Kansas City Manufacturer Earns Plaudits
August 5, 2014
|86 IBEW members work at the award-winning Milbank El Dorado manufacturing plant.
Photos used with permission from Milbank El Dorado.
It turns out the first, second and third time is the charm, at least for members of El Dorado, Ark., Local 2284. In July, members celebrated Milbank El Dorado’s third consecutive Champions of Business Award, selected by the Kansas City Business Journal based on the company’s innovation, economic success and community involvement.
The company’s trusty meter sockets, built by IBEW members, have been the industry standard since 1927.
“Everybody’s excited that out of thousands of companies we’ve received this award, and now we’re in the [Kansas City Business Journal’s] Hall of Champions,” said Local 2284 Business Manager Allison Howell, who has worked at Milbank for 28 years.
Milbank El Dorado will soon mark another milestone with its 50th year of operation, manufacturing meter sockets, the metal boxes you see outside of homes, which are tailored to measure and regulate the electrical output of anything from an RV mobile home to an enormous factory.
“From the raw steel to the finished project, we paint, we assemble, we press, until it’s out the door,” Howell said.
Howell has credited the company’s lean manufacturing model to keeping Milbank in business during hard times, especially the recent recession. Using this strategy, Local 2284 members say that they strive to be as efficient with time and materials as possible, communicating openly with management to find ways to reduce waste and meet customer needs.
“We all try to come up with ways to improve the process. Management lets everyone put in suggestions,” Howell said. “It’s steady improvement every day.”
Members also attributed the Code of Excellence, a promise that ensures that work is performed in the highest principles of quality and safety, as a key component in their success, combining the IBEW’s high standards with the company’s business model.
“The company was really impressed with the Code of Excellence when we presented it to them. It’s been a great part of being champions and trying to do the best we can possibly do,” Howell said.
Contentious negotiations for members’ most recent contract led to a brief lockout in 2013, but workers and Local 2284 leaders say they were able to reach a compromise and now maintain a strong and communicative relationship with management.
“The morale has been really good over the last year or two, and I think a lot of that contributed to winning the award,” said Local 2284 member Raymond Taylor, who has worked at Milbank for 15 years.
Milbank also operates two other manufacturing plants in Missouri, one in Kansas City and another in Concordia, whose workers are represented by the IBEW.
“This is yet another example of a company manufacturing products in the United States and proving that they can be successful when they partner with the IBEW,” said Jerry Kurimski, an international representative for the IBEW’s manufacturing department.
To see other quality IBEW-made products, visit www.ibewmade.com.