The company culture makes employees stay with Eifel Mold & Engineering in Fraser, Michigan. CNC Machinists Ed Sharon and Gary Schulz, shown here, were among those recently gifted with watches for their 20th anniversaries with Eifel.

Enjoying the Eifel Life: Employees Stay for the Long Run

Since its beginnings, Eifel Mold & Engineering has strived to maintain a positive, friendly, and family-like environment. It’s one of the reasons why so many employees have worked here for decades and have no plans to go anywhere.

“The People” is one of the three pillars of Eifel’s foundation, as we strongly believe that having motivated employees who feel included is crucial to providing customers with superior services and products.

It’s evident that our principles have a resounding impact on our company culture. In fact, we recently celebrated the 20-year anniversaries of four of our team members: Michael Nye, Wendy Tabor, Gary Schulz, and Ed Sharon.

But it doesn’t stop there. With his exceptional expertise in the industry, Design Manager Tim Hay has been an asset to our company for an astounding 35 years.

Here’s a little more about them and why they they enjoy the Eifel life.

Tim Hay, Design Manager

The fact that everyone is included in processes and decision-making is one of the qualities Tim values most about Eifel.

“I’m a very firm believer in the team process,” he said, adding that it contributes to a more positive environment and a greater number of ideas for solutions to challenges.

It’s much better than having one person run the shop, he said.

“Sometimes it fits right into what you’re doing, and all in all it helps to conquer the challenge and help the customer,” Tim said. “It’s something we all share in and we all get involved in.”

Many of the team members have a great amount of experience in particular areas, such as machining or assembly. Not tapping into this knowledge pool would hinder progress, and that’s the idea behind encouraging all team members to contribute their expertise.

“We all share in the problem-solving processes,” Tim said. “When we apply these practices to the team, it reduces a lot of the stresses and makes everyone feel more comfortable about the direction.

It’s really a core principle here, he said. They all have opinions and share them, which ultimately leads to sound decisions that make sense from all aspects. Each person does their job and does it well, so when you take each person’s opinion into account, it really does make for a much smoother solution.

Tim speaks highly of the talented people who work here and the overall company culture. He also appreciates the fact that the management team respects employees’ need for a work-life balance.

“I’ve always felt very comfortable. It’s a very family-oriented environment,” he said.

Wendy Tabor, Controller

Wendy began working at Eifel in October 1999, and she remembers the application and interview process vividly.

She was looking for an office job when she came across an ad for an administrative assistant/receptionist position here. As a part of the application process, she completed MS Office testing at an agency Eifel was working with in Troy.

“I then had two separate interviews at Eifel, one of which I thought was a disaster because my blow dryer stopped working that morning. I looked like a frizz ball, and I wore a horrendous blue pant suit that was just awful,” she jokes. “The most-often asked question I got during the interviews was whether or not I liked hockey. Obviously I answered yes and the rest is history!”

This is the type of fun environment employees enjoy here at Eifel, but they also appreciate being able to learn something new every day.

In Wendy’s case, she said she has learned how to build and code MS Access databases, and, together with the management team, built the ERP system Eifel has been using for the past 18 years. She has learned to use the UG NX software and gained skills in job costing, accounting practices, quality systems, international freight shipping, and program management.

“My Eifel education is invaluable to me, and I couldn’t ask for better teachers,” she said.

Wendy said she loves working at Eifel because it never gets boring.

“There is always a new challenge to grow from, and I get a real sense of accomplishment from  my role at Eifel. The crew at Eifel that I have been so privileged to work with over the last 20 years have taught me many valuable lessons and have supported me in my worst times. I am forever grateful that I found my place here,” she said.

She echoed Tim’s sentiments regarding the respect Eifel has for employees’ personal lives.

“The culture at Eifel is health and family first, which I believe makes an employee work harder to give back. When  you know you are appreciated, it makes all the difference. We work together to grow as a team and make sure that no one is left behind,” she said.

Wendy also noted that Owner Rick Hecker and his wife, Maria, lead by example when it comes to teamwork.

“Rick and Maria set the tone that we are all in this together, working toward the same goal of growing the company and ourselves in the process,” Wendy said.

Eifel Mold & Engineering recently held a small reception where employees were recognized for their years of service. Controller Wendy Tabor and General Manager Michael Nye were among those who were gifted with watches for their 20th anniversaries with Eifel.

Eifel Mold & Engineering recently held a small reception where employees were recognized for their years of service. Controller Wendy Tabor and General Manager Michael Nye were among those who were gifted with watches for their 20th anniversaries with Eifel.

Michael Nye, General Manager

Appreciating the opportunity to help grow a tooling company toward production injection molds, General Manager Michael Nye began working with Eifel in October 1999.

“Eifel had been a company that had grown through the craftsmanship era of models to prototype tooling, and at the time I came on, it began moving into the production tool direction,” he said.

Over the years, he has learned to be nimble in trying times, such as the downturn of 2008-2009. He also appreciates the challenge of always staying up to date regarding molding industry technology.

Michael enjoys working with people who interface daily as a group, all with a common goal of making a great product for customers.

“The environment has a family feel,” he said. “It is a place that celebrates the progress of an individual rather than having animosity when someone does well.  We learn from each other for the betterment of the whole.”

Ed Sharon, CNC Machinist

CNC Machinist Ed Sharon began working here due to a referral from a former coworker at another injection molding shop. Since then, he has gained excellent time management and technical skills, for which he is truly grateful.

“I’ve worked on two or three CNC machines at a time, along with benching and spotting mold components. I enhanced my electrical skills on injection mold hot runner systems, which also gave me the knowledge to do light electrical on injection presses,” he said.

“If you want to learn, this is the place to go. You can learn machining, mold assembly, CAD/CAM, benching/spotting molds, and a lot more.”

What he appreciates most about Eifel is that families come first, which is huge for a parent, he said. He also values the family atmosphere, his personal relationship with Rick and Maria, and the great work flow.

“I have worked in a large shop before, and felt I was just an employee number there. Never had that feeling in this shop,” he said.

CNC Machinists Ed Sharon (left) and Gary Schulz playfully show off the watches they received in recognition of their 20th anniversaries with Eifel Mold & Engineering.

CNC Machinists Ed Sharon (left) and Gary Schulz playfully show off the watches they received in recognition of their 20th anniversaries with Eifel Mold & Engineering.

Gary Schulz, Shop Floor Supervisor/CNC Machinist

Back in the late 1990s, Gary Schulz’s former coworkers who obtained jobs at Eifel suggested to him that he should come work here.

And that was one of the best tips he’s ever received. He started working with Eifel in 1999, and the experience has been very rewarding ever since.

As the shop floor supervisor, he oversees scheduling and makes sure jobs are going through the shop in a timely, efficient manner. But he’s not planning on giving up the job of running CNC machines anytime soon.

“I’ve never taken my thumb off that pulse, so to speak. I actively engage in it every day and plan to do so until I’m done,” he said. “I enjoy that aspect of the job. It keeps me in tune with things.”

In general, he appreciates the steady growth, both within the company and in the industry. Gary has been in the molding industry for 30 years overall, and software, technology, and machinery has changed immensely over the years. It’s a continuous growth and learning process, as there’s always advancement in technology, he said.

Rick has always been proactive by staying abreast of technology, machinery, equipment, and software updates, he said, which enables Eifel to stay ahead of the curve.

“It’s been a good company to growth with and learn with,” Gary said.

Just like the other team members, Gary values the great work environment, where they all keep one another’s best interests in mind. Even when things get tough, everybody hunkers down and does their part, he said.

“That’s a big reason why there’s not a big turnover here. Rick and Maria, the owners, are great people. They’re family-driven. They look out for everybody. We all look out for everybody,” he said.

Eifel Mold & Engineering Owners Maria and Rick Hecker lead by example by respecting employees, showing them appreciation for the work that they do, and ensuring that they feel like they are on a winning team.

Maria and Rick Hecker lead by example by respecting employees, showing them appreciation for the work that they do, and ensuring that they feel like they are on a winning team.

‘It’s Like a Family Here’

People who come to work for Eifel choose to stay for all of the above reasons and more, with the company culture being named as one of the top factors time and time again.

“It’s like a family here,” Rick Hecker said. “We treat our employees well. We try to pay them well. They’re respected and appreciated for the work they do.”

Even when things slow down, Eifel finds a way to retain employees as opposed to laying them off, he said.

After a while, you build a trusting and close relationship with everybody, and the employees believe that others have their best interests at heart. They also appreciate the competition with other companies, which makes them feel like they are part of a winning team, Rick said.

Rick notes that the three core principles at Eifel are People, Process, and Technology, and they keep these pillars in mind every day.

“People are the most important aspect. They feel that. They feel wanted, valued, and appreciated,” he said.

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