Walker Mowers are being produced year-round every working day at our manufacturing plant in Fort Collins, Colorado, by a company of around 200 workers. There are 160 workers on the factory floor making the machines and 40 workers in the office supporting them. While some may call it semantics, we like to refer to ourselves as workers because we are all hands-on workers, producers, makers — no room here for paper shufflers, desk jockeys or office fluff.
It has always been our idea (going back to my dad’s days of leadership) that each of us in the company is primarily working for ourselves and our families. For that reason, we say each employee is working with the company instead of for the company. By joining forces with a group of like-minded folks to work together in the company, we are accomplishing a better livelihood for ourselves than if we were working by ourselves. We believe this understanding of working together gives a number of benefits that play out in several different ways as noted below.
In order to provide full-time, year-round jobs, we have chosen to operate with level manufacturing, producing machines at a steady rate all year long, even though the product demand is seasonal. There are no seasonal or temporary jobs in the company. For that reason, many of our workers come to the company and stay a long time. The average tenure with the company is 10 years and that pays off for the company by having workers invested in their jobs, knowing that doing their best work today helps them have a continuing opportunity in the future.
There is a strong work ethic in the company, with a standard nine-hour workday. We pay a bonus each week for perfect attendance during that week. In 2018, eight employees had perfect attendance for one or two or three years consecutively, and one of our welders celebrated 13 consecutive years. In contrast to complaints about the work ethic of millennials, now 46 percent of our factory team is made up of millennials, and they are showing up and doing a great job of matching or even leading our more senior workers.
With unemployment in northern Colorado at historic lows of around two percent the last couple of years, and with high labor demand from energy production and building construction industries, we have been able to fill all open positions and have been making some great hires for the company. We have not used recruiters or agencies to fill openings; a high percentage of our job applicants are by referral from family and friends of employees.
The next time you see a Walker Mower, please think of a group of hands-on workers in Colorado who love making things while providing for their families, and while work is still work, there is enjoyment and pride in knowing our customers are receiving our best effort. Our workers want each customer to receive top quality and value for their investment.
Our statement of beliefs (see www.walker.com/what-we-believe) includes this statement: “Dignity and honor exist in all work performed by diligent workers.” Amen.
Bob Walker, President