By Sue Moore
It was a major event last week at the new Eimo East plant on W. Prairie Street. Dignitaries, managers, workers, all converged upon the shiny manufacturing plant in the Leja Industrial Park to congratulate each other on getting a 70,000-square-foot building completed and fully operational in seven months.
The emphasis was on the teamwork that it took to accomplish this Herculean feat, according to Gary Hallam, general manager of Eimo One. He served as master of ceremonies as a parade of dignitaries stepped to the podium to congratulate the company.
The company produces decorative and precision plastic injection molding.
Hallam pointed out the state-of-the-art new molding machines and the fully functioning plant that didn’t exist seven months ago. Junya Suzuki, president and CEO of Nissha Printing Co., Ltd, the parent company in Japan, praised the employees in the plant for their dedication and hard work. He challenged them to achieve the next target of $200 million in revenue.
Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, told the audience of several hundred guests and employees that they’re the CEOs of their own responsibilities. He celebrated the men and women who come to Eimo every day to work. Great companies have great people and are passionate about their great products, he told them.
Bill Adams, Vicksburg village council president, cited a Japanese saying, “Kaizen” meaning change for the better. He believes that his governmental entity at least has adopted that approach, making it as easy as possible for companies like Eimo to expand in the village.
Frederick Construction, headed by Mike Frederick, got the building done on time and on budget. What it took was a team of designers, engineers, and great vision from the customer (Eimo) to make it happen, he said. “We had 150 people involved in the project in the seven months. It got done because these folks bought in to the process.”
Plant Manager Randy Bongard had a lot to do with the success of the project, Hallam said, when he came up with the mantra “Own It”. Bongard challenged every employee to take personal responsibility to make something better. He urged the 300 employees to make a conscious decision to “own it” and act on that every day.
Jim Sertic, former president of Accro-Seal and now a consultant, cited the good culture at Eimo, realizing that the employees try to do the right thing every day. “Results matter. It’s contagious.”
Stryker representatives were invited to the opening because the company is one of Eimo’s biggest and best customers. That company, Whirlpool and General Motors comprise about 90 percent of Eimo’s business.
Eimo East plant employees were singled out for mention by Hallam. They included Rob Bell, with 38 years of employment beginning with Victor Plastics; Steve Busher, who began in 1983 and has only missed one day of work in that time; Jody Crouch, with 28 years of service; and Gary Arndt, a 2014 hire, who has just been appointed quality assurance manager.
Following the speeches, everyone in the three Vicksburg-area Eimo plants was invited to lunch prepared by local restaurants.