HUI

connections with people, making results secondary in importance. “I have developed the ability to better understand where people are coming from, more so than when I first starting working at HUI. I have become a better communicator.”

Binversie, an assembly process engineer, is marking his seventh year with HUI. While he sees his strength as a good listener, a personal challenge for him was to speak up more in team settings. He feels he does this much better. “Everybody has to give input to the team; to help the whole team get better. When I first started, I was real quiet. I have come a long way in giving my opinion and being more assertive,” he said. “Giving feedback on any situation that comes up is important. All opinions need to be respected; there are no right or wrong answer per se.”

Anhalt who serves as a cell technician has worked at HUI for 28 years. Over that time he has worked with many different people. With different team experiences, Anhalt said he has grown personally in learning to give-and-take. He has become more patient with his peers.

Vogel, with 23 years at HUI, serves as a quality and machine trainer. During these years he has seen the company grow and his own personal growth as well. “HUI has always been willing to give people the opportunity to grow through in-house training, seminars and schooling, to better one’s career and life,” he said. “In lean manufacturing, teams grow by making their own decisions. When teams struggle through right and wrong decisions, it brings people together when they all participate.”

When working as part of a team, it has helped Vogel to gain more self-confi-dence in making decisions. “Coming up with an idea, and having the team accept it builds confidence in myself and in my teammates,” he said.

Likes to see successes

Vogel has a lot of satisfaction when the people he trains are successful. “Many come with no knowledge of manufacturing whatsoever and when taken through the quality training, it sparks their interest, and watching them grow in competency is very self-satisfying to me and having them stay for years is equally satisfying,” he said.

Wasmer has 21 years experience with HUI. She works with the materials management side of the business. She said her employment there has been a wonderful

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journey. She describes HUI’s two owners, Kurt and Dan, as very aggressive young fellas whom she upholds as peers, teachers, trainers, and coaches. She said the change at HUI started from the top.

Wasmer said the owners allow people to be themselves, to do what they think is right, and not be afraid to make mistakes. It is a ‘go for it’ attitude, a ‘try this or that’ and if it does not work, try something else. “If I was fired tomorrow, I would leave a better person,” she said.

The mantra on the company card with the words, integrity, courage, respect, passion and growth, reflects what the company is today, and it just keeps building, she said.

“I enjoy coming to work. It is therapy for me now in my stage of life. A person has to have fun at work and we have fun here. Yes, there are days when nothing goes right but most often I feel I have contributed and have given back,” Wasmer said.

Self-directed work teams

Schad who has worked at HUI for 12 years is a quality and basics trainer. Part of her job is to help newcomers work in a team environment. She said individuals who come to HUI after long employments elsewhere find communication on the team level difficult. Understanding that approach and putting it into practice is difficult at first but all eventually seem to enjoy it. It calls for communicating with people all day long and it makes the work day go faster. “If I have a disagreement with another person, I am not afraid to call them out right away; if someone is slacking, I tell them, ‘Hey, pick up the pace!’ Nobody resents it. It is really a neat working environment and everybody gets along,” Schad said.

Wasmer who was hired as one of the first women on the production floor recounted how she started on the paint line, then moved to quality and supervisory positions. She has seen different phases of the company. “I used to take my work home with me but now I leave it here. There is stress but I have learned to deal with it. Because of the company’s philosohy, it is a different kind of stress. I leave each Friday knowing that I did what I could and the next week I start all over. I know that risk taking and making mistakes is okay. You move on. I carry that philosophy into my personal life,” she said.

Vogel talked about problem solving done by teams. He said an individual can solve a problem but usually a cross-functional group gets together to solve a problem and improve the situation. “Problem solving helps me to be slow to understand, compelling me to ask lots of questions. Many want to jump to solutions right away. The process is as important as arriving at the solution. It means getting at the real issue,” he said.

Part of Vogel’s job is to recommend someone for a more responsible position. “If I find someone with experience and leadership ability I recommend them to the coaches. They sit down with that person to get a feel for where he or she wants to go and to identify their leadership abilities.” he said.

Working as a team

With problem solving, Anhalt said one might think he has the answer but he gradually learns to work with the team making sure everything has been considered. A lot more communication takes place working as a team. The coaches meet three times each day and decide what they need for the day and tell us this. For instance, something might change. We might have to get something to the paint line so they don’t starve. Anything that changes the coaches let us know. And you have input during the day if you think something needs to be changed.

Anhalt praised the training program at HUI. “I did all my training here. I came here right after high school. I did not go to a technical shool, but I see the School-To-Work program as a valuable thing.

Self-directed work teams have a coach in each cell who serves as the lead person. Each cell member is accountable to one’s teammates. Accountable means showing up, doing your part of the job and giving feedback to one another, said Binversie. “If an issue arises and someone gives feedback and if several members see the same thing it is easier to piggyback on what they are saying and add to it. It happens all the time,” he said.

Binversie said it helps one’s self-image to be given responsibility knowing what you are doing affects the whole company. It applies to every employee here. You learn from your mistakes. You won’t get beat up for it. You learn from it. You proactively fix the process so it won’t happen again somewhere else.

Lefeber said the team approach means problem-solving is done on the lower level, not from the top down. “Most decisions come from teams rather than a manager. Lots of different experiences are pitched in on a particular problem area. Different faces share ideas, and a better outcome occurs and probably the best thing is ownership by all the people involved. People like that system because they have input, feel listened to and feel part of the loop,” said Lefeber.

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