Spark: How Old-Fashioned Values Drive a Twenty-First-Century Corporation
by Frank Koller
While factories across the Midwest shutter their doors, Lincoln Electric has thrived for more than a century. In addition to being profitable and technologically innovative, through good times and bad, the company has fulfilled its unique promise of “guaranteed continuous employment.” This promise means that no permanent employee who meets the firm’s performance standards will ever be laid off due to lack of work. This promise is so sacrosanct it is included in the employee handbook and in the organization’s annual report. Workers are viewed as assets—not liabilities, and through flexible hours and job assignments, as well as a merit-based bonus system, they are rewarded and retained. In addition, the company has also paid out profit-sharing bonuses without fail since 1934, bonuses that usually exceed 60% of an employee’s basic earnings. Lincoln Electric’s employment policies have also proven healthy for the company’s bottom line, its employees, and its shareholders.
In Spark, veteran journalist Frank Koller tells the story of how this remarkable yet, in many ways, ordinary organization dating back to 1895, which survives, even thrives, in a sunset industry where overseas outsourcing is the norm and remains a profitable Fortune 1000 multinational company that challenges the conventional wisdom shaping modern management’s view of the workplace.
Through insightful storytelling and extensive interviews with executives, workers, and leading business thinkers, readers follow the company through the days of Carnegie and Rockefeller, recessions in the 1950s, and the present crisis, and witness how it weathers challenges. Instructive and heartening, Koller uses the Lincoln Electric example to illustrate how job security can inspire powerful growth and prosperity in our communities by offering a proven model for companies that not only want healthy bottom lines but also satisfied, dedicated employees.
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