Found an inspirational article from December 1st 2016 by “Pallet Enterprise”. The article highlights efforts by Seneca Sawmill to be “employee-focused” which has been a long held priority for the company. When you think about it, people are the most important asset in a sawmill. Machinery can only get you so far as motivated, happy, skilled, and productive workers are the true key to success and maximum production. Perhaps there is lesson for us all to learn from Seneca?
According to the article you can read in full here Seneca Sawmill was started in 1954 by Aaron Jones, a war veteran who wanted to contribute to his community through offering employment. His daughters who now run the company say Mr. Jones’ values were simple: good wage, good job, good working environment. Seneca’s corporate culture is strong and includes new employees even for unskilled jobs being paid a “family wage”. Employees who have served 25 years with the company are honored in a sort of “Hall of Fame” that gives recognition to their service.
Employees are provided with complimentary Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams. The attempt is to threat the entire group of employees like family: they have movie nights at the local theater, distribute a company wide newsletter (filled with engaging information about what the employees have been up to) and have a large yearly company picnic that throws out all the stops including major giveaways of trips, electronics, outdoor gear, etc.
The focus of this all is to keep employees happy, motivated, and retained. In an era of a slowly improving economy skilled workers have places to go and “shopping oneself” can always lead to more money if you put your mind to it. Seneca does their best to retain by promoting from within, offering inter-company apprenticeships, and flexible shifting options. Not all of these options would make sense for sawmills but the core principle should: skilled, productive, sawmill employees are a sawmill’s single best resource and little initiatives sawmill managers can do to keep those individuals happy and retained will go along way in running a safe, productive, consistent sawmilling operation.