A Community Transformed

Oct 6, 2015

Fresh out of college, Kevin began working for an international industrial conglomerate that designs and manufactures aerospace parts. After a number of years and positions of greater responsibility, he was given the opportunity to become General Manager of a plant located in a town in the Southwest called Redmond. What he found was not good. (Note: the details of this story are factual; however, the names and location have been changed to maintain confidentiality.)

With their four children, Kevin and his wife Mary left behind a close-knit bunch of relatives, topnotch schools and other Christians who were like family. The environment in Redmond was very different. Family strife and domestic violence were prevalent. The dropout rate at one of the local high schools was 35% over four years. There was no sense of community.

All of this was reflected in the factory that Kevin was asked to manage. The prior management had used a belligerent and dictatorial style. Backbiting, gossip, rough language and conflict were prevalent. There were no means of settling disputes or sense of teamwork. There was little trust between management and workers and among workers themselves. Husbands and wives were even reported to have called supervisors to gather divorce fodder on their spouses. It was not a pleasant place to work.

After Kevin arrived and observed all these conditions, he called together his newly assembled leadership team and told them that certain kinds of speech — vulgarity, gossip, ruining a person’s reputation — would no longer be tolerated. He said the same thing in a subsequent all-factory meeting with employees.

He initiated procedures to settle disputes between employees and disagreements between employees and management. He instituted incentives and bonuses for workers who met performance and safety standards. He encouraged employees to enroll in college correspondence courses. He gave his employees a vision of how their factory was connected to the outside world — how the airplane parts that they were manufacturing could end up in planes carrying their own relatives.

He also started hosting quarterly all-factory social events in order to boost morale, build relationships and let the workers know he was invested in them. Usually his whole family would show up at these events and he would encourage the employees to bring their families.

Kevin and Mary also had an impact on Redmond outside the factory, on neighbors, other families and young people who came in contact with the O’Connor children. Mary has organized prayer sessions with neighbors and mothers. Kevin and Mary have set an example by supporting their children by hosting parties where kids can have fun, but not get into trouble.

Things changed at this factory and the difference could be directly linked to Kevin’s arrival. He was bringing the life and love of Christ to his employees by treating them with respect, setting up mechanisms for reconciliation of disputes, encouraging personal development and training, rewarding good work and bringing truth and fairness into the dealings between management and workers. The tangible results were an increase of 33% in sales and a 75% increase in profitability.

The Father was working through Kevin, bringing his compassion, healing, forgiveness and generosity to the employees of this factory. Kevin was building God’s kingdom in Redmond by dealing with the people and circumstances right in front of him.

Written by Bill Dalgetty, President, Christians in Commerce. Copyright Christians in Commerce. christiansincommerce.org Used by permission. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > Used for non-profit teaching purposes only.