A look back at 2021, Blog Post
The past year presented many challenges as the pandemic persisted. These challenges were felt in every industry and for nearly every business across the globe, including WCCO, with supply chain complications and a continued lack of workforce availability which, in our region, has been low-to-zero for many years. Simultaneously, the ag economy rebounded faster than most predicted, and the need for belting in other industries increased. Given these external factors, we looked inward to ensure that our leadership and WCCO team focused on remaining true to our mission – being as responsive as possible to our customers – by working on the facets we could control.
We focused on increasing automation and efficiencies on the production floor to increase output. These efforts helped to offset the lack of available workers by streamlining responsibilities on the manufacturing floor where possible. Not only to save time, but also to keep our employees safe. Staying true to our passion for innovation, and continuing to push the envelope with new technologies, we also supported the belting industry’s progression by sharing our expertise worldwide through a variety of mediums.
Here are some highlights from the past year that helped us remain focused on our customers, even while facing challenging macroeconomic conditions:
We launched our CREW Team initiative to better support employee health and community involvement.
- We revamped our wellness initiative, which supported employees and the community through training, personal growth opportunities and community involvement, into CREW Team. The acronym stands for Culture of Respect, Engagement and Wellness. Respect is our core value, we strive for engagement among our employees every day, and continue to prioritize the mental and physical wellness of our employees. The CREW Team accomplished this and more in a variety of ways.
- Approximately 40 people attend each month’s CREW Team meeting. This is a 195% increase in participation from the beginning of the 2021, when the program launched, to the end of 2021.
- Held a variety of events to provide opportunities for employees and the company to give back to the community through fundraisers, food and clothing donation drives, and more.
- The new CREW Team created the CREW Leadership Program, which is a program that serves as a leadership training opportunity for employees who are interested in building their careers. The program provides guidance, support and opportunities for employees to learn about and showcase career and leadership skills.
We continued to improve equipment field performance with new rubber product designs.
- Our patented Edge Defender™ cleat for combine harvest headers (draper platforms) became available to aftermarket distributors and to agricultural equipment manufacturers worldwide. The angled cleat design increases yield with product flow control technology that directs crop to the center of the draper and onto the feeder belt. It also reduces downtime from buildup under the belt by pulling crop away from the cutting edge.
We earned awards that emphasized that the work we are doing to support our employees and community is impactful and helped us continue to be one of the area’s employers of choice.
- We earned four awards in 2021 for safety enhancements to the production facility, as a “Best Place to Work” and for our support of the community:
- Earned two awards based on enhancements to our safety protocols from the North Dakota Safety Council (NDSC). The Safety Improvement Award was earned by reducing the company’s incident rate by 50.2% from 2019 to 2020. The Workplace Safety Merit Award is given to NDSC member companies showing an Experience Modification Rate (EMR) below 1 for the year.
- Named to the 2021 Prairie Business Magazine ‘50 Best Places to Work’ list for the seventh time based on nominations from employees at the company.
- Earned the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northern Plains Chapter “Cooperate Leadership in Philanthropy Award,” which honors a corporation or its corporate foundation that demonstrates outstanding commitment through financial support and through encouragement and motivation of others to take leadership roles toward philanthropy and community involvement.
We’re moving the industry forward serving as conveyor belt subject matter experts in a variety of industries across the globe.
- WCCO Belting leaders and subject matter experts wrote articles and participated in interviews for publications across the globe including in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia and England. Topics included pivoting through the pandemic, DEI efforts, and industry expertise.
Everything we do is to better support our current and prospective customers’ needs, but we couldn’t have accomplished all that we did without the dedication of our team who show up every day to contribute to the process of creating custom rubber products that impact businesses across the world. While challenges were aplenty we’re proud of all we accomplished in 2021. We are looking forward to a healthy and successful new year ahead!