By Jennifer Karpus-Romain
Rubber & Plastics News Correspondent
DICKSON, Tenn.—At the forefront of Zochem L.L.C.’s
work culture is the health and safety of its 80 employees
throughout two facilities.
This mindset has allowed the global supplier of zinc
oxide, a key material used in rubber, plastic, glass and
many other applications, to pivot through evolving
work conditions this year.
“In 2020, the key pivot has been to stay abreast of the
changing environment with team members, customers
(and) suppliers, federally, state/province and locally for
both facilities in the U.S. and Canada,” said Ed Smith,
vice president of sales and marketing at Zochem.
“We have continued to harness best practices as we
learn more to ensure our team members see the company as
always evolving.” Health and safety practices are everywhere within
Zochem, from a board meeting to a toolbox talk on plant
floor, Smith said. The company also promotes an opendoor policy,
as well as participates in a joint health and safety committee.
These wellness avenues have provided an environment that promotes
collaboration and new ideas, headded. “We use continuous improvement
in all aspects of our business,” Smith said.
Learning to improve and adapt to new health and safety
conditions has taken root in Zochem’s hiring processes,
which saw many challenges throughout 2020, he said.
Bringing on new team members during a pandemic
was challenging in that not everyone can work remotely.
While most of the application process could be done
online and initial screenings could be conducted by phone,
Zochem did host socially distant and masked
in-person interviews, Smith said. “We understand in a manufacturing
environment that working from home is not conducive to all roles, and our
upfront and honest approach as to what can be accommodated, while
answering candidate questions or finding answers, is one of our biggest
strengths,” he added.“We emphasize more than ever our health and safety
record at both facilities to provide confidence to a new candidate that they
are entering a place where recordable injuries and lost-time
injuries are foreign, and together as a team to keep it that way.”
Although it is not applicable for everyone, Zochem
does try to accommodate employees’ remote work needs.
“Flexibility in working from home, flexibility with working parents with children at home,
flexibility with employees taking care of sick relatives, or even short-term allowances to
do so have come up,” Smith said. “But we havefound that through our open communication
that employees seem to bring forward any issues or concerns on a
case-by-case (basis) where we can try and accommodate.”
Once hired, employees become part of the “Zochem
Dream Team.”“Getting hired and working day-in and day-out provides
you automatic enrollment into the dream team culture,”
Smith said. “We believe you never want to let a teammate
down, and in return, they never want to see you fall.”
To create the culture, Zochem offers paths toward
career advancement, with in-house safety, quality and
technical skill training—especially since the facilities
in Dickson and Brampton, Ontario, are FDA-, USPand GMP-approved.
“We also offer tuition reimbursement opportunities
for advancement that can provide additional value to
Zochem, both today and longer term for career growth
and promotional opportunities,” Smith said.
Yet, Zochem’s work culture is more than just health and
safety initiatives and career advancement opportunities.
The company hosts events, rewards strong monthly
or quarterly performances, and offers other benefits.
“We offer a few extra amenities in the workplace,
along with a strong benefit package—health insurance,
dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability,
401(k) plan with company match—to continuously
cater to the changing needs of our personnel, whether
those changes are driven by our environment or personal life,
with our great diversity within our employee
base,” Smith said.
Ushering in new leadership
Since being named among the Best Places to Work for 2020, Zochem has
gone through a leadership change.Effective Nov. 15, Mohit Sharma took over as
president of Zochem, taking the reins from previous President
and CEO Rob Crittendon.“On his recent appointment to president and CEO,
Mohit has communicated and reiterated that our strength is
in our people,” Smith said. “Our (health and safety) record drives consistent
participation to ensure satisfaction levels are exceeded for both external and
internal customers. “Mohit considers himself a product of an environment that
provides growth and continued education opportunities, and will continue to
instill continuous learningwithin the Zochem work culture.”
The work experience at Zochem is created by the input
of a diverse and willing team where positivity is driven
by listening and reciprocation, Smith added. That same
input expands with the investment in its employees for
education, training and practical experiences.