Werner, West Middlesex

Werner Celebrates Opening of ‘Collaboration Hub’

WEST MIDDLESEX, Pa. – WernerCo.’s new corporate service center is designed to accommodate the flexible arrangements preferred by today’s workforce.

Company officials cut the ribbon Monday afternoon on what they describe as a “collaboration hub” that will accommodate more than 150 area employees, said Brian Kagen, global chief marketing officer. 

WernerCo., headquartered in Itasca, Ill., is a global manufacturer and distributor of ladders, fall protection equipment and an array of worksite products under its 14 brands. The company is marking its 100th anniversary this year.

The new 6,000-square-foot company workspace, at 61 Executive Court near U.S. Routes 80 and 376, is intended to accommodate employees across departments including legal, information technology, finance, customer care, marketing and supply chain who previously worked at its office space in Greenville, Pa., where it is winding down operations.

“It truly is a cross-functional and collaborative effort, which is the intent,” Kagen said.

Employees will work on flexible schedules and only report to the collaboration hub when required for events such as scheduled meetings or training, or to work with colleagues on projects.  

The concept resulted from a survey conducted of Werner’s 6,000 employees about a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, said Stacy Gardella, head of global marketing technology and operations,. In this market in particular, 93% said they would prefer flexible working schedules.

“We’re focused on a strong, effective and productive culture,” Kagen said. “The goal is to accommodate flexibility.”

Werner began operating out of the West Middlesex space in March while renovations on the building were being finished, Gardella said. It serves as home base for employees within a roughly 70-mile radius.

She credited the move for creating better work-life balance for employees and improving employee retention. In one case, an employee was spending nearly two hours each day commuting to and from Greenville. “If they even gain half of that … it’s a better work-life balance for them,” she said.

“We call it structured flexibility,” Kagen said. “Our hybrid working arrangement is very suited to this location. It provides great space for team meetings, for collaboration, for events, for one-on-one work and just to generally get stuff done with your colleagues.”

“It really does reflect the sign of the times,” said Harry Murray, manager of design and branding. “It serves multiple purposes for the company. You can still meet. You can still come in and have a space if you need to, but it’s not a space for 9 to 5 every day.”

Features of the hub include training space and a “hot desk area,” where employees can come in to work at any of the room’s multiple workstations. “It’s wired so you can sit wherever you need to, plug in and you’re in,” Murray said.

Other features include a wall with showcasing WernerCo.’s timeline, a display case of marketing, promotion and other materials from the company’s history, and a room highlighting the company’s 14-year partnership with college basketball. Werner provides custom-built ladders for the net-cutting ceremonies at the conclusion of the men’s and women’s tournaments.

“It’s product placement that’s authentic. You need a ladder anyhow and it’s a very natural fit for us, and we’re part of the winning moment every year.”

Certain departments are in the office almost daily, Gardella said. She also acknowledged the concept isn’t for everyone

“Some people want to come in to the office,” she said. “There’s plenty of room for that. You can come in every day if you want.”

Pictured at top left to right: Brian Kagen, Jake Loftis, Dave Stankovich, Brett Latimer, Matt Saines, Phil Kennedy, Stacy Cardella

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.