A Program That Can Strengthen Any Company

Bruce Hamsher is Leadership Coach for ProVia

Bruce Hamsher is Leadership Coach for ProVia

By Bruce Hamsher

There’s certainly no shortage of training going on here at ProVia. We have installer training, IT training, and skills training in a variety of disciplines, all very practical in their applications. So when we decided to roll out a different type of training program – aimed exclusively at cultivating leadership skills and character development – we weren’t sure what our employees would think. We announced our first leadership class with 10 available slots, and soon we had 39 applicants! Clearly we have many who are hungry to learn, grow, and develop in a leadership capacity.

ProVia Leads
The development of qualified leaders can sometimes be an afterthought, but we decided to prioritize this important topic. In 2015 we started “ProVia Leads”, our in-house leadership coaching program. We completed our first class last fall, and you can see the happy faces of our successful participants in the photo below. Our goal for this program is to be proactive and to “get people ready before  there’s a role to fill.” Everything is centered around servant leadership, where we lead by serving with humility.

The ProVia Leads Class of 2015 (left to right): Kari Crilow, Nick Schwartz, Heather West, Jason Cunningham, Wanda Seilhamer, Doug Irvin, Joel Herman, Jon Miller, Kim Troyer

The ProVia Leads Class of 2015 (left to right): Kari Crilow, Nick Schwartz, Heather West, Jason Cunningham, Wanda Seilhamer, Doug Irvin, Joel Herman, Jon Miller, Kim Troyer

A Learning Laboratory
Our group meets for a 90-minute session on Wednesdays, three weeks per month. It’s not really a classroom setting, it’s more of a “learning laboratory”, very much a mixture of instruction and a hands-on approach. As you can see, that’s a considerable resource commitment on ProVia’s part. But we have the kind of leadership who are investors and they’re givers, and they know this is going to make a difference all the way around.

From Fear to Success
Take for example the topic of public speaking. This is one of the things that people fear the most! So I go through some how-to training and explain how to put together a presentation, and we’ll look at some examples. Then I let them know that in three weeks, each person will be giving an eight-minute talk. I remind them they don’t have to freak out because I’ve given them a systematic formula for approaching this, and they’re ready. To the amazement of all, they survive their eight-minute talks, and indeed excel at them because now they know the proven techniques for success. As a bonus, there’s a bonding that takes place as they conquer their new challenges together.

A Valuable Ticket
At this point I should clarify, the ProVia Leads program is not an automatic ticket to a promotion, and our participants know this ahead of time. This educational journey is for those who really want to know how to become a better leader. We also talk about what that means in their homes, as a spouse, as a parent, their relationships in their social networks, their churches, and obviously at work. So it’s a ticket to something much more valuable than a job promotion…it opens the gates to a more rewarding and successful life.

Life-Changing
I had one participant last year who’s amazed because his wife says he’s a different father. And his kids are telling him he’s a different dad. We’re able to provide an environment where he’s taking it home and changing his life. Similarly, many of our ProVia Leads participants have experienced a profound impact on their lives overall.

Highly Recommended
This kind of program not only strengthens the individual – it can also strengthen any growing organization. I highly recommend it. If you decide this is something you’d like to put in place at your company, I encourage complete buy-in from your top executive team. That will steer the ship for success.

If you’re a ProVia dealer and have questions, or simply want to brainstorm the possibilities for your company, feel free to give me a call at 800.669.4711. I’ll be more than happy to help think about ideas for your company.

 

Can’t Do This Alone

Craig Mullet is Vice President of Corporate Care for ProVia

By Craig Mullet

Most of us in the building products business are sticklers about quality. At ProVia, quality is one of our core values, and an area where we never compromise. But we live in an imperfect world, and things sometimes happen during the ordering or production process that prevents a product from being sold. However, the product is often in perfectly good working condition and it would be a shame for it to go to waste! That’s why we’re glad to be a partner with World Vision, the organization we donate to when we have reordered product.

Participating in World Vision does much more than avoid wastefulness. It’s perhaps the most useful way to manage reordered product because donations are ultimately helping children and families in need. Recently I spoke with Mary Garcia, Corporate Engagement Director for World Vision, to discuss how building products manufacturers can help fill these needs while also benefiting their own companies.

Craig: It’s possible that some of our readers aren’t familiar with World Vision, so please tell us a little bit about the organization. I notice that your slogan places an emphasis on children.

Mary: World Vision is a not-for-profit Christian humanitarian organization that operates in nearly 100 countries throughout the world with approximately 46,000 employees worldwide. We started as an international child sponsorship organization, and are now one of the largest and most respected community development and relief organizations in the world. We hire local people and work alongside communities to tackle the root causes of poverty. We focus on providing access to clean water, food security, basic healthcare, quality education, and more. It’s not a hand-out; it’s a hand-up.

Here in the U.S., World Vision has been working with community partners to improve the well-being of vulnerable children and youth since 1981.

 

World Vision donations helped Pascal and Donna Harsh rebuild after their home was destroyed by fire. Pascal, who is disabled, is beloved in his community for donating several hours per day transporting dozens of children to tutoring and mentorship activities.

C: The great majority of ProVia’s donations go into World Vision’s product donation program in Appalachia, West Virginia. How does this program work?

M: We work to fill basic needs that many Americans take for granted: providing families in need with essentials such as personal hygiene products, household cleaning items, clothing, and school supplies.

More costly resources such as doors, windows, flooring, and paint can help create and renovate safe, affordable housing in distressed neighborhoods. We receive donations from many building products manufacturers who send us plumbing materials, drywall, shingles… you name it. World Vision distributes building materials to individuals and partner organizations benefiting children and families in need and impacting local communities.

C: Are you also involved in disaster relief?

M: When a disaster happens we adopt a first-in, last-out approach. Our local staff are on the ground to provide immediate aid, including clean water, emergency food, hygiene kits, tarps, and more depending on the needs of the community. Then, we work alongside the community to rebuild.

In May 2013, a deadly twister struck near Oklahoma City. With wind speeds of over 200 mph, the tornado exceeded every world wind record except one: the more than 300-mph reading measured during the Moore, OK, tornado in 1999. During the storm, James and Michelle Hoke and their two children waited in an underground shelter. When the family emerged from the shelter, they found their home completely demolished and the entire neighborhood destroyed.

ProVia’s siding was one of the products donated for the rebuild of their home. When asked what these donations meant to her family, Michelle was moved to tears, explaining, “The donation of building materials gave us back hope.”

 

Michelle and James Hoke rebuilt after a record-breaking tornado in Oklahoma.

Michelle and James Hoke rebuilt after a record-breaking tornado in Oklahoma.

 

C: What should building products companies know about making donations to World Vision?

M: First, we do everything we can to make this an excellent business solution for companies. If a company is unable to deliver product to us, we’ll pick it up, at our cost. We also provide a receipt for tax purposes, provide support for corporate social responsibility programs, and ensure that any typical product warranties are waived so the transaction carries no long-term commitment. Companies appreciate this because there are complicating factors such as not being installed by a certified installation professional.

We’ve actually created a video invitation especially for building products companies! I encourage folks to watch this video because it tells the whole story of how our programs work. It’s important to realize, no one can do this job alone. But by working together we can truly change the world for the better.

Watch this video to learn more about Building Product donations.

C: The reason we wanted to share your story is to build awareness for your programs. There might be other companies out there that can create a win-win working with World Vision. Can they contact you for more information?

M: Absolutely! I’ll be glad to personally help with any questions and further information. Feel free to email me at megarcia@worldvision.org, or give me a call at 412.735.6680.

Folks are also welcome to visit our website at www.worldvision.org/corporate to learn more.

C: Thanks for all your excellent work Mary. We enjoy partnering with you and World Vision.

 

 

47 Years at ProVia

Esta Winkler is Customer Service Team Leader for ProVia

Esta Winkler is Customer Service Team Leader for ProVia

Esta Winkler has worked at ProVia for 47 years and has seen a lot as the company grew and went through many changes. These days it’s quite unusual for someone to spend their entire career at one company, so we asked why she made this choice and how this has worked out for her. Following are a few excerpts from our interview with Esta, who will be celebrating her retirement at the end of this year.

How did you get started at ProVia?
I turned 19 in August of 1968, and in September I was hired to work for Alsco, which was the Sugarcreek facility where we made storm doors and storm windows. I worked in production for 10 years, mostly in the storm door department, and I ended up being a team leader in that department for several years. I really enjoyed working in the plant and making storm doors! Then there was a job opening in the payroll department in the office, so I applied and did that for a couple of years. Then I worked as a shipping clerk for a couple of years and also in the order department. Just all kinds of things, and I enjoyed learning as much as I could, doing different things. At one point they asked if I’d be interested in a newly created position as a customer service manager. I’ve been doing customer service ever since.

Esta with Lonnie Hershberger, Director of Customer Service

Esta with Lonnie Hershberger, Director of Customer Service

What did they see about you that was a good fit for customer service?
At the time, I knew the product very well. I also enjoyed people. I was very friendly with everybody in the production area and of course in the office. I just obviously loved working with customers and we got along well. I guess I’m a people person!

What were the early days like in your customer service role?
By this time Alsco had gone through some changes. Then an investment company out of New York purchased the company and it became Sugarcreek Window and Door. That’s when I started in customer service, toward the end of that era.

Esta with Kari Crilow (Left) who will take Esta's place as Customer Service Team Leader; and Ashley McClellan, Customer Service Rep

Esta with Kari Crilow (Left) newly appointed Customer Service Team Leader; and Ashley McClellan, Customer Service Rep

What was it like being owned by an out-of-state investment company?
It was a little scary. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We had a pretty good company all those years, but this was something new for us. It started out fine but then things got challenging and the company went into bankruptcy. We didn’t know if we were going to have jobs or not. Then we heard that a company named Precision Door (under the leadership of Bill Mullet) was interested in purchasing the company out of bankruptcy. That was in September of ’95. Of course, at the time we weren’t too sure of that either! But it turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to the company at that point.

What do you mean by “the best thing”?
They invested in the company. They invested in the employees. They improved the facility at the Sugarcreek location and there were other facilities as well that they purchased over the years. The company has excellent management and they know what they’re doing, so it’s very successful.

Esta with Randi Miller, Customer Service Rep

Esta with Randi Miller, Customer Service Rep

What was it like, being with a company that changed so much over the years?
It’s just been a joy and a privilege to work this long with the same company. During the transition they interviewed us and thought we were valuable enough to keep around and they’ve been so good to us ever since, and it’s just been a joy. The company invests in all of us, even in things like character development. I’ve become a better person, I think, having worked for Bill Mullet and his family.

How do you feel about your job, do you enjoy it?
Never once have I had that feeling of “Oh, I have to go to work now.” I love my customers, and I love my company. Sometimes things get super-busy but it’s invigorating. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with me in the customer service area and everybody else. We just have a great team all around.

Esta with Deb Sommers, Order Entry Rep

Esta with Deb Sommers, Order Entry Rep

Did you ever imagine ProVia would grow as much as it has?
I actually did imagine it! I always felt that with the right management and the right kind of people running this company, it would be very successful. I was not proven wrong on that. It’s just amazing how much we’ve grown. I predict the company will grow even more in the next few years.

It’s pretty rare these days that someone would work at the same company for 47 years. What would you say to the younger generation who often change jobs throughout their career?
I think they’re missing a lot. I don’t think that you can build relationships with people and customers – good, solid relationships – jumping from one job to the next. I have some very close friends from working with people over the years, it’s like family.

What are you going to do with your retirement time? Do you have any plans?
I’ll spend time on my gardening, which I love to do. Now I won’t have to rush to do this on the weekends. And I’ve joined the Senior Center, believe it or not! They have a nice fitness area and walking track on the inside, and I plan to spend a lot of time doing that. I love to walk and I probably will do a lot of walking with our little dogs, Frodo and Bella in the summer. I’ve even thought about taking a cooking class and learning how to cook after all these years. We plan on doing some traveling too. I plan to keep busy. I enjoy being busy.

Esta with Wanda Seilhamer, Customer Service Rep

Esta Winkler with Wanda Seilhamer, Customer Service Rep

Well it sounds like ProVia has been very lucky to have you.
It’s been very interesting. People don’t know what they’re missing when they don’t stick around with the same company for a while. I’ve truly loved my career at ProVia and feel very blessed to have been a part of this company. I would like to thank the Mullet family for allowing me to be a part of the company.

Esta’s retirement party will take place on December 16, 2015. Feel free to add your comments below as we celebrate and thank her for 47 years of excellence at ProVia!

More: You can read a detailed history of ProVia in our e-book “The Professional Way, The Story of ProVia’s Past, Present and Future.”

Shining Our Light in Romania

Bill Mullet is Founder and CEO of ProVia

Bill Mullet is Founder and CEO of ProVia

By Bill Mullet

Recently 18 ProVia employees traveled to Bacau, Romania to participate in a very special mission – building homes for those in need with the Habitat for Humanity organization. It was a mind-opening and heart-warming experience for all, and here we share some candid stories from this “adventure with a purpose.”

I have a thing for Romania. My relationship with this European country goes way back to 1995-96 when I served there as the Director of a teaching ministry program, and also as the Director of an orphanage. During this time I really did learn to love the Romanian people. They’re very warm and delightful, and we fell in love with them.

Bill Mullet working at the Habitat for Humanity Romania job site.

Bill Mullet working at the Habitat for Humanity Romania job site.

The Romanian people have lots of needs, and in particular the very poor in the countryside have a huge need for basic housing. Habitat for Humanity Romania targeted a very specific population, the people who have a job and can actually pay for a house but have a difficult time coming up with a down payment that would enable them to improve their housing situation. One of the people receiving a house we built is a night manager at McDonald’s, which is considered a very good job.

Another requirement for the home recipients is they have to personally volunteer their own labor in building the group of homes for that particular project. Each family has to work 1,000 hours, and not just on their own home, they have to work on everyone else’s as well.

A Romanian family, excited to become homeowners!

A Romanian family, excited to become homeowners!

The families were extraordinarily excited and grateful. A lot of times they’d be virtually in tears because this was something they’d always felt was out of their reach. My wife Ellen and I had the opportunity to visit one of the family’s current homes, and they were just surviving there with one bedroom, a very tiny living room and a mini- kitchen for the four people who lived there. This husband and wife were on the jobsite working all the time, and they were extremely good workers. Many of the families worked very hard.

“It Makes Me Feel Good”
Chatting with a young Romanian lady working next to us, I asked if she was student. I was surprised when she said she was 30 years old. She looked like she could have been 17. Then I asked, “What makes you come out here and do this? She replied, “I just volunteered to come work for a couple of days.” Again I asked, “Why?” After a brief pause, she said, “It makes me feel good.” That was an interesting comment, because it shows that within us, there’s something that feels good, that is rewarding, when we are able to help someone who is unable to repay us. I believe our entire ProVia team would have said the same thing!

A Rewarding Contribution
The ProVia team arrived on Saturday October 3 and worked through the 9th. Then we hired a small bus and toured Romania through the Carpathian Mountains. I couldn’t have asked for a better team than the ProVia folks who joined this trip. Even though some of them had no construction experience, they worked very diligently and did a super job. For all of us, we felt like this trip was so worthwhile, not just for the experience but because we were able to make a contribution. It was very fulfilling.

When we returned home, everyone who participated in the trip was asked to share their impressions during a company presentation. Below are just a few quotes from their speeches.

The ProVia Team...and Romanian friends.

The ProVia Team…and Romanian friends.

Danielle Horne, Order Entry Representative:
“After Day 1 of working on my assigned Habitat house I had a surreal moment of ‘ME’ building a house in Romania. Me – an inexperienced female office worker, building a house alongside Romanians and many others around the world! I was very nervous that I wouldn’t be useful and I had no idea what to expect. But by the end of the first day I knew how to hammer nails and which hammer I wanted to use the next day. By the end of the week I had helped put up the frame of the house and walls, set up scaffolding, put up some insulation, stucco, and painted the outside of the house. I had the blisters to prove it.

Danielle Horne, Kendra Mullet and Patti Margo enjoy some hammer time!

Danielle Horne, Kendra Mullet and Patti Margo enjoy some hammer time!

The homeowners were so happy and so grateful, it just added to the accomplishment our team felt. If you ever find yourself with the opportunity to do a build, I encourage you to take it. You may think you’re going just to travel and help others, but it may end up impacting you more in return.”

Kendra Mullet, Production:
“During our sightseeing we had the opportunity to visit the incredible Philadelphia School, which ProVia sponsors on a monthly basis. They even have ProVia windows and doors! From what I gather it is a very well run school and probably one of the best ones in Romania.

Later we drove through the beautiful, picturesque Carpathian Mountains. For someone who has never been in the mountains I was amazed at God’s magnificent creation! This was one of the highlights of my trip, with rock formation as high as the eye could see, rolling hills of forest and small communities in the valleys. It was an honor to live out the ProVia purpose and it makes me happy to know I was able to help.”

A bit of O-H-I-O flair hits Romania!

A bit of O-H-I-O flair hits Romania!

Herbie Kaufman, Receiving:
“I enjoyed the bus ride from Bucharest to Bacau and learning about how people lived the same as they did during communism. People didn’t want to change. I had to ask myself, would I have changed, and do I accept change now when it comes along?

It was an interesting but rewarding challenge, working side by side not being able to speak the same language. It was also interesting that we had almost perfect weather during all the construction days. There were two days when it was supposed to rain, and we could actually look out and see it was raining all around us. It missed us both of those days, and I knew God’s hand was controlling the weather.”

Mihai Cotlet, cuttin' for the cause.

Mihai Cotlet, cuttin’ for the cause.

Mihai Cotlet, Design Engineer:
“I’m originally from Romania, and I lived there until I was 13, when my family moved to the U.S. I have worked at ProVia for 13 years and I was really excited about the opportunity to go back to Romania to help build homes for people in need. It was awesome to see the way God placed a calling in people’s hearts to go and help people way across the ocean.

Some people asked me, why did we send a team to Romania? Why didn’t we just send money? Being able to meet the families and work side by side with them adds to the experience since you get to meet the people you are helping. I honestly feel a lot closer now to the people from ProVia that went along on this trip and it was a pleasure to be part of the ProVia Team! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to go and serve in the country where I was born and raised.”

Keith Miller, Testing Lab Manager:
“40 volunteers on one building can be quite chaotic. One supervisor and a lot of skillsets, or lack thereof, from these volunteers. Our supervisor was Vio. He was a really good carpenter, gave clear direction, was a good teacher and had patience with us while making sure things were done right. I became pretty good friends with Vio throughout the week. We communicated with hand signs and Mihai translating. When they would be having a conversation in Romanian, Mihai would have this grin on his face and I would ask, what are you saying? His only reply was, “Vio is glad you guys are on his team.”

Leroy Yoder cares for the details...

Leroy Yoder cares for the details…

I later learned that Vio was one of the first Habitat house recipients in Romania. At that time Habitat recognized his carpenter skills and hired him as a supervisor. A good example of how Habitat helps the less fortunate and provides the opportunity for them to give back.”

Leroy Yoder, Industrial Engineer:
“One of the challenges at the job site was working with 175 to 200 volunteers per day. That’s a lot of people that had to be given jobs and kept busy. As far as tools, there were no air tools; we used an electric chop saw and a circular saw. When we were on the roof we used good old-fashioned handsaws to cut 1”x2” slats. Language was somewhat of a barrier. Some people did not speak English but each home had at least one interpreter that spoke English and Romanian.

As far as the experience, it was great to be able work with the homeowners side-by-side, realizing that we were helping them build something they could not accomplish on their own. We literally saw their home become a reality to them.”

Pete Schwartz demonstrates some awesome teamwork skills.

Pete Schwartz demonstrates some awesome teamwork skills.

Pete Schwartz, Customer Service Representative:
“One of my favorite parts of the Romania trip was interacting with the locals. It’s hard to know what to expect when traveling to a foreign country, especially when you are unfamiliar with the culture, but the Romanian people couldn’t have been more beautiful. On the first day I befriended a high school student named Vlad who was working as a translator. I enjoyed learning a few simple words and phrases in Romanian such as “thank you” (multumesc) and “good” (bine). Often times people would giggle when I tried using these words but I think it was a bit endearing because I was taking the time to learn their language.

At ProVia we have 19 Core Values that we try to adhere to on a daily basis. I believe many of these values, things such as Quality, Teamwork, and Compassion, were on display at the job site. We also have a common purpose, ‘To let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.’ I truly believe ProVia’s light was shining brightly in Romania.”

4 Ways You’re Like Family To Us

Kent Price is Director of Distribution for ProVia

Kent Price is Director of Distribution for ProVia

If you’re a ProVia dealer, who do you see on a regular basis, more than anyone else in our company? Your delivery driver! In my role as Director of Distribution, I hear so many stories that tell me a lot about the relationships these drivers have with our customers. The bonds they’ve created become more like family, that’s how tight-knit they are. So I thought you might enjoy a few anecdotes that show what it’s like to be part of the ProVia family.

1. Down (But Not Out) in New York
One week our New York driver was headed out to Long Island when his truck broke down. Now the normal thing to do would’ve been to wait inside the dealership until the repairs were completed. But this driver wouldn’t take waiting as an answer. He took it upon himself to go out and rent a U-Haul truck, he brought it to the dealership, and then unloaded all the ProVia products from the truck into the rental vehicle so he could make his deliveries on time. Keep in mind, these are windows and doors we’re talking about, so they’re big and heavy for one man to lug around! When the loading was complete he promptly hit the road and delivered our products. That’s taking care of the customer.

Arlen Troyer, ProVia Driver for our Richmond Route

Arlen Troyer, ProVia Driver for our Richmond Route

2. Calling With Concern
Every once in a while we have a situation where a driver needs to take an extended leave, sometimes for personal, or medical reasons. When customers hear about this, immediately they start calling in. They want to see how he’s doing, check in for updates, and they can’t wait for him to come back to their route. In my entire career I’ve never seen anything like it, the amount of customers who call in with concern for the well being of their drivers. That’s a relationship that’s just like family.

3. Delivering a Taste of Home
As most of you know, ProVia is headquartered in the heart of Amish country in Ohio, and one of the things this area is famous for is the amazing homemade cooking. Driver Arlen Troyer, who handles our Richmond route, has a customer who’s discovered Amish fry pies. Sometimes they casually mention, “gee, it sure would be nice to get some of those

For those of you who aren’t sure what a fry pie is, this will give you the idea

For those of you who aren’t sure what a fry pie is, this will give you the idea

famous pies someday.” Well someday came, and Arlen picked up a box of fry pies from the local Walnut Creek Cheese shop, where they bake them onsite – apple, peach, chocolate, you name it. So Arlen delivered doors, windows and fry pies that day, to the customer’s delight. That’s caring for details.

4. The Personal Connection
I’ll never forget the day when I sat down to talk with one of our drivers who’d spent many years on the road but now works here in our distribution office. We were talking about the relationships our drivers have with customers, and he spontaneously told me a personal story. He said during his last week making deliveries, he was astonished by how hard it was for him. There were several times he became emotional when he realized this was the last time he’d be able to visit with his customers. That’s personal dedication that runs deep.

So you see, when we say “we serve by caring for details in ways others won’t,” it’s not just another company slogan. We mean it, with all our heart.

P.S. For our dealers out there, if you want to give a shout-out for your favorite ProVia driver, here’s your chance! Feel free to enter your comments below.