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Skilled employees are the most valuable asset

Management | August 1, 2011 | By:

A team of dedicated employees rises to the demands of an unprecedented season.

Summer is here and the heat is literally on. Three storms in three weeks involving high winds and hail have changed our awning production schedule. Normally, we would be winding down at this time of year, but instead we are surpassing peak-of-season volume. The repair work due to damage to awnings, homes and cars in the Dayton, Ohio, area is a welcome boost to the local economy and our bottom line. And fortunately, none of our tents were damaged in the storms, thanks to advance warning and the timing of events.

Since June our crews have been installing twenty-eight 8-meter clearspans for our largest event of the year. The annual Vectrem Dayton Air Show at the Dayton International Airport is among the best in the world. As the home of the Wright brothers, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton is a magnet for aviation enthusiasts. The show is often associated with the unveiling of the Air Force’s newest jets and technology, so this two-day event breaks attendance records each year.

The clearspan structures we install have carpeting, air conditioning, residential doors and permanent bathrooms in each unit. These “chalets” are corporate rentals, usually with ties to the aerospace industry. The airport stays operational the entire time, which means that to reach the installation site we must cross active aircraft areas. Two of my crew and I had to go through extensive TSA and FAA training to receive credentials to access this area. TSA and the airport police with their well-known vigilance constantly monitor our activity and personnel.

The week of the show an additional 100-plus tents are installed, including a 60-by-120-foot twin pole Eureka! Evolution™ tent and an Anchor Century® tent. We are always asked at the last minute to fabricate new tents and modify standard units for special circumstances. In a normal year our sewing production team can generally handle such requests immediately, but this year we are making tents, replacing and adding keder to chalet units and trying to fulfill our unprecedented awning obligations as well. Because Glawe is a small-to-medium sized company, our employees must be willing and capable to assist with other areas of the business as needed. When hiring permanent skilled labor, attitude and a team approach are important issues. Employees with a “not my job” perspective have a negative impact on the whole company.

Our more experienced staff both in the field and at the plant have risen to the challenge, working overtime and helping wherever they are needed. One of our best sewers is also a certified forklift operator who will fill in when our warehouse crew is out and she is needed to unload shipments and check inventory. Office workers are sometimes called upon to power wash something at the last minute and bring it to a job site. Employees truly are the most important asset to a company—especially in a season such as this.

The third of five installments by Kathy Schaefer, owner of Glawe Awnings and Tents, Fairborn, Ohio, reflecting on the 2011 rental season.
The great flood of 1913, which covered the Miami Valley, toppled Glawe’s two-story factory in Dayton. After the flood, a concrete first floor, with 2-foot thick walls, was constructed, and the original two-story building was placed on top of the construction to make a three-story plant.

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