Have you seen the promotional videos featuring Washington?
Catch up with them on the community website, www.washmo.org, or the @washmochamber Facebook Page or YouTube Channel!
The video series is a joint project from the City of Washington and the Chamber, led by the Young Ambassadors, a group established specifically to complete this project and promote the area to Young Professionals throughout the region.
Special Thanks to Show Media for producing the videos. Chamber members specializing in video production were given the opportunity to bid on the project, and Show Media submitted the winning bid. The business also provided a unique perspective, as it was created by three young entrepreneurs, including one that lives in Washington.
An extra special thank you goes to the following businesses that sponsored the video series - Bank of Franklin County, Bank of Washington, Citizens Bank, and First State Community Bank.
ECC was founded in 1968 and classes began in September 1969, making 2019 a historic year. The College wrapped up its 50th anniversary celebration by participating in several area parades during the summer, and in September an event on campus featuring activities, including a car display, petting zoo, inflatables and food trucks. A class reunion was also held for alums to see old friends.
In addition, ECC sealed a time capsule containing mementos of the past 50 years to be opened in 2068 for the 100th anniversary.
Looking ahead, President Dr. Jon Bauer said the college will focus on its new strategic plan, SOAR to 2024. “We begin this new year focused on developing the initiatives in our new strategic plan that will greatly enhance our college and our surrounding communities,” he said. “Last year will be remembered as a springboard for our current plan,” Bauer added. “I will remember it as one of the most exciting and substantial years in recent memory for East Central College.”
The college is governed by a board of trustees. The board includes six members, two from each sub-district.
ECC students can complete their first two years of coursework toward a bachelor's degree and then transfer to a four-year institution. In addition, there are more than 25 career/technical programs are offered with Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and certificate options available for students preparing to enter the workforce. The Union campus sits on over 200 acres. The college also has two locations in Rolla and offers classes in Washington.
Soar to 2024
In August, the Board of Trustees approved a new 5-year strategic plan — SOAR to 2024.
The architects of the plan enlisted the assistance of students, administration, faculty, staff, trustees, community members and business leaders to ensure that all stakeholders had a voice in the process.
SOAR to 2024 features a new mission and vision for the college, as well as a new set of values and five major strategies: Pathways, Partnerships, Employees, Financial Strength and Rolla.
New Dual Credit Opportunities
The college implanted a plan last year to provide more educational opportunities to area students through an earlier college experience. In December, trustees authorized free dual credit classes to high school students who are on the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program. The new initiative took effect in the 2020 spring semester that began Jan. 21. This move provides an avenue for ECC to remove the barrier for high school students who don’t have access to traditional financial aid.
Students taking dual credit classes are taught in their high school by a teacher from their school who is certified in that discipline by ECC. The college grants the student credit hours upon completion of the class.
Data show that students who participate in early college programs are more likely to enroll full-time after high school. Early college can shorten the time to degree and reduce the overall cost of higher education for students and their families.
ECC Brings Back Baseball, Adds Women’s Soccer
In December, trustees also agreed to expand the slate of sports offerings to include men’s baseball and women’s soccer. Women’s soccer will start in fall 2020 and men’s baseball will return to the field in spring 2022. The baseball program was discontinued in 2001 due to budget cuts after starting in 1974.
Men’s baseball will have a roster of 35 players while women’s soccer will have a roster of 25 student-athletes. There are three primary reasons for moving forward with these two sports: enrollment, student success and revenue generation.
Historically, student-athletes have a higher grade point average, course completion rates, and graduation and transfer rates than non-athletes.
Free Textbook Project
During the 2019 summer semester the college began to provide lower cost textbooks for students. In some cases textbooks are free. Community college students spend an average of $1,400 on books and supplies each year and this initiative lessens the burden for them
ECC is using open educational resources (OER) that are either copyright-free textbooks, or have a license that allows for reuse. Students will get the same quality information at little or no cost.
The idea began with the English department where students were paying about $140 for a required textbook. Now, those students are using a textbook that only costs $34.
The project is expected to be expanded to other classes as the college continues to look for methods to lower the barriers for students.
Higher Learning Commission Visit
A team from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) completed its on-site work in November. The College remains fully accredited and has taken positive steps to improve in the areas from assessment to planning to governance.
The HLC team read and heard about a number of significant, substantive changes that have occurred over the past few years. The energy and engagement was evident throughout the visit, and is reflective of the work happening on campus every day.
In 2020, the college will move forward in implementing SOAR 2024. ECC also will focus on its assessment, evaluating new programs and revising policies.
A grant is being sought by the ECC Foundation to repair and improve the walking trail on the Union campus. In addition, the Foundation will begin spearheading a fundraising campaign to raise funds to upgrade the current baseball field.
The college anticipates the completion of a greenhouse near the ECC Training Center in Union. The greenhouse is substantially complete and it will enhance the college’s culinary program. It is funded with federal, state and local dollars.
As the 21st century continues to develop new technology in every aspect of the world, including the workplace, more and more people are finding ways to succeed at any age. People are working for years longer due to technology, creating the largest age gap the workplace has ever experienced.
In some industries, communication, workplace culture, the promotional ladder and many other variables are all changing as the gap in age continues to increase.
Julie Scannel, HR director for GH Tool and Mold, believes that some of the problems associated with these arising challenges reflect these younger generations.
“Employees prioritizing their needs isn’t really something we used to see very often. They’re not afraid to lose a job if it means a better life for themselves; whereas previous generations believed the job was the key to a better life,” Scannell said.
Workplaces outside of Washington have defined these changes as a limiting factor to their success. Washington, however, views today’s workforce challenge as a workforce opportunity.
David Englebrecht, Chief Operations Officer, President of Citizens Bank believes that the Washington area allows the bank to hire high schoolers to work alongside the veterans like himself. “The young people that are coming to work for us are great examples of what the parents and teachers in this community are teaching them to be,” Englebrecht said. “They're hard workers and very competitive and driven. I think a lot of those people my age are somewhat taken aback that they're hungry for movement upward quickly, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.”
Luke Meyer, Vice President of Citizens Bank grew up in the Washington community and when he was hired on at the bank, was one of the youngest loan officers the bank had ever had. Now he helps fill the gaps between generations.
Meyer first began working when internet banking first started. As new ideas are created from younger employees he has helpful insight on what it means to be present during such an impactful shift. “When I started, internet banking was the primary cutting edge thing. We've evolved into mobile banking. You can get eAlerts, and you can do everything from your phone now. The younger employees have some really great ideas. There's a lot of different perspectives being thrown in, and their ideas are being heard. The challenge is just trying to manage those different styles, and bring them into our reality,” Meyer said.
Paige Robinson, a junior at Washington High School and part-time teller, views the opportunity to work with everyone at the bank as a perspective of what it takes to work in any industry, especially at the bank.
“The older generations have the full time jobs that could potentially be open by the time I’m out of college. Working with people of all ages opens my eyes and teaches me what I have to work towards no matter where I end up,” Robinson said.
Similar to the different generations at Citizens Bank, GH Tool and Mold varies in generations. Aaron Meyer and Blaine Straatmann, both work at GH during the school day before their normal afternoon shifts. This partnership with Four Rivers Career Center and GH has allowed both of these students more opportunities to see what it’s like working more than just after school. Meyer and Straatmann agree that the culture at GH has a big effect on what their experience is truly like. “I don’t think [the workforce challenge] really affects us because we all get along really well,” Meyer said. “I’ve heard about it from the media more than from problems that may happen during work.”
The relationships between the community, schools, and businesses in Washington reflects the relationships inside the workplace, as well. “We try to be good friends with all of the workers so that when we make mistakes like setting up the same tools twice we aren’t afraid to go and talk with the older employees,” Straatmann said. Robinson agrees that the relationship inside the office helps overcome any challenges that do arise because of an age difference.
“We are all a good team. If someone is in the midst of something, we have each other’s back and make sure that we get the next customer,” Robinson said. “Everyone at Citizens Bank treats me like an adult. Customers ask sometimes if I’m just ‘helping out’ but everyone I work with sticks up for me and says ‘no she’s a part of us’,” Robinson said.
Washington finds that the different generations are a benefit, however, there are still stereotypes of what the workplace in this generation is going to be like.
“There's always going to be disagreements and there's always going age differences in the workplace, therefore, it’s less about the disconnect and more about how to overcome those stereotypes through the generations,” Englebrecht said.
Even though there are challenges with training older employees in new technology while also teaching younger generations the expectations of working in a certain environment, the benefit of having a large array of generations working together outweighs any challenges. “Every generation has people with good and bad work ethics, individuals who are eager to learn and contribute, and individuals who are just in it for themselves. We are fortunate to have a company and community culture that promotes the former, regardless of age,” Scannell said.
The Center for Advanced Professional Studies, CAPS, is a program through Four Rivers Career Center that brings together high school students and the community to create an innovative partnership focused on entrepreneurship in the real world. The 2019 CAPS students partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to sell advertisements to help produce this magazine. Students traveled to different businesses, spoke with professionals and sold advertisements to fully fund this edition. “The experience was great. It gave me practice with speaking to professionals and helped me gain experience for my future,” Cameron McElhaney said. Not only was this project beneficial for both the magazine and the educational component, but it remains one of the highlights for both the community and the CAPS students. “Selling ads for the Chamber magazine, Washington Insight was my favorite project this year. I woke up every day 100% excited and ready to go try to sell the ads. I loved the experience and it felt like we were making a difference,” Colton Cozza said. For businesses it was a great opportunity to meet the future generations of business men and women. “Ethan Strubberg, a member of the CAPS program, arrived at my office dressed for success, including a tie! As scary as I know it can be for these young adults to enter a business they’re not familiar with, and then proceed to ask for advertising funds, Mr. Strubberg did so in a very mature and professional manner,” Casey Zastrow said. Other students found that being able to go outside the classroom and get invested into the community has a benefit far beyond what was expected at the beginning of the year. “This was my favorite experience so far in CAPS. It gave us real world experience when it comes to sales. It is something I’m considering pursuing in my future because of this project,” Tim Logan Roewe said. Being able to come into the different businesses has helped get these students out within the community. “The CAPS program is a wonderful program for students and the business community as a whole,” Zastrow said. The Chamber would not have been able to create this magazine without the energy, efforts, and hard work of the CAPS students. These students best represent the heart of the community of Washington. None of this would have been possible without this group of innovative young professionals.
Recently, our Chamber President and Economic Development Director sat down with some local business leaders to discuss the challenges and advantages of today's business climate, and what makes Washington a great home for their business.
Meet the Panel
What trends do you notice in industrial development in the area? Have you had to adapt to a recovering economy since 2008?
Maune: We’ve had to consolidate the operations for leaner operations and to be more competitive in our market. I think some of the challenges is that “Amazon” thought process is what we're always up against. “I wanted it yesterday”, quick turnaround. We do a lot of online orders; we're seeing that part of our business increase online. People trying to place those orders on their phones. That's become a bigger part of us.
Sallaberry: Every business is becoming a technology business. Technology has to be ingrained and embedded into everything you do these days. Whether it's sales, marketing, manufacturing, or even the way you interact with customers, it’s becoming an important piece.
James: Global capacity out there is certainly high, we compete across the globe and that's not something commonly known about our product. We move with the economy. Our industry in 2008, 2009 and 2010 dropped 50% revenue. The global competition for us is even more prevalent now post-recession versus pre-recession. The other thing is speed. Even within our product, it takes us six to eight months to execute an order from the time we quote until we deliver.
Archer: We've been through quite a ride since 2008. It seems that most any company had survived out of that has embraced some level of how we make everything as lean as possible and expand, but only expand as much as needed. Not necessarily looking at what you need 10 or 15 years from now, but what do I need for the next year? Melton has been lucky. In the last two years, we've made a commitment to build a large building that'll take care of us for the next 15 or 20 years.
Just in the past 10 years, how has technology changed your business from operations to company culture?
Sallaberry: Our customers are actually demanding a higher level of technology embedded into the equipment we make. They want to maximize their productivity and minimize their downtime, just like us. That’s something that wasn't even on our radar ten years ago.
Archer: Over the last 10 years, the United States has gone from being the sixth most productive country to right at the top one or two spot as most productive country in terms of producing. Automation is directly related to some of those results. With the amount of technology and stuff that’s out there, it's hard to find people that know everything you need for them to know to hire them anyway, so you have to train. If you're going to train them anyway, then you might as well hire the best candidate for the position no matter the training. We're more about looking for somebody who's going to be a cultural fit for our company.
James: There should be no fear from automation. Anytime we can take non-value-added work out of some part of our business, we can take those hours and put it adding value somewhere else in our business. If we automate something away, no one's losing their job. We need great people that can run our business. We used to hear the word employee morale talked about more than culture. If someone's happy that's great, but at the same time it questions are they performing in other areas as well. It's not just about employee happiness though, our employee morale is a mindset. We're competing around the globe and it's easy being mediocre, but it's not good enough.
Maune: For Hodges, we went through a huge hiring in the last year and added 50% new people to the plant. We went from 60 to 120 employees. It's been a huge change to our culture, but we’ve been trying to get that culture back. That was a big influx of a lot of new people there. We're realizing that our culture has to stay. If you put the people first, the rest falls in place. One of the things we did during this is we started a part time, second shift and it is four to nine Monday through Thursday. We're getting people who have jobs and they're working night shifts. They are extremely loyal people because they have amazing work ethic.
James: We have about 475 employees in our business and I hand write 475 birthday cards a year. It's just the small things. How do you make someone try to feel a little extra special? Birthdays, weddings, graduations, the things that matter to our employees have to matter to us to. We've kind of forgotten how to write personal notes and how to do personal touches like that.
Have any of your businesses had to change daily operations because of the changing landscape of the workforce? What are some ways you’ve addresses the workforce challenge?
Sallaberry: If you go to StateTech and somebody who's graduating in December and you're going there in September to look for those people, they're gone already. They've already made a decision. We’re talking to people in September who are going to graduate in May or June or July and they already have two offers. We're filtering that down to the high schools now into STEM programs. Both high schools have STEM programs and we're bringing those kids on to work with us in the summers and part time on holidays for the experience, getting to know each other, letting them see what we do and some of those kids, even at the high school level are doing some great work.
Archer: We probably do two or three tours a year to middle school students and beginning high school students and STEM programs, as many people as we can bring through our doors. Some of the tours are targeted like a woman in STEM. We need to bring manufacturing into the schools to see opportunities. There's so many opportunities out there that need to be showcased to everyone. When we find someone that we like, who shares our values and respects our values of hungry, humble and smart. We want to advance that person, so that they stay with us for a long time.
James: We have the ability to recruit engineering, sales, and marketing all within the metro area because of our community’s location. We have local students in all of our avenues. I've been in some form of manufacturing for 32 years and it's the first time that we sit back and realized our limiting factor to our growth is not capital, tools, equipment, material or the office area, it's do we have the men and the women to build the products to take care of our customers.
Maune: At Hodges I still see promoting within, going up the ladder and not having to have those degrees, but putting that best foot forward, and it opens so many doors.
What are some federal, state, or local programs your companies have used to assist in growth? What other opportunities would you like to see available?
Sallaberry: These days it’s the training that we like to see more of but we're taking advantage of the WorkKeys program. We've got four employees that have been through the industrial technology program at East Central College. We've got two in the program now. It goes back to promoting from within and giving employees that opportunity. A person that wants to learn and improve will advance. We make work schedules flexible enough so that our employees can go to school while also working.
James: We've taken advantage of industrial revenue bonds and the state training program in the past. We're partnering with the East Central College right now and a certification for some of our supply chain group. We have an instructor from East Central College in our building every Tuesday and Thursday morning. They start class at 6:30 a.m. Making education and training easily accessible is just one way to continue to refresh our program.
Archer: We're in the midst of a large construction project and it’s been very beneficial partnering up with the city and the state for all the things that we're working on together to make that come about. The best part of is that it's all incentive based. It's based on us hiring more people. We hire more people, then, the city and the economy benefits, and then we get a benefit from the inside. If we don't grow, we don't get the people, then it didn't cost the city anything. It's a mutually beneficial thing. Those types of programs are lower risk but higher reward for the taxpayers. That's the best part about it. Those kinds of things don’t always get portrayed that way.
Industrial growth is often seen as a catalyst to growth in other sectors (i.e. housing and retail). Do you think any future development could encourage industrial growth here? If so, what specifically could Washington benefit from?
Archer: One of the things that would be helpful is more land. In order to build, land is needed to get there. That's an interesting dilemma that everybody knows about, but it’s a limiting factor of companies coming in. If we are at a critical mass of companies, it'd be interesting to explore if it was possible to have some sort of incubator where we could start training new entrepreneurs, have them build some kind of simple thing that's more industrial related. We can potentially either collaborate or if it was the right opportunity, we could eventually merge with them, bringing them in.
Sallaberry: When we want to think about growing industry in Washington and we talk about other sectors, I’ve noticed that there has been a growing diversity of manufacturing sectors represented here. A greater focus placed on certain growth sectors that might be interested in a small manufacturing location in a relatively lower cost environment could really expand what has been started here in Washington.
Maune: I think having the retail and good restaurants adds so much in a deciding factor as to whether or not to grow in a certain area. I think what Downtown Washington Inc. has done with the downtown scene is amazing. They have made the downtown feel alive and vibrant. The area gives the whole town a strong feel when you come across the downtown being strong, the rest of the city seems to grow along with it.
Even with some of the development hurdles we’ve discussed, we’ve seen industrial development growth in the region over the past few years. What is influencing industries to continue to make investments in this area?
Sallaberry: The availability of high-quality workers, good skill levels, great work ethic that the area is known for was the biggest draw for us to move our headquarters out here. Clemco was at a sort of an inflection point with a little bit of a turnover in our shareholder group, coincided with being able to vacate very high rent properties in the downtown financial district of San Francisco. Trade that in for Washington, Missouri, it was kind of a financial no-brainer.
Maune: For Hodges moving our headquarters to Washington definitely was a financial gain moving here from the East coast. Enduro Binders produces something similar to us. We can call them and say, “our machine is down” and they’ll respond immediately, “bring it on up here and we'll take care of you.” I think that's what makes Washington stand out. The relationships and comradery is so valued by the entire community.
Archer: Transportation is also a pretty decent thing for us because we're in the center of the country. We're shipping products to the east and west coast. We don't have to go all the way across the country to get it there.
James: Our location is one of the only two manufacturers West of the Mississippi that have any significance. Our competition is in the Southeast part of the United States and the East coast. It's a significant part of our cost to deliver a large power transformer. When we travel from here versus someone traveling from Virginia, Georgia or Pennsylvania, it's an advantage for us, which makes the Washington location a great place to be.
Where do you anticipate the largest changes in the industrial sector in the next five years?
Archer: There’s a laundry list of potential new changes that leads us all to answer some important questions: how much data do we really look at for a machine or for a company and how do we manage that sort of thing, how do we maintain different levels of cybersecurity, advanced cybersecurity, where is industrial internet going to take companies? What becomes difficult is figuring out what is something that is a newer technology that we need to embrace versus the next shiny thing to go chasing after. It’s not an easy thing certainly, but from our standpoint, it is staying focused on what made you successful and being open to these new elements and figuring out if those things work into what we're focused on.
Sallaberry: Smart technology is coming our way and we'd better embrace it. Embrace the right ones, but we better embrace it. Whether it's incorporated into the equipment that we build or whether it's embedded into the processes that we employ to make that product, technology is going to play a huge role in whether we grow or whether we stagnate.
James: We're adapting some of our design and manufacturing technologies to accommodate for new energies that are replacing coal. It's now cheaper to generate a kilowatt of electricity through a wind turban than a coal fired plant. It is 70% renewable energy. That's a market that we're having to adapt to and this is a different customer that we have to adapt to as well. I could probably hire a couple of hundred more people just for the renewables market right now. It's that hot in the United States right now.
Maune: I think for us it's going to be technology while knowing our customers, trying to understand what our customers are going to want. That's going to be important for us. Trying to anticipate desires, but ahead of time what are they going to want next.
If an industry was interested in looking in Washington, what would you highlight to help them make that decision?
James: The quality of life and good work ethic in Washington makes it worth living and working here. Weg is really kind of new to business in the United States as a whole. We really got over here just within the past five years and Washington makes us want to continue to grow in the U.S.
Archer: Companies within Washington support the community. There seems to be a lot of energy around making sure people get helped through service organizations that are added on as a component.
Maune: The fact that we already have an industrial structure and diversity in manufacturing out here makes Washington a great place to be. We all can network with each other daily which is the spirit of Washington.
Sallaberry: Corporations are recognizing a greater responsibility, being part of the community and giving back to the community. I'm not seeing many places in the country that have the active volunteerism that this community has. It makes this place different, which is why it’s great to live and work here. Everything else in the Washington area has so much going for it: the quality of life, the social scene in downtown, great schools, and health care, but it seems like the one missing piece is affordable, middle class housing.
As we begin planning for our 2020 events, we have created a brochure to highlight the sponsorship opportunities available to members.
The Chamber is proud to offer a variety of networking opportunities for our members, as well as public events that bring our community together. There are opportunities available at different price points for our events, or choose the “Everywhere” package to be represented at every event we host.
We are grateful to the many businesses that partner with us to bring these events to Washington, and we couldn’t do it without you! Thank you for considering our sponsorship opportunities. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office (636-239-2715).
On behalf of our Board of Directors and Staff, we wish you a wonderful final month of 2019 and an even better year in 2020!
Fifteen individuals have been selected to the 2019 class of Outstanding Young Professionals, sponsored by The Missourian and the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce. The selection committee continues to receive many excellent nominations, making the job of selection tougher each year! Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a nomination, and an extra "kudos" to the young professionals in the area that continue to embrace Washington's "service leadership" model of volunteerism!
One specific item that our Board Chairman, Dave Politte, mentioned at the Chamber Mixer on June 6, was a renewed focus on member retention, and specifically, our recognition of members.
We want to make sure our members are getting the most out of their membership, and feel comfortable giving suggestions for improvements. Our staff is implementing a plan to assign each member to a staffer who will try to reach out a few times a year with a personal contact. Of course, we always welcome you to visit our office, and we look forward to visiting at your place as well. With over 500 members, we want to do a better job of making sure no ne is getting lost in the shuffle!
Another way we are hoping to give more attention to our members is by recognizing membership milestones at some of our events! Beginning in 2020, we will implement the following schedule:
Business Breakfast Meeting (January)
New Members from Previous Year
25, 30, and 40-Year Anniversaries
Chairman's Circle (Members 50 years or more!)
Summer Mixer (June)
10 and 20-Year Anniversaries
One other new perk that we have started is a drawing at each event for two tickets to the following event. Each member business that has a representative at the event is entered into a drawing (one entry per member - you don't get extras for sending lots of people, although we always love that!). We'll choose a winner and announce it before the event is over. It's just another way we want to show our appreciation for the members that continue to support our Chamber and community. **Congrats to Bank of Washington, who won the drawing at the 2019 Summer Mixer - they get two free tickets to the Member Luncheon (Monday, October 7)!
As always, you also have opportunities to promote your business by updating your online member listing and submitting content for the blog (we always need more Member Features and Ask The Expert Columns), or sponsoring events. Plus, keep an eye out for advertising options in some upcoming publications as well!
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