Darin Calbert, a plant manager at a local glass manufacturer, got the call many mangers do not want — the company he had invested his time and life in was being sold. But for Calbert, and his coworkers, that sale would prove to be a good thing.
Hehr International was sold to Lippert Components, and according to Calbert, the focus of two manufacturing facilities in Newton changed almost over night.
"Their mission is 'making lives better through developing meaningful relationships with coworkers, custmoers and community," Calbert said. "Their core values are being passionate about winning, trust, honesty, candor and a postive attitude."
Hehr International operated a location in Newton for about 60 years before Lippert Components International purchased the company this year. That would include two locations in Newton along with locations in California, Michigan and Indiana.
That purchase, local management said, has been good for the Newton location.
Calbert said when he found out who was taking over, he was excited. Lippert had been competition of Hehr for a number of years, and they were a known entity.
"I knew it was a good deal," Calbert said. "I knew their reputation. They have probably 75 manufacturing plants in the United States. They have plants in the U.K. and Italy."
And he knew that Lippert plants were good places to work — in some cases the hardest place in town to get a job because everyone, it seems, wants to work there.
The cultural change for the Newton facilities began quickly — changes to management structure, and how management is referred to. Calbert is no longer a general manager, he is a general leader.
"Everything is leadership," Calbert said. "Our goal is our people. If you have a happy employee, you have a productive worker. I know a lot of people do that, but not to the depth that they do here."
There are regular meetings with leadership coaches, for him, daily.
And for employees, an average pay increase of 25 percent. Along with that, a commitment to community service and volunteerism.
"That is their philosophy and their goal," Calbert said. "Employees matter.
Calbert said those changes have been embraced, and he points to a thermometer in the main hallway. The Newton plant is more than 65 percent to their goal for community service hours this year. The goal is more than 1,000 hours.
"We cleaned up Athletic Park, the band area," Calbert said. "I think we went overboard on what the city was going to do and the park people thought we were going to do. They gave me a stack of bags, and I ended up purchasing all the bags that Graber's had. We did more than 300 bags of trash."
Lippert is currently looking to combine both Newton plants into a singular location. The company is looking in the Newton area for that new location.
The company currently employs about 75 people at the north location on Old 81, and 50 people at a location on S. Meridian Ave.