Grill manufacturer changes name
Monessen Hearth Systems Co., a manufacturer of outdoor grills, fireplaces and other heating products, has changed its names to Vermont Castings Group. Under the new name, the company will continue to grow and support its four brands: Vermont Castings, Majestic, Monessen and Ambient Technologies.
“Changing our name will help us leverage the heritage of our iconic Vermont Castings brand to generate growth for our full portfolio of industry leading brands and product lines,” said Dan Clifford, president and CEO of Vermont Castings Group. “We were green long before green was in, and we are proud that our products are manufactured in the USA.”
The overall structure, size and organization of the company remain the same, with headquarters remaining in Paris, Ky. No personnel changes are expected as a result of the corporate name change, according to the announcement.
Vermont Castings Group is a supplier of hearth and grill products throughout North and South America, Asia and Europe. Under its four brands, the company offers full line of direct vent, natural vent, vent-free, wood-burning and electric fireplaces, inserts, log sets and stoves, as well as outdoor grills and heating products.
Window makers to face off in hockey game
An international hockey battle between two window manufacturers is scheduled for Jan. 12, when employees of Marvin Windows and Doors and Loewen Windows will play a game at the Olympic Arena in Warroad, Minn. The event will be refereed by Dave Christian, an NHL All-Star and 1980 Olympic gold medal “Miracle on Ice” team member.
About 90 miles separate Warroad, where Marvin is headquartered, and Steinbach, Manitoba, the hometown of Loewen. A group of Loewen employees will make the trip south to help inaugurate Warroad’s newly remodeled Olympic Arena. The game begins at 4:30 p.m.
There is no charge for admission to the game, but donations will be accepted to raise funds for new tables and seating in the arena lobby. Concession sales at the event also will go toward lobby furnishings, and there will be a raffle of VIP hockey gear and other items.
“We’re happy to invite our friends from Loewen to Warroad, to show them how we play hockey in Minnesota,” said Paul Marvin, director of materials for Marvin Windows and Doors. “All kidding aside, these are two great companies that share a northern heritage and a love of winter sports that crosses national borders. We’ll have players from just about every department and every age range.
“It will be a fun event to raise money for a worthy cause — and one team will go home with some friendly bragging rights,” Marvin said, adding that there are already plans for a rematch in March on Loewen’s turf.
Despite being a Warroad native, Minnesota hockey legend Christian will be able to referee the game without favoritism, according to the announcement. As quality manager of Cardinal Glass in Fargo, N.D., Christian produces insulated window glass used in both Marvin and Loewen products.
Marvin plant manager and 40-year employee Ron Lund has signed on to manage and coach the Warroad squad.
Identifying star performers
Screening and developing the right skill sets for a position is essential. But managers who place too much emphasis on job qualifications mistakenly ignore personal qualities that, when combined with competencies, result in extraordinary performance.
Managers are usually comfortable assessing an employee’s or a candidate’s job-related competencies based on resumes, testing and interviewing. But singling out personal traits that contribute to star performance is harder. The following seven qualities provide managers with the best clues:
Speaks up: Speaking up to express constructive ideas and offer suggestions are qualities managers should encourage. Star performers are usually vocal when they believe a decision is wrong, and they defend themselves and their ideas when challenged.
When someone speaks up, it shows a commitment to the work and to the company. It’s a sign that the employee thinks for himself, practices critical thinking and is highly engaged.
Displays modesty: In the May 9, 2012, Wall Street Journal, columnist Brent Stephens offered advice to this year’s college graduates: "Your prospective employers can smell ‘BS’ from miles away. And most of you don’t even know how badly you stink."
But self-puffery is pervasive. Just read online self-profiles. Look for the employee or candidate who lets ideas and performance do the talking. Those are the people who give credit to the team and partner with co-workers.
Challenges "magic bullet" answers: It’s so easy to fall prey to "magic bullet" solutions. Star performers can look at any issue from different perspectives, poke holes, learn from past mistakes and chart how a seemingly fail-proof solution may have unintended consequences. And because they have strong networks, they know who needs to be brought in to find a solution.
Practices introspection: Self-knowledge is perhaps the most critical trait star performers possess. When you see a competent employee respond immediately to constructive criticism, you know you have a star performer in the making.
Achievement comes from being ruthless with ourselves.
Recognizes the importance of customers: Far too many of us have difficulty recognizing that customers can help or hurt a business. Yet most of us can recall a time when we stopped patronizing a business due to terrible customer service.
Star performers engage with customers. They seek feedback, and consider and respond to what the customers are saying. Encourage employees to informally engage in dialogues with clients, and see how well the employees synthesize those conversations and translate them into improved processes or better goods and services.
Avoids overusing jargon: When someone speaks in heavily industry-specific jargon and acronyms, his purpose is to make himself sound smarter or to exclude others from participating in the conversation.
Jargon is a substitute for clear thinking and accurate communication. When you see or hear it, it should be a red flag.
Remains accessible: Walk the halls of most corporate offices and you can hear a pin drop. Employees engage in little talking—in person or over the telephone—primarily due to email, instant messaging and texting. That’s not necessarily a problem, especially in cubicles where people should be respectful of others.
However, an obnoxious trend has taken hold, especially among younger employees — earbuds. Employees who listen to music or online talk through earbuds send "do not disturb" messages. Earbuds have replaced closed office doors as signals from people who are not approachable. Just like knocking on a closed door, walking up to someone with earbuds is awkward.
Star performers seek out productive employee interaction; they don’t shut their world to it. While much office chatter can be trivial, the opportunity for interaction through personal, one-on-one conversation could lead to stimulating effective ways to understand someone else better and increase productivity.
These seven personal qualities are important in identifying star performers. A well-qualified, highly skilled employee who doesn’t possess them will not become a star performer—just like an employee who possesses these personal traits without the skills also won’t succeed. A star performer possesses a combination of both.
The author is founder of GrahamComm, a marketing and sales consulting firm in Quincy, Mass. He can be reached via www.johnrgraham.com.
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