Located in Clearwater, Fla., Ayanna Plastics & Engineering is an injection molder and toolmaker run by Dan and Tammy Redmond, who are president and vice president, respectively. Dan was working for another plastic injection molder, while Tammy was in the financial services business, when they "took out loans up to our eyeballs" and started Ayanna. That was back in 2001.
Today, Ayanna has 32 employees. The company was certified last year for ISO 13485 for medical devices and added two new Toshiba all-electric injection molding machines.
Also added was a suggestion program where employees can submit their own creative, innovative ideas to improve the workplace. One such idea is the addition of bins at the end of the machines to house folders and important papers such as user documents and inspection results. Prior to that, folders were being misplaced and papers were battered.
"We were hearing a lot from people — 'I think we should do this' or 'I think we should do that' — but we weren't following through on those ideas as much as we wanted to," Tammy Redmond said. "We created a suggestion program as part of a way for them to document what their ideas are. We encourage them and give gift cards when people do it. … Dan and I are running in a thousand directions and dealing with many different things; they're focused on what they're doing every day, so they have much better ideas on how to do it better."
Another tool for communication among employees is "Hot Topics," which explain a process, program or practice in detail, typically presented in paper form.
"Let's say a section of a form is not consistently getting filled out," she said. "We'll take that section of the form and put arrows that explain what each field means and why we're filling it out and how to fill it out correctly. Right now, I'm working on one that explains what kinds of tools should be used at a press so that people don't damage anything on a press."
To make sure employees are understanding the goals behind Hot Topics, the company offers a gift card to the first person who says he or she read the materials.
But it's not all work and no play at Ayanna: The Redmonds will bring in treats such as ice cream or pizza, and they have held a cornhole competition. They also have employee appreciation lunches, time off for holidays and recognition for birthdays.
Tammy Redmond said Ayanna's family-like culture and environment make the company a great place to work. She also said the company is successful because while she and Dan are "very different people" who manage very differently, their strengths complement each other.
"I think we see the best in people," she said. "I think we see people that maybe other people might have overlooked, and we see they've got something in them if they just have the right support and the right training and the right encouragement. I think we are fairly firm in our approach, but at the same time, [everyone is] very much a family."