Human Resources, Manufacturing, and Nonprofits

GRS&S honored for employee development

Grand Rapids auto supplier is among several cited by Hitachi Foundation.

September 6, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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GR Spring & Stamping Inc., an automotive supplier based in Grand Rapids, is among several U.S. companies cited in a Sept. 5 report from the Hitachi Foundation in Washington: “Doing Well and Doing Good.”

The foundation report profiles 14 health care and manufacturing companies, out of 90 studied, that have policies and practices that boost their competitiveness while also improving wages, service, employee loyalty and profitability.

Hitachi Foundation’s announcement of the “Doing Well and Doing Good” report notes that “despite automotive sector crises,” GRS&S “increased sales over 300 percent over the past decade with 29 percent annual growth since 2009. Employee turnover is 40 percent below industry average.”

The announcement mentioned four of the 14 profiled companies. In addition to GRS&S, those were NatureBake in Oregon, which increased sales by 1,000 percent over seven years; Good Samaritan Hospital in New York, which has training/advancement programs that generated wage gains from 22 to 100 percent for new nurses who had been among existing lower-level staff; and NewAge Industries in Pennsylvania, which despite sharp downturns in the industrial tubing market, has eight years of record revenues while most of its workers in production earn more than $40,000.

GRS&S has more than 425 employees in West Michigan and more than $100 million in sales, with plants in Grand Rapids, Walker and Comstock Park, plus two others in Richmond, Ky., and an office in Japan. In total, GRS&S has more than 600 employees supplying auto industry OEM’s and their Tier One suppliers with stampings and complicated welded assemblies.

GRS&S is one of the manufacturing companies in the U.S. that has challenged the assumption that economic tough times inherently require cutting jobs and wages as a means to stay afloat.

“It used to be that some businesses were afraid to provide educational programming because they might lose that associate,” said GRS&S Chairman Jim Zawacki. “We realized that we had to provide more growth opportunities for associates and elevated our associates through workforce development. The firm developed new and difficult processes based on these talents.”

“The Hitachi Foundations is uniquely focused on the roles of business in society” said Barbara Dyer, CEO and president, The Hitachi Foundation. “Our goal is to promote employer practices that enhance business value while also boosting economic opportunities for lower wealth Americans.”

GRS&S employment has increased from 250 in 2005 to more than 600 in 2013. Zawacki said the growth of the company has happened because of its involved and dedicated workforce, which has participated in the educational programs offered by GRS&S.

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