Investment in training, employee engagement keeps manufacturer competitive

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What does employee engagement look like?

Ask Pro-Tech Industries,  which manufactures tool boxes and other accessories for over-the-road trucks in LaVergne, Tennessee, and Vancouver, Washington.  The work is hard and, depending on the season, hot or cold because the facilities are not climate-controlled.

For skilled workers here, the company competes with Tennessee-based auto manufacturers, which can and do offer packages with higher pay. Still, job prospects turn down those opportunities and seek out Pro-Tech.

“What we offer is a different environment in how we treat people and how we take care of them,” says Peter Miller, executive vice president. “The leadership is here to serve our employees. A lot of places say that. We really do it.

“Our goal is to get voted one of the best places to work in Greater Nashville,” Miller says. “Dale Carnegie helps us do that.”

Pro-Tech, which has about 200 employees between LaVergne and Vancouver, Washington,  requires all management personnel, from team leader on up, to take the basic Dale Carnegie course, Effective Communications and Human Relations/Skills for Success, and the company sends from two to four managers through the training each year. 

“It gives cohesion to whole company,” Miller says. “They help us build the people who build the products.”

Employees feel free to express themselves. Leaders regularly take their teams off-site for a 90-minute lunch just to chat. Once a year Pro-Tech treats its workers and their families to a day with lunch at the Nashville Zoo. When an employee’s daughter landed in intensive care, two colleagues – separately – came forward and said they wanted to raise money to help. Pro-Tech agreed to match all contributions.

By investing in the lives of its employees, ProTech has created an engaged workforce that speaks a common language and works toward shared goals. Employee engagement at times seems a fuzzy concept but it has bottom-line implications – engaged employees better handle stress, internal change and conflict. Engaged teams outperform others by up to 200 percent.

Miller sees the results at Pro-Tech every day. And every day he and the company’s other managers use the principles Dale Carnegie training reinforces and helps instill in Pro-Tech’s company culture.

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