Achieving SHARP certification (Safety and Health Recognition Program) is one of the most prestigious honors a small business can receive. SHARP recognizes small businesses that have used OSHA's consultation program and have shown they have operational excellence when it comes to safety. 

Cambridge first heard of SHARP through MODOL and the Missouri On-Site Safety and Health Consultation. We are a culture that puts safety first so we became very interested in SHARP certification. 

How Does a Business achieve SHARP certification?

Obtaining SHARP certification is a serious undertaking that requires dedication from internal staff and an investment of time and resources to achieve success.

To start, you can:

- Request a consultation visit that involves a complete hazard identification survey by calling 573-522-SAFE or filling out an On-Site Application

- Involve employees in the consultation process

- Correct all hazards identified by the consultant

- Implement and maintain a safety and health management system

- Agree to notify your state Consultation Project Office before making any working changes or introducing new hazards into the workplace. 

 

Planning for success means planning for obstacles

When we decided to begin this journey, we knew it was not going to be accomplished quickly or with little effort. We needed to create new rhythms and routines, that we had previously had to some degree, but not to the precise levels of a SHARP-certified company. 

This became evident in reviewing our job hazard analysis and training cadences. We had a steep learning curve when it came to creating new daily rhythms. This required consistent dedication from all employees and could not be completed by just a few individuals. 

Overcoming the challenges of this journey are not an easy burden for any organization. However, we found that a continuous improvement mindset of making small, impactful changes that add up to big results does help make this goal feel achievable.

The requirement to involve employees in the consultation process is something that is well suited for the Cambridge culture. We are a culture that challenges our employees to fix what bugs them. We believe everyone is best qualified to resolve the issues within their work area. This translates over into safety. No one is better suited to identify safety hazards and find resolutions in a work area than the employee who works there daily. 


Providing safe environments is above all else

Working to identify potential hazards before something dangerous happens is our responsibility as an employer of the 180 mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters and brothers who go home to their families. 

We are committed to achieving SHARP certification, because at the end of the day, we know that providing a safe and healthy working environment for our employees needs to be our number one focus. 

Beyond intrinsic responsibility, a safe environment does impact the bottom line when each employee is able to fulfill their job duties without complication.

This journey can seem long and strenuous for an organization. We are still in the middle of our journey, but we are hopeful we will be able to achieve SHARP recognition by the end of the year. 

Our last bit of advice to companies considering SHARP recognition: reach out to local labor and industrial relations teams. They will work with you and provide audits so you can become more aware of the hazards in your work environment. Furthermore, host employee-led safety meetings regularly. These meetings allow employees to voice their concerns and collaborate for resolutions. 

Join us and ask us anything.

We commend any organization that wishes to start the path to SHARP certification. Join us for a tour to witness a culture that promotes continuous improvement and puts safety first. We would love to meet you.

 

 

In an effort to execute on our promise to grow our people and future leaders, we recently offered leadership training to our employees from the esteemed Dale Carnegie of St. Louis. Thirty-three teammembers took us up on it and graduated from the program. We are so proud of the courage that it took to commit and to "show up" and step out of their comfort zones for each and every training.

The video captures highlights of the program and the benefits from the investment from an individual and organizational level. 

 

If you want to learn more about why and how we encourage our employees to be courageously uncomfortable, please join us for a morning meeting

This article is written as a point of view from our Marketing Coordinator, Jesse Hummel.

Your first question might be: what is a workplace chaplain?

A chaplain is like a priest, pastor, or minister. However, they are not linked to any specific religious organization. They can provide support to whomever, regardless of religious affiliation. 

When life presents its unexpected challenges, having someone to talk to can go a long way. Cambridge provides chaplains that come in throughout the week to speak with employees. These chaplains operate on a purely anonymous basis, meaning whatever is said during conversation will not make its way around the company to others. They are there to listen to struggles and successes or engage in regular conversation. Chaplains do not operate as religious entities. They are not there to promote any specific religion but rather be  a positive resource. 

Experience with Chaplains

From personal experience, I can attest to the benefits of having a workplace chaplain. One morning I came into work with a negative attitude - my weekend was unpleasant, and I carried those feelings into the workplace. I could tell that these feelings had a negative impact on my mental health and my production at work. A few hours into my workday, one of our chaplains asked how I was doing. I shared with him the struggle I was enduring, and in return, he shared some words of encouragement. This interaction was quick but had undeniable benefits. I was able to feel relief from getting the negative experiences off my chest and ultimately was able to be more productive and concentrate on my work. 

Benefits of Chaplains in the Workplace

  • Resolve disputes: Any workplace with many people and personalities can experience quarrels and feelings of frustration. These issues are often minor disputes that can be resolved through conversation and likely aren’t taken to management due to fear of escalating the situation. Having a chaplain to talk through issues with can resolve these conflicts quickly. 

  • Culture: Having a chaplain promotes a positive culture. It shows employees that production numbers are not the only matter of importance. Employee mental health is a priority when chaplain services are provided. 
  • Safety: Carrying burdens can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety that act as a fog over someone; however, while in a manufacturing environment, you are frequently near a forklift or heavy machinery. If you are not present in the moment or aware of what is occurring around you, there is significant potential for an accident to occur. Chaplains can proactively relieve “the fog” leading to a safer environment. 

Studies show that approximately 90,000 hours of one’s life are spent in the workplace. For those in management, it is estimated that 30,000 of those hours are spent responding to a crisis. Having a chaplain in the workplace can help lighten the burden on those in management. They will have more time to focus on revenue, improving processes, and production. 

Come visit and ask us anything.

Having chaplains in the workplace is only but one of the ways in which we try to promote a culture of mental and physical health. Caring about the well-being of every employee is how we try to enrich our employees’ lives daily. As we’ve learned from other companies, we believe in a pay-it-forward and open our doors to visitors to experience our culture in our morning meetings – one of our favorite daily rhythms. 

This blog was written as a POV from Cambridge’s Marketing Manager, Annie Krieger, a working mom that found out years ago that she loves the spirit and opportunity she found in the manufacturing industry.

Last week, Meg Brown (Cambridge's VP of Human Resources) and I were invited to join a group of ladies from across Missouri to represent ‘Women Working in Manufacturing’ at the Missouri State Capitol. The Missouri Association of Manufacturing, by ways of Executive Director Michael Eaton and Marketing Manager Andrew LeGrand, organized the event as a way to understand how needs as individuals or for our industry are championed by our elected representatives. We met with several House Representatives and Senators and had the opportunity to speak with both Missouri Governor Michael Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe on the state of manufacturing in Missouri.

Frankly, it’s been a minute since grade school social studies for me, and my recall of how state legislation progresses was a little rusty, so allow me to summarize my learnings for those like me:

1. Your elected officials will open their door to you. They work for you. They want to understand your needs. We saw countless citizens coming and going from the representatives and senators offices that day, all seemingly there to discuss whatever issues they felt important.

2. You don’t have to be an expert on your issue to bring it to your elected official to try to find a solution to your needs. Just be authentic in your pain points and honest as to what could make it better.

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Our group came prepared to talk about ongoing labor shortages, to hear about what progress is being made in the supply chain arena and even to discuss a specific bill that would impact one of the manufacturer’s ability to conduct their business.

For logistical purposes, our tour group was small, and we are grateful to have been included. The ladies we met that day held different types of positions at manufacturers from St. Joseph to Columbia to St. Louis. One was a fourth generation owner, another was an assembly team lead – all brought a great energy and insight as to what it means to be a woman working in the manufacturing industry, an industry dominated by men.

Even Cambridge falls victim to this truth – we’ve been working to improve our own female representation in all departments. The needle is moving in the right direction (albeit slowly), but we are still celebrating the fact that we now have a workforce that is 14% women when that number was much smaller just a few years ago.

We’ve been interviewing our female colleagues, following industry trends, jumping on opportunities like this day at the Capitol to try to understand how we can keep improving these representation numbers.

Here are some realizations that we've discovered so far in terms of how to keep growing the number of women working in manufacturing:

1. Word of Mouth still works. Our talent seems to be built on personal positive connections to Cambridge, enforcing the known truth that if you build a workplace and culture your employees can embrace, then they will want to share that with those they love.

2. Glory and Dignity is Being Brought Back to Manufacturing. I don’t know that I ever dreamed of going into the manufacturing industry as a little girl. I probably imagined grit and smog. I now understand how amazing the people are who work in manufacturing, the sophistication of the processes and how much opportunity there is for growth.

3. “Bring Your Whole Self to Work.” While this idea is true for both genders, it cannot be ignored that women, especially working mothers, feel a burden when their employment and needs of their families can’t seem to balance. Encouraging people to speak their needs to their supervisors and find opportunity in bringing ideas from their work to their homes and vice versa will always prove to be the right move.

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I could write much, much more on being a woman in manufacturing and why it needs to be celebrated, but I would be stealing the thunder for future blog posts and even more celebration, so over the next year, we will explore deeper into diversity in the manufacturing industry and of course, continue the mission to bring glory and dignity into this wonderful industry.

On a final note, if you are in Manufacturing, be sure to join your local manufacturing associations. The Missouri Association for Manufacturing is an advocate for us and our fellow manufacturers in legislature, in networking and in continuing to bring glory and dignity back to manufacturing.

The Working with Dan Doriani podcast seeks to fire the imagination of Christians who long to practice their faith at work.The podcast features interviews of people who try to practice their faith at work. Guests may be famous or unknown. They may be very successful, quietly faithful, or instructive in their woes. We typically interview mature Christians, but there are exceptions. The common thread is a desire to live by one’s faith and convictions. Guests include professional athletes, award-winning broadcasters, a librarian, a surgeon, a Harvard-educated opioid addict, politicians, and more

John Kramer, Chairman and CEO of Cambridge Air Solutions, has made it his mission to restore glory and dignity to the manufacturing industry. He does this through a genuine, palpable care for his employees that manifests itself through both unconditional love and high expectations. He and Dan talk leadership, environmentalism, and how business people can cultivate healthy sustainable systems and organizations. 

No matter the business, quality issues remain a factor. After all, quality impacts all aspects of a business and improving it is a big undertaking. At Cambridge, our method involves a focus on employee genius and continuous improvement.

The problem is in the process, not the individual

Throughout the day, employees track quality issues using a communal iPad. These issues are compiled into a report that is then shared in an open conversation each day with the entire production team. Most issues are presented with a picture and a clarifying description of the problem. Throughout the conversation, there is never a moment of blame or causing shame to an individual for a mistake. Cambridge believes that the process failed the individual. If the proper procedure was in place, then the quality issue would not have occurred. The best part is: the process can be improved.

Quality issues are then archived in order to identify reoccurring issues. Whenever quality issues become repetitive, the process must be evaluated. When this happens, a team of employees steps up to address the issue. Employees volunteer during the quality meeting and come together to find a solution. Rather than a supervisor telling them what they should do in order to fix it, Cambridge believes that those performing the job are the ones who will come up with the best corrective actions. This employee genius will allow for the process to be improved in the most effective way. 

Process improvement in real life 

One example of this was with the orientation of gas train components. There are shutoff valves (SVs) and safety shutoff valves (SSVs) that must be orientated to the correct direction to ensure proper functionality. The SVs and SSVs were configured incorrectly on a few occasions, and there was a significant risk if these components were not correct when shipped out into the field. A team of employees came together to correct this mistake and ensured the process would drive the solution. It was decided that after the gas train was installed, the gas train builder would place orientation indicators on the SV and SSV. Proper orientation now goes through multiple checks ensuring the process will not allow for failure and for an incorrect gas train to make it into the field. 

Making improvement a central idea to culture

Standardized workflows that clarify what must be done help our employees achieve high expectations of a quality product. The perfect people to develop these processes or improve them are those who do it every day by using their employee genius. Open conversations without the fear of punishment allow for all quality issues to be addressed. Cambridge employees understand that there is no shame in making a mistake. Embracing failure and prescribing solutions enriches the lives of our employees and of our valuable customers.

Come and join us

Each morning Cambridge goes over quality issues that had happened the previous day. We discuss what went wrong within the entire organization and share what improvements will be made to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Come and join us for a morning meeting to see this in action!

The Manufacturing Leader Podcast: Restoring Glory and Dignity to Manufacturing with John Kramer and Marc Braun

Podcast by Joe Sullivan of Gorilla76 Marketing
Listen on Gorilla76's website

Would you rather focus on people or profitability in your business?
You can’t have it all.

But maybe you can…

Maybe people and profitability go hand in hand, and each makes the other stronger.

In this episode of The Manufacturing Executive, I talk with John Kramer, Chairman & CEO at Cambridge Air Solutions, 
and Marc Braun, President at Cambridge Air Solutions, about what it means to restore glory and dignity to manufacturing through both culture and business practices.

We also talked about:

How to build a culture that celebrates people.

How profitability fits in with a people-first culture

How to adapt to crises in a way that cares for people and drives business forward.

Extending a Company Culture across Multiple Facilities

When a company decides that their strategic goals and growth plans include the need for additional space – be that office, production or warehousing space – it begs the question: “How are we going to do this?”

To add to the complexity of multi-facility continuity, Covid introduced a unique situation where many companies offered the ability to work from home and plan to incorporate these workspaces in some fashion moving forward. The reality is that a company might operate at four business addresses but have remote workers dialing in from home offices across the country.

The good news is that a spirit of creative and intentional planning with the understanding that everything can be improved upon can make the process seem less daunting.

The operational “How?” starts to get sorted out through interdepartmental organization, communication and infrastructure investment. Planning for leasing, staffing, IT expansion and beyond becomes a beautiful challenge of logistics and operations. As these plans start to formulate, you can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel and envision of how the success of the expansion will come about.

The less tangible “How?” – the one that deals with extending the essence of the company beyond the original four walls is a little less concrete and arguably harder to plan. At Cambridge, we are proud of the culture of family, teamwork and lean  that we feel throughout our offices, our shop and in our morning meetings. We would be lying if we said we weren’t concerned about being able to extend that culture to our newest facility down the road in Wentzville, MO. While the second Cambridge facility isn’t all that far by mileage, ensuring that each employee experiences the same core values and unconditional love is where the challenge arises.

We know that we are still at the beginning of our multi-facility journey, and reserve any opportunity to improve as we learn, but here is an action plan that helped us feel comfortable that the Cambridge culture will reach all of our employees.

Take a stroll through your facility and take note. 
When you are walking someone through your workspace, what features are you always sure to point out? For us, a favorite stop is a picture wall full of our families and hobbies that help us remember each other’s whole selves. This simple installment will also live at our new facility and will serve to keep faces familiar that we don’t see day-to-day.

Create continuity. 
We wouldn’t be authentic if held one facility to a gold standard and one as an overflow facility, especially since our talent lives in both places. Many of the fundamentals from our headquarters can be easily shared – signage, inviting breakrooms, collaboration spaces, etc. Beyond the basics, we will rely heavily on our 2-Second Lean training and rest assured knowing that each and every employee will make their workspace work for them by eliminating waste and struggle. Our whole culture and operating system is based on the belief that the genius of each and every employee shines through the improvements that they make, so much so that it takes the stress out of making sure the lean (and clean!) workspaces is consistent among facilities.

Create some friendly competition. 
While it is important for everyone to know that they are working toward common goals and are part of unified team, it is also fun to bring in a little competition, especially when it gives employees a chance to show off their employee genius. 

Some of our favorite competitions were centered around who could find and eliminate the most safety risk and which department could produce the best lean improvement. Unsurprisingly, employees ran with the challenge and winners received gift cards or lunch. The spirit of competition and team comraderie can easily be launched in many different locations with leaderboards available to see where each location stands.

Create communication touchpoints. 
Now that many companies have embraced virtual meetings, the idea that communication should be built into daily rhythms is seemingly obvious but can still be difficult to implement. We embrace our daily Morning Meetings as a home for announcements, a review of our revenue, safety, quality and delivery metrics and a way to share our lean improvements with our fellow coworkers.  We have been intentional in ensuring to have equipment in place on Day 1 for the new facility to log in to our Morning Meetings.
 

Other companies rely on an intranet, cadenced emails or a dedicated social media channel or app to keep information flowing among employees. Whatever your choice of communication may be, just be sure that the training of the platform and importance of participation is part of the rhythm of the company and not just used for one-off communications. 

Team Build in each facility AND across locations. 
Taking advantage of virtual capabilities makes it easier than ever to get everyone “in the same place.” Virtual platforms are now commonplace for productive meetings, but can be of value in the team building arena as well. For our 2020 Christmas event, our Activities Team hired a comedic  party host that led us through an engaging hour of team building activities that were refreshingly fun and engaging. You can now also do virtual escape rooms and talent shows.
 

You could also just plan similar activities to occur at the same time at each facility so that no one feels left out of the fun.


We hope in the next year to be able to have all events that make up our culture – morning meetings, lean tours, employee celebrations – as live, in-person events. But if we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that we need to learn to be flexible and creative to not get sidelined by obstacles.

'Gearing Up'

If you were not able to participate in this year's 'Gearing Up' conference put on by the Missouri Association of Manufacturers, you're in luck! The Association has made the recap of the event available on the website, including a segment where the Governor of Missouri, Mike Parson, provides his take on issues that manufacturers face in light of the global pandemic.  

The highly relevant "Rethink. Reboot. Rebuild" conference theme brought incredible insight and advice from local manufacturers on how to sustain and grow the local manufacturing economy amid many unforeseen challenges.

We had the pleasure of hosting a virtual plant tour, as well as a Q&A panel for the Cambridge executive team. Many of the challenges discussed are not unique to our organization, so we hope that sharing our approach might provide ideas and inspiration to others in other people-centric and/or manufacturing organizations.

Here is a sneak peak of the topics we cover:

Human Resources Challenges
Topics covered by our VP of HR, Meg Brown

What is the right mix to create a “healthy working environment” and how does it help to hire and retain employees? 

Communication and on boarding can be difficult anytime, and made harder when the whole company may not be physically present. How can you make that work?


Inviting People in during a Pandemic

Topics covered by our VP of Sales & Marketing, Doug Eisenhart

Why does Cambridge offer lean tours and virtual tours of the plant? What is the value of these tours? 

What is the Morning Meeting daily rhythm? What is its purpose?


Creating and Maintaining a Company Culture

Topic covered by our President, Marc Braun

How do you approach keeping a strong culture during the pandemic?


Moving Forward with Strategic Goals

Topic covered by our CFO and COO, Kevin Thompson

How did you decide to continue with a strategic expansion plan during a year of uncertainty?
 

Thank you to Michael Eaton, the Executive Director of MAM, for including us in this great event as well as all of the great Missouri and Midwest organizations that work every day to bring glory and dignity back to manufacturing.

This lean culture blog was guest-written by Matt Lanham, Regional Sales Manager at Cambridge Air Solutions.

Ask anyone in sales what it’s like to do public speaking and the answer will likely be quite different from the paralyzing fear that some experience. We sometimes take it for granted.  But we all remember that first time we stood up in front of a crowd, trying to remember the lines we memorized, when the question from the back of the room derailed us … yep, there’s that paralyzing fear.

Public speaking, a presentation given live before an audience, remains a common fear for most people. And being able to convey a message, share something personal or educate people plays a vital role in many institutions and in the art of developing solid relationships.

And every day, we practice public speaking by asking our employees to jump in and “take the reins,” although it’s not required.

A daily rhythm

Every morning we experience our morning meeting – a rhythm of anniversaries and birthdays, grateful appreciation ,metrics, improvements and announcements. Scattered inside are stretching, “good mornings” and sometimes hugs (virtually these days). All lead by anyone – literally anyone who wishes to emcee today’s meeting and often share something or anything about themselves.

It’s not about the content, it’s about the action

Inside that sharing, we get to know our emcee better and understand the things that motivate them and things they care deeply about. Sometimes funny, sometimes serious; but we always walk away knowing SOMETHING more about that person, and conversations start to flow. These are the beginning stages of relationship building.

They sign up to do it again ... and again.

It’s some of the first stages of developing leaders. Those that are willing to jump in, mess up or nail it and feel the rush of fear and excitement all in one 20 minute timeframe. It’s about remembering that first time and exuding more and more confidence in subsequent runs in front of your peers and guests. That confidence spills over into small group meetings, peer groups, friends and their home life.

Come witness for yourself

For years I have been saying that our customers love us for a couple simple things – the quality of our products and the ease of doing business with us. None of that is possible without laying witness to our greatest asset and what I refer to as our “secret sauce” – our people and our desire to help build up the leader within them.

Come see us on one of our morning meetings – you will see what we see daily – the growth of our people and the respect we have for one another. Come see us on our journey to improve everything we do – everyday.