Colored slides of plant operations

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It is seen that public opinion surveys, expensive tools at best, are not always essential to successful PR campaigns. The one conducted in connection with the start of Borden's Van Wert program was made necessary by two factors not often encountered by a small businessman. First, the Borden operation in Van Wert was not strictly "small" and its problems therefore were not readily obvious. The problems of most small businesses can usually be pin pointed much more easily. Second, the Borden survey was conducted as a means of measuring, at a later date, the exact degree to which the PR program was working, to determine whether and to what extent public relations could change opinion about the task of repairing the damage Borden's had suffered during the unhappy period of expansion. Every effort was made to comply with the suggestions outlined in the PR program. Most of them were carried out and some others were added. Employees in the management category formed a Management Club whose activities have promoted much good will. Plant tours, particularly by clubs, school groups, and farm agencies, became standard practice. Colored slides of plant operations were prepared and shown to every organization in the county. In certain areas, such as employee acceptance of working conditions, improvements were obvious. In certain other areas, like what the average townsman thought about Borden's, the improvements were not so easily seen.

It was necessary for Borden's to know exactly how their total program was working. However, a second survey was taken at the end of the first two years. Most of the questions asked were the same as those in the first poll, so that comparisons would be valid. Borden's sponsorship once again was kept secret until the poll was completed. Tire greatest possible care was taken to insure that the poll would give a true picture of employee and public opinion.

The outcome of the second poll was gratifying. The percentage of opinions favorable to Borden's among both employees and townspeople showed a good increase in answer to nearly every question. For example:
  1. Many more people believed that Borden's contributed more than any other local company to the general welfare of Van Wert.

  2. Many more people rated the plant an "excellent" place to work.

  3. Many more people rated Borden's officials "above average" as compared with the officials of other companies.

  4. Many more people thought the company's promotion system was fair to its workers.

  5. Plant foremen got "excellent" ratings from more than twice as many people as they had two years earlier.
These are not all the responses gathered. But they are representative of the improvements that showed up after only two years.


In productivity, volume of work is one measure. Quality enters into the picture, as do waste and spoilage. Apart from that, it's a wonderful thing to visit a factor}' or office where people feel like singing or laughing on occasion. It's a fine thing when employes not only respect the employer, but feel a friendly kinship for each other.

The following paragraphs summarize some of the many other communications and participation projects that have been undertaken to promote and sustain high morale among a working group.

Free Flowing Two Way Communications:

To let employees blow off steam, Coleman Company had a Squawk Box. Signed Squawks got an answer in person from a company official. At Noblest Sparks, former employees were polled on what they thought of the company. When the Parker Pen Company built a new plant, it welcomed community opinion with a mailbox at the site. Response to questions or complaints appeared in the house publication.

Dealing with rumors, Monroe Auto Equipment in a small Michigan town, asked workers to report the disturbing information on Rumor Report Sheets. The public address system was used to air and dispel the rumors. Another company, North American Philips, provided Rumor Boxes around the plant. Responses were given in group meetings. The State Farm Insurance Co. in Bloomington, 111., ran a column "Pruning the Grapevine" in its house publication.

There seems no limit to the ingenious means devised for disseminating news within the industrial organization. Caterpillar Tractor used a tape recorder hooked into the telephone system. Foremen could dial a confidential number and get the hottest company news items. A flicking of call lights alerted foremen that an urgent message was on the tape. As did many others, Consolidated Vultee Aircraft broadcast company news during employee rest periods. F. E. Meyers and Bus Co. released news to employees on special bulletin boards, and timed it ahead of the local press.

Not all information qualifies as a squawk, rumor, or news. Some is provocative, or educational, or persuasive. Hamilton Manufacturing in Two Rivers, Wis., used bulletin boards to deal with such topics as taxes and inflation.

International Harvester published a booklet "The Unstoppable" which told the story of a strike. Along the same general line, Western Union issued a booklet dramatically relating labor costs to earnings. It pointed out the senselessness of a strike for $50,000,000 increase in annual wages from a company that earned $5,000,000 a year. Kohler Co. in Wisconsin fought back at its union through a booklet showing all that had been done and said from both sides of the fence in a 54-day strike.

Taking a somewhat different approach to industrial communications, Goodyear Tire and Rubber carried a labor relations column in its weekly newspaper. The week's developments were set down. A top official approved the columns, but truth and general interest were the criteria. The column was never used to air company views. Stewart Warner went this technique one better and let union officers write their own column in the house publication.

Mutual Participation People Mixers:

Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., Shreveport, built a new 14 story headquarters. On the second floor there was an interdenominational chapel available to all.

When Duncan Menzies became president of Servel, his first day of work coincided with the annual company picnic. He promptly joined the party, and met everyone.

Paul Galvin, founder of Motorola, long practiced a homespun philosophy of human relations. His social life, by and large, consisted of attending employee functions. Finally, employees turned the tables on him. At a quiet 25th Anniversary employee banquet the human relations department revealed creation of 10 and 25 year service award pins. First recipient of the 25 year pin was founder Paul Galvin. He couldn't have been more pleased.

Typical of the human relations philosophy in Motorola, when an employee is hospitalized the company sends a portable TV set to his room. Annually the company sponsors a Christmas Kiddie Show for thousands. The show is staged in a theater, with Santa Claus, films, and refreshments.

Timken Roller Bearing had a program of "lunch with the boss" for 50 at a time. More than 7,500 took part. Each person was invited by his foreman three days ahead, was lapel tagged at lunch, and received a souvenir picture of the occasion.
Jones and Laughlin Steel had an Admirals Luncheon which enabled management to keep up on the line information, and give recognition. Admiral Ben Morrell, president, was host each Monday in the Board Room. Lunch was followed by talks, discussion, and sometimes a motion picture.

When a new product was introduced, Dayton Pump and Manufacturing pitched a lunchtime party. At such times, the plan manager would discuss the product. Parties were followed by letters urging cooperation in putting the product across.

Mutual Participation Pulling Together:

Annually, Motorola has had a doll dressing contest. Dolls were donated. Employees clothed them. The contest entry dolls were displayed in plants, and ultimately judged. Prizes were awarded. All dolls were then donated by the company and employees mutually to charity for needy children at Christmas.

Mullins Manufacturing Corp. co sponsored with its union a federated charity drive. Employees voluntarily contributed 10 cents a week to be allocated among charities by an employee committee.

Republic Aviation had a contest among its people to name a new jet airplane. The winner was "Thunder flash."
Chrysler held a company meeting via television for a half hour previewing new car models. The company's president participated as did stage and screen notables.

After Korea, George D. Roper Corp. in Rockford, 111., had to cut back 400 people and to transfer 1,000 into other jobs. Officials interviewed each person. A canvass was made to find other jobs in the area. Some 200 were found.

The Parker Pen Company, expressing confidence in its employees, threw out time clocks. Everyone was put on an honor system to keep track of his or her own time. Employee appreciation was such that tardiness showed a marked decrease, and absenteeism was lessened. Moreover, the cost factors in leasing time clocks were eliminated.
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