OPINION: Closing in on 100 successful years

OPINION: Closing in on 100 successful years

By Chris Ulbrich

On a sunny day last week, I visited the Wallingford Post Office in the center of town. I was delighted to see a couple of Ulbrich Steel retirees chatting outside, so I stopped to say hello. They both had thirty-five plus years of service with Ulbrich and were dedicated, loyal and proud employees. As we were catching up, they openly expressed their gratitude for having been a member of the Ulbrich team for so many years and asked me how everything was going during the pandemic. I told them that despite some challenges, we were doing well and that business was good. It was great to see them enjoying life in retirement mode.

It's not hard to understand why these retirees had such warm feelings for Ulbrich. During the course of their long careers with our family-owned business, they were provided with good pay, terrific benefits (for employees and dependents), and meaningful work all in a welcoming and diverse environment. I am so proud that our average employee has twenty-one years of service. Worldwide, Ulbrich’s employee turnover rate is less than 1% year after year. This is an amazing testament to the trust Ulbrich employees have in the leadership of the company. Our thoughtful approach to employee relations is vital to our overall success in the global markets we serve.

So, how do we do employee relations at Ulbrich? Clearly, it starts with treating each other with respect, dignity, and kindness. At Ulbrich, we believe in open and direct communication across the board. We recognize our talented employees and take pride in their many accomplishments. We publish newsletters on a periodic basis that highlight employee success stories — both in and out of the workplace. We also provide our employees with service awards every five years and celebrate each year with family summer picnics, employee parties and our annual children’s holiday party. I am always humbled by the handwritten letters I receive each year from our employees thanking me and the entire Ulbrich family for all that we do for our employees and their family members. At Ulbrich, we kind of do things the old fashioned way, and we wouldn’t do it any other way.  

The spirit of teamwork and independent thinking is alive and well within Ulbrich. Our employees in Wallingford, North Haven and around the world feel empowered to make decisions about how to impact positive change at work. They have done an outstanding job of completing hundreds of continuous improvement projects (otherwise known as A-3’s). With encouragement from top management, continuous improvement initiatives help Ulbrich to reach new heights with operational efficiencies and customer service. Ulbrich employees even found a way to stay engaged virtually throughout the pandemic, navigating the challenges of remote work while also holding virtual lean meetings. These meetings are ideal for facilitating continuous improvement, as we aim for excellence in all that we do. They’re also a great way to build a collaborative and cohesive global team — from Connecticut to Mexico to Canada and everywhere in between.

In terms of philanthropy and service, Ulbrich and its employees have a long tradition of generously supporting our local communities. We strive to make the world a better place for its employees, their family members, and people in the communities in which we have operations. Ulbrich and its employees provide financial support for targeted programs involving childhood development, arts and music, and assistance for those in need. And, members of the Ulbrich Community Outreach Team provide needed services to a number of charities in the local area. Ulbrich and its employees have touched many with their generosity and collectively, we have changed many lives for the better.

When one becomes a member of the Ulbrich team, they truly become part of something that is much greater than punching a clock and collecting a paycheck. Ulbrich employees feel they are part of something very special. On top of the good pay and benefits they receive, they are proud to be working for a world-class organization that respects each and every employee that walks through its doors. As my father Fred Ulbrich, Jr. always said, “If you treat employees well, they will move mountains for you.” I want to thank all Ulbrich employees, past and present for all of their dedicated service.

A rich and diverse culture, a loyal and engaged workforce, a legacy of giving back to the community, and a promising future — we have so much to be grateful for here at Ulbrich as we close in on achieving 100 years of success!

Chris Ulbrich is chairman and CEO of Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc. which is closing in on one hundred years of success since its founding on Dudley Avenue in Wallingford in 1924. From humble beginnings as a scrap yard, today Ulbrich is on the technical forefront of the metals industry delivering precision products to an increasingly diversified and global marketplace. Ulbrich continues into the family's fourth generation with over 700 employees, five international locations, and a corporate headquarters facility in NorthHaven. www.ulbrich.com

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