Jason C. Venner, son of Founders Jim and Linda Venner, and human resources manager and Derek Sandborn, national sales and marketing manager, for Clampco Products Inc. told Made in Medina County that creating a family atmosphere in the workplace creates more loyal employees and holds everyone accountable for their work.
With being named a Top Place to Work by The Plain Dealer 4 out of the past 5 years, the company leaders know a thing or two about sustaining a happy team and healthy business. The Clampco executives shares some of their secrets of success.
Note, questions are edited for clarity.
Jason Venner: Jim grew up in Wadsworth, and that is where he met Linda (Dunham) Venner. Jim had recently decided that he wanted to establish Clampco and chose Wadsworth as a great place to begin, due to Medina’s County’s location and the support from the Medina and Wadsworth communities. Medina/Wadsworth was also a great place to begin a family and put down roots.
Venner: Over the past couple of months, we’ve employed approximately 175 full, part-time and temporary employees. We have a large Wadsworth contingent working for us, but we also draw heavily from other municipalities and townships in Medina County, such as the City of Medina and Brunswick. We also pull from the Greater Akron area in Summit County, the Greater Wooster area in Wayne County, along with much of Cuyahoga County as well.
Derek Sandborn: Clampco does stock a variety of T-bolt Band Clamps and V-band Clamps for immediate shipment. We also stock a variety of custom made to order clamps to support our OEM / Tier 1 customers that require JIT daily shipments.
For clamp products that are not stocked, Clampco offers the fastest lead times in the clamp industry. Being vertically-integrated allows Clampco to control almost all manufacturing steps and processes, thus providing industry best delivery turnaround times to our customers. We are always striving for continuous improvement in our manufacturing processes that include robotics, automation and utilization of lean principles.
Venner: No two days are ever the same with family living. You experience ups, downs, challenges, joys hardships, support, and even criticisms, from those close to you… from minute to minute. Our style has always been to hold people accountable, but to be relaxed in that approach. Having our employees see us interacting with each other as a family cascades down to our management team and mid-level supervisors. Evaluating and treating employees holistically instead of just by the numbers gets you far more loyalty, and productivity, which is a win-win for everyone.
Venner: This is a great honor! We sheepishly say that we haven’t won in some previous years because we had so much going on that we didn’t get around to entering ourselves into the judging! But seriously, this is a wonderful honor. We do our best to be as transparent as possible, and to let employees know how they fit into the bigger picture. In an age of quick, social media “sensation or bust” behavior, we really feel people value truth and stability…what the company is doing, why we’re doing it, how we’re going to do it, etc. Plus, we put a premium on making sure that we provide a top notch benefit package and factor yearly wage increases and bonuses into our long-term budget.
Venner: We have had 45 years of success at this stage of the game. With success and growth comes the challenge of melding the old with the new. Bringing veteran and new employees together and then asking them to “change the change” can produce some fireworks at times; but, we also know that we won’t hire or retain any employee unless they’re passionate about what they do. Sometimes manufacturing is what it is, and keeping people passionate and communicative about what they do is something we’ll pay attention to as we continue to grow.
Venner: Clampco undertook this latest expansion to basically increase its production/warehousing capacity, specifically with contract-driven, high-volume order customers. We plan on moving most, if not all of our high-volume work-cell lines into this expansion. The expansion itself required careful planning with our contractor, Campbell Construction, members of the City of Wadsworth, and our own internal approach to materials procurement, production processes, and even staffing. We’ve been planning/realizing this expansion for much longer than a year and half, and we’re still not done with it, regarding investment in capital equipment, support staff recruiting, and additional production layouts.
Sandborn: Clampco maintains an e-commerce option for our customers. This quick and easy option provides our customers the ability to order a small quantity of our stock clamps and typically have them shipped within 24 hours via UPS. Our e-commerce website, trucknbusclamps.com, tends to cater to the personal use customer or industrial/commercial use customer that needs a small amount of clamps quickly for maintenance, repair or R&D. Our goal is to make doing business with Clampco as easy as possible for all of our customers, from large to small.