Mail-Well University Educates World-Class Skilled Workforce To Drive Growth
Press release from the issuing company
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 11, 2004 – The students of Mail-Well University (MWU) are not your typical college students. Visit one of Mail-Well University’s classrooms, and you’ll find students with extensive real-world experience, enthusiastically interacting with an instructor much as you would on any college campus. The difference in this classroom is that every student is a dedicated employee of Mail-Well Inc., one of North America’s leading producers of visual communications. The students, drawn from the more than 80 plants that Mail-Well operates in 30 states and provinces, come to MWU both to sharpen their skills and to become evangelists for Mail-Well’s primary mission – serving customers as one company with the broadest possible range of products and support services.
Mail-Well University’s catalog isn’t typical either. At the front of the catalog, a message from Paul Reilly, Mail-Well’s Chairman and CEO, puts the company’s vision clearly into focus: “Mail-Well intends to become a world-class company by developing the most knowledgeable and skilled workforce in the industry.” Mail-Well University’s broad goal is summed up in its mission statement: “Growing the People Who Grow Mail-Well.”
Jim Downey, Corporate Director of Organizational Development, is dean of Mail-Well University, which was chartered in October 2000. Downey’s extended faculty comprises a team of talented Mail-Well employees who, in addition to their regular jobs, serve as part-time trainers to teach courses in their areas of operational expertise. For example, about 20 employees have been qualified as trainers for the company’s successful Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) program.
Downey points out that MWU operates under the driving principle that “Mail-Well Teaches Mail-Well.” He notes, “Mail-Well employees who are experts in their areas of operation help to develop the course content and teach most of the courses themselves. In situations where we don’t have internal expertise for a course, we’ll tap outside specialists to teach those courses or to help us develop a curriculum for our internal trainers to implement.”
Advanced courses usually are taught in special classroom facilities at Mail-Well’s Englewood, Colo. headquarters. However, MWU also conducts much training on site in Mail-Well plants or at meeting facilities near the plants. According to Downey, nearly every one of Mail-Well’s 10,000 employees has attended at least one MWU course. For instance, MWU’s Prohibition of Harassment and Discrimination program has been rolled out as a trainer’s kit so that each location can teach it on site. All of the plants continually conduct safety training as well.
A major focus of MWU’s educational resources has been strategic support for what Mail-Well calls “Mobilization,” the company’s term for its migration to a new culture based on establishing a clear perception of Mail-Well as “One Great Company.” The objective of Mobilization is to create a highly productive environment in which strongly motivated and empowered Mail-Well employees, driven by dedication to quality and continuous improvement, concentrate their energies on achieving well-defined business goals.
“It’s a major culture change within Mail-Well,” Downey explains, “where we’re going from a top-down management style to employee empowerment with teams making decisions at front-line levels. Our objective is to improve operational performance throughout the company that ultimately will be reflected in Mail-Well’s bottom line results.”
High on MWU’s agenda are support of key initiatives such as the Mobilization Facilitation and Support Team (MFAST) program. Reporting directly to Reilly, the current MFAST class of 2005 consists of seven employees selected for advanced management training based on their potential for senior leadership positions in the company. With Downey as the team’s sponsor and coach, they pursue their primary assignment of helping to transition the company to a culture of Mobilization while receiving extensive professional development. They are also mentored by other company executives, receiving additional first-hand leadership development. The MFAST class of 2004 graduated in early February, and the 2005 class has recently been launched.
Last year, over 1,000 employees graduated from the MWU Supervisor Training Course: Leading a Mobilized Workforce. The course is an intensive, three-day workshop covering subjects including the dynamics of workplace change; appropriate leadership styles; creating a productive work environment for the communication process; understanding the styles of others; and assessing individuals. The workshop concludes by showing supervisors how they can put Mobilization into practice when they return to their facilities.
To leverage the benefits of its CIP program, MWU trains employees to be facilitators of the CIP process at their respective plants. Last year, MWU’s CIP faculty conducted four- and two-day courses to certify a total of 324 employees in the Mail-Well CIP process. The MWU CIP program uses both team techniques and statistical process control (SPC) in its curriculum. Employees learn new organizational skills in several “how-to” sessions that cover subjects such as organizing, leading, and operating a Mail-Well team for breakthrough results; identifying and prioritizing systems that need improvement; and making significant process improvements through an eight-step SPC procedure.
On the sales side, about 150 members of Mail-Well’s sales team also are graduates of MWU courses. The company has partnered with IMPAX, a hands-on sales training organization, to provide a three-day Strategic Account Sales Process Workshop. The course centers on consultative solution selling and covers key elements of high-level corporate selling such as research, communication, and presentation.
MWU’s course catalog also includes an award-winning training program that grew out of a need to train highly skilled adjusters of envelope machines in record time. Adjusters set up envelope machines for production runs and handle troubleshooting to assure consistent product quality. In 2001, a realignment of Mail-Well’s envelope production facilities created an immediate need for 200 new adjusters. Previously, a two-year apprenticeship was required to fully train an adjuster. To streamline the process, MWU assembled a team of adjuster specialists who developed a highly efficient 25-week training course.
The training was conducted at each envelope plant except for two weeks spent in hands-on training at Mail-Well’s St. George, Utah facility. The adjuster training course received recognition as an outstanding employee development program from the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a not-for profit organization that develops business and technology solutions for manufacturers. Other new MWU programs scheduled for introduction in 2004 include succession development support, diversity training, project management, and customer service training.
Mail-Well University also extends its education opportunities to the dependent children of Mail-Well employees by sponsoring scholarships for those interested in pursuing careers in a field related to printing or envelope manufacturing. These scholarship awards provide students with $1,500 per year renewable for up to four years. MWU is partnering in the program with the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation of PIA/GATF, a trade association for the graphics industry.
Reilly summed up his company’s commitment to MWU and the continuing education of his employees: “In Mail-Well University, we’ve built a world-class, market-leading learning organization. It’s an extraordinarily vital part of our strategy to give our employees the knowledge and skills that enable us to meet our objectives for the continued strong growth of Mail-Well as One Great Company.”
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