When I speak to audiences around the country, I often ask if anyone has been laid off. The responses are always the same: “It was the worst day of my life.” “When I had to go home and break the news to my family, the shame was almost unbearable.” “I didn’t know how I was going to make my mortgage payment.”
It is a demoralizing situation, especially if you have been laid off and called back numerous times – not wanting to fully leave and find a better job (because one isn’t there to be found) and not knowing if you would ever get to go back to work.
Unfortunately, this is often the experience of many workers throughout industrial manufacturing. If you’ve read my book, “Everybody Matters”, you’ll find numerous instances of businesses we’ve acquired that were broken. Even the people who remain with the company are weary from repeated layoffs and are broken as well. They feel hopeless and, having been burned so many times, they have almost lost the ability to trust.
A German company we recently acquired, Winkler and Dünnebier, or W+D, had similar struggles. For around 100 years, they’ve made machines that make envelopes, among other things. You can imagine that with the advent of the internet, that industry has been massively disrupted.
But even before Barry-Wehmiller came into the picture, W+D decided to do something they hadn’t done before to turn their business around: put their faith in their people.
A few weeks ago, W+D’s Managing Director, Frank Eichhorn, came to St. Louis to tell the story of how the company began, how it lost its way, and how it was able to right the ship. He also talked about how becoming part of the Barry-Wehmiller family has deepened W+D’s commitment to making work a more enriching experience for their people.
You can hear Frank tell this story on this episode of the Everybody Matters Podcast.