Despite its best efforts to ward off the economic slump, ENTEK MANUFACTURING (NO. 34 BEST MEDIUM COMPANY) had to lay off 12 full-time workers in 2009.
The cuts could have been much worse, but the Lebanon manufacturer of extrusion systems for customers in industries like wood-plastic composites, food packaging and batteries rolled up its sleeves and did just about everything it could to keep its remaining 70 employees working. Every staff member took some kind of a cut, some workers went to a flex schedule, and at one point, company founder Jim Young was personally putting Entek people to work building fences and what-not just so they could keep food on their tables during the downtime.
“We all had some pain in 2009, but we all shared it together,” says Entek president Larry Keith. “I think people really saw the sincerity of the company trying to keep everyone on.”
Keith says the company is a place where employees lean on and treat each other like family. Entek also keeps the lines of communication open at all times, not only through twice-monthly team meetings and regular barbecues where Keith himself mans the grill, but through an open-book financial system that ties employees closely to the inner workings of the company.
“They see how hard it is to earn a dollar,” Keith says, “but they also see opportunities for improvement.”
And when Entek asks employees for input, the company listens.
Each year Entek has made the 100 Best list, Keith has sat down with every single employee to find out what could make Entek an even better place to work. Last year, after salaried employees inquired about some flexibility in their nine-hour days, they were offered eight- or nine-hour days with an early out on Friday afternoons.
“Every year we just try to make it a better place,” Keith says.