo the manager bathrooms, right because there's a difference sometimes. It's been myexperience going to been in many, many plants in many countries and and onething rains consistent that I've found. You can, you know, to usea loose term, you can put lipstick on a pig, so to speak. You can make something look good for five minutes or make a clean upyour shop for a customer visit. But really what I look for is therea consistency in that right and oftentimes the employee bathroom or the employee change roomstell a story on its own. If...

...you walk into where the employees goto the bathroom and it's stall doors are ripped off and there's graffiti on thewalls and it's filthy dirty, I will make the assumption that that organization doesn'ttake care of their employees too well, that there's some underlying cultural issues there. I'm pretty sure that that would be true. The opposite is quite trueas well. You Walk in employee bathrooms and they're clean, organized, youknow, respectful, right, respectful of the workforce. That says something tome too. Says well, that there's some you know that they care right. You know, people often say, you know, the most important assetin any company is people, but then you go to the bathrooms and thebathrooms are the graffiti everywhere and the stall doors are ripped off and eat workingconditions are poor and lightnings poor and it's unsafe. I mean it's that alwaysthat you can say anything, you can say in a boardroom. You canmake a presentation sound great, but the real rubber hits the road when youwalk out into see the real conditions. And that's why I look at bathroomsbecause, again, it's one of those things. I just feel like ifyou care about your employees, then you'll do the right thing for them.Dig metium. Respect is a cornerstone of leadership and thinking in respect this facilitiesfor employees. I mean you couple hundred employees that come to work every singleday. You want to have a nice, clean facilities for them to use.I mean, that's that to me says a lot and I think it'ssuper important and I don't discount it. I mean, and again, havingvisited facilities and seeing very poor conditions and the culture was exactly that. Ifthe bathrooms were in terrible condition, and I've seen it, stall doors rippedoff and graffiti, there's a lot of problems underlying and that organization and itand and, by the way, it all starts with leadership. It's agreat microcosm of sort of what the organization actually practices. I think I likethe example is that. Yeah, thank you, and I had one thing, Joe. You know, I'll go one step further and say I usethe employe bathrooms. By the way. So my office here in the FrontRoom, front office, we have a management bathroom, but I go useemployee bathrooms and I do that because, a, I want to make surethat they are the way they need to be and be. I'm not betterthan anybody else. It always blows my mind that, you know, leadersand companies presidency, you'll have a parking at the best parking spot. Iam never understand that. Why do I need to be fifteen feet closer tothe door so I can get in faster or get out faster. I don'tneed to have a parking spot and I don't need to use an executive bathroom. I mean I can use employ bathos because again, if the employe bathroomis beneath me, it's not good enough for me, then it's not goodenough for the people, and so I always would think that way, right. I mean, it doesn't matter. We I go and need an employeecafeteria, I use the micro race there. I mean, again, all ofthose things are little things, but they all mean something and it mostin particular, it means, you know, we put the workforce up here andwe say it's that, that, it's that reversed or chart. I'mat the bottom and the employees are at the top. Right, that's what'swhere they are because again, they are the most important asset of the companyand we management need to make them successful. That's our job. So all ofthat kind of combined is really around my beliefs and leadership. Yeah,that's serve and leadership at play. Right.

Yeah, that's exactly right. What'sstay on this topic of people here for a minute. I I've heardyou say that engaging people's hearts and minds is a central piece of SSP's strategy. What's this phrase mean to you? It's a lot of things. It'sagain, it's kind of tying back together what I've said so far. Youyou I believe that in order for people to give what I call discretionary effort, so that hundred and ten percent is the extra ten or the extra twentypercent coming to work every single day, you know, being positive and contributingwhen they're here, if they don't believe in the leadership that in the organization. You know, you and I are the same. If we work forsomeone we don't believe in, that doesn't lead by example, that treats USpoorly, you know, typically you're not going to give that extra ten percent. You're going to you're going to do your job, but you're not goingto go over and above your job. And what I'm trying to do everyday is inspire people to really give discretionary effort because you know, to togo from good to great. You Know Collins Book and it's there's a lotof it in there, to go from good to great. that the differentperence between good and great companies. A lot of things, but but thepeople are the foundation of going from good to great. And if you have, you know, workforce of four hundred of people and for injured, engagedpeople driving hard everyday, coming to work every day, especially today, Joe, you know, with covid and with the situation in A. I meanI hear it from leaders all the time in the community here about the turnoverrate is tremendous, people don't want to come to work, etc. Yeah, we have to go over and above to keep our people plugged in andthat's that's really the the point of gaining people's hearts and minds. I wantpeople to want to come to work, and I always say this to thepeoples at list. I'm not a fool. I understand if you want the lotteryto more, you won't be here, and I get all that, butwe have to work. So if we have to work, then atleast we can enjoy it while we're here and we can want to come towork versus getting up every morning and here having your stomach gate because you knowyou got to go back to that place. I don't want that for the peopleand so really the effort is to, you know, the gain their heartsand minds, to keep them focused and make it fun, as funas it can be, make it engaging, and it's a lot of other thingslike giving them opportunities to grow in the company, to earn more money, to do all that stuff right, that they have a voice and itor listen to, and that's really what it means. It's super important andI ultimately believe that in any transformation, in any world class company, peopleare engaged and that's, you know, that's kind of the the price ofentry. If you want to be there, you've got to have an engaged workforce. And again, I've seen it before. I've seen disengage workforces andthey can. They can disengage workforce can affect the results of a company veryquickly because if the people are only eight in the gate, they command,they give you the minimum, the minimum effort and are gone. They don'twork overtime, they don't work the week. You know, if you're in asituation where you need that and they don't want to do that, toput yourselves in trouble real quick. So that's that's really what it means.There's a lot to it, but it's it's really all about what the gainingpeople some your engagement. How does this focus on engaging people's hearts and mindschange, if at all, as you look at Gen's ears, or atleast the younger generations entering the manufacturing workforce?...

Good question and I do like thereis a difference. I've been on a panel before where there's some debateabout people are people and we should treat everybody say, and I'll agree withthat, while at the same time I think we have to be smart enoughas leaders and organizations to understand that there's expectations of our different generations change andnot as a true fact, I have a twenty two year old and eighteenyear old and I can tell you that their expectations of work are far differentthan what mine were, of what my father's were, and so I thinkit's wise of us to understand that. You know, they want more,they want different they want to be able to communicate in different ways. Thatare so it is important and we are. We're on the cusp of that rightnow. You know, we're really developing our sustainability strategy and that's somethingthat you know, that is all encompassing, as we you know, when Ifirst heard of sustainability. Go back a couple of years and you know, I just assumed at the time will that's, you know, Waste Management, energy consumption, renewable energy, but it is far more than that.I mean it's diversity, inclusion, it's ethics and legal compliance, it's codesof conduct, that's your suppliers codes of conduct. It just goes on andon. Incorporate social responsibility. These are the things that I believe are superimportant for the JEN's ears, you know, and those young people, because itmatters to them, and so having that if for the right reasons.We need to do it for the right for all, for all employees.But I believe those things really also are the people of the you know,the newer generations definitely associate with that more so than my generation, your generation, that our parents, for example. So I think it's super important andalso creative ways of attracting the younger people, because what we're finding is the youngfolks coming out of college they're not interested in manufacturing, they're not interestedin skill traits, and that's that's a problem that number of organizations are realizing. As we look forward, we you know, for example, here wewe've got a long tenured workforce, which is Great. At the same timewe've got tool makers and maintenance technicians that are in their late the s earlys and over the next five years I will lose sixty percent of the traits. So we are really focusing on developing some partnerships with the schools in thelocal areas, the technical schools, so we can start to, you know, engage those people, bringing them in so they can do coops, differentthings like that. That's really important, so we can get them interested in, plugged in, because that that's coming at us and really we're trying todrive that you interests of manufacturing, etcetera. I GIVE BMW a plug. Imean they've done an innovation, they they've done a bunch of different thingsand they're really plugged in with the schools and technical because they see the samething. I mean they need the same thing we do, the trades,the manufacturing professioncy engineers, the manufacturing and used industrial engineers. So there's there'sreally something coming at us that we got to work on and that's that's abig thing. So know, back to your point, I mean I thinkthere's a lot of things. As organizations we have to be aware of andwe got to approach things differently with the...

Gen's ears and the younger people,because their expectations are far different than our current workforce, etc. Yeah,a lot of truths in there. You know, I just talked to somany manufacturing leaders between this podcasts and people I interview like you, mark,between my clients, who are, you know, all manufacturing people. Andyou know, it's what everybody's talking about is how are we going to getyou know, the the older generation leaving, especially in the skilled trades, andyounger people having a perception of manufacturing is dark, dirty, dangerous workingenvironments. How are we going to change that? First of all, becausethat needs to change if where it is true, and then, secondly,how are we going to engage them, engage the youth, help them understandthat this is there's growth opportunities here, there's interesting technology here, there's somuch really cool stuff going on in manufacturing. So any ways to engage with thecommunity and the schools and a shed a positive light on manufacturing is kindof really what I'm after when I, you know, kind of doing myjob here's a host of this podcast. So I like hearing you talk aboutwhat ssps doing on that front. You know, on the cusp of that, I would say we're just getting going down that path. We we recognizethe need and we're starting and we're learning. You know, we're partnering with withthe South Carolina Chamber and the school technical schools. BMW's helping. There'sa lot to be learned out there. I'll go back to this innovation.They you know, I attended at BMW. I mean they had a lot that. They had clemson there, they had some other schools there. Theyhad cobots, these collaborative robots. I mean they had AI, so artificialintelligence for training. I mean it's a really, really neat stuff that absolutelythe Gen's ears would be plugged into. So I think that that need forthat of really bringing manufacturing to it. To you to your point. It'snot something that coming out of school that you know, the people today,the young the young people today, see as interesting or innovative, but itcan be and in fact there's a lot of things there. But we justgot to be able to promote that and share that and as companies, wegot to start engaging with those things because that's what's going to bring the nextgeneration workforce to us. So I think it's you know, it's a greatpoint and I'm sure you could. You could have a podcast with with theconversation about this for a long time. It's a it's a real, realissue coming at us. For sure, it is absolutely will mark. Isthere anything else that I didn't ask you about that you'd like to share withother manufacturing leaders out there before we wrap it up? You know, Ijust summarize that, not regardless of and I have a lot of respect fora lot of the manufacturers around here. I learn a lot from many ofthem and having worked for MAGNA and Martinry, I've learned a lot of things fromgreat companies and I appreciate all that. At the end of the day,leaders have to lead and leading by example is not rocket science. It'shard, it's hard to do, but it is to my opinion, it'sthe game changer. It's the difference between getting the results and not necessarily gettingthe results. You got to be leading by example every day and everything wedo and an ultimately got a strategy and I you know, I give alot of credit to this leadership team. We've got a great team of peoplehere. I really humbled by them and...

...you know they've engaged a two Oh. They're excited by it. It's interesting. I would add one thing. JoeAnd all of the customer and I've had quite a few customer visits hereand to customers. What I continuously talked about as to and it's interesting howquickly the customers grabbed to immediately they they start talking about that. You know, they really talk like we talked about it. You know, we veryquickly explain one point Oh, we talked about two point, and then theconversation from them to us as well. You know, you guys got todo this in two point Oh, and make sure that you capture this.And so it's really interesting. They've really gravitated to it. It's IT'S Ait's a clean demarcation point where we say we're going from here to here andand I found it very exciting that employees really they get a kick out ofit. So or and customers get a kick out of it and they're engagedto it and they asked about it. BMW comes here all the Times awhere we have a two guys. What's happening? You know what's the strategy? So I'm really really proud about that. So I just again summarize that.You know, with with all due respect, lead, lead by example, ample and have a strategy and execute your strategy, but always make surethat you do what you say you're going to do. Is is a foundation. Well, congrats on what you've been able to accomplish so far. Mark. Sounds like you guys are going in a really great direction. I appreciatethat. Thank you. We are and we'll keep going. Never, never, it's a journey, not a destination. It is indeed. Mark. Canyou tell our audience how they can get in touch with you and alsowhether where they can learn more about Spartanberg steel products? Yeah, so wejust thank you. We just launched our new websites at Spartanburg steel productscom.New website, brand new. So we're still evolving, but you can takea look at there. I'm on Linkedin and my email addresses and witten' atssprodcom, and I'm always willing to share and help with someone needs it.Perfect will mark, thanks again for doing this today. Thanks to appreciate yourtime. As for the rest of you, I hope to catch you on thenext episode of the Manufacturing Executive. You've been listening to the manufacturing executivepodcast. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the showin your favorite podcast player. If you'd like to learn more about industrial marketingand sales strategy, you'll find an ever expanding collection of articles, videos,guides and tools specifically for BTB manufacturers at Gorilla Seventy sixcom learn thank you somuch for listening. Until next time,.

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