May 11, 2018
Collaborative, friendly culture keeps Milwaukee-based manufacturer’s name on the list
Milwaukee-based Western Products has been recognized as a Milwaukee Top Workplace, marking its 9th consecutive year making the list. The more than 65-year-old manufacturing company prides itself on producing innovative snow and ice removal equipment for contractors and homeowners alike—but receiving the distinction of being a Top Workplace depends on more than the products they make.
“Employee satisfaction and wellness is of paramount importance across our company and is a crucial factor in our ability to manufacture market-leading, top-quality products,” says Linda Evans, vice president of human resources. “By staying committed to employee satisfaction, we foster a sense of community and genuine excitement about the work we do every day.”
Good culture goes beyond good employee benefits. Senior Commodity Manager Kim DeRuyter considers the emphasis on employee satisfaction and achievement to be one of the main perks of working at Western Products.
“Our company really takes an interest in our employees and understands their skill sets and motivators, and uses those to match us with career opportunities. They partner with us to continue building our skills. Between our managers and human resources, there are all kinds of people who work on identifying our talents and desires, and help bring our personal goals to fruition.”
Even before she began her work—originally as a buyer for the company—DeRuyter was aware of Western Product’s reputation as an exceptional workplace. “I’d heard awesome things about the organization and knew some people who started there the year before I came on board. They all had really great things to say about it.”
Over the past 8 years, she’s shared that positive experience. “It is a great culture. It’s not like coming to work every day. It’s exciting to be part of a group of people who share a common vision. I learn new things every day from the folks around me.”
Shipping Supervisor Scott Brooks can also speak to the experience of reaching personal and professional goals: “Everyone is very open and very friendly, and there are plenty of opportunities for cross-training. Someone’s always willing to help you learn something new, whether it’s welding or fabricating or even personal projects you’re working on at home.”
In fact, Brooks looks back fondly on one of his early days at the company. “I was working in the shop one day—dirty from head to toe. But our president came down and shook my hand and said ‘If you ever need anything, just let me know.’ That’s how we work. We tackle problems as a team and find creative ways to improve things.”
Employees also speak to the level of trust that Western Products puts in them. Mike Farrell, director of credit and collections, is grateful for a management structure that communicates well but lets him do his job without constant micromanagement. “They trust me. They know that I can manage a large portfolio, client relationships and my team without having to report back daily.”
Scott Brooks shares that perspective, too. He appreciates the company’s willingness to let him manage his department like a business of its own. “I take pride in managing my department’s financials and working as a coach for my team—it’s like running a small business inside of a large business. It’s an opportunity to share new perspectives, develop and grow.”
Even outside the company’s walls, Western Products prioritizes community. The company, which employs approximately 300 people in Milwaukee, strives to make their city a better place—and not just by taking on the brunt of Milwaukee winters. “There are always opportunities to get out and do good things together,” says Brooks. “We do charity walks and Earth Day cleanups. We work like a family and take care of Milwaukee together.”
For more information or to see current job openings with Western Products, visit westernplows.com/employment.
About Douglas Dynamics
Home to the most trusted brands in the industry, Douglas Dynamics is North America’s premier manufacturer and up-fitter of commercial work truck attachments and equipment. For more than 65 years, the Company has been innovating products that not only enable people to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively, but also enable businesses to increase profitability. Through its proprietary Douglas Dynamics Management System (DDMS), the Company is committed to continuous improvement aimed at consistently producing the highest quality products, at industry-leading levels of service and delivery that ultimately drive shareholder value. The Douglas Dynamics portfolio of products and services is separated into two segments: First, the Work Truck Attachments segment, which includes manufactured snow and ice control attachments sold under the FISHER®, HENDERSON®, SnowEx® and WESTERN® brands, and second, the Work Truck Solutions segment, which includes the upfit of market-leading attachments and storage solutions for commercial work vehicles under the DEJANA® brand and its related sub-brands.
About WorkplaceDynamics, LLC
Headquartered in Exton, PA, WorkplaceDynamics specializes in employee feedback surveys and workplace improvement. This year alone, more than two million employees in over 6,000 organizations will participate in the Top Workplaces™ campaign—a program it conducts in partnership with more than 40 prestigious media partners across the United States. Workplace Dynamics also provides consulting services to improve employee engagement and organizational health. WorkplaceDynamics is a founding B Corporation member, a coalition of organizations that are leading a global movement to redefine success in business by offering a positive vision of a better way to do business.