On Thursday, April 30, 2020
Core Values... So many companies have them but are they just words, or are they a way of life?
Jen’s First Impression of AHT
A little background on myself (Jen Lassen), I started working for Advanced Heat Treat Corp in 2015 as the Human Resource Coordinator. I interviewed with the HR manager and then had a second interview with accounting and marketing. All of the employees were enthusiastic about the company and also very professional. I remember leaving my interviews thinking “Wow! This is the company for me… this is the career for me… this IS the company that was meant to work for.” I had taken a leap of faith to exit a company where I had worked for 10 years and I was not going to settle for just any job. I was determined to find a place that I felt passionate about and looked forward to everyday.
Immediately, I saw that the passion for what employees did at AHT was contagious, and I wanted to be a part of it. I could see myself fitting in with them and being part of their team. While I didn’t entirely understand the business at the time, I knew that was all about providing a service that made the world a better, safer, stronger place. That was exciting to me! So, when the job offer came, I cried! I was over the top about getting started.
RELATED: View our available career opportunities at www.ahtjobs.com.
Fast forward a few weeks in the office, I had lunch with my new team. They asked me about my life, my family, my background, they were helpful, they were happy to teach, and no question was ever silly. My manager immediately assured me that I was trusted, that she knew I was competent, and that was why she had chosen me. And then she let me get to work.
So, after 5 years in my role… I think back on those things and feelings. I saw and literally felt the core values when I started - Loyalty, Professionalism, Service, Teamwork, Integrity & Passion.
The One Who Started It All… Gary Sharp
AHT was founded in 1981 by Gary Sharp. It was very much a small, family-run business. Although it had grown over the years, employees became friends, and later extensions of Gary’s family. Gary, to this day, gives all the credit for his success to his employees. That little company grew, and today employs people in 4 locations, in 3 states: Iowa, Alabama, and Michigan. Gary is now semi-retired and has passed the reigns down to his son-in-law, Mike Woods. Gary still comes into the office and has a pulse on what is going on day-to-day.
Defining AHT’s Core Values
When Gary was asked what he felt the company’s values should be, LOYALTY rose to the top of the list. Loyalty for Gary is not just employee loyalty to the business, but also loyalty to the employees, and loyalty to the customer. When AHT fell on slow times due to the economy in 2016, Gary would forgo his own salary to ensure AHT could prevent layoffs. If that isn’t loyalty, I don’t know what you would call it. When we had an employee whose wife was donating a kidney, AHT wanted to show their support, so they continued to pay the employee’s wages during that time, so he could be out with his wife. Furthermore, over 42% of AHT’s workforce has been with the company for 10 years or more. When asked why they have stayed, many credit Gary. But many also stay because they know they know their business and they feel they can do it better than most! After all, some of our employees were on the ground floor of this company when it opened in 1981.
RELATED: View our 15+ Club members, our most tenured employees with over fifteen years at AHT.
Another value we live… Professionalism! When you walk into any of our locations, you immediately see and feel a sense of pride and professionalism from all that you encounter. Some of our customers know heat treat would benefit them in manufacturing, but they don’t know what they need and they don’t know where to start. When they reach out to our sales team, they ask the right questions to narrow that down and give them the advice they need to move forward.
Service is a constant at AHT, always aiming to take the best care of our customers and their parts, and turn out parts to specification every time. We strive to be transparent in our communication and act as a technical resource for our customers. It's not just about the sale - its about the relationship and achieving a win-win. Service isn’t just external either. It’s also internal as so many departments of AHT rely on one another to achieve a successful end result.
Teamwork is another visible aspect of AHT that I felt immediately. Unlike so many other companies, you really NEVER hear “that isn’t my job.” Our Vice President of Operations was out checking in parts just yesterday. Our Human Resources manager works in the shop alongside employees if the needs are there; not only to keep up with part volume, but to see the work through the lens of the employees. Why did I interview with accounting and marketing? Because they were going to be the gals that I worked with closely every day. And it was important that we had chemistry and that they could see themselves building a relationship with me- not only professionally, but also personally because… friendships do form. After all, we are with our co-workers almost as much as our own families.
Integrity is such a key value. For AHT employees, that means to speak up if there are any issues, take ownership for mistakes, and to raise a flag. It’s doing the right thing and the best thing… even when no one is looking -even if it isn’t popular. For example, in the automotive industry, if parts don’t meet specifications…recalls happen. Our employees recognize that these are not just parts. The things they touch truly matter, and in many cases, safety and livelihood can be affected by our ability to do our job correctly. Even in interviews, candidates are asked “what is better, a part shipped to the customer on time, but not to specifications… or a part to specifications, but late, and why.”
RELATED: Interview with AHT. Apply at www.ahtjobs.com.
I mention 'passion' a few times as I’m writing this blog… as that is the last of our six core values. (Or maybe it’s the first.) At AHT, there is passion in everything we do. We are passionate about the work we do. We strive to get things right the first time, to do things over until we get it right, and to learn in the process. We are passionate about one another… our team, our friends/work family, their families, their personal and professional success. We are passionate about the parts we heat treat and taking care of our customers. We are always striving to "exceed customer expectations with UltraGlowing results"! (That's our mission statement.) There is no shortage of passion at AHT. So very fitting to be a value we hold.
RELATED: Our passion has earned us awards ranging from "Employer of Choice" to "Most Influential".
I am proud to work for a company where values are more than just words. Values at AHT are tangible things, and feelings, and actions! They are seen and experienced daily. And that, my friends, is what sets us apart from other service providers and employers out there.
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