Coaching To Win as One Team
WAXAHACHIE, Texas, November 14, 2023 /3BL/ - Brad Bolin may not have the word “coach” in his job title, but he certainly talks like one.
The director of operations for the Georgia-Pacific corrugated facility in Waxahachie, Texas, is a lifelong college baseball fan. He loves to use sports analogies and talks often about building the right kind of culture. A sign above the doors to the facility floor bears a slogan he borrowed from the Arkansas Razorbacks baseball program: Win as one team.
That axiom guides how Brad leads the plant. It’s not about just working together. It’s about winning together, sharing the same vision to create superior value by applying the principles that make GP unique.
“You can play as a team but still lose,” Brad said. “So how do we keep improving together so that we can go farther and win as a team?”
Brad believes it starts with humility, particularly from him as a leader. That means admitting when he doesn’t know something, and there were a lot of things he didn’t know when he arrived in Waxahachie two years ago. All his previous experience at GP was in consumer products, not packaging.
“I don’t know how to make a box,” he said with a smile. But he doesn’t view that as a problem. Instead, it frees him to rely on the expertise of others, like Terry Hill.
Terry has worked at the Waxahachie facility for 34 years, and he’s held most of the positions at the plant at some point. Clamp driver, stacker operator, control room operator, maintenance coordinator, corrugator superintendent and scheduler. His decades of experience and institutional knowledge have been invaluable for Brad and the rest of the team.
Terry’s current role as scheduler puts him in the office most of the day, interacting with customers and making sure their orders are fulfilled correctly and on time. But when there’s an issue with a piece of equipment on the floor, Brad knows he can count on Terry to help troubleshoot.
Brad’s commitment to humility and inviting respectful challenge also means Terry and other employees have the license to disagree with a decision or to voice different opinions on how to best solve problems.
“Brad will let you challenge the process when you don’t agree,” Terry said. “Sometimes the conversations can get a little heated, but they’re always respectful, and the results are positive.”
Soliciting that input helps Brad understand who has the necessary knowledge and comparative advantage to help the plant improve in certain areas. For instance, Terry’s familiarity with all the machinery has positioned him to work on solutions to reduce waste. The result is a team where everyone is contributing and owning the solutions together.
Brad wants his team members to self-actualize, which means realizing their potential by contributing in a way that is meaningful to them and valuable to the company. When he came to Waxahachie, he worked to understand what everyone did well and what they enjoyed doing. Then, whenever appropriate, he moved people into roles that better fit their talents and interests while making the team stronger.
Self-actualization also happens outside of work, according to Brad. He wants his employees to have a work-home life balance that allows them to pursue their passions and interests outside of their jobs. Then they can come back to work motivated and energized.
For Terry, his passion is vintage Chevrolet C10 trucks. He owns a 1987 Chevy Silverado and runs an annual truck show in Waxahachie called C10s in the Park. What began in 2015 as a small local event showcasing 60 trucks has become a national attraction that has been featured on MAVTV and the MotorTrend+ series Shorty’s Dream Shop.
The 2023 show will feature more than 1,200 trucks from all over the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It brings in an estimated 10,000 attendees and benefits local businesses, earning Terry and his wife, Becky, the 2022 Mabel Frame Award from the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce. The award goes to people who make a positive impact on Waxahachie tourism.
By fostering an environment where employees feel cared for personally and empowered to do what excites them, Brad has created a team that is constantly improving and that is attracting and retaining high-quality talent in Waxahachie and the surrounding area.
“The population of Ellis County is 212,000, but I don’t need 212,000 people,” Brad said. “I need 125 good employees with the right values and virtues and beliefs to be successful. And that’s our goal, to be the best place of employment in Ellis County.”
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