While voicing her concerns of the federal government’s incapability to foster a productive environment for sustaining business and employment opportunities stateside, U.S. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx commented on how one local plant’s approach to managing employees, as well as productivity, could serve as a model for other businesses in the community to follow.
The congresswoman visited the West Jefferson branch of General Electric Aviation on Friday to learn the ins and outs of jet engine production along with a review of the company’s team approach and self-directive workforce. This type of method allows employees the opportunity to encourage each other and become more efficient by using team synergy instead of one managing body voicing all of the commands. Through this type of collaboration and positive energy, employees are able to work as a ‘performance work team’ that works interdependently toward common goals, plant officials explained. Frontline workers are also afforded the opportunity to give feedback to plant officials and note areas of possible improvement.
This type of approach is not unique to GE Aviation or other American companies for that matter. Foxx noted that by using this approach, Japanese car manufacturers were able to surpass the production of American assembly lines in the early 1990s.
Plant officials explained that it is hard to argue against the team approach as the method’s success is illustrated through the plant’s productivity. In 2008, GE Aviation recorded the plant’s total output at $130 million and noted a 7 percent increase in volume this year alone. Plant leader Jason Swinny said that officials are expecting a total output in excess $140 million by the conclusion of next year. This growth has also coincided with the announcement that the plant plans to invest a mind boggling $2.3 million in equipment. Swinny also commented on how this growth came during the national economic slowdown and stated, “We really weathered the storm in 2008-09.”
While strolling through the plant’s assembly floor, Foxx took the opportunity to mingle and shake hands with some of the company’s 92 skilled machinists. Following the guided tour, Foxx commented on how all of her expectations were exceeded in visiting what she called “a role model for the business community.”
“I expected to see an exceptionally well-run plant with a lot of attention to detail, a plant that has recycling, and makes sure what comes out of the plant is of top-notch quality,” Foxx said. “GE is a great role model for any business wanting to develop a team approach. If you want to be a successful organization then you have to do it the way GE does, from the bottom up.”
Foxx also explained that the plant’s drive is a spirit that is also embodied within the communities of the Appalachian Mountains. She stated that that relentless spirit has been tested thoroughly with the departure of local businesses to overseas markets.
“The people in Ashe County are going to do good work given the opportunity to do good work…that’s in the genes of this area,” Foxx said. “My heart really goes out to the people in this community who have played by the rules and still do not have a job. People are very frustrated because they want to work and they’ve always wanted to.”
Foxx explained that in order to prevent business from relocating elsewhere, the federal government must first lower the corporate income tax (35 percent) which is currently the second highest in the industrialized world.
“It’s not rocket science to know what we have to do to fix this situation,” said Foxx. “We know what we have to do.”
The congresswoman also stated that the federal government must also reverse “unnecessary regulations” that have driven manufacturing overseas.
“The people here want the federal government to create jobs and they need to let those jobs be created,” Foxx said.
For more information on General Electric Aviation, please visit www.ge.com.
Contact information for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx can be viewed by visiting online at http://www.foxx.house.gov.