Every other year, around 100 Techmer PM LLC employees gather for the weeklong national meeting to gauge the state of the company and partake in team-building and communication exercises. During the week, 10 to 12 teams compete in strategic puzzle competitions. Shooting free-throws might even be involved, too.
"The teams build up points over the week," CEO and Chairman John Manuck said. "On the final day, we usually have some big case studies that are worth a lot of points. On the final night, Thursday night, we have an awards ceremony where various awards are given out to people. One of the standard awards is what we call the President's Jacket, which are given to employees. Then, we announce the team winners.
"What we created many years ago is called the Techmer Cup, which is designed around the Stanley Cup in hockey. On the Stanley Cup, the [winning] players' names get engraved on that. … Of course, everyone wants their name on the cup. That final night, we announce the team that's won. We play the song, 'We Are the Champions.' They all share champagne from the cup, and it's quite a celebration.
"The objective of the whole thing is creating this atmosphere; it's a culture-building event," he added.
The teams are carefully selected, Manuck said, to make sure team members are from different departments, serve difference functions and come from different sites across the country. The company's next national meeting this month at a resort in Arizona.
In addition to the national meeting, materials firm Techmer delegates authority — and a budget — to each site individually so employees can choose which events they want to plan.
"Some people want to have a company picnic and a softball game, or some people want to do other events," Manuck said. "But each site usually has a budget and wherewithal to create a local event. You could have some people in the company who want to have a party, but there are other people who don't. Usually there is some kind of holiday celebration that takes place at every site."
Each site also has its own volunteer program, where employees choose the kinds of community service and volunteer programs they want to be involved in. But employees aren't allowed to just donate money; they are expected to participate, too. Such charitable initiatives have included blood drives, food drives, golf tournaments, Angel Trees during the holidays, high school robotics teams, Project Rwanda and junior achievement events in local communities.
"You can say you'd like the company to donate to your kid's softball program at school. If we're going to put money in, we need to see you participate. We try to create that involvement," Manuck said.
"We try to make sure everybody is getting involved; it's not something that is going to be dictated from management. People should take things that they are interested in," he added.
Manuck founded Techmer PM in 1981 in Los Angeles. Today, Techmer employs more than 600 employees and is based in Clinton, Tenn. There are six manufacturing sites around the country, and another one is being built in Mexico. Manuck's stepson, Ryan Howley, is president of Techmer.
"We do little things to be imaginative and, at the same time, fun. … People let their hair down a little bit. That's one of the ways in which we try to build the culture," Manuck said. "For myself and our whole leadership team, we take pride in that to invest our efforts and make that a real priority. Not just because we're nice guys, but because that's what makes us successful."
The materials comany has 604 employees.