Rubber & Plastics News (RPN), a leading trade publication for the rubber and plastics industry, has named The Rubber Group to its Best Places to Work List for 2019. The Rochester, New Hampshire manufacturer earned this award based on responses from its own employees to a survey conducted by Best Companies Group, an independent third-party. Founded in 1986, The Rubber Group employs 55 people. The company started as a distributor and still supplies standard rubber extrusions, but now specializes in molded rubber products and custom rubber molding services backed by value-added manufacturing.
Continuous improvement, open communication, training, and flexibility are driving The Rubber Group’s workplace success. As company president Rob Pruyn explains, top managers and line operators alike share a commitment to “trying to be the best at everything we do, not settling for just being good.” Managers don’t just monitor productivity and utilization. They provide daily feedback and regular support, such as training and re-training on equipment. Consequently, people know where they stand and what’s expected of them. They also feel that they’re part of a team and understand their role in a shared mission.
Open communication works both ways. The Rubber Group is transparent about how it’s doing financially and how team members are performing. There’s also a suggestion program where everyone can contribute ideas for improvement. “Those are assessed, and typically, a very high percentage of them are accepted and get implemented,” Pruyn says. Importantly, The Rubber Group maintains an open door policy. If there’s an issue on the shop floor, or if people don’t feel that their voices are being heard, team members are welcome to visit Pruyn’s office.
At The Rubber Group, a commitment to continuous improvement and open communication aren’t all that make the company a great place to work. The manufacturer understands that team members have interests outside of work and encourages people to advance their own personal development. “If they have other interests where they want to pursue something that may not apply to their job, we encourage that”, Pruyn explains. The Rubber Group’s four-day work week is also popular, and employees enjoy company events such as lunchtime picnics.
When the manufacturer needs to add new team members, The Rubber Group usually follows a temp-to-hire process. Three local staffing agencies perform outreach and initial screening. Promising candidates are then interviewed by front-line supervisors. If there’s a fit, temporary workers are invited to begin a training or probationary period that lasts for approximately six to eight weeks. Skill sets are important, of course, but The Rubber Group also values knowing how to be a good teammate and to work well with others.