Every day, millions of people throughout North America climb aboard public transportation. For big city dwellers, it’s a way of life. For others, it can be a novelty. Travelers use buses to get to the big game, share experiences of all kinds, see the world, and even search for a better life. They don’t realize it, but as they look out the window of that bus, they are seeing through the products that AROW Global created.
AROW Global, Mosinee, produces windows for buses, transit companies, off highway equipment, and vehicle manufacturers, but what they deliver is so much more than just a window.
With their expertise in transit window systems, they leverage that knowledge to develop new products or make existing products better.
For years, they have been known and recognized for their technology that reduces water infiltration in transit windows.
More recently, they were asked to come up with a creative solution to protect bus drivers in vulnerable areas due to an increase in bus driver attacks. It’s a sad reality that it’s something that bus companies need to think about, but AROWGuard came to the rescue.
AROWGuard is a driver protection system custom designed to serve as a barrier between the driver and the passengers they are transporting. The current design fits existing mass transit bus fleets, and AROW Global works with companies building new mass transit buses to custom design a driver protection system for their fleet.
It is this customer-focused approach and striving to always improve that has led AROW Global to strong growth in recent years. Now they are expanding both their physical structure and investing in their leadership and culture.
“We’ve hired 19 office and support staff this year already, and they are working in ad hoc office spaces,” Dan Koschik, AROW Global vice president and general manager said. “While they are reasonably comfortable, they are spread out, and that is not how we want our culture to work. We want to unify our leadership team and unify them with each of their respective teams. To do that, we’re building a new office building on the property for all of the office staff, and then using the current office space to build a bigger lunch room, locker room, and provide additional services for our employees.”
With the assistance of the City of Mosinee, AROW Global secured an adjacent property, paving the way for the expansion.
Construction will begin this fall and they expect the addition to be completed by mid-tolate next summer. However, they are not limiting themselves to just the office expansion. Koschik is already eyeing a factory expansion in the next 2-3 years based on the continued growth they expect.
“We’re in Stage 1 of our continuous growth plan,” Koschik said, “which will give us the ability to double over the next 3-7 years.”
While that aggressive goal is within reach based on expected growth in their market, Koschik recognizes that it all hinges on their employees, leaders, and culture.
Culture was a key theme for the senior executive at AROW Global as he repeatedly referenced The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle. The book explores the secrets of some of the most successful organizations and how it all comes back to culture.
“We can’t do anything without a stable foundation,” Koschik said. “Our goal is to build a stable team and environment along with a culture that can thrive. That’s more important than any manufacturing efficiencies.”
Leadership development is one of their keys to building that culture. Every leader in their organization is going through formal leadership training. The executive leadership team and their direct reports are working with Change Innovators, learning about emotional intelligence and how to build strong personal interactions.
Understanding their DISC profile is a key part of that and Koschik has enjoyed watching his team navigate through the concepts. Team leads and supervisors will be going through similar training with Northcentral Technical College’s Center for Business & Industry. Their goal is to give their leadership more tools to be successful in the fast-paced, constantly changing, and challenging workplace. In that way, they’ll be able to continue to deliver products like AROWGuard to their customers.
Their parent company, Price Industries, which is headquartered in Winnipeg, Canada, has also played a key, behind-the-scenes role in their success.
“They are very hands-off as long as we are performing and earning,” Koschik said. “Plus, they let us reinvest our earnings back into the company here, which has led to our growth.”
Koschik said that trust has been built over several years. “They know that we understand this market and we know what we are doing,” he said. “We keep them in the loop and they are very hands-off. They challenge and support us at the same time which is an ideal relationship. We also know that if we start to fail, they may become more involved, which motivates us to not get in that situation.”
Koschik sees that AROW Global is moving in a positive direction and his goal is to keep it moving that way. At the same time, he has some reservations, particularly about the shortage of employees in the area.
“It a vicious cycle right now,” he said. “We’re growing, but it’s hard to find employees, so we end up relying more heavily on the employees we have. That means overtime and Saturdays, which causes people to leave. That’s why we’re so concerned about building that culture. We have a vision for that culture but need to test that against what our employees want in the culture. That means ongoing and continuous candid feedback, and if there are directions that don’t coincide, we need to know so we can change course. This continuous feedback loop has already led to some of the changes and is driving our culture. Ultimately, this feedback drives our strategy.”