DeWys Manufacturing Inc. - 2020 John G. Thodis Small Tier Michigan Manufacturer of the Year
At DeWys Manufacturing, located in Marne, company culture is woven into nearly every aspect of daily working life.
“We have a culture that attracts the right people, and those people make DeWys a great place to work,” says President Mark Schoenborn.
For over 43 years, DeWys has provided customers all over the world with complete metal solutions, from cutting and forming, to powder coating and product development. They not only make a great product but have also contributed to their West Michigan communities through volunteerism and philanthropy.
For Schoenborn, who has been with DeWys for 25 years, it all comes down to their people and culture.
“We have great people here and there’s no question,” says Schoenborn. “We care about the team’s personal, professional and financial goals.”
As it has been for all manufacturers in Michigan and across the globe, 2020 was full of challenges. CEO Jon DeWys gushes with pride when talking about how the company adapted to the global pandemic, and how they were able to contribute to the fight by developing new products for personal protective equipment (PPE).
“I think this past year has been a real testament… in terms of our resiliency,” says DeWys. “We’ve been in business for 43 years now, and that is a true testament to our long-standing commitment to our people. If we didn’t have that commitment, we wouldn’t be at 200 team members and growing.”
Being a customer-based organization, DeWys Manufacturing delved into their own product development in response to the pandemic — which Jon admits is a rare happening for the company. Within days, DeWys designed and produced a hands-free sanitizer station and a hands-free door opener that they have been selling direct to businesses. DeWys also fabricated beds for local hospitals in the early days of the pandemic, as ICUs and emergency rooms were running out.
“We were working seven days a week, 24 hours a day making beds, just doing everything we could to help out our local hospitals,” says Schoenborn. “That was something that we really rallied around.”
Weld Trainer Sara Gardner believes that the supportive environment of a family run company has contributed greatly to the company’s success.
“Everybody is working as a team here,” says Gardner. “Just getting to know all the team members and all the different personalities is one of my favorite parts of working here.”
Gardner is one of the trainers at DeWys University, which is the company’s in-house training program. Established in 2012, team members are introduced to the fundamentals of welding and other aspects of the business, where they are encouraged to try a variety of different jobs in order to narrow down what they’d enjoy doing the most.
“We’ll take somebody with no manufacturing experience and bring them in and put them through different levels of training, and really just work to develop our team members,” says Gardner. “We really just allow people to move around to different areas so they’re continually growing themselves and their skills.”
Schoenborn said DeWys University was developed out of necessity as the talent pipeline had constricted greatly over the years. They found it was beneficial to develop their own training program in addition to partnering with local schools and community colleges.
“At the time, we could not find people that we needed with the right skill sets out in the market, so we had no choice to roll out the University,” says Schoenborn. “It has been a real big success for us in attracting talent and growing our workforce.”
Leveraging the company’s spirit of innovation and creative thinking greatly helped with getting through the pandemic from an internal standpoint. Jon DeWys and his team faced the No. 1 challenge that all companies faced initially, which was how do they keep working while keeping their employees safe? DeWys’ response was to develop a “COVID task force,” which met every morning to go over the latest information.
“Every day was something new,” says DeWys. “Whether it came from the federal government, or the state government, every morning we would meet and go over the new things that came out the day before. We’d also meet in the afternoon, and that ended up being our daily rhythm, so we could discuss what we should do both internally and externally.”
By coming up with a sound strategy and taking the right precautions, DeWys Manufacturing did its part during the pandemic while keeping its employees safe. It is a wonderful testament to a company that truly values its people and works hard on culture.
“Seeing how our team has pulled together really makes me feel great about the future of DeWys,” says Schoenborn. “We have a great team and we’re doing the right things.”