Team effort Featured

1:07pm EDT August 26, 2003
Many companies want their employees to take ownership, but Solon-based CardPak has found a way to actually make it happen.

"I think one innovative thing we do is our approach with the employees," says Lisa Thomas, COO and co-owner of the packaging company. "We are creating an environment where we don't really have a demarcation between positions. It's more like how they are one important piece in a bigger puzzle. Gain sharing is a piece of that.

"We open up the financials of the business and are open book so everyone has the same information in a timely fashion."

CardPak analyzed all the measurable numbers throughout the business that can be affected by employees. An average is calculated, and anything that comes in above average generates rewards for employees.

"We have a weekly meeting with every department where we go through a whole laundry list of measures," says Richard Thomas, CEO and co-owner. "We go over things in that particular department that are measured, the company's plans, its profitability and all the things you would want to know. There is an enormous amount of information that they can control.

"It literally makes all employees participants in the process."

Employees are given the information because it shows them how what they do affects the entire operation.

"They're not only understanding their part, but understanding the cause and effect when they are passing on their part to someone else," says Lisa Thomas.

Employees are motivated because they don't want to be the one to bring bad news to the meetings or the one who has to admit he or she was the reason goals weren't met.

This type of empowerment has let the company offer exceptional turnaround times. For example, the industry average turnaround time for combination runs is three to four weeks. CardPak can do it in four days, guaranteed.

"What we ask people to do is unusual," says Richard Thomas. "By sharing the information on why we are doing better and what we have to do to keep getting better, they are a willing partner in the process. You can't just legislate that you are going to be the fastest.

"This is how you translate theory into practice. This is the way you translate innovation into practice." How to reach: CardPak, (440) 542-3100