In a world that is changing faster than ever, companies can lead change, follow change or ignore change. Two out of three are bad outcomes and one of those — lead change — is what M. Holland Co. does whenever possible, according to President and CEO Ed Holland.
Holland has been with the Northbrook, Ill.-based resin distributor, which is going on its 69th year in business, for 43 years.
"Every year is forward-looking," he said.
In its third year, M. Holland's Commercial Development Program puts college graduates and current employees through a one-year training program and prepares them for a career path once they finish.
Holland said the program so far has been very successful.
To even further the employees' knowledge, the company launched M. Holland University several years ago with 130 courses — "maybe 200 by now," Holland said — on topics such as accounting, computer programs and information technology. Thirty-five courses are offered in Spanish.
M. Holland currently has a program that collects film bags and cuts them up, and they have a group that crochets them into mats for homeless people.
"We're taking plastic waste and turning it into useable things," Holland said.
M. Holland, which lands at No. 3 for the 2019 Best Places to Work list and ranked No. 4 in 2018, has been working on a major new sustainability program.
"We are working very significantly now with a sustainability initiative, working with suppliers, and we even had a meeting with a company that has a new product they are trying to market that is supposed to be an additive to plastic that will help plastic biodegrade," Holland said.
He discussed the effort with his daughter and corporate development analyst, Lindy Holland Resnick.
"I think it's important for us to take a corporate social responsibility and stance toward [sustainability]. We're looking at it from the perspective of our own community as M. Holland employees and how we live our lives here," she said.
Once a year, M. Holland hosts its holiday party, complete with entertainment and food. Employees and spouses, even those from out of town, are all invited. The company has more than 300 employees.
Winners of the Mpact Awards — Marvin Holland Award, Catalyst Award and Collaboration Award — are announced at the party.
There are other awards given out throughout the year: High-Five Award and On-the-Spot Award. High-Five Awards are peer-to-peer acknowledgement that is shown on the company intranet.
The On-the-Spot Award is instant recognition from a manager to an employee who exemplifies the company's core values — integrity, honesty, loyalty, trust, work ethic, character, passion, respect — in their work.
Holland always says his No. 1 asset is his employees. He personally gives a poker chip with the company logo and core values to every new employee.
"Living by the core values ... — and by the way, that's not just coming out of me or our executive team; that's up and down the line — some of the best governors of that are what I call the daily line people, who will be happy to call you out if you're not living up to those standards because that reflects on all of us," Holland said.
Resnick said she thinks M. Holland employees feel recognized and valued for the work they contribute.
"I believe that we are one voice working together toward a collective goal," she said, "and we are a company without borders."