917 Bacon Street, Erie, PA 16511

Your Why Gives You Energy to Inspire

onex inc manufacturing erie pa

Several years ago, a vendor visited Onex to compare the two companies’ synergies and see how we could further work together. We had a PowerPoint presentation of all our product lines and a plant tour prepared…isn’t that what you are supposed to do? After our presentation, the vendor asked one question that changed our course as a company.  “What do you (the company) want to be when you grow up?”

Onex had spent years saying “yes” anytime a client asked if we could do something. We had grown very opportunistically but not strategically. There was no vision or a mission by which to guide our decisions. The goal must have been to be everything to everyone. Well, when you try to do everything you don’t do everything as well as you could. And when you are in the midst of an economic downturn, you may find yourself with too many resources devoted to failing product lines and not enough income.

So, time to write a mission statement by which to guide our actions:

Onex is committed to providing unique, cost effective solutions for our customers. We aim to deliver exceptional value by producing high quality products, optimizing processes, and eliminating waste in the total value stream.

Fills you up with energy and makes you want to be a part of the team, right? Not really. It is just like most mission statements out there. Pretty uninspiring and all things a company is supposed to be doing anyway.

Time for a heart to heart discussion on what is really important and why we get out of bed each morning. I found Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action, to be an incredible help. Sinek explains the golden circle and how must companies communicate. Everyone will tell you what they do, some will explain how they do it but few will tell you why they do what they do. Loyalty is not built on features and benefits. 

If your customers’ personal beliefs and values align with those expressed in your pitch…then they are much more likely to want to do business with you, not just one time, but over and over and over again. ~ Simon Sinek

As a company, we want our team to wake up excited to come to work, feel safe both physically and emotionally and return home fulfilled by their job and sharing the day with their family. Everyone wants to know that their work is important for the greater good of society. So, you must have a mission as an organization that everyone can get behind. Your mission drives every decision that you make. Your Why gives you passion and energy to pursue the challenges ahead. Now, Onex’s mission is to:

Value the strengths of our employees and leverage those strengths to make our clients’ production processes more efficient and reliable ensuring manufacturers remain competitive and small town USA thrives.

Why is this important you might ask? MFG Day developed an infographic to explain how manufacturing supports more than 18.5 million jobs in the U.S. Also, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, $1.40 is spent in the U.S. economy. The Manufacturing Institute reports that “if the U.S. manufacturing sector were its own county, it would rank as the eighth-largest world economy.” Manufacturing keeps U.S. towns alive and thriving!

Now that we understand our mission, it goes beyond our employees and clients. We want to have a ripple effect on the rest of manufacturing community. So, I serve on non-profit boards and committees that help improve manufacturing such as our Northwest Industrial Resource Center and the Forging Industry Association. I am also active in Women in Manufacturing. I talk about the great jobs manufacturers have available at career days and MFG Day as well as the skills required to do the jobs. I travel to tell our story in the Pennsylvania legislature and the U.S. congress.

Why do I work so hard to improve and promote manufacturing? Because I grew up in a small town in Tennessee where the largest employer employed 420 and my town’s population was 670. It would have been devastating if that paper mill had been shutdown. It was a real threat every time the mill changed ownership and because of the product we produced…newsprint. My father was a back tender on the paper machine and the breadwinner for a family of 5.

You can see the destruction of steel mill closures. Just visit the small towns along the Ohio River here in Pennsylvania. The steel mills recruited labor from the Appalachian Mountains, moved whole families to towns to run the mills, and then, when they closed, the families were too poor to even be able to move to find other work.  

Returning dignity to our manufacturing work and improving processes makes my heart sing…this is my WHY.

What makes your heart sing?

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