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Tuesday | 22 September, 2009 | 5:25 am

The importance of people

By Lisa Rummler

September 2009 - Walking into the service center at Majestic Steel USA, Cleveland, one of the first things a person sees is a large banner hanging from the middle of the ceiling. In red letters against a white background, it reads, "Majestic Pride."

One of the first things a person hears is the steady rhythm of continuous in- and outbound truck traffic and Majestic’s processing lines, which seem to be in constant motion to fulfill customer orders.

But what stands out even more is the collective energy of Majestic’s 200 employees, who have effectively converted the banner’s message from words to action.

"We’re very busy, and with everyone busy, everyone’s focused," says Mike Cozzone, supervisor of shipping and receiving, who has built a 26-year career with the company. "It’s ‘Majestic mode.’"

The Majestic way
In the midst of this bustling atmosphere, though, another thing stands out: the service center’s spic-and-span appearance, even with the high level of activity and continuous output of Majestic’s precision processing lines. This cleanliness also reflects a companywide philosophy of taking ownership of your work.

This "Majestic pride" emanates from all associates, who have built the company’s culture together, focusing on open communication and a free exchange of ideas.

Everyone is expected to contribute to continuous improvement, and by doing so, they help optimize Majestic’s success.

This pride has been ingrained in the company’s culture since it was founded in September 1979, and the collective desire to maintain the company’s progress is present in all areas of the business.

"It’s the people [who set Majestic apart], but it’s more like the philosophy that people have here," says Kurt Page, service center manager, who has been with Majestic for 16 years. "It’s the philosophy of ‘make it better.’ Make it better for the customer, make it better for Majestic, make it happen quicker. A lot of that is driven from the bottom up--many of the ideas and the new things come from the floor, in collaboration with people at all levels of the business."

The big picture
Majestic recognizes and respects the significance of steel as a driver of the global economy. As a steel service center, the company has the ability to help its partners, as well as the steel industry as a whole, during challenging economic times.

"By continuing to learn and improve, we’ll enhance the success of the entire steel industry," says Nicole Heinonen, manager of sales support and customer service. "Focusing on service means we’ll always find ways to get better, and this helps everyone--our associates, customers and the industry--succeed."

"We start with ideas from our people and integrate these with recommendations from equipment suppliers," says Ken Faber, production supervisor. "This way, our people are involved and own the process while working arm-in-arm with our partners to improve efficiency and the services we provide."

Beyond brick and mortar
Continuous capability upgrades to Majestic’s facility further enhance the company’s ability to provide value through prime flat-rolled galvanized, galvannealed, galvalume, aluminized, phosphatized/bonderized and cold-rolled sheet and coil steel products. Majestic offers these products in a wide variety of sizes, widths, lengths, weights, thicknesses, coatings, treatments and processes.

This diversity of prime steel product parallels the broad range of customers and industries Majestic serves, including OEMs, HVAC, energy, agriculture, transportation and appliance manufacturers.

Majestic also supports local economies of scale by providing local and regional distributors just-in-time delivery and inventory management through its product diversity, market intelligence and forecasting capabilities.

The company has earned ISO 9001-2008 certification, and its staff includes licensed metallurgists and ISO?coordinators to facilitate consistent quality outcomes and provide technical consultation.

During economically challenging times, Majestic makes strategic decisions from a long-term perspective while balancing short-term needs and emphasizing the value of its workforce.

This is a high priority, according to Dan Rinaldi, a production supervisor who has been with the company for almost 19 years.

"If you show you’re dedicated, then you’ll see opportunity," he says. "You can’t drag your feet--you keep pushing forward to help the company be successful."

Todd Vesely, who started at Majestic as a work-study student in the 11th grade, personifies the company’s belief in creating career opportunity and internal promotion.

Vesely started out as a material technician on the back of Majestic’s slitter. Fast-forward nine years, and he’s supervisor of second-shift production.

Vesely says Majestic’s emphasis on continuous learning has been a personal benefit that he tries to perpetuate.

"We’re teachers--we like to train people and help them to know as much as possible," he says. Additionally, Vesely says he encourages everyone to speak up if they have an idea for improving a process or procedure.

"Everyone wants to make the company better," he says. "We have to listen and try to make changes. Little ideas turn into big ideas, and we have full company backing to make it happen."

Finding balance
Majestic associates recognize the mutual benefits of dedication, both in and out of the office. The company encourages community involvement and volunteerism.
"Reaching out is a core belief of the company," says Gene Fitch, a member of Majestic’s sales team, who volunteers as a swimming coach for the Special Olympics. "It provides balance and perspective in our lives away from work. It’s through service and involvement that we gain further understanding that helps us become more effective in our on-the-job roles."
Majestic associates are also encouraged to participate in lifelong learning and healthy living initiatives. Every summer, employees from Majestic and other local companies compete in myriad athletic events in a Cleveland-area corporate challenge, including a tug-of-war.
Page says that in addition to building camaraderie and collaboration, the tug-of-war symbolizes Majestic’s corporate culture.

"We’re constantly pushing and pulling one another to be more creative," he says. "We encourage push-back so that we can all improve. But at the end of the day, we’re all pushing in the same direction to keep driving this place forward." MM

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