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Employee retention through TLC (sidebar)

Capitalizing on multiple locations
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Sometimes retaining good packaging people over the long haul is made easier when management demonstrates its appreciation for their unique skills and experience. Superior Coffee provides a good example. This Chicago-based coffee roaster also has plants in Louisiana and Minneapolis. When these first opened rather than relying exclusively on outside people to train operators how to run the vertical form/fill/seal machines that bag the coffee Superior called on Donna Moyer (right) now a 21-year veteran at running the packaging machines in the Chicago plant. The chance to travel and experience operations at other facilities was a welcome break from the usual routine says Moyer. Knowing such opportunities exist-and knowing her company values her experience enough to hand her the ball when an opportunity arises-boosts the sense of fulfillment Moyer finds in her work. "I like working with machines but I also like learning something new" says Moyer. Another firm capitalizing on its multi-plant status as a means of making work more interesting is Redhook Brewery based in Woodinville WA. In addition to its modern plant in Woodinville it opened a brand-new facility in Portsmouth NH in 1997. That same year management announced an incentive program under which for each quarter of the year one worker at each plant whose performance stands out gets to spend a week at the other plant. The company picks up the hotel bill and living expenses and the employee is able to enjoy the sights of either New England or the Seattle area. The winners also get to learn firsthand how their counterparts in the other plant handle their responsibilities. Redhook president of brewing Al Triplett says the program has been extremely popular which is certainly good from an employee-retention standpoint. Moreover the information exchange between plants has been highly beneficial to each plant's operating efficiency.

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