In 1999, the Kloeckner Metals’ purchasing department was located in New Orleans. It was there that Robin Portera started as an expediter. When hurricane Katrina hit, Kloeckner moved the purchasing department to the corporate headquarters in Roswell, Georgia. Portera decided to move up with it, and Kloeckner put the purchasing employees up in a hotel for six months while they settled in. They had lost everything in the storm, and suddenly everything had changed.
“I was working for Kloeckner, but I was going to night school through Charity School of Nursing to become a nurse,” Portera said. “Then the hurricane happened and we came here, and obviously that changed my whole plan. Kloeckner actually said, ‘Go back to school for something that has to do with business and we’ll pay for it.’ I did. I went and got my management and finance degree.”
Kloeckner offers financial reimbursement for employees that decide to go back to school while continuing to work for Kloeckner. Portera, now the plate product manager for corporate purchasing, encourages people who are considering going back to school to approach their managers ask about it. Balancing a job by day and an education by night is difficult, but Portera thinks that it is worth it.
“You’ve just got to get through it,” Portera said. “I would definitely recommend that they stay focused, and don’t give up, and make sure that they let their management know that they are driven and they are happy in their position, but they are not satisfied and would like opportunities for growth.”
Kloeckner also offers a variety of training and management programs for employees interested in further developing their careers. These programs help employees get a bigger picture of the steel industry and become well-rounded. That knowledge and skill set is crucial to long-term success in the industry. That is why Kloeckner is committed to offering these programs.
“New employees or employees that feel like they are stuck might not realize they can approach their manager, and they absolutely can and should if their desire is to grow with the business,” Portera says. “We have a lot of young people in the business that we need to be in various important positions in the future. So I think it is important for them to step up and become more well-rounded so they can help run the business one day.”
Portera is happy with her decision to move to Roswell and stay with Kloeckner. Being in the corporate office gave her exposure and opened doors for her. By continuing to develop herself, she was able to rise through the ranks and progress in her career.
“I think that the sky is the limit, and you are your own barrier because the company definitely gives you the opportunity to expand if that is what you choose to do in your career,” Portera says. “They invest in you as long as you invest in them.”
Kloeckner’s Hawaii branch is unique. It has three completely different profit centers, and all three are high value-added businesses. The branch’s galvanizing plant is the only one in the state, and the branch manufactures premium metal roofing. As a steel distributor, the branch also has value-added capabilities such as burning, punching/drilling holes, shearing, and saw cutting.
“Our uniqueness is how diversified our product offering is,” said Diane Malinovich, vice president and general manager of the Hawaii branch.
Hawaii is geographically the most remote place on the planet. Surrounded by the ocean, the salt-laden air is very corrosive. As a result, roofs need to be replaced, making metal roofing a real mainstay of the Hawaii branch’s business.
“We’ve expanded our capabilities on the metal roofing side, and have really become more of a major player in that segment,” Diane said.
The corrosive atmosphere also makes galvanization very important. In 2018, the Hawaii branch plans on upgrading its galvanization facilities by installing a new furnace. The furnace heats the molten zinc in the kettle to a constant 835 degrees, where it stays 24-7.
“What we are looking at doing is completely upgrading our furnace and other components within the plant,” Diane said.
The physical distance of Hawaii from the mainland doesn’t pose any logistical problems thanks to regular shipping schedules from the West Coast. Despite the large physical distance, the Hawaii branch maintains lead times that are typically two weeks, for product on the floor, to ship. Suppliers are clustered near the major port areas on the mainland and offer sailing options on different vessels.
In addition, “we source special buyout items routinely, which involves shipping from coast to coast” Diane said, which can include shipping via rail car, trucking, and barging, or container ships to the Port of Honolulu.
The work atmosphere at the Hawaii branch is positive, upbeat and very customer focused. The team is happy and driven. Everyone takes great pride in their work, the branch and the company. They follow the golden rule, treating each other and the customers with respect and appreciation.
“Everybody has fun,” Diane said. “If you enjoy what you do, it’s not work. It is a very harmonious team-effort atmosphere.”
Mary Kathryn Lamping is a millennial who works as an account manager in fabrication at the Kloeckner Metals Murfreesboro branch. Not too long ago, however, Mary Kathryn was living in North Carolina and working at another steel company. When her now-husband got a job in Nashville, she wanted to make a switch. She found that Kloeckner was the perfect place to continue developing her career.
“When I was looking at Kloeckner, I was looking for a place where I had the opportunity to fully develop my career and potentially retire with, and I saw that here,” Mary Kathryn says. “One thing that really stands out to me is that they highly value training and the growth of their employees.”
Training is very important to Mary Kathryn. When she first started at Kloeckner, she spent a few days in each department. She rode with drivers, observed machine operators, and visited customers.
“The onboarding process that they set up for me was above and beyond other companies I’ve seen,” Mary Kathryn says. “It’s so I have a better understanding of how the company works together. Understanding how each department operates gives you a better grasp of who you should be communicating with, best practices, and what the company is all about.”
In addition to that, Kloeckner offers a variety of programs for employees to learn and expand their knowledge base. Kloeckner partners with mills to organize tours and presentations. This gives the sales staff a better understanding of the entire process, so they are more knowledgeable when dealing with customers. Additionally, Kloeckner offers a variety of training courses. One that stood out to Mary Kathryn was the Butler Learning Systems sales and negotiation training in Ohio which she was able to attend.
“I feel like I came back much more prepared and aware of how to negotiate and communicate with customers,” Mary Kathryn says. “You can tell that Kloeckner is a company that wants to assist us and give us the tools to grow and succeed within our career.
In her spare time, Mary Kathryn likes to exercise and travel. She has been to exotic places like Brazil and Mexico, but her favorite destination is Seaside Florida, where she was recently married. She has lived in six different states, but she says that Tennessee is her favorite so far.
“I like to explore new places and travel, whether it is a quick weekend getaway or whenever I can find the time,” Mary Kathryn says.
‘Tis the season of giving
The holidays are always a busy time of the year, but several Kloeckner branches paused their hectic schedules to give back to those in need. Hawaii, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Tulsa partnered with different organizations and donated their time and resources to make this holiday season a cheerful one.
This is not Hawaii’s first time participating in a Toys for Tots campaign, but it is definitely a branch favorite. Diane Malinovich, vice president and general manager of the Hawaii branch, describes the branch’s attitude as “lots of generous support.”
Malinovich says that choosing a charity is difficult because the need is so great, for example, Hawaii has a large segment of people who are homeless. It also has an extremely high cost of living so many families have to work two or three jobs, buying toys as gifts is not one of their priorities. This is when Hawaii decided to intervene and provide toys to those families who are in need. “We all understand how tough it can be living in Hawaii,” Malinovich explains when talking about how this toy drive has impacted the branch, “toys for children strikes a chord with everyone.”
Hawaii also hosts an annual food drive, it is ongoing through the middle of January. The food collected goes to the Hawaii Food Bank, the largest domestic hunger relief organization. When asked how long they have been donating to the Hawaii Food Bank, Malinovich said it has been too many years to count, the Hawaii Food Bank is the branch’s favorite organization. “We are just doing our small part to make a difference for the less fortunate,” Malinovich shares.
Due to the enormous success of their food drive last month, the Indianapolis branch decided to hold a toy drive to benefit the Riley’s Children Heath. It is Indiana’s largest and most skilled pediatric system and one of the largest healthcare specifically for children.
Steve Blair, office manager of Indianapolis, describes Riley’s Health as reputable, but the reason why he chose this organization is not only because of its repute. “One of our employees’ son had some issues and went to Riley, it was such a good cause for our employee and the community as a whole,” Blair says. The branch has collected 249 toys. Blair says some of the employees have friendly competitions with the donations, but it has improved moral around the office. “I am so proud of the people in the branch,” Blair shares when talking about the involvement from the Indianapolis employees.
These past two drives has been a success and the branch has more events planned for 2018. Blair says Indianapolis plans to partner with United Way’s “Backpack Attack” during the summer of 2018.
The Los Angeles wanted to focus on children this holiday season. “We felt those children who were sick and away from home, needed a little extra love and support during the holidays,” J. Paul Javier, Sourcing Manager – Flat Rolled, says when choosing Miller’s Children Hospital as their organization to partner with.
Miller’s also struck close to home as Bill Terrio, senior inside sales representative, has a daughter who spent some time there as a child and the doctors and staff were nothing short of spectacular. The branch donated over 100 items including toys, board games, video games and more.
The main goal of this toy drive was to bring awareness. “These kids are going through hardships some of us may never face in our lives, we wanted to do our small part in making sure they feel appreciated and loved,” Javier says.
The response from the branch, vendors and friends was tremendous, Javier shares there was so much support and participation. The holiday drive for Miller’s brought a sense of unity within Los Angeles, which extended to the vendors and partners that work closely with the branch every day. “Individually, my heart is full,” Javier says.
This year, Los Angeles has partnered with Little Lake School District and participated in its first Thanksgiving Food Drive. However, the branch’s goals for the New Year is to continue to give back but be more involved in community outreach and volunteer work.
The Tulsa branch has participated with Toys for Tots for many years now. However, this is its first year partnering with the Catoosa branch. Everyone in both branches has been very involved in giving since this organization is pretty dear and near to the people. “We had groups of shoppers, they’d go out on their own time to buy gifts. There are some people in our branch that are busy but still want to help out, so they’d donate cash,” Kelly says when talking about the involvment of the employees. “People were asking about it even before we got the donation boxes.”
Toys for Tots wasn’t the only the organization Tulsa partnered with this holiday season. After Hurricane Harvey, the branch wanted to jump in and help those affected in the Houston branch. “You know, take one of our own,” Kelly says. After speaking to the general managers in Tulsa and Houston, Kelly says they were able to find two families that were the perfect fit. “We were only given the children’s gender, ages and their favorite activities. We took that information and ran with it.” The branch still doesn’t know the names of the families, they just know they wanted to make their holiday wishes come true. “We don’t want a thank you, we just want to help our fellow team members,” Kelly shares.
Kelly says she is thankful to be part of a branch that doesn’t have to think twice when helping others. Tulsa plans to be open for opportunities to give back in 2018. “There is always someone somewhere that needs help.”
Thank you to all of the branches for their generous and giving hearts, their acts of kindness have touched so many people this season. Stay tuned for more #KloecknerGivesBack this 2018. Happy Holidays to all!
It is the end of the year, and also the end of an era at Kloeckner Metals. Bill Partalis is retiring after 15 years as CEO of Kloeckner Metals Corporation and 34 years with the company. He has directed the company through many changes and amazing growth. Along the way, he has made a lot of friends.
“He’s a good guy,” says Leo Ducharme, VP of IT and 30-year friend of Bill. “He’ll do just about anything for you. He’ll help you out any time he can.”
Leo first started working with Bill in Michigan, and then Bill moved down to Georgia. Five years later, Leo transferred down to Georgia, too. Leo thinks back to that move, and how it was tough. Leo didn’t really want to stay at first. Then Bill introduced Leo to his circle of friends, and some of the people he knew. That is something that Leo says stuck in his mind.
“Bill played a big part in me deciding finally to stay here,” Leo says.
Bill and Leo like to ride motorcycles together and have been on quite a few bike trips. The two have traveled to bike week, ridden on twisting roads, and seen some beautiful scenery.
“He’s usually leading,” Leo says with a chuckle. “He’s fun to ride with.”
In addition to riding, Bill is planning on spending more time at his family’s lake house. He also enjoys playing golf and developed many good relationships with vendors and clients on the golf course.
“Bill is kind of a man’s man if you will,” says Jon Greenlee, General Manager of Alpharetta and friend of Bill for 25 years. “Whether it is riding on the motorcycles, sitting at the lake, having dinner, having a few cocktails, or playing golf, it is a good time.”
At work, Bill has always been a calming presence. He has a laid-back management style which allows the people around him to do their jobs without micromanagement. Bill has a knack for assembling a team. He is good at cultivating individuals and helping them to succeed. He also has a great memory with excellent retention. It is no wonder that the company has grown tremendously under his leadership.
“He’s driven, yet humble,” says Rachel Vincent, an Executive Assistant who has worked with Bill for 14 years. “He has a great, dry sense of humor.”
“He engages others’ ideas,” Jon says. “He has a great analytical mind and he analyzes things and makes good decisions from there. He’s not egotistical enough to think he knows it all. He’s really been from the ground up, which I know has served him well. He’s worked in the warehouse, he’s been in sales, he’s been in purchasing, and he’s been in management.”
Bill has worked hard to leave the company in good hands after he is gone. It is going to be an adjustment, but Bill has done a good job of handing everything over to the new regime. One thing is certain, though; Bill will be missed.
“I’m going to miss him,” Rachel says. “You don’t work for somebody for 14 years and not miss him.”
“I’ll miss him, but I’m fortunate enough to have him as a personal friend, so our friendship will just be a little different now,” Leo says. “It has been an honor for me to have known him for so many years.”
“I will say, personally, I think it is time for him to go, for him and his family,” Jon says. “I wish he wasn’t for some of us left behind, but I truly think he’s left the company in better shape than he found it, and he’s leaving it in very capable hands. So he should feel good about that. This is the biggest life event that you can have as it relates to your career. It’s like having kids and grandkids, but on the work side of things. He’s done his part and he needs to go enjoy what he’s worked for and let others that he helped cultivate step up and take it from here.”
Changing Branches Can Create Opportunities at Kloeckner
On November 1st, Regional Management Trainee Rebecca Tran moved to her fourth Kloeckner location in less than three years. After starting out in Oklahoma, she was relocated to New Orleans, and then to Dallas. She left the Dallas branch to head to the corporate office in Atlanta, where she hopes to gain new insights into Kloeckner Metals.
“It’s actually pretty awesome,” Rebecca says. “I enjoy it. You get to interact with different employees, different branches, and you see how they operate. I love interacting with people and learning about them, so it has been a great experience for me.”
Each branch has a unique culture, Rebecca explains. The markets, the customers, and the personalities at each branch are different. Depending on the market and demand, some branches may move faster or slower than others.
“You have to keep an open mind,” Rebecca says. “What you may have learned at the previous branch may not apply for the next.”
Rebecca credits the warm atmosphere at Kloeckner with easing her transitions. She says that at every branch she has been to, she has been treated like family. Even though each branch may have a unique personality, she stills sees how all of Kloeckner is one family.
“What unifies us and what stands out most to me is that you can tell that Kloeckner really cares about its employees and their development,” Rebecca says. “It allows the employee to feel comfortable when they are coming into a workplace and performing their job because we all have one goal and that is work.”
Working at so many different branches has allowed Rebecca to learn how to perform many different roles. She has been training in a variety of different areas, which has allowed her to gain insight and become well-rounded. By learning the ins and outs of everyone’s role, she has become much more patient and understanding.
“You learn to be patient because you know the amount of time and labor it takes for each employee to perform their job,” Rebecca says. “Most people may stay in one role so they aren’t aware of how long it may take to pull an item, how long it takes for the warehouse guys to pick loads, or the time it takes generating a sales order if there are a lot of items that the customer is requiring.”
Yammer is another way that Kloeckner’s various branches stay connected. Yammer is a social media platform where Kloeckner posts new opportunities at various branches and also shares news and information. This is one way that Kloeckner employees can see what is going on in other parts of the company. You can also open up direct lines of communication and reach out to individuals through the online platform.
“Because it is direct communication, you can actually reach out to that individual that you might have never known existed, but then you see them post something and you think, ‘Oh we have something in common,’” Rebecca says. “It is more accessible, having all this at our fingertips. You can grasp it at your leisure.”
After being out in the field for the better part of three years, Rebecca looks forward to working in the corporate office. This will allow her to see what the corporate office does, and then apply that perspective at the branch level.
“It was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse,” Rebecca says.
Participants Travel to Germany to Learn and Meet New People
The second round of Kloeckner’s Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) recently finished and participants are excited about where Kloeckner is heading. The program takes a group of upcoming leaders at Kloeckner selected from both North America and Europe and brings them together to learn more about the company and gain valuable leadership experience. Located in Berlin, the program spans a total of several weeks, broken up into week-long modules.
The ELP experience is a way for Kloeckner to invest in its employees. The program prepares them for the future and also makes them more involved with the company. Participants tour facilities, roleplay scenarios, and meet with people from all parts of Kloeckner. This gives them a chance to expand their knowledge of the company, learn about every aspect of management, and try new leadership techniques while evaluating their own.
Sales Manager Andrew Shapley, Sales Manager Megan Hudgens, and Sales and Marketing Manager Tony Driscoll are three of the participants who were selected to participate in this last round. They were extremely excited to be selected, and say they gained a lot from the experience.
“The overall experience has been one of the top five experiences of my life,” Tony says. “Here’s why: My goal has always been to learn and progress in our company. How do you progress? You have to learn. So by being selected in this group, I was given the opportunity to learn from great people. I was able to travel and learn, and it has been a great experience. Most people that I talk to, even outside of the steel business, can’t believe that our company does this kind of a program.”
One of the most valuable parts of the ELP experience is that it gives participants the opportunity to meet new people from all different parts of Kloeckner. They can bounce ideas off of each other, share past experiences, and support each other. The group developed a great sense of comradery because the participants all deal with similar things, from employees to vendors.
“I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve made. We have a tight-knit group of participants,” Andrew says. “This program definitely broadens your perspective of the company. It makes you think outside of the norm.”
One of the biggest parts of the experience is learning different ways to handle situations. The US people were able to learn how their European counterparts do business and vice versa. Participants came from every part of the company, from sales to operations, to procurement. One of the most valuable parts of this is that participants can learn from people who have actually been in certain situations themselves. You aren’t just hearing ideas of what people would do in certain situations, but instead, you are hearing what people actually did and how it worked out.
“Sometimes it is easier to see what way not to do it than to see someone explain what way to do it,” Andrew says. “When you deal with so many people, whether it is sales or operations, you deal with so many different personalities. So to be able to adjust a way of doing things in a certain situation, it is always a plus. Some things cannot always be approached as black and white. Sometimes things need to be discussed and re-discussed to come up with a group decision versus being full steam ahead and not taking into consideration other factors.”
The program also covered “culture mapping,” which describes employees in terms of different personality traits which corresponds to symbolic colors. It examines how different projects will require teams with different compositions. For example, sales would require more competitive people, while technology projects would need more innovative and forward-thinking people.
“I found that very interesting,” Megan said. “Depending on what you want to do in your business, you will need more of a certain type of person.”
The program teaches participants to take a step back and look at the larger picture. It emphasizes how to utilize the resources available, and to approach situations from different angles. During the program, participants were put in a variety of different scenarios, and then they found out the different ways that different people might handle them.
“It’s human nature to focus on certain tasks and to have tunnel vision sometimes,” Andrew says. “This whole program has really taught us to step back, and to listen, and to use the people that we have in the company because our people are our company’s best asset.”
The participants also get to learn about what the future holds for Kloeckner, allowing them to share that information with their coworkers back at the branch level. With Kloeckner’s digitalization effort creating a lot of changes throughout the company, communication is crucial. During the ELP, the group was able to meet up with KCI in Berlin to discuss what they are working on and what Kloeckner is investing money in.
“People feel like they have an idea of what KCI is, but in the end, we really don’t know,” Megan says. “So having that knowledge and being able to bring it back and talk about it with our branches is exciting.”
“We are truly the drivers of change,” Tony explains. “The overall goal of the ELP group is to find out where our company is, where it is going, and how do we push that on a branch level so that people understand it. Anytime you have any type of change, it comes from the top down at every level. If it truly is explained well as to why we are changing, people may not like it but they can understand it. If people understand why we are doing it, they will have a better chance of accepting it and enacting what you are trying to change.”
Even though this round of the program is over, the group of participants plans to stay in touch. Though the people live all over the world, they still touch base on the weekends and share their experiences, both work-related and personal.
“We’ve developed a pretty deep bond and friendship between all the folks,” Andrew says. “We have a group text message that veers way off outside of work hours. Really, it is a friendship. It is a group like you would have in your inner circle here. These are true friendships that will last forever, so it is very neat to have that.”
Kloeckner Helps Rebuild in Haiti
In response to the devastation of Hurricane Matthew last year, Kloeckner Metals donated two 29 gauge 40.875 wide painted metal coils to rebuild structures in Haiti. Those coils were run through the roll former at Metal Panels Inc., a partner in the event, which turned the metal coils into metal roofing panels. The event was spearheaded by Mitch Hentkowski of Metal Panels Inc. who worked with Cross Catholic International to get the building materials where they needed to go.
“I think it is a good cause, especially when you see the end result,” says Ryan Wooldridge Sales Representative at the Tulsa Kloeckner Metals Branch. “It’s just a great humanitarian sight.”
Once the building materials arrived in Haiti, they were put to good use. In total, Cross Catholic International was able to rebuild or repair 260 homes and 20 religious buildings and orphanages. Local parishes serve as a point of distribution and assistance for the poor in the affected areas, and through them over seven million meals were delivered as well.
“It’s an ongoing program that they have,” says Mitch. “People can go online and donate and you can choose to donate to build a home, so whenever they get enough money to build the next home they will do so. Some of the metal that we had sent down was used for that, which ended up reducing the cost of those homes, so then they were able to build more homes.”
Quality building materials like the ones donated by Kloeckner and Metal Panels Inc. are simply not readily available in these poor areas. People will scrounge up whatever they can to make a shelter, whether it is a piece of cardboard or a blue tarp. Eventually, that falls apart, and they have to find something else, creating a constant struggle to keep the shelter intact.
“If you are able to put metal on it, then you’re done,” Mitch says. “Unless it gets blown off during a hurricane or something, they aren’t going to worry about it again. Now, instead of having to worry about staying out of the weather, they can worry about how they are going to feed themselves or how they are going to get water.”
Cross Catholic International recently released a report outlining the charity work in Haiti. The images are stunning. Families that once lived in shelters made of sticks and tarp are now living in permanent homes of concrete and steel.
“It is nice to see that what you’re doing is actually going toward its intended purpose, and is actually making a difference in real people’s lives,” Mitch says. “It changes everything. It changes the whole dynamics of their existence.”
Kloeckner Donates Materials for El Salvador
This past August, Kloeckner again partnered with Metal Panels Inc. and Cross Catholic International to send out another shipment of building materials. This time the materials were destined for the mountainous region of El Salvador, where the rainy season and mudslides make life extremely difficult for the impoverished.
One example of this is a local hospital which was located in a small building. The building was so small that people had to wait outside when they came to the hospital. That means that often people would have to wait out in the rain while sick. Cross Catholic International was able to build a roof around the hospital so that the ill would at least be out of the rain as they waited to get help. This is the type of thing that Kloeckner’s donation will go toward fixing.
“We want to send stuff down for hospitals, schools, churches, and then fill the container with materials for what we’ve been doing, which is shelter repairs,” Mitch says.
Mitch believes that it is important to continue this type of charity work to help those truly in need. He says that Cross Catholic International and organizations like it provide an avenue for ordinary people to provide aid where it will have the biggest impact. Utilizing the logistics that Cross Catholic International has in place, companies like Kloeckner and Metal Panels Inc. can make a huge impact by simply doing what they do every day: providing coils and making metal panels. When combined with other donations of food, water, and medicine coming from companies specializing in those areas, there is a multiplier effect.
“We are able to put shelter over people’s heads, so now they don’t have to worry about that aspect of their lives,” Mitch says. “You start minimizing the effect of those basic needs on their daily lives and now they can maybe send their kids to school. Together, Kloeckner Metals and Metal Panels Inc. are providing Materials for the poor to take care of one of their basic needs: shelter.”
More than 650 Items Collected
For the past few weeks, Office Manager Steve Blair at Kloeckner Indianapolis has been sharing his office with a growing pile of canned foods. As of Friday, November 17, the massive stack tallied 654 items. Then the food was collected by the local Gleaner’s Food Bank and taken to their pantries where it will help feed those in need.
“We had a goal of 200 cans, which would be a little more than two cans per person for our building,” Steve says. “There has been a lot of participation with most of the employees bringing in a couple cans or a half a dozen cans, but there are some that have brought in larger donations. They’ve turned it into a little completion of who is going to outdo everyone else.”
The idea for the food drive came when Kloeckner’s marketing sent out an inquiry asking what the local branches were doing in terms of charitable events and community involvement. This got the folks at the Indianapolis branch thinking that they could be doing more in that area, and so they floated the idea for the food drive. Steve was asked to spearhead the event by General Manager Damian Kline, and he gladly accepted.
“We came up with an idea that it was something to do for the community and that’s what started it all,” Steve says. “We’ve got other events planned, too.”
These events include a drive to help a local children’s hospital this December, as well as participating in the United Way’s “Backpack Attack” this summer. That event involves donating back-to-school supplies for children in need. These charity events are all ways that the office can give back to the community and raise morale.
“We got a lot of emails back from people that were very pleased that we were doing something for the community,” Steve says. “The more positivity and the more fun we can have around here, the more output and the better our work is going to be.”
This time of year is particularly busy for food banks. In addition to the holidays, many seasonal employees are out of work during the winter months. Because of the cold and snow, a lot of outdoor jobs stop during the winter. The food raised during this drive will go a long way to help many people.
“The holiday of Thanksgiving means giving thanks for what you have,” Steve says. “It is a time to reflect on how thankful we are, how lucky and blessed we are, and a reminder that we can help other people who are less fortunate than us and that are in need.”
In order to better help employees in need, Kloeckner Metals Corporation has created the Kloeckner Metals Relief Fund. The fund is a separate entity governed by its own board of directors. The purpose of the fund is to provide relief for Kloeckner employees who are impacted by natural disasters, fires, or other catastrophic events.
“Back in June of this year, we were talking about some sustainability initiatives,” says Rick Gruca, corporate environmental manager and president of the Kloeckner Metals Relief Fund’s board of directors. “We started talking about that and lo and behold we had a hurricane occur called Harvey. That really stepped up our efforts going down this road and developing the fund.”
During Harvey, two Kloeckner branches were immediately impacted. Soon after, Irma threatened but passed by three Kloeckner facilities in Florida. The need was clear, and so the fund came into being.
“We really wanted a medium to be able to provide assistance to our own employees,” Rick says. “A lot of people donate to different charity organizations during disasters, but we wanted to have something specific for our employees.”
The fund has a YouCaring site where people can donate to the fund, which launched September 12. In addition to the site, Kloeckner has collected funds at the various branches and corporate. The board is looking into a payroll deduction where employees may be able to choose to donate directly from their paycheck. Kloeckner Metals Corporation also matches donations to the fund.
“Kloeckner does a lot of good things, but one of the things we haven’t necessarily done a good job of is communicating what we do,” Rick says. “That’s one of the reasons with this effort, we’re publicizing, we’re communicating broadly with the YouCaring site, and we’re also sending out internal emails, letting everybody know about the process and how to go about applying for the fund relief.”
The first application for relief from the fund came September 22. Since then, nine employees have applied. All nine applications for financial assistance through the fund have been approved. The process of approval goes through the Kloeckner Metals Relief Fund’s board of directors, which is composed of Kloeckner, non-officer employees. The board receives the applications, reviews it and compares it to the stipulations found in the board’s charter, and then makes the decision whether to approve and for how much.
“I think the biggest impact is for employees to know that the company and maybe even more importantly that their fellow employees have their back,” Rick says. “The company truly cares and is looking out for them and wants to retain them. Kloeckner does care. It’s not just about the bottom line. It is about something greater than one’s self.”
The fund is just one of the initiatives started by the Kloeckner sustainability committee. Other efforts are geared toward creating community involvement and environmental impact. For example, all pieces of scrap metal at all location across Kloeckner are recycled.
“First of all, it is the right thing to do,” Rick says. “21st-century companies won’t survive unless they actively take a role in making sure they are taking care of their employees, number one, taking care of their customers, taking care of the communities in which they work, and minimizing the environmental impact they have.”