MINSTER — The Minster Dannon plant puts a lot of time and effort into its employees. As a result, the buy-in from the employees is what sets the plant apart.
Proximity to leadership and working on the issues important to its employees is a key factor in the plant’s success, said Plant Manager Dave Merritt.
“We have to be able to run the plant and deliver to our customers,” he said. “But understanding the needs of our employees is just as important.”
The work span of an average employee is 18 years, Merritt said, and the plant currently has more than 15 people who have been at the plant for 40 years or longer. The plant makes yogurt.
Merritt attributes that longevity to competitive wages and opportunity for growth.
“Dannon puts a lot of stock in their people,” he said. “It’s wonderful to watch people come in at an entry level and grow through the plant. A large number of our team has grown from the floor.
“They’re the experts,” he added. “Some days I joke it’s their plant, and I just get to work here. … I’m very impressed with the team, and to me, that’s the difference.”
The plant has added production lines in each of the last three years, bringing its total up to 16, but keeps an “Ohio mindset,” Merritt said, that focuses on teamwork.
Dannon has a Pay It Forward recognition program as an initiative to instill that teamwork aspect.
Director of Operations Ryan Brickner said the plant likes to celebrate small victories, and this recognition program has been a powerful movement.
When an employee is recognized, he or she receives a ticket with another blank ticket attached to then pass along. At the end of the month, those tickets are used to draw prizes. Between one-third and one-half of the plant gets to vie for those prizes each month, Merritt said.
“The products we make are easy to get behind,” Brickner said. “Another thing that drives the team together is being able to provide healthy options and to provide those products to as many people as possible. That’s something we can all rally behind.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.