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Empowering employees to drive you to greater heights

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PHOTO COURTESY OF EAST PENN MANUFACTURING
The campus of East Penn Manufacturing in Lyon Station: Sharing values that support the company culture.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EAST PENN MANUFACTURING The campus of East Penn Manufacturing in Lyon Station: Sharing values that support the company culture.

A core belief system and mission-driven growth best embody mainstay ingredients to success for top-performing privately held companies in Berks County.

At Triose Inc. in Wyomissing, ensuring employees understand and buy into the company’s goals is critical to moving forward for the health care supply chain logistics firm.

“When all 100-plus employees know the direction of the company and are knowledgeable about why the company has or hasn’t succeeded in the past, it empowers them to propel you to greater heights,” said Gerry Romanelli, chief commercial officer of Triose.

Christopher Pruitt, president and CEO of battery-maker East Penn Manufacturing in Lyon Station in Richmond Township, said founder DeLight Breidegam’s belief in “people, places and principles” formed the core of the firm’s mission, which drives its longevity and ultimate success.

“He always believed that if you treat people right, create a safe and healthy place to work and remain true to your core beliefs … that the company would not only be successful, but would continue to encourage and sustain a positive culture,” Pruitt said.

EAST PENN MANUFACTURING

Christopher Pruitt, President and CEO

Richmond Township, Berks County

<What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?

There are many important attributes that make up a great workplace culture. However, our founder, DeLight Breidegam, had summed it up into three main categories: people, places and principles.

He always believed that if you treat people right, create a safe and healthy place to work and remain true to your core beliefs – like integrity, quality, innovation and mutual respect – that the company would not only be successful, but would continue to encourage and sustain a positive culture and a family like atmosphere.

<What has been your recipe for success?

We have worked hard to remain true to our core beliefs. Many things have changed within our company, and we’ve had many hard challenges. However, we continue to work together and use those challenges to help make us stronger.

I give a lot of credit to our chairman Dan Breidegam, who continues to uphold the values of … the company and preserve the legacy of those who came before us.

I also give a lot of credit to the people of East Penn. We continue to proudly proclaim that they are the heart of our company, and they have always proved us right.

<No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?

I’ve had many great mentors. I’ve been fortunate to work closely with the Breidegam family for over 24 years, including Sally Breidegam Miksiewicz, who taught me a great deal during her lifetime.

I’ve also worked closely with our former CEO, Dan Langdon, and current COO [chief operating officer], Bob Flicker, who have both taught me so much about our customers, the company and the business – all for which I am truly grateful.

One of the things that I have also learned from our founder DeLight was to be open to the ideas of all those around me and to have a healthy respect for people’s input and area of expertise. I continue to learn and value everyone’s contributions from all facets of the company, and that has helped me grow personally in my leadership role.

<What is your company’s training strategy/approach?

Our company has a history of promoting from within, but we are always looking for outside talent to join our growing family.

We rely heavily on mentorship in our training and development programs. We want people to be able to learn their jobs well, but we also want them to understand, and be a part of our company culture.

We have taken many strides in the last few years to help talk about our company’s history and share the values that support our culture.

<What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?

East Penn is on the brink of some very unique developments with our advanced lead battery technologies and continued innovations. We are also continuing to expand our capabilities and product portfolio to help meet the growing needs of tomorrow while providing sustainable energy storage solutions for today.

I am also excited to see our employees grow in their careers, the leadership develop from within our organization, and our continued planning for the next generation.

TRIOSE INC.

Gerry Romanelli, Chief Commercial Officer

Wyomissing

<What are the key ingredients in creating a great workplace culture?

It all starts with great people. Despite being a smaller company, we have an outstanding human resources team that is committed to helping make sure that we recruit, hire, train and retain people with a can-do attitude. We hire people who want to make a difference in the office, with our clients and in our communities.

We also have a strong belief in being transparent with our employees. We share the company results monthly with the entire company.

When all 100-plus employees know the direction of the company and are knowledgeable about why the company has or hasn’t succeeded in the past, it empowers them to propel you to greater heights. I think you see that in our success year-over-year. 

<What has been your recipe for success?

Triose’s mission has always been about making a substantial difference in health care. As our revenue, employee census and service portfolio have grown, we have not lost sight of that core belief.

We recognize that our industry is about as community-centric as it can get. Everyone visits a doctor or hospital at some point, so our success with helping health systems reduce their logistics footprint is directly connected with reducing health care costs. We look at it as helping our friends and family.

While that’s how we approach our industry, ultimately it’s still our people that make the biggest difference and who are the largest drivers of our success.

<No one starts out as a master chef or top executive. Who has helped you along the way, and how?

No one becomes an executive without help along the way, and I’m no exception to that rule.

In my 30 years in business, I have worked for many bosses, and I try to learn something from each one. Sometimes it is something I want to incorporate in my management style and sometimes it is something I never want to do as a leader.

I think one key is to realize that you can learn from anyone you work with. Some of my greatest [lessons] have come from front-line employees.

I read a great book, “The CEO Next Door,” that talks about how 45 percent of CEOs had at least one major career blowup. I think that says a lot about how adversity shapes us into better leaders.

Like most, the greatest teachers I had were my parents. They taught me to treat everyone the same regardless of their position or title. They also taught me that failure is just preparation for your next success.

<What is your company’s training strategy/approach?

Triose invests more in training employees than most Fortune 500 companies. Triose provides a comprehensive orientation for every new hire. Additionally, we have numerous online tools available to every employee.

After one year of employment, every employee at Triose is placed in a professional development plan that is customized for them. High-potential employees are placed in an individual development plan, which is even more rigorous.

Both plans include things like mentoring, coaching and outside development courses. The programs allow employees to develop skills to allow them to excel in their roles and seek new roles with additional responsibility.

The training program has allowed us to fill many of our management roles via internal promotion.

<What’s on the menu the next year or two for you and/or your company?

Prior to 2017, the majority of company revenue came from one solution that we offered hospitals. As health care systems have grown and reimbursements have been cut, we evolved to provide even more solutions to our clinicians.

We recently finalized a partnership with McKesson, as well as launched numerous new products within our portfolio that are helping health systems continue to advance their operations.

I expect further innovation and growth in the coming years.

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