It’s more than 4,600 miles to walk from Columbia Precast Products’ plant in Woodland, Wash., to Concrete Sealants Inc.’s facility in Tipp City, Ohio, and back again. But ask some of the employees at either company, and they’ll tell you they can get there and back in just 15 days.
What started as an idea from NPCA’s Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Committee and a joke between Columbia General Manager Ron Sparks and ConSeal General Manager Jesse Wingert became a Fitbit walking challenge between the two companies.
Sparks said the idea stemmed from the committee brainstorming ideas on how to engage NPCA members in health and wellness. He told Wingert he would challenge him at this year’s Precast Show.
Both said their employees immediately embraced the challenge, and both sides had a little fun along the way by making videos posted to their Facebook pages.
“I’d go around the plant with my phone and show the videos they would make and what we would make, and the employees just loved that,” Wingert said. “They were constantly asking, ‘Where are we at?’ ‘Where are they at?’ and just constantly engaged.”
Sparks said it brought together employees that may not normally interact with each other.
“It gave us all something in common besides precast to talk about,” he said. “Immediately after we started, that was the topic of conversation between the plant and office and all the other departments. It fostered a lot of team building.”
As part of the challenge, Sparks said if they lost they would ship some of Washington’s famous smoked salmon to Ohio. Wingert agreed to send fresh, free-range turkeys from a local farm in Ohio if they lost and even enjoyed a turkey sandwich in one video as an understated taunt.
“I probably shot the first bullet across the bow with our first video,” Sparks said. “(ConSeal) got pretty creative with theirs. It was hilarious.
“Everyone here was just cracking up laughing with their videos.”
Despite coming out victorious, Wingert said they were still sending some turkeys in honor of good sportsmanship and the fact that everyone really won in terms of health.
“For this being the first time doing something like this, it’s just too much fun to have a loser in this thing,” he said.
Both managers said they want to have another challenge and hope to get other precasters involved since health is such an important component to the industry.
“If you don’t have healthy employees, they don’t show up for work,” Wingert said. “When you talk to employers around the industry, one of the biggest struggles is finding good, quality workers that show up every day. We have to keep our employees healthy.”
Sparks compared wellness to special teams in football. It’s something that’s not often thought of, but it can be the difference between winning and losing.
“This is a hard job,” he said. “It’s a physical job, and the more fit you are, the less apt you are to have your body start breaking down.”
Both Wingert and Sparks were happy with the way the challenge went and seeing how their employees were engaged was a highlight.
“It was just absolutely fun,” Wingert said. “I don’t know how else to say it. It was fun to watch all our people talk about it, joke about it, talk a little trash.”
Wingert said his employees were able to learn more about the industry as well.
“This really allowed us to dive into what Columbia does and what they manufacture,” he said. “Now they know more about a customer and have a better feel for the product being made.”