The Sales Trek meeting was conducted in 1990 to show the recent expansion and bring the key personnel of the Clippard distributor network together. The theme-based meeting was a huge success followed by consecutive sales records for the company.
With the success of a national meeting in 1990, Clippard had the next meeting in 1996 with a political theme. Delegates from around the world came to elect their leader in The Great Fluid Power Race. Clippard won!
One of the many big announcements at the 1996 meeting was the next big step for Clippard. A new plant was to be built and a ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted with the distributor network.
Quality People, Quality Products
Though technology evolves and products change as the years progress, one aspect of Clippard has remained the same since its inception—the people-centric culture. Rooted within the Clippard family nature, the business is first and foremost concerned with the well-being of employees, customers, distributors, vendors, and the community. Within the doors of both manufacturing plants, everyone is greeted with a handshake, warm smile, and sometimes even a hug. Even those who are retired still come back for company-wide events to visit with old friends and catch up on the direction of the business. At Clippard, employees are not just a number—they are a name, a face, and an important part of company history. Because of their heavy focus on people, Bob created the company's simple yet profound motto, "Quality People, Quality Products."
Putting people over products is essentially what the company is all about. Despite being a manufacturer of miniature pneumatic products, Clippard focuses on the well-being of the people involved in the process, knowing that the treatment of employees directly impacts the production of quality goods. The quality treatment of employees begins with the management team, who take strides to understand the individual personalities of those inside the company and connect with them on a personal level. During their time as President and Executive Vice President, Bill and Bob were very interested in the psychology of management. An avid reader, Bob recommended a book for the employees to read that included a quiz at the end to determine their top five strongest personality traits. Knowing these top traits allowed management to communicate with employees better and delegate tasks more efficiently. A majority of the employees participated.
The Clippard company is founded on the belief that quality people make quality products, and in order to have quality employees you must, first, treat them as such. One way Clippard does this is by ensuring all employees have a clean, safe, and comfortable work environment. Unlike many other manufacturing plants, both the Colerain and Fairfield facilities have spotless production rooms, except for the occasional oil spot and stray metal chip, with air conditioning for the hot summer months and heating for the Ohio winter. Because of the clean, controlled environment, many past and current employees admit they didn't believe actual, powerful products were made there when they first stepped foot in the facility.
Past the physical conditions of the plant—which are some of the best conditions for a manufacturing facility—employees are treated more like family than employees. Company leadership makes it a priority to remind employees of their worth and understand their personality. One perfect example of this is from an interaction in 2004 Bob had with Betty Smallwood, a supervisor who was retiring at the end of the year. After expressing her appreciation for the retirement card he had written her, she said she liked how Bob would "come out and visit everyone and make them feel important." Bob replied, "They are important, and I just remind them of that because sometimes they forget." This kind of affirmation for employees is one of the reasons why Clippard has such a long tenure of employment. Employees don't just come to work for a paycheck, but they enjoy the environment and feel as if they're part of the family.
A list was recently compiled of the aspects that make up corporate culture at Clippard, pinpointing the features that set the company apart from others and those that are most impactful to employees. While some on the list are benefits most expect to see—cleanliness and nice work conditions—others are unique and show the care Clippard takes in maintaining a happy and healthy team. On a list of over 100 features, standouts include advancement opportunities, tuition reimbursement, employee longevity recognition every five years, the encouragement of charitable projects, and an open-door policy that gives employees access to management whenever needed.
Every month the team at Clippard tries to hold a special event for the employees. Whether celebrating big holidays, special days invented by the staff, a birthday or retirement, there is usually a lot going on at both facilities. Holiday events at Clippard are especially exciting and many attend in order to spend time with each other and catch up with old coworkers.
In need of more space, Clippard began planning to build another production plant in Cincinnati. The perfect plot of land was found in Fairfield, about 13 miles from the Colerain facility. The area afforded the company enough space to accommodate future growth as well as assist in the present need in production. Construction began and phase one of the new Fairfield facility opened in 1997. The opening of the new plant might have been a helpful contributor to the 1998 sales boom—one of the best sales years the company had ever seen. According to former sales representatives, products were selling quicker than Clippard could make them, a good sign for the company as it approached the coming millennium.
Less than 30 minutes away, the company bought 17 acres in Fairfield and came up with a three-part expansion plan. Partnering with an architecture friend, David Wheeler, who helped in the 1989 expansion at Colerain, the design of the building was planned with worker efficiency and aesthetics in mind, as well as the future. The first impression visitors receive when touring the plant is the grand entrance to the facility's lobby with large columns shaped like air cylinders on each corner.
Currently in phase one, the manufacturing floor was built for future expansion. Two large windows in the plant look out onto the empty field that will one day be home to building phases two and three once the present facility runs out of room for new machinery and employees. When construction for phase two begins, these windows, two doors, and a large truck door will be the connecting point of the two expansions.