Last month I had the pleasure of working for King’s Hawaiian, the people who make rolls and hamburger buns so delicious that it’s quite possible their secret ingredient is illegal. It turned out to be one of the more enjoyable jobs of my career; I spent the entire day with them, was given a factory tour, and learned more about the finer points of their business than I often have the chance to. I also got some free King’s Hawaiian rolls, which doesn’t hurt anything. (Side note: I’m working for an automaker in a couple months, and I’m hoping this will encourage them to give me a free car when I get finished with my presentation. Mine’s old.)
Ordinarily I don’t mention any of my clients by name when I write an article inspired by my time with them. However, I’ve always enjoyed giving credit when it’s due, and King’s Hawaiian is doing three things so incredibly well that I went ahead and got their permission to refer to them here. They are a growing company; they’ve hired hundreds of new employees in the last few years, and their revenues have grown over 500% since 2010. There are a lot of reasons for that, I’m sure – but the following three are ones that all of us could be doing.
They’re Serious About Community
Everyone I met during my time with King’s Hawaiian made frequent reference to the ‘ohana, a Hawaiian word that means ‘extended family.’ It’s a concept that guides the kind of environment they’re working constantly to create, not only for their employees but for their customers as well. And for guest speakers too; I got a personalized Hawaiian shirt and a shell necklace that one of them had constructed by hand, and by the time I landed back at home I had three emails from three different members of their leadership team welcoming me to the ‘ohana. It might be a small thing, but it’s the kind of small thing that matters.
They’re Increasing Their Training Budget
This one’s not a small thing. Part of the reason I was invited to speak was to help roll out the new and improved King’s Hawaiian University, an online training platform. Previously only available to fifty employees, access was being expanded to over 300 and included loads of additional content. When a company has decided to provide more educational opportunities to more of its workforce, it’s a safe bet that things are looking good.
They’re Creating More Permanent Positions
And here’s the winner, the one that basically forced me to write this post. At a time when the vast majority of employers are hiring temporary or contract workers in an effort to cut costs, King’s Hawaiian is going the other way, making a dedicated effort to increase the number of company employees in their manufacturing plants from around 50% today to 80-85% in the next two years. They’ve recognized a critical truth about today’s working world – you cannot expect loyalty and dedication from your workforce when you’re not willing to provide them stability and security. Besides, you can’t exactly have an ‘ohana made up of temporary members, can you?
I’m not getting paid to write this article, so please don’t think I have some ulterior motive by complimenting one of my clients by name. I’m simply happy to see a company that seems to be doing so many things right, and I’m hopeful that their example will be a useful one to the rest of us.