Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

For this year’s Leadtime Leader runner-up, the “ABCD” award is a key part of building camaraderie and ensuring a culture of ownership. Here are a few examples of recent winners.

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ABCD award winners receive public recognition for their efforts. (Images courtesy of Dynamic Tool & Design.)

A big part of the article on Dynamic Tool & Design, winner of this year’s Leadtime Leader: Honorable Mention Award, covers the shop’s “culture of ownership.” Given that the company is actually owned by its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), there’s a tangible aspect to this culture, but that’s not enough by itself. Truly letting employees control their own destinies (and that of the company itself) requires actually living that culture each and every day.

One notable example of the shop’s efforts to instill the right mindset is the Above and Beyond the Call of Duty (ABCD) award. Developed by marketing director Lori Phillips (who says she got the idea from a simple Google search), the award is given to employees based on feedback not from the shop’s management, but from their peers. That is, employees nominate one another to receive it, based on any activity or idea for improving the business that goes beyond their individual job descriptions. Winners receive a gift card and recognition on the “ABCD Wall of Fame” bulletin board, shown above. Here are a few examples of recent winners:

Keone Evans: When a key contact for mold qualification customers was absent one week, Evans proved ready and eager to shine. During that week, the mold setup technician answered to three different project engineers, each overseeing a vastly different tool running in a different press. “He successfully handled adversity, always presenting a positive image for the client while at times sacrificing his due personal time for the benefit of Dynamic,” says Eric Brueske, moldmaker, who nominated Evans for the award. “There are many in this world, myself included, who could learn a thing or two from this individual.”

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Recent ABCD award winners include Keone Evans (upper left), Mike Olszowy (upper right), Ryan John (lower left) and Mike Wollenberg. 

Mike Olszowy: No specific instance led to Olszowy’s win, but that’s largely because there are too many specific instances to count. Indeed, judging by the nomination from Jill Lewis, executive assistant, Olszowy has developed a long-standing reputation for going above and beyond the call of duty. Dynamic’s systems engineer has been known to come in on Sundays to update computers, and to drop everything when someone has a problem.

“This past Monday, as Mike was walking in the door, my computer decided to stop working,” Lewis wrote in her nomination. “I figured I must have done something wrong, and felt bad for bothering Mike before he even had his jacket off.  Mike assured me I hadn't done anything wrong (Really!) and had it fixed in no time.”

Ryan John: One of the more cleverly stated nominations came from Kathy Boden, materials manager, who suggested that Ryan John, CNC programmer, receive the award for “doing an Awesome job in getting Better pricing while being very Conscientious and a Darn good guy to work with.” More specifically, “Ryan has been working with various vendors for months now trying to establish a better and cheaper way to purchase tooling to be charged against jobs and for general use in the CNC Department,” she wrote. “He has spent countless hours meeting with vendors and negotiating better pricing. He is making my job and, hopefully, others much easier and less time consuming in ordering tooling.” Boden also noted that John spent many hours implementing the shop’s tool vending machines.  

Mike Wollenberg. Dave Miller, company president, nominated Wollenberg for doing far more to troubleshoot a lathe than what would normally be required of a CNC lathe machinist. Wollenberg not only spent a great deal of time getting to the root of the problem, but also took on the task of dealing with the machine supplier to ensure that it would, indeed, be covered under warranty. “Mike … asserted authority and saved thousands of dollars in part cost that should have been covered,” Miller wrote. “Great job in looking out for Dynamic!”

If your shop has a similar program or even a similar philosophy, I’d love to hear about it. How do you show appreciation for employees and build the right kind of culture on the shop floor? Comment below, or send me an email

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