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 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.

Each year, on the first Friday in October, the manufacturing community opens its doors to the public. This is known as Manufacturing Day. Manufacturers try to give insights into the problems and solutions that the modern manufacturer faces. This year Cambridge had the pleasure of hosting an event on creators wanted that provided a glimpse into manufacturing. 

Cambridge believes that everyone has the ability to lead and just needs to right opportunity. We believe in growing our leaders from within using multiple avenues for this development. In the clip below our marketing ambassador, Tony Spielberg, goes into detail as to how we develop leadership across the company. 

The Cambridge Air Solutions brand and our commitment to “Enriching Lives” is more than a name, an icon, or a tag line. It is our promise to our people, our customers, and to our supplies, that Cambridge desires to make an impact on the world. 

Megan Solter, Jesse Hummel, and Thomas Little were panelists and provided a live Q&A segment. They go into detail on their experiences at Cambridge, and the ways in which the culture has impacted them. 

Please join us for a morning meeting if you have any questions, or would like to experience our culture first hand!

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.

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.

What happens when an employee is asked to leave behind the realities of their home life when they walk into their workplace? The outcome is a conflicted person who is forced to figure out where their loyalties lie. As leaders, if you can recognize, celebrate and try to help with different facets of their lives, you can tap into their "whole person" - somebody who is much, much more than somebody you just pay to complete a list of tasks. 

If people are allowed to speak and act freely about their non-work life, they are likely to have a better sense of belonging, stronger loyalties, and often bring innovative ways to problem-solve to the table.

What exactly can leaders do to encourage a "whole self" at work?

  1. Acknowledging that mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives all have unique concerns and burdens that might be weighing on them. 
  2. A friendly listening ear can provide immeasurable support, but even if that is not possible, leaders can provide support through understanding and accommodation if PTO is needed.
  3. Making a genuine effort to learn more about your coworkers' families, including their accomplishments and current life obstacles 
  4. Celebrating accomplishments such as graduations, milestone birthdays, family additions and other changes 
  5. Creating perks and/or benefits that help people personally as well as professionally. One example at Cambridge is the subscription to SmartDollar, Dave Ramsey's online plan to financial freedom.

Watch the video below to hear the benefits first-hand from people who are more than just Cambridge employees, but also mothers, fathers, an Army National Guardsman, baseball enthusiasts and home cooks!

This video is part of our Enriching Lives series. For other ideas of what it means to enrich lives, click here. We'd love to hear your stories of how your company encourages whole selves. Tag us on social media with your story and the hashtag #enrichinglives!

 

This blog was guest written by Darla Gibson, Executive Admin at Cambridge Engineering.

We all know what employee engagement means, getting our employees to be present at work. Getting them to make things better, paying attention to quality and making sure our customers are taken care of. But how do we get it?

Over the 20+ years that I have been at Cambridge, I have seen so many iterations of getting the employees heard. From the suggestion box, to a database of issues that they encounter and want solutions for (we called it Employee Action Request or EAR), to rearranging where the departments are physically located to make sure the resources are near to where the problems occur. But it never seemed to work. But, why? 

It wasn’t that we didn’t hear them. It wasn’t that we didn’t believe them. It was a matter of having enough time and figuring out what the priorities were. Once the employee handed the problem to leadership, we had to put it in a bigger engine. Now, we had to prioritize it with the other projects from other areas. It became a bunch of “red tape.” So, what changed that for Cambridge?

I believe that the change came when we told the employees to fix it. That may sound harsh but basically, we said, if it bugs you, fix it. Don’t bring it to us, use the resources within your circle of influence and figure out how you can make it better. Most of the little issues, suddenly get fixed. If the employee was not changing the way our product looks or feels to the customer, we allowed them to find solutions. 

These solutions took a lot of their headaches away. Many times, they had the relationships within their departments and amongst other departments to fix the problems that plagued them day in and day out. They became more engaged because they felt they had a voice in finding the solutions to their own issues. No longer did they have to wait for the item to become top priority, no longer did they wait for a magical solution, they just took care of the issue.

The truly inspiring part of this is that we asked them to record it. We asked for a video that gave the problem and showed us their solution. This gave them a voice.  Now, they had the permission to fix what bugged them, and to show the entire organization their creative process. 

Did this make everything better? Of course not. There were larger problems that needed to be addressed within the bigger engine. However, what I believe this did was give employees a place to be creative and ask them for their ideas to fix problems. 

We have many people come through Cambridge to visit to see what we do. They have heard so many things about our Morning Meeting and our employee engagement.  When they are here, they see and feel this engagement.  This sense that the employee’s voice matters and therefore, the employees are willing to step up and tell us when they have an idea, rather than stay in the background. Everyone’s question is “how did you make it happen?”

It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t overnight. We have been on this journey for several years and the iterations keep happening. We have added so many places where the employee can come with ideas and be creative. What all the systems do is recognize that the employee voice needs to be heard, and the employee needs to have a space to be creative.

So, how can you make this happen in your organization?

  1. Create a pathway that works in your organization.  One that is simple and easy for the employee to access. 
  2. Allow the employee to tell their story.  Video is as easy way to share.  Find a venue – email, company meeting, some way for the stories to get published.  Allowing the employee to show off their creativity. 
  3. Celebrate.  Make sure the employee knows that you appreciate their efforts!

Find that space in your organization and let your employees become engaged and thrive!

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.

"My passion is to restore Glory and Dignity back to US Manufacturing."

This ambitious statement was first articulated by our CEO, John Kramer, during a lean exposure trip to McElroy Manufacturing and Tulsa Tube Bending in 2017. Since then, it's become our mantra at Cambridge, demonstrating what we we all know is true: that the people working within the manufacturing industry are elevating perceptions and creating a huge impact on the overall national GDP. And we need to celebrate them.

Restoring glory and dignity may feel to some like it's too aspirational, too much to take on, but it is in fact very achievable. It's the little things that add up: sharing grateful appreciation to co-worker on the line, providing the opportunity for financial wellness by offering Dave Ramsey's program to employees, cooking birthday breakfasts and so much more. 

Follow #GloryandDignity on Facebook. LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter to see the movement in action. 

You can probably already think of a million examples of how you've seen glory and dignity being restored at your work or how you've become more of a "whole being" because of an opportunity given to you. Tell us your story. Help us create this movement. Tag these instances on social with the hashtag #gloryanddignity, so we can celebrate with you and others can be inspired.

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.