Making Corporate Culture Count
Würth builds on decades of success – starting from the inside, out
Whether it’s a B2B transaction, or a personal consumer experience, anybody who has ever had bad customer service knows how influential that occurrence can be on their perception of the company or business involved. And while a simple miscommunication or honest mistake can be the culprit of these events, a reoccurrence of poor service can oftentimes be a reflection of a deeper-rooted issue that exists within an organization. When the values, beliefs, and behaviors of an organization aren’t aligned, or aren’t given the attention they deserve – that disregard can affect business operations from the inside out. Essentially when an organization’s corporate culture lacks intention or reinforcement, it can disrupt everything from hiring processes to point-of-sale transactions, and every touch point in between.
Starting from the Inside
Würth, unlike most family-operated businesses, now has more than 74,000 employees and 400 plus locations world-wide. Spanning its reach around the globe, no matter what country a Würth team member might find themselves working in, one thing will always stand true – employees are at the heart of everything Würth is able to accomplish.
“The Würth Group really is all about people. So much of what the family focuses on, and they have since day one of the business, is the people – being able to work with them, develop them, and make them feel like they are a part of the culture,” says Marc Strandquist, Executive Vice President of the Würth Group.
The development of each employee is a fundamental component of Würth’s success. The goal is to not just equip employees with the knowledge needed to simply complete a job, but to provide them with advancement opportunities, training, and incentives to have a growing career. By practicing the employee-centric culture that Würth prides itself on, they’re able to increase retention rates and build loyalty within the company – giving them a stronger team that can weather industry or organizational changes, and lead the company into the future.
“People are our greatest asset because we really can’t operate without them. Yes, we can have the technology platforms, but the technology platforms are not created out of thin air, they’re created by people,” adds Heather Steward, Vice President of Supply Chain. “It’s people who are running the show, and who we rely on every day.”
Take Gary Nork for example, an inside sales representative out of Richmond, Virginia – Nork has been an employee with Würth for 18 years. He’s been managing some of the same accounts for more than 15 years, has helped train six other inside sales representatives, and has advanced his career at Würth by taking advantage of training and learning opportunities. “We’ve had vendor expos, lunch-n-learns, and I’ve even visited a rivet manufacturer,” Nork said. “I work with really good people, it’s always been more like a family here.”
And then there’s Eric Wheeler, a Würth employee for more than 15 years who has previously worked at two other companies within the industry, but has experienced firsthand what it’s like to have opportunities for growth with Würth. “I believe when employees feel there are options for advancement they want to stay with a company and grow. But more than that, when they actually see there’s options, and are encouraged to advance; employees become more invested in wanting to stay. It’s the difference between being told you’re loved and that person actually demonstrating they love you. You feel the love at Würth.”
When employees are put first, and when a healthy, rewarding corporate culture is prevalent within an organization – the benefits aren’t just reaped internally. Going the extra mile for employees gives them reason and incentive to go the extra mile for the customers they serve.
Whether wanted or not, a corporate culture can follow an organization’s reputation from the inside out. When internal conditions are questionable, it’s a safe bet that the customer is well aware of the situation within. And likewise, when corporate culture is strong, it’s easy to see from the outside. There are numerous ways a customer can discover what the corporate culture of an organization is like – from industry networks to reading it on the news, but the easiest, and most recommended way, is employee interaction that solidifies the values, beliefs, and behaviors of a business.
The reason Würth is able to provide their customers with customized inventory management and proactive supply-chain solutions is because they treat their customers the same way they treat their employees – not merely providing a service or product, but equipping them with the systems and strategies they need to succeed today, and tomorrow.
“We seek to understand their full business, what they face in their day to day environment, and their markets. We have many customers in very fast-paced businesses where their global markets are changing by the day,” states Todd Aronson, Director of National Accounts.
It’s why when a Midwestern manufacturing company wanted to make their operation more efficient and more productive, Würth started with touring each of their facilities – walking the production lines, and seeing first-hand exactly how their teams and their systems work together. In doing so, Würth was able to get to the root of their production inefficiencies, and in 31 working days implement new equipment, systems, and processes that turned those obstacles into opportunities for success.
“We have a more organized floor design now that’s also safer, and employees are being held accountable for keeping their areas clean,” said Joe Smith, a manager at the manufacturing company. “Quality control issues are easier to handle without shutting lines down, and our team isn’t wasting their time waiting for parts.”
From adding on-site Würth employees to sitting down with supply-chain sources to develop a better understanding of how their services can benefit Würth customers – a responsive, dedicated team is always prepared to go above and beyond what’s expected. At Würth, it’s more than supplying the right parts, technologies, and systems, it’s forging the right relationships that can drive bottom line results. “The way we do business at Würth, is the difference between a contract and a partnership,” says Strandquist.
In an industry where each customer has unique needs and processes, Würth has found that it’s the relationships they build with clients that allows them to deliver tailor-made logistics and supply-chain solutions.
More than a Buzzword
Corporate culture can often be misconstrued as perks or incentives, when in reality it’s one of the most vital factors to an organization’s overall success. While free gym memberships, extra vacation days, and flexible work hours are all great ways to boost employee morale – these “perks” have little to do with the actual culture of an organization. At Würth, corporate culture is more than a trendy way to attract new hires, or get recognized by clients. It’s the values and beliefs that were established in 1945 when the company started, and the same ones that keep it successful today – infused in every process both internally and externally. A philosophy of optimism, responsibility, and mutual respect is reflected in every decision and interaction around the world.