In recent weeks, AGCO has launched a new program at its Hesston facility – The Hesston Way.
The program, which will be implemented at all levels of employment, is hailed as a way to establish a more personal connection between the company, its products and employees.
Robert Ciecko, Vice President of Operations and David Disberger, Vice President of Product Engineering in Hesston and Beloit Operations, have high hopes for positive change.
“What Robert and I are discussing with the local operations is creating a culture that brings to live the pride and the elements Hesston has here, not just with employees and pride not just of customers, but the collective pride in what we do and what we produce,” said Disberger.
“It is an evolution, not a revolution. We looked into the past and saw a different way of thinking. We talked to people who have been here a long time. There are some employees here with 51 years of service. We met with people with over 40 years of service. There are nearly 100 people here with 40 years of employment here. We reached out and learned that things are always changing. Mr. Lyle Yost made quick decisions and changes. Hesston has changed since 1947 with the community,” said Ciecko.
Ciecko said for the launch of The Hesston Way, it is to be an un-cluttered message.
“What we are broadcasting to employees is just one subject, The Hesston Way. We didn’t want the message to be diluted. For 66 years this facility has been changing and we stressed it will continue to change, not because we want to but because the world is changing, customers are changing and it is influencing what we make. We want to make sure we continue to change with the environment with an emphasis on our vision, mission, values and principals,” he said.
Ciecko hopes The Hesston Way will give Hesston’s employees more insight into the workings of the facility.
“We told employees that every company knows what they do. Some know how they do it. But, very few know why. We asked, as management, why are we here? What is our purpose? Profit is a result, not a purpose,” he said.
Plans for The Hesston Way have been in the works since Ciecko too the position of Vice President.
“This is how we formalized a movement that started in September of 2012. We started, and feel that now is a good time to formalize it and bring employees up to speed and to make sure people understand The Hesston Way. It is a common denominator for Hesston - we have people that have been here for many years. We have people from architecture, people from aviation, construction, agriculture,” he said.
Ciecko took a sweeping look at what leadership meant within the Hesston facility and wanted a program that reflected all employees.
“Leadership is important. Crew chiefs, supervisors, business managers, AGCO support services, purchasing, logistics, materials, on the whole site, we have 200-plus leaders people interact with and we want to make sure these groups all have the same inertia and are going in the same direction in the same fashion,” he said.
The core ideologies of AGCO are established and strengthened within The Hesston Way program.
“A lot of time and effort has gone into The Hesston Way. We are an ag-based company and we put that into our vision. Grown and harvest tie to our hay planters and harvesters, The idea of harvest the good life we produce machines that are shipped to the whole world. We help parents feed their children around the world. People should take pride in being part of putting food on the table from India to Argentina to North America,” said Disberger.
Ciecko said the goal of The Hesston Way is to ensure the success of the Hesston facility.
“We want to make sure the Hesston site is a successful leader in AGCO. We want to be known not just in safety management, but product design. We want to find a way to achieve results. You can’t achieve results like this without everyone’s effort and free will to be the best,” he said.
Incorporating every Hesston facility employee, Ciecko said, was critical for the success of The Hesston Way.
“We want to make sure everyone is involved, not just rank and file. When we rolled out with this, before we jump into it, we want to make sure the training is top-down. Each level will have classes and become the mentors for the next. We want the time for people to be able to seek council. We want the whole organization at each level to be capable of learning and teaching as they go through the training.
“When you sit and talk and listen, eventually you can call it communication. Then a relationship, with a relationship there comes trust and you don’t build that artificially but together and we are very pleased that we are working toward trust,” he said.
William Tanner, a machinist at AGCO, said he has a positive outlook to The Hesston Way.
“As an employee, speaking for just myself, what I have noticed, folks on the floor are impressed with Robert. I know Lyle (Yost) talked to folks on the floor and we see Robert on the floor. He seems like he wants feedback from employees,” he said.
Tanner said as an employee, he wants the Hesston facility to get back to its roots.
“We all want to get back to before when it was like family, when you weren’t a number. You can see a change because out on the floor you see everyone doing their job. I have not heard a single employee complain about Robert.”
Tanner added taking pride in one’s work
He has plans for here. If everyone follows through on what he wants, I think there are still some people that are skeptical, but we will take it one day at a time.
There is a better attitude about what we are doing. People have to take pride and not just be a number and not just be here for a paycheck,” he said.
Tanner said as an individual he has heard buzz about the program and the new kind of leadership at the facility.
“It’s got the community talking and people talking. It’s good for the Union, it’s good for the employees and good for the company for us to grow good relationships. We will give it a chance. I am willing to give it a shot. I, personally, care a lot about this facility and want to work here and see it comes a long way. We want the company to be successful.. We want folks to think this is the best place to bring their products because that means more work, which means more jobs, which is good for everyone.”