Work travel took me to Texas a few weeks back, and one of the stops I made was at the Trane residential headquarters in Tyler, Texas. The folks at Trane were kind enough to give me and some of my media colleagues a tour of their factory there.

I’ve been on a few of these tours over the years, and they always impress me. This one was no different. Particularly interesting was a look at their Seasonal Extreme Environmental Testing Lab, where products endure 16 weeks of bone-chilling cold and blistering hot weather to make sure they can withstand the elements in the field. Seeing snow in Texas on a late June afternoon is different.

Another powerful takeaway: A lot of the workers at the factory have really bought into the company culture at Trane. The tour guides (they provide more than a few) are workers who volunteer for the gig, and they were extremely enthusiastic about describing the manufacturing process.

Trane is beginning a new consumer advertising campaign in the fall built around the theme: “Never Stopping. Never Settling.” I believe I heard that tag line from our tour guide about four times during the multiple hour tour. Of course, he sprinkled in a few: “It is hard to stop a Trane.”

At dinner that evening, I commented to Gary Michel, senior vice president and president, residential HVAC & supply, Ingersoll Rand, how impressed I was that Trane got the tour guide to squeeze their corporate marketing themes into the tour. Michel said the guide did it all on his own, as corporate never gives their guides a script to follow during these tours.

That proved to me that the tour guide had bought into the brand messaging. This was driven home again at the brazing station where the individual in charge was bragging about the quality of work Trane performs and how their brazing differs from their competitors. Now, I have no idea if that is true. To be honest, it doesn’t matter. The important item is he believed it. It showed a belief in the company he works for, and in doing so, he was a walking billboard for Trane.

Now, think about your business and employees. Do your workers exude the same pride in the company that those factory employees did? Do they exude the same pride in the company that you do? If not, you have not fostered the environment where they have taken ownership in their jobs and the company, and if not, you have some work to do. You can’t force this. You can’t be Kim Jong-Un forcing people to love you and sing your praises. This has to be done the old-fashioned way — by putting in the necessary time and effort. It starts with hiring the right people. Not necessarily the folks with the best technical skills, but those with exceptional attitudes and soft skills.

Once they are a part of the team, your communication with them and their associates needs to be impeccable. Share as much information as you can with them and make sure the communication is not a one-way street. Make sure you listen to their concerns, feedback, and, most importantly, suggestions.

Finally, make sure your company is a place they can take pride in when talking with their family, friends, or strangers. With the lack of qualified workers in the HVAC field, having your employees speak so highly of your business can only help.

It is a lot of hard work, but the payback will be immense and should certainly improve your bottom line.

Publication date: 7/24/2017

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