Task Force Tips is a company that is always moving forward. From new manufacturing techniques to letting their employees communicate with each other in widely accessible ways, the company is always willing to find the best method to move forward and make themselves more than just another manufacturer.
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Task Force Tips has been in the firefighting equipment manufacturing business for nearly 4 decades. Their products are widely available, often being used by firefighting departments all over the world. From their humble beginnings in the family basement to their current location at their 168,000 square foot headquarters, a strong community of close-knit employees has always been the company’s goal.
To help them strengthen this goal, Task Force Tips recently partnered with the Pfeil Innovation Center, an organization whose main purpose is the transformation of organizations to become more innovative, creative and successful. Two members, Jewel Abram-Copenhaver and Rob Koehler were invited to visit the facility to assess and understand how Task Force Tips allows their employees to succeed while working together to develop even more innovative ideas.
When it comes to developing technologies, Task Force Tips has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to the cutting edge. The company is responsible for having a working internet and email system before the internet became the daily essential that it is today, as well as embracing the technology of 3D printing well before it entered the mainstream market.
“I remember having an email account and an internet accessible computer from Radio Shack back in 1985,” says Task Force Tips CEO Stewart McMillan. “This allowed us to contact one another way before it became what it is today.”
McMillan also credits the innovation they have brought forth when it comes to their products, crediting some of their most famous and useful firefighting inventions taking years to fully develop and evolve into what they are today.
"We’re currently working on integrating robots to load our machines. This removes the tedious part of the job for the worker allowing them to do other tasks such as part gaging and other quality checks. We currently working on a new cell using robots that will reduce our part manufacturing time by four times," says McMillan
Along with technological innovation, Task Force Tips extends the innovations beyond the manufacturing floor and to each of its employees. Not only does every employees have access to an email account that is linked to every other employee at the company, but they are also frequently involved in every decision and event that the company participates in.
“Everyone is invited to our trade shows and everyone is invited to actually take a look and see how what they are making is used in the real world with our product demo days,” says McMillan. “We also have a blog that frequently keeps everyone updated on what the company is doing as well as our new products and comments from our customers.”
Employees are always encouraged to better themselves through education and fitness, and this is available to employees through their classrooms and work out center called “The Burn Room”
The Burn Room comes complete with equipment and machines to allow employees access to free fitness options. The classrooms come with a complete course that teaches engineering and computer-based concepts that is not only open to employees, but their children and family members as well.
Both the classroom and exercise room overlook the manufacturing floor, ensuring that no matter what the employees do, they always feel connected to the building and people still working.
These abundant sources are just one of the many steps Task Force Tips takes to ensure that their employees feel not only a connection to the company, but each other as well.
“The strength of our company relies on the factor that we’re all together on the same boat,” says McMillan. “We’re in the culture of continuous innovation and this extends to all aspects of the company.”
Pfeil’s visit not only assessed all of the innovations Task Force Tips has been doing correctly, but also brainstormed on features that could be done better and even more efficiently than they currently are.
“Task Force has taken a lot of steps to ensure that they connect with their employees,” says Abram-Copenhaver. “I love how they connect with everyone but also try to eliminate the negativity from their vocabulary. They are eliminating the words ‘but’ and ‘why’ and replacing them with words like ‘and’.” Both Pfeil members remarked that if there were any areas for improvement, it would most likely come with being even more informed with how employees feel about the company and the job position they are in.
“While surveys in the past did occasionally run into some issues with being overly negative or overly positive, they do a good job at zeroing in on issues that employees may have and allowing the company to do something about it,” says Abram-Copenhaver. “We’re always working with companies to improve communication with surveys.”
It’s rare to find a company that places innovation to their employees as much as Task Force Tips does, but since 1971, the “team spirit” and goal oriented nature of the company has allowed it to succeed and thrive where other companies stumble and fall.
Pfeil’s visit showed that a good thing, can indeed become an even better thing and Task Force Tip’s never ending journey to move forward with their employees. The two are a partnership that shows valuing your employees makes for a wise investment on par with any financial or technological investment.