Safety is paramount at New Millennium, the steel joint manufacturing plant located just west of Fallon, where 242 employees build steel joists that are used in the construction of school buildings and Walmart facilities across the country.
At New Millennium, the bright yellow donkey shirt has become an icon and highly prized acquisition at the facility as a recognition when employees do something good. “We really want to create a culture, a courageous culture of celebrating safety, not focusing on the negative but the positive,” said Kelly Robins, manager of operations. “We have daily meetings or monthly safety meetings, and we give them for recognition, and they’ve become a sense of pride for everyone and when they earn one, they wear it out.”
Robins said Kim Klenakis, safety coordinator, came to him with the idea in August to get pink donkey shirts for the entire staff to create breast cancer awareness during the month of October.
“When it came to breast cancer, we thought everyone here deserved a donkey shirt to support a cause that hits home to a lot of employees here,” he said.
Employees are also in a heated competition this month to see what “team” gets more steps in each day. The Walking Wolfpack, and The Force, are hot on the trail of four other teams (each of the departments) who take daily walks on their breaks and have steppers at their desks, all in the name of health and wellness. And building a culture around the work family.
“We really push family life here, everything is family,” said Klenakis. “Depending on what shift they work, sometimes employees spend more time with their work family than their biologic family.” She said they have several family members who all work at the company.
Sponsored through the company health insurance provider, the step contest is just one of many employee health initiatives. “We as an organization want to make sure our employees are as healthy as they can be for the longevity of their careers,” said Robins. “If you’re a healthy employee you’re a better employee for us so the more active we can all be the better.”
He says New Millennium has onboarded 70 new employees since January, in a job market where warm bodies are hard tome come by and employers struggle to find help.
“The truth is we compensate very well,” said Robins. “There’s no mystery about it, if you want high-quality people, you pay very well.” A subsidiary of Steel Dynamics, the fourth largest steel company in the country. Originally built in 1997, the shop was designed to do 32,000 safe tons per year, and this year they will do nearly 70,000 safe tons.
Running four shifts now, Robins said it comes down to efficiency. “Everyone gets rewarded here for safety, quality, and production. Money is why we all come to work but to be at work to make money and be valued is a big part of our focus.”
New Millennium doesn’t advertise often for employees, preferring to recruit from the pool of friends and family of current staff. “Who do you want to be out here working with, who do you trust,” said Robins.