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Great idea: Family Day at the factory

July 10, 2014

I have fond memories of seeing my parents on the job. The experience gave me a different angle on their lives, and it reinforced my own attitude on the importance of work.

People who are part of a family-owned business must experience that every day. Maybe it gets old — I know from reporting on the industry for many years, there are a lot of challenges and issues when you’re working with (or for) the same people that you get together with for Thanksgiving dinner.

But I still imagine it would be cool to work with family. I’ve had a few tastes of that over the years, and I enjoyed all the experiences.

When I was in high school and college, I umpired quite a few baseball and softball games with my Dad. Just driving back and forth together was a fun bonding experience. We would talk between innings, and after the game, about the calls and the plays. Usually we’d stop for an ice cream on the way home. That was fun.

More recently, at the 2006, 2009 and 2012 NPE shows, one or more of my daughters were part of the Plastics News show daily distribution team. You’ve probably seen their pictures in the Plastics News ads for the shows, smiling and handing out our newspapers. It was hard work, but we have great memories.

I bring this all up today because I just got a news release from Arburg GmbH & Co. KG, which recently hosted a Family Day event at its factory in Lossburg, Germany.

Some people might wonder, why would family members want to visit a factory that makes injection molding machines? But Arburg’s July 5 Family Day attracted 6,500 enthusiastic visitors, according to the company. And I’m not surprised.

First of all, I think factory tours are fun. When I lived in Milwaukee, I took my parents on the Miller Brewery tour, and I didn’t even work there! OK, I admit that may be a special case. (Get it?) But there’s something fun and memorable about seeing a big manufacturing plant in action.

Second, it’s cool to see where your Mom or Dad works. As a kid, you might know that your parent works at the Arburg factory. But what’s it really like? I’m sure it’s awesome.

Finally, Arburg made it about more than a factory tour. The company also set up an exhibit highlighting how it has changed in recent years, and it brought in local music and dance groups.

Add food and drink, and a children’s program (including a bouncy castle, a milking competition, a puppet show, a magician and a balloon-bending clown), and all I’m.

Arburg’s last Family Day was in 2006. That seems like a long time between events. But I suppose it’s about right given the scope of what the company offered. If a processor or smaller supplier wanted to do something less ambitious, they could easily put on an annual event.

“We really do regard ourselves as one big family,” said Arburg senior partner Eugen Hehl.

Many family-owned companies, where the owners make it a point to know everyone, feel the same way.