Since 1972, the state of Iowa has been a central figure in the United States presidential election cycle with the first major electoral event to nominate the next president. Most people also know that Iowa has a big footprint in American agriculture. But…did you know that Iowa is also a big manufacturing player?
It’s true. Iowa has over 200 companies that have been in business for over 100 years. And manufacturing accounts for about 18% of the state’s GDP.
So how can other states and manufacturers learn from Iowa’s manufacturing success? A recent CNN article interviewed four of Iowa’s top manufacturers. These are the key factors they attribute their success to:
- Be nimble. Jolly Time Popcorn has been in business since 1916. They say their success is due to having no management layers. They are able to be nimble and offer answers and make decisions quickly without delaying.
- Good people. Invest in your employees and your community. Pay competitive wages to attract and retain the best employees.
- Be local. Emerson/Fisher has been in business since the 1870s. Many of their employees come from local talent. Manufacturers can work with local universities to attract terrific employees while they’re still in college.
- Start early. Loyal employees are often the key to company success. Lisle Corporation, in business since 1903, hires employees right out of high school and college. A great majority of their employees have spent their entire careers at Lisle. Their knowledgeable and loyal workforce drives innovation and creativity.
It seems that the BIG secret to longevity lies mainly in the people manufacturers hire and develop. As the nonwovens industry continues to grow, it’s important that we retain and reward employees who are invested not only in their personal success but also in the success of their companies. Manufacturing longevity isn’t specific to Iowa but within the grasp of all of us who value our workforce.
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