Education, Growth, and Autonomy: The Foundation of KAD’s Company Culture
What makes a precision machine shop a great place to work? People and projects are a big part of it, but company culture is also essential.
Historically speaking, the manufacturing industry hasn’t exactly prioritized workers’ social-emotional needs. Words like “company culture” don’t always appear in the precision machine shop playbook. In fact, in many shops, the culture is defined by the unfortunate practice of hazing workers until they make it.
And not all workers make it.
When management assigns positions to new team members and does nothing to advance their training, these workers don’t have a chance to grow in their careers. Many of them get stuck operating the same machine for years, leading to dissatisfaction and lackluster performance.
However, the industry is evolving. Here at KAD, we’re creating a template for a company culture that champions both our people and our projects.
The Foundation of Our Company Culture
We believe that solid company culture is anchored in three principles:
1. An evolving education
We’re just going to say it: Today’s manufacturing education is backward. Aspiring machinists are first taught to precision cut material with a saw. Then, gradually, they’re encouraged to work their way up to using a computer and learning CNC machining.
Can you imagine if a mobile phone manufacturer operated in the same way? We’re not asking iPhone engineers to study rotary phones before working with the latest technology. Why are we asking machinists to perform work manually that they’ll ultimately do with machines?
We believe in a technology-first educational approach. When employees understand how and why machines work, the process will convey the basic mechanics.
Additionally, education is something that should never end. We might be a prototype machining shop, but we’re also a learning atmosphere. Every person here is learning something new every day—from intern to founder. We embrace education and recognize that there is always more to discover and comprehend in our field of work.
2. Opportunities for growth
We train all employees to be experts in CNC machining services and provide tools so every team member can become a top-level machinist. Maybe it sounds overly simple, but we produce better prototype models for our customers when we’re each better at doing the work.
We genuinely hope everyone wants to excel at CNC machining when they join our team, and they’re given both the opportunity and assistance to master the necessary skills. No one is afraid of a colleague poaching their position at KAD. We don’t believe in hierarchies that keep people restricted to where they were first assigned. Everyone has to start somewhere, and each teammate has more knowledge today than they did yesterday—even our senior team members.
Our whole team must have comprehensive manufacturing knowledge, even when it comes to the most basic tasks. We encourage cross-training so team members understand the entire prototype machining process, starting with the model.
Not only does process familiarity help our team members fill in for each other when needed, but it can also highlight the function and importance of each phase of the project, allowing teammates to recognize the value they provide. When we realize how our piece of the puzzle fits the whole, we all feel more fulfilled and connected.
3. Autonomy for everyone
We believe in autonomy for everyone from day one. We recognize each other as human beings with whole lives, valid feelings, and real needs. Starting in the trenches and earning respect is an outdated approach that we wholeheartedly reject—our teammates are valued and respected from the start.
When we provide freedom and flexibility to our employees, we empower them to show up focused and engaged at work, ready to give their best to the project and their fellow team members.
A company doesn’t exist to squeeze value from its employees, and at KAD, we’re committed to creating a culture and environment that is mutually beneficial. By prioritizing manufacturing education, providing growth opportunities, and encouraging autonomy in our employees, we’re making our precision machine shop a better place to work.
If you’re seeking a career in manufacturing where you get to learn every day and work on inspiring products with equally inspiring people, we’d love to hear from you. We have job openings at both our Vermont and California locations—take a look and apply today.