As PBM Plastics, a manufacturer of disposable baby-bottle liners, was building inventory for a product launch, its factory’s central air conditioner malfunctioned — and a new one would take two weeks to arrive. Management had the following options:
- Keep employees working in stifling heat.
- Shut down the plant and let down customers depending on the company.
- Rent portable air-conditioning units — which would be financially crippling at $20,000 a day.
Adam Burke, the company president, called a meeting of the management team and employees on the shop floor, thanked them for their hard work, and offered them the choice to continue or not, also offering morale-boosting perks and making a point that senior management would work under the same conditions as the factory team’s.
Read more about how Burke balanced the value of human capital, the manufacturing process and the company’s commitment to its customers in Gerry Yemen, Adam Burke and Professor Elliott Weiss’ article “Helping Workers Deliver for Customers,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.