One of the criteria for these awards is how companies have adapted their business models to meet changing market conditions. Lippert Components met that benchmark, then moved far beyond.
Lippert has acquired multiple marine-equipment manufacturers, including Lexington, Highwater, Signature Seating and last year’s purchase of Taylor Made, its largest acquisition. The rapidity of the acquisitions is noteworthy, since it not only gave Lippert instant scale in pontoon-boat furniture and an aftermarket presence, but made it the largest U.S. manufacturer of boat windshields. But what really impressed judges was the seismic shift the Elkhart, Ind.-based firm has made in its corporate culture in the last three years.
More than slick marketing, the slogan “Everyone Matters” describes a program that includes 100,000-plus hours of community service by Lippert’s 11,000 employees, Community Service Days where workers volunteer at parks and other recreational spaces to improve their communities, and Acts of Service, which pairs workers with local nonprofits.
CEO Jason Lippert, who spearheaded the initiatives, also established the executive position director of people performance, which oversees Lippert’s Dream Achiever program. In Dream Achiever, employees move toward personal goals that range from weight loss to obtaining a bachelor’s degree. In less than a year, the program has achieved 86 “dreams.”
While these initiatives may sound a bit California-light for a manufacturer located in Indiana, consider this: In 2016, companywide attrition was about 110 percent. Lippert was losing employees faster than it could hire them. Keeping workers is particularly challenging in a town like Elkhart, where, with unemployment rates lower than the national average, workers tend to move often between manufacturing jobs.
In 2018, Lippert’s attrition rate has fallen to 33 percent. There is a 97 percent retention rate for the 650 workers in the Dream Achiever program. While culture obviously doesn’t have everything to do with worker retention, it obviously plays a key role at Lippert.
In this video from IBEX 2018, Lippert Components CEO Jason Lippert discusses how a value shift in the corporate culture has boosted its retention rate by two thirds. He speaks with Michael Verdon.
This article originally appeared in the November 2018 issue.