Reinventing Employee and Company Wellness
SEAchange co-founders, Graham Pansing-Brooks and Kyle Cartwright, talk with CEO of TMCO, Diane Temme. TMCO, or Total Manufacturing Company, is a one-stop-shop for manufacturing services, specializing in anything from fabrication to paint to assembly. But not only that, they are also a hub of wellness, empowerment, and community action. Diane emphasizes the benefits of investing in employee relationships and treating each one as an individual.
In this episode of The Stream of Conscience Podcast, Diane states that, “it is the total wellness of an individual that allows them to be happy and productive.” More and more, companies are becoming dependent on employees and their wholistic wellness, and TMCO is pioneering ways to create a workplace environment where their business, and everyone in it, thrives.
With the ever-changing job environment, Diane reminds business leaders to figure out what one's values are as a company and to produce “pockets of flourishing” within the company culture created.
Scroll down for this episode's transcript:
If you haven't noticed the world is changing. Consumer and talent demands are evolving and businesses are being held accountable to a broader purpose. This is The Stream of Conscience Podcast, where we celebrate the businesses that are prioritizing purpose to achieve both financial returns and greater impact.
These stories highlight business as a force for good and good as a force for business.
[Kyle] Hey there, Kyle Cartwright here. And I'm back again with my partner in purpose Graham Pansing-Brooks. And I just gotta say this season, all the great interviews we've had already, I'm super energized by what we're able to share and, and what's coming yet to, to come.
[Graham] Yeah, there's been a lot of really great lessons, a lot of great stories that we've been able to, to, to dive into.
And, uh, there's only even more exciting stories to come.
[Kyle] So together we are indeed co-hosts of this podcast and co-founders of SEAchange, a consulting firm for purpose-driven businesses. Today, we're visiting with one of those businesses, TMCO or total manufacturing company. TMCO is a one stop shop for manufacturing services, specializing in anything from fabrication to paint to assembly, but not only that, they are a hub of wellness, empowerment, and community action.
Diane Temme is the CEO of TMCO she herself is a subject worth studying because she's about as boomerang as one can get for the Midwest. After pursuing a musical education abroad and performing internationally, she came back to Nebraska to help with the family business. And she now serves as its chief executive officer.
Diane is brilliant and always shares a vision for how to improve the lives of her people and community around her. So we're very grateful to her for taking the time to share about the company's work within this purpose driven business community. Diane, thank you so much and welcome to the show.
[Diane] Thanks for having me.
[Kyle] So do you wanna start us off by just giving listeners a little bit of context? Tell us a little bit about you history of your company and, you know, driving values as a business.
[Diane] Sure. Absolutely. So, um, um, TMCO was started in 1974 by my dad Roland. And, um, he, got started, um, by making one part for customer.
He, uh, invested in a couple pieces of equipment from Sears. And had a 700 square foot building with a dirt floor, uh, with no indoor plumbing. And he worked 18 hours a day, seven days a week. And he was, um, he, he did everything. He machined the parts. He, uh, you know, worked with the, the customers, he was his own delivery driver and, um, he just is, um, a Testament to the American dream.
It's an extremely inspiring story and, and he always believed that you could outwork the competition. Uh, And he did. He just worked harder than, than anybody else. Um, so it's an amazing story. And, um, today we have 224 employees. Um, yeah, we have amazing, uh, diversity. We're one of the largest fabrication shops in the United States and, yeah, it's, uh, it's a thriving business and we just really value diversity.
And we also, uh, value authenticity. We value, um, we value people, um, and relationships and for us investing, um, in relationships is important. So whether it's our suppliers, our customers, or our employees, it's about fostering that relationship. And we want our employees here to thrive. And, um, we do that also by value equity over policy.
So that's where, you know, when you treat people like individuals, um, That, you know, a one size fits all policy doesn't work. And I think that's where we differ from a, a large corporation because we really tailor, our accommodations to fit the individual.
[Kyle] You know, I, I really love hearing about that human centric approach to, to business.
I mean, that's really why we're here and doing this podcast is to really be able to dive into a lot of those, uh, practices and, and, and ways of, of operating and living day to day, uh, within a, a business community.
And one of the areas that we've admired for a really long time has been your focus at TMCO putting a lot of energy into the wellbeing of employees.
Could you talk to us a little bit more, take us a little bit deeper into, uh, what you're doing from a, from a wellness standpoint, uh, from, uh, an employee engagement standpoint.
[Diane] Oh, absolutely. So, um, man, wellness is, a deep topic. It's really, um, all encompassing, uh, wellness at TMCO really started, um, with this dream by my dad, Roland, where he, um, before wellness was a buzzword.
Um, in the eighties he thought it would be amazing if people who work at TMCO could retire and retire with a million bucks. And so he, um, He came up with a plan to match a 401k dollar for dollar up to 10%.
[Diane] And that if somebody, um, had worked at the company and, and, you know, like, um, company loyalty was, you know, a, a really, um, important value, uh, you know, for people in my dad's generation, you know, things have changed a little bit over time, but, um, to reward that loyalty to the company, and if somebody had worked for, you know, 20, 30 years at the company that they could, uh, retire with with over a million dollars in their retirement account.
So, um, having that, that peace of mind and financial wellness piece was extremely important to my dad. And we're really happy that, um, two employees have achieved that, um, Working at TMCO. So that's kind of where, where that started. Um, and, um, we've tried, we've tried all sorts of wellness things over the years, some things crazy and some things less.
So, um, but I think, you know, you kind of, um, trial and error, some things, um, one of my, my late, uh, wellness initiatives and I'm, I'm proud to, um, share is, um, You know, I think it's, it's really hard to, um, change your habits. I think we all know that it's extremely hard and, and however much you, you push or let's say you do like a, a weight loss challenge or something like that.
You know, like the, the sustainability of something like that is, is really tricky. And so, you know, you think about, you know, where the ROI is and, and how you're gonna engage people. And so for the month of March, um, we're putting out a wellness challenge that is less uh, maybe results oriented, but it's more, every day it encompasses a different part of wellness.
So whether it's emotional wellness, um, you know, it's physical wellness, it's spiritual wellness. It's social wellness. All these realms of wellness are really incorporated. Um, and so, because I, I think we don't really give enough credence to some of these other forms of wellness as well, and that it, it really is the total wellness of an individual that allows them to be happy and productive.
And so, um, you know, and everybody has their own struggles and their own methods and their own things. And so every day in the month of March, we have a different challenge. And, and whether it's, you know, do a two minute plank, even if you can't do a two minute plank, which I cannot , it's okay. You know, try it, you know, take a rest, get back at it, you know, just, and then, um, you know, listen to music on your way to work.
Think of three things to your grateful for, connect a friend or a family member, turn off your screens before bedtime, you know, things like that. Um, so every day there's something. Different and, you try something maybe that you wouldn't normally do and you think to yourself, wow, that felt good.
Um, maybe that will spur, you know, something else. The other thing that we're asking people to do is to put away $5. $5 a day because statistically, um, there are a lot of Americans, uh, a good percentage of Americans that don't have enough money to cover a $300, $400 emergency. And so, you know, asking people to make maybe small lifestyle changes, because at the end of the day, you know, what is important, peace of mind, happiness, wellness, and that will translate to productivity and work satisfaction.
[Kyle] I love that you've managed to leverage your business model to incentivize and help people, uh, move down and, and kind of come, become comfortable with some of those concepts and, uh, breaking down some of the barriers around that. So you and, and I can tell just from the way you've talked about that, it's a very people centric and people focused initiative and activity, but I also have to believe that there is a positive outcome that comes to your business as well.
Uh, you talked about, you know, people feeling great and their productivity, their motivation, their energy levels. Right? So maybe talk about some of the, the enhanced value that you see. Not just, I mean, again, we can, I think it's really important to continue reiterating the value that's created for the human, uh, uh, uh, end end user, so to speak or the, the beneficiary, but, uh, how does it impact your business as well?
So, I mean, people, employees feel when you invest in them, they feel that. And you know, right now we're, we're going through a very strange period, uh, in the world where we're dealing with things like the great resignation, um, mass turnover, um, you know, wage inflation, inflation all around. And, um, you know, you think to yourself as a, as a business and a company, you know, like how much of that can you really sustain?
How much of that, is, is, is really going to, uh, you know, be impactful because, you know, you could raise your wage, you know, a dollar or an hour, there's somebody down the street that's gonna match in or exceed. And it's just an arms race that, you know, I, I feel like there are no winners. There. So, um, but the thing is that people understand too, that there are options and that it's not just about wage.
And I think the pandemic has led people to step back a little bit and to figure out what their values are. And they wanna work in places that have culture. I really do believe that culture can beat, um, You know, things like wage and our other, other tangible benefits. So I think in, in the recruitment and retention, and also like once, uh, people find out, you know, how we treat people here, what the culture is here, they tell their friends, they tell their relatives that, Hey, you wanna come work here.
So really, um, it's kind of a, um, um, like passive recruiting, um, that we're not, you know, actively having to search for people they're coming to us. And, and so we've had no shortage of applications. Um, now when unemployment is critically below 2%. So I think that says a lot about what we're doing. And the other thing is, is that I think people have a very static, um, idea of wellness.
And I think that you have to, as a business, uh, be adaptable and flexible, and, you know, we have a crisis in mental wellness. I think there's still stigma around it. I think that, um, there are, are a lot of. Of people who are also reluctant to seek help about it. And the pandemic has also exacerbated that.
So, um, you know, being able to engage people in, in things like mental wellness and the importance of work life balance, the importance of taking care of yourself and, being sure that you are, you know, having the resources that you need is, is critically important. And so I think all those things put together create like a tremendous amount of return, especially since the number one concern on most businesses minds right now is workforce recruitment and retention.
[Graham] And, Diane, you know, we, we know and, and have seen how impactful and how important people are to TMCO and the work that you're doing there. One of the other things that TMCO is, is well known for as well, has been community engagement, uh, getting, getting team members to be involved out in the community you yourself, and the leadership of TMCO being engaged within the community.
Can you tell us a little bit about why community involvement has been so important for TMCO and, um, and ways that you have been able to encourage your team members to, to not only be thinking about, uh, personal wellness, but also wellness of the community.
[Diane] Yeah, absolutely. I believe too, that the investment in our employees is a, is a, um, investment into the community, you know, as they go out and are able to better engage with and be successful in the community, that is an investment to the community.
Another thing that we invest in is investment in families. Um, so we, um, invested in, um, early childhood education. We partner and provide subsidy, uh, for our, our employees', um, children to attend, um, a quality, uh, facility that is fairly close to where we're we are. And, you know, that's really sewing the seeds for the future.
For us it's, it's gonna help, um, increase the chances of, of success for those child, um, for their family. And, um, . That's an investment into the community. So that's, that feels really good. Um, and we also do a lot of community projects. We also, um, donate to, to various causes. Um, it's always been our philosophy, um, kind of starting from the beginning too, that we're gonna be good neighbors.
Um, and we need to give back to, to our local community we're right across the street from Park Middle School. And, you know, we feel really strongly about partnering with that school and investing in the success of of the students there as well. And, and again, just being a good neighbor, um, is extremely important.
So, um, that dictates our, our role, um, in, uh, giving back to the community. Um, and you know, we wanna be, uh, You know, a resource for the community as well. And I think it's, it's also mutual because this community has also helped us to succeed. The city of Lincoln has helped us succeed and it just feels right that, that we give back something, um relatively newer also is connecting and engaging with like-minded partners.
Um, so because, um, we, we do great work, but we're even better when we work with others who have similar motives and vision. And so, um, for example, um, Dimensions is our early childhood education partner, um, they do amazing quality work and, um, also serve the community, uh, in great ways. Um, and just brainstorming with, with other businesses and, and how we can connect, how we can work together, how we can build, uh, effective coalitions and basically how we can move the needle to solve community issues and also create a healthy and thriving business environment.
[Kyle] I love that focus on the local community and the partnerships. Um, you know, I think it's on, on one hand it's, it's probably, I think probably a lot of listeners would hear this and you know, it, it seems atypical for a business to be so, uh, so centered around this sort of a community mindset and a local and a, um, collaborative, local mindset.
Right. I think, although, however, right, our Nebraska and Lincoln in particular, I think in a lot of cases, this, this comes very naturally to the business community. Um, but I will, I will, will definitely, uh, give a nod to TMCO for being a leader on that and being, I think a, uh, a particular model for what that looks like.
So, um, thanks. Thanks for the work that you're doing on that and, and setting an example for, for what other businesses can do. And I think there are other businesses who are seeing what you're doing and seeing the success you're finding and seeing the, the outcomes for your people and for your community that are positive.
And. That energy, uh, grows and, and others follow suit. So you're playing a big leadership role in that as well. And I know that that's started with your dad, but you've carried it on. So, so beautifully. Uh, Diane, so.
[Diane] Well, I appreciate that. And I think, you know, the next generation is so much more ethically minded.
Um, you know, that they, they care about ethically run ethically sourced, environmental, uh, issues. And, you know, it's, it's kind of like the, the Tom's model, you know, that, um, there there's a consumer that is more likely to do business with, uh, a business that is ethical or kind of above the board and, you know, and I think that goes for employment as well, that, you know, the next generation of employee is, is also looking for businesses that, um, are more ethically minded and just more socially conscious.
So, you know, I, I just think that this is the future and, um, you I'd, I'd rather be on the front end than on the back of pretty much anything, but, you know, I, I just believe really, really strongly that this is the direction, um, that, you know, the most progressive businesses are going. And, um, it's just an exciting, uh, path to forge.
[Kyle] Absolutely. Yeah. And that's a mark of great leadership, I think to see that that coming and to, to embrace it. And, and what a blessing you've again, been given by your family having instilled this from the get go. Uh, so it's really been baked into the values of the company. So yeah, this is wonderful.
[Graham] So Diane, think thinking about the future then. What's next for TMCO you know, what, what goals and accomplishments do you see your company heading towards the next few years? Uh, where, what is, what's the target that, that you've set, uh, for the future? ,
[Diane] That's a big question. Um, well, you know, I think, uh, um, Like you said, increasingly I'm really excited about, uh, fostering partnerships and really seeing, um, you know, what we could accomplish, what models we can create, uh, with other like-minded businesses and where that could lead.
I'm all about thinking outside the box, all about trying, uh, trying new things. So all of those, uh, prospects are extremely exciting. Um, and I think it's just continuing to understand our employees and what their needs are and what their priorities are, because those aren't static either that shifts as well and trying to figure out, you know, what it is that we can do to support them and to help them continue to thrive.
So, you know, for me at the moment, I'm really, really thinking about, um, you know, how can we develop more robust employee development programs, you know, like how can we help, uh, employees also invest in themselves, you know, and, and have that matched by the company. Um I also am working on a, uh, a lunch program.
That's my next, uh, passion project because we, um, have, uh, 40% of our company currently, uh, made up of immigrants and refugees. And, um, there are certain populations of, of people that come here, that, um, they're just not educated in things like, so they'll buy things at the store. That are cheap and coincidentally taste amazing, but they're terrible for you and
[Diane] You know, things like that. So I feel like there's education. Um, you know, I'm really strong on, um, creating opportunities, um, especially for immigrant and refugee women. Um, I'd like to see more move on that front, um, because we are predominantly male oriented work place, um, just by the nature of the work that we do.
So being able to create opportunities for women, um, and get them engaged in the community. Um, so yeah, I just have, uh, a number of, there's always a million pans on the fire. Um,
[Diane] But you know, I think some of those things, um, are kind of the, the, the next, the space for us.
[Kyle] I love it. Well, Diane will, as we close, uh, would you want to give a little more information about where people can find you, uh, website, LinkedIn, you know, anything you wanna share?
[Diane] Absolutely. So our website is www.tmcoinc.com. Um, as far as me, myself, I'm a fairly elusive creature um, as you know, , but you can probably see me around town. You might find me at The Mill Telegraph from time to time. Um, but yeah, you can contact the company, um, as well, and, and they'll deliver messages to me.
Um, I am on LinkedIn, but I don't think to update that ever. I. I, I, I need a PR manager is what I need.
[Kyle] You heard it here first folks. Yeah.
[Diane] It's no surprise to anybody who knows me. Sure. Um, no, but thank you so much for, uh, just having this conversation and raising light on these issues. Um, you know, I just think it's, it's really important conversation to have.
[Kyle] Absolutely. No, we're, we're proud to, you know, create a platform that helps to bring stories like yours to light. And I, you know, I have no doubt that others will be inspired and, and again, follow in the, in the footsteps of the great things that you've done and that your company has done.
[Diane] That's great. Stay tuned.
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