When the first words anyone reads when they visit your websites homepage is “Helping Leaders Create Better Working Environments For Hard-Working People” it would be a good idea to practice that within you own facility as well……just saying.

Here at Cambridge Air Solutions we have always practiced what we preach throughout the cold winter months through the use of industry leading High Temperature Heating and Ventilation (HTHV) heating technology. Through the use of HTHV units we have the ability to keep our facility comfortable warm where the hard working people are…..down on the factory floor. Along with our commitment to utilizing energy efficient HTHV technology to reduce our carbon footprint we have also installed solar panels on a major portion of our roof to help further reduce our carbon footprint and generate electricity on those bright sunny days.

But there was still that last piece of the puzzle, and just as important as comfortably heating a facility in the winter, which was to find a way to cool our facility during the hot and humid Saint Louis summer months. A better working environment is comfortable year round, not just when the temperature dips below freezing. The biggest hurdle in cooling our facility is not the lack of technology but the acquisition and operating costs of different technologies that are available. Even with the electricity that our solar panels generate a DX mechanical cooling solution for our facility would be too costly to operate. Instead we have chosen to use a two stage evaporative solution to provide a more comfortable indoor environment for our Cambridge family members who work on the factory floor that uses less electricity and continues to reduce our carbon footprint.

To follow our journey as we work hard to provide a better working environment during the summer months as well, follow us of Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/cambridgeengineering/  - as we will post updates throughout the journey.

This blog was guest-written by Darla Gibson (Executive Admin) with input from Meg Brown (VP of HR) and Conner LaLonde (Safety Coordinator) - all members of our COVID-19 Steering Committee.

This is Part 2 of a blog that we developed to help remind us that in this time of uncertainty, we can still live out our mission of enriching lives. Read Part 1 here.

Enriching Lives During a Pandemic - From the Perspective of the Cambridge COVID-19 Steering Committee.

When we realized that we were going to have to address the COVID-19 situation at Cambridge Air Solutions from a corporate standpoint, we started a Steering Committee, as I am sure many of you did. Our COO/CFO Kevin Thompson was part of this committee and he stated up front that the Committee needed to act within four core principles: Wellbeing, Generosity, Creativity and Transparency. These principles fall into line with our “We exist to glorify God by enriching every life we touch” mission statement. But how exactly do you “Enrich Lives” when things are changing faster than you can react?

Fortunately, we have a culture that allows us a lot of flexibility in being creative, trying something that may or may not work, being quick to act, quick to fail and quick to improve! So, the following are some of the things that our COVID-19 Committee put into place to enrich the lives of our employees, vendors, and customers.

Once we verified that we were an essential business and could continue our operations, we did something that I never thought I’d see at Cambridge as we have historically been a traditional organization, working in the office. We knew we had to find a way for people to work from home.  Obviously, our manufacturing operations cannot do that, but what if the office personnel did? That would allow us to have less people crossing paths AND, allow the office side to deal with the fallout of childcare and school closures.

Then, we said, how do we address these same items (childcare and school closures) for Manufacturing, as well as keeping them safe when they come to work? This was more difficult, and as St. Louis County said, “stay at home” we decided to take a week, pay our employees, and give us breathing room to make it happen.

In that week, we worked on alternative schedules based on each employee’s need, we worked on how to make the building safe for the return, as well as on-going after the return, we reworked how outsiders could visit our building – we had a very open policy for delivery and pick-up that had to change, and we found a communication channel that we could utilize to communicate with the employees on what we were doing.

That was a tough week. The Committee put in overtime galore to make it all happen. From policy changes, governmental as well as corporate, to reworking how the lunchroom flow was going to work, it was crazy!  It didn’t feel like we were enriching, it felt like we were turning the world upside down!  Our Morning Meeting had gone from all company, in person, to virtual from home, with only the office employees! No more high-fives, fist bumps and laughter, but tired, stressed out “Brady Bunch” screens of employees!

In a little less than a week, we put together a plan, implemented it and were ready to welcome back our Manufacturing team. We made it!  We tried to make them feel welcome and safe by keeping with our brand promise of “enriching lives”. But, how did we do that?

  1. Safety – is always our first criteria for everything we do.  So, we put a portable water closet for our truck drivers, with a vanity, thanking them for “keeping America Moving!”, we rented portable hand washing stations to put them closer to the employee work stations, we took out the high-touch things like water coolers and coffee supplies, we revamped cleaning protocols…everything we could think of to keep them safe and flatten that curve!  It didn’t always feel like enriching lives, but if safety comes first, it is an enriching moment! 
  2. Communication, Communication, Communication!  This was the most difficult to execute as we had to find a platform that would work for everyone.  WhatsApp was our solution, there were a lot of choices, but this allowed us to send out messages to the employees to let them know what the changes would be and what they could expect.  It also allows them to reply if there are questions.  We use video a lot and this platform allowed us to continue the use of video. We utilized our partnerships with other businesses through our corporate memberships, such as St. Louis AME Consortium and AME National, to find and adapt documents and ideas that they were using. Being able to share and adapt what was working (or not working) at other organizations kept our speed up on these changes and communications. We also put together a survey to send out to the Operations team. This went out the end of the first week and gave us some feedback on how we were doing and the employees’ willingness to return. We are sending this out every two weeks so we can get continued feedback from them. 
  3. Scheduling – We spoke to each employee about it being voluntary to work or not work. Our goal was to help them figure out the options for pay (or no pay) given their individual situations. 
  4. Remote Meetings – I mentioned our Morning Meeting earlier, but we moved ALL meetings to remote, using Zoom and have found our employees are thankful for the flexibility this allows them as their home lives are as different as their work lives!  Our Operations team is also able to be part of the Morning Meetings in this format. We have made it purposeful to keep normal updates going through this format too. For example, our CFO does a monthly update on finances and we have continued to do this.  We are also working on our Quarterly update meeting in April and finding new solutions to making that happen. It may be a different format, but it is an important communication we do not want to skip! 

The COVID-19 Steering Committee meets as often as needed to discuss, review and update as the world and guidelines keep changing.  Then, we COMMUNICATE! Our VP of HR, Meg Brown has made sure we posted something once a day minimum at the start to keep everyone aware of what was happening.  She continues to update as things change.

Although Safety is always #1, if I had to pick an item of most impact, it is the Communication piece.  The what we are doing and why, is what lets the employee know you are thinking of them first, along with their families, our vendors, and our customers.

So many things have changed in our world but looking through the lens of “Wellbeing, Generosity, Creativity and Transparency”, allows you to always think of others before anything else.

This post was guest-authored by Doug Eisenhart, VP of Sales, Service and Marketing at Cambridge Engineering.

How do you answer "What do you do?" 

Changing perspective might be your game changer. It certainly was ours.

“Helping Leaders Create Better Working Environments for Hard Working People” is the message on the home page of our website. It signals for the reader, the answer to the question, “What is it that you do?” For years, we answered that question by saying that we are an HVAC manufacturer. Technically, that is true - however, “What we do” is help business leaders support their people by delivering a system along with our equipment that creates comfort and well-being for an organization’s most valuable asset – their people.

Leaders support their people through comfortable indoor temperatures? How?

Facility and operational leaders can make an impact on an employee's health and employment satisfaction by focusing on the quality of the environmental conditions in which they are working. In our HVAC world, it’s about providing fresh outside air ventilation for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) to evenly heat manufacturing and warehousing spaces during the winter months and to provide cooling during the summer months. To provide an example, in our own manufacturing facility, we know the toll that the hot and humid St. Louis summers have on our people and are taking the steps to install and operate a two-stage (Indirect/Direct) evaporative cooling system to lower temperatures in our factory. These evaporative cooling and ventilation units will boast a dramatic operational cost difference compared to traditional mechanical or DX cooling systems, but that is merely a perk to making the plant temperature more comfortable for our employees. More comfort translates into more joy at work. More joy means more people engagement, more employee genius and more fun.

The difference between “What you do?” versus “Who you do it for?”

In Patrick Lencioni’s book "The Advantage,” he challenges business leaders to invest significant time in the development of organizational health. Patrick states, “an organization’s health trumps all strategy.” We agree wholeheartedly. While we work on sales and technological strategy, we recognize that our work on organizational health is first and foundational.

We talk about organizational health frequently. We invest in organizational health continuously through our lean methodology that includes daily meetings with the whole organization and a time commitment made to improving things every day. The organization blocks time out for everyone to work on improving their job daily. This time commitment to improvements as a daily rhythm puts people in contact with one another to solve problems and collaborate on solutions.  Whether a process improvement, safety improvement or product improvement, we are working to improve the quality of our customer’s experience with our brand. Ultimately, a better working environment translates into superior quality and performance of our products for our customers. One’s working environment can have a big impact on the organization.

We welcome business leaders to come visit us in Chesterfield and share your great ideas on how you are investing in better working conditions for people. Come and see us and let’s continue the conversation.

Tips For a Successful Internship Experience From an Intern's Perspective

Internship.  The word that is always in the back of most college students’ heads.  Where do I start?  How do I get one?  Is my resume good enough?  Am I good enough?

For the summer of 2019 I applied to five internships.  One out of the five was sent to me by my uncle.  Not expecting a response or interview, I said “why not” and applied to Cambridge Engineering.  Cambridge was out of the norm compared to the other companies I applied to, which were mostly advertising or public relations agencies.  I never thought I would be interning for a manufacturer, until now.  

I went through a two-step interview process involving the initial interview where I was able to record my own responses, and then the final video chat interview with the marketing team.  A few days later, I received a call from the Director of Marketing, Randy Niederer, saying I got the position.  

Initially, I was full of excitement, but as it got closer to my start date I began to realize that I know nothing about manufacturing.  Going into this position, I had no clue what to expect.  I am a marketing intern for an HVAC manufacturing company.  Now that is not what I expected to be this summer.

I assumed I would help out the marketing team with whatever they would be working on at the time and do some social media work.  What I didn’t expect was to basically shadow someone in the department.  As soon as I walked into Cambridge on my first day, Annie Krieger was waiting for me with a huge smile on her face.

I immediately felt comfortable and forgot about how nervous I was.  On my first day, Annie introduced to me every person that walked by.  We sat down, and went over a printed list of goals for me to accomplish with my time at Cambridge.  Annie told me, “It’s not what you can do for us, it’s what we can do for you”.  This has really stuck with me throughout my internship and made me realize three things: they know I don’t know what I’m doing, they know it can be intimidating, and they want to teach me, not take advantage of me.

I am now in my last week at Cambridge, and I can truly say I have learned A LOT.  Of course, I’ve learned about marketing: how to track social media analytics, create video and social media content, update the website, and develop a campaign.  I write blogs, press releases, and I even get to sit in on meetings with other agencies.  What I didn’t expect to learn about is culture and people.

My knowledge of Cambridge prior to my internship was little to none.  Now I can confidently say that Cambridge is known for their organizational culture and caring for their people.  People from all over the nation visit us just to see how #cambridgeculture works.  Much of it comes from Cambridge’s adoption of Lean manufacturing.  In a quick definition, Lean is the elimination of waste to make one’s life easier.  It also empowers employees to make their own improvements to their work routine, not instructed by their superiors.

This lean thinking will be a major takeaway from my time at Cambridge.  I learned that even in business, people deserve to be treated with respect, applauded for their successes (big or small), and that organizational health is vital for a company to thrive.  I learned how to make my own lean improvements and that this concept can be carried over into my personal life. 

When I reflect on what I’ve done so far at Cambridge, I realize I have learned more about marketing, public relations, people, and myself.  When I think about what I still want to accomplish, my personal goals are to become more comfortable and confident when I speak or write about content I may not have background knowledge on.  

So if you are an employer hiring interns, I have some recommendations on how to provide the best experience for your interns.

  1. Remember they are nervous.  Most of them have not worked in the “real world” before so clearly express your expectations of your intern.  These expectations should be accessible to your intern, so I recommend providing them with a copy.  This way, they have set goals to work towards along with their personal goals.
  2. Consider having someone for your intern to shadow.  I can imagine it would be quite confusing trying to execute an intern position without a mentor.  That’s why I am very thankful Annie took me under her wing.  She not only is there to answer any of my questions, but takes every opportunity to teach me something new every day.  By having someone to shadow, your intern establishes an initial bond and trust with one person.  This comfort they experience will most likely give them greater confidence to approach others throughout the company.
  3. Be a leader, not a boss.  The people at Cambridge guide me on what I should be doing, but I also have the freedom to make my own choices and mistakes.  This is how I learn, because in the “real world” I won’t always have someone instructing me every step of the way.  
  4. Make it a learning experience.  Use what your company has to offer and help shape the future of these young adults who are thirsty to learn from you.  I promise whether your intern ends up working full time for you or somewhere else, they will never forget what they learned from the people that took a chance on them and offered them an internship.


Remember, it’s not always about what your intern can do for you, it’s what you can do for them.

P.S. My advice for internship seekers: Step outside of your comfort zone!  Keep your options open.  It’s not where you work, it’s the people you work with and the mission you work for.

We applaud any leader's commitment to an improved work environment for their employees, and recognize the huge investment that this commitment can take. Since the heating, cooling and air quality of a building can play such a major factor in a happy and productive environment, we wanted to provide you with some simple mid-year maintenance tips to make sure your commercial and industrial HVAC systems are in check.  Below you can find some recommendations from Ryan King and Mike Bess, members of the Cambridge customer service team.

  1. Check the air filters.  Clean these filters if necessary because dirty filters will reduce CFM and could damage the discharge air sensor. 
  2. Grease the bearings.  The grease should be evenly distributed around the race; however, do not use the standard bearing grease in the Baldor motor.  This motor takes special grease that can be referred to in the technical manual.
  3. Check the belt tension and inspect for wear.  If the belt is too tight, it can  prematurely wear out the bearings and the belt.  If the belt is too loose it can slip or squeal.  
  4. Cycle the unit on and off in all modes of operation.  This ensures things are working per specifications.
  5. Check the discharge temperature.  Use a wired thermistor at the mixing box and calibrate the system if necessary.
  6. Inspect the control panels.  Look for any loose or frayed wire connections and make sure all connections are tight.  
  7. Check and clean the evaporator and condenser coils.  Dirty coils will drastically reduce cooling equipment efficiency and strain the compressor. 
  8. Perform a gas valve leak test.  This verifies the integrity of the valves.
  9. Verify that the manifold differential gas pressure matches the nameplate.  It is extremely important that this is set up properly.  If the manifold pressure is incorrect, the heater temp rises and its efficiency will be affected.  
  10. Inspect direct evaporative media (CELdek).  Ensure that there is proper water flow across the media. 
  11. Check the calibration of digital thermostats.  Press the up arrow and hold it; the display should show 0F.  If not, the calibration may have been adjusted to show a warmer or cooler temperature than desired.

We know you’re busy, and sometimes the easiest way to get direction on a service question or instructions on how to install can best be obtained by a quick “How-To” video. For that reason, we’ve compiled some service videos that you can view at your convenience that may help you with a Start Up or troubleshoot a problem you may be experiencing.

As always, our service team is happy to assist you with any questions you may have. Please call us at (888) 976-4451or email: service_dept@cambridge-eng.com

 

Temperatures are on the rise, and it's time to review safety protocols when it comes to overheating. Thanks to our Safety Coordinator, Conner LaLonde, for sharing these watch signs from the National Safety Council with our team this week!

HEAT RASH 

Look for: red inflammation of the skin. 

What to do: Remove unnecessary clothing. Do not apply creams or lotions as these could trap heat.

HEAT CRAMPS

Look for: painful muscle cramping or spasms. 

What to do: Remove worker from heat, provide water to sip, gently stretch muscle.

HEAT EXHAUSTION 

Look for: weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, heavy sweating, clammy skin. 

What to do: Remove worker from heat, give up to one liter of water (unless they are vomiting). Cool worker with cold, wet cloths and fan.

HEAT STROKE 

Look for: Rapid pulse, no sweating, confusion or unconsciousness. 

What to do: Call for medical help immediately. Do not administer any liquids if unconscious.

“Comfort” is an interesting word that we use a lot at Cambridge.  Since we are an HVAC company, it is usually in context with making sure the people in your industrial facility are breathing fresh, tempered air, or making sure that your employees in high-bay buildings aren’t freezing in the dead of winter. There’s also “comfort” in the realm of making sure your employees know that you’ve got their backs and have a genuine interest in their personal health and professional growth.  (see blogs on Dale Carnegie Leadership Training and Stretching Your Way to Workplace Safety to generate ideas of how to boost comfort both personally and professionally).
 

Still, most companies overlook the importance of physical employee comfort, and are losing real talent and real opportunity to grow with those employees when they leave to pursue a workplace that can meet and exceed their basic requirements of a healthy working environment.
 

Not convinced? Here are four reasons that we think will back us up.
 

Safety protocol alone is reason enough.

According to OSHA – your workers have the right to working conditions that do not pose a risk of serious harm.  The OSHA website starts with a dire warning: “The quality of indoor air inside … workplaces is important not only for workers' comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating, and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.” This safety protocol is actually far, far above a “comfort” suggestion – and could be downright dangerous if ignored.
 

And even though we could stop after the safety reason, here are three more reasons to consider:
 

You can’t exist without them.

Unless you are a completely automated company or self-employed, you depend on at least one employee to get your product or service sold, produced, billed, you name it. Employees know that they have employment options – especially in trade professions, where there is a serious labor shortage. Don’t doubt that even if an employee feels fairly compensated, they might still leave because of continuing discomfort in their workspace.
 


 

Continuous improvement falls apart when it’s not the priority.

Imagine a humid July day in a distribution facility, when you can’t imagine doing anything but cooling off. We spend a portion of every day identifying opportunities for lean improvement in our processes and workspaces, but even we know that these can fall by the wayside when it is just too hot or too cold.
 

They are your brand ambassadors.

Client services to your customer.

Seasoned laborers to new hires.

Any employee to the world on social media.

Your employees can and should be your biggest advocates, because they are treated right (and physical comfort plays a big role) and believe in your product or service. The opposite of these two things can destroy every sales opportunity on your books this year.

There are so many ways to make your team feel comfortable – and they deserve it, so make it a priority to figure out the right investment to provide them a workspace in which they can reach their full potential.