Arch Aluminum & Glass

Date: 1 September 2004
''I'm old-fashioned,'' says Leon Silverstein, president and chief executive of Arch Aluminum & Glass, in summing up his philosophy on how to treat employees.

The policy of the Tamarac-based company, which was founded 26 years ago by Silverstein's father, is to offer the most generous benefits it can afford while still trying to retain the family-run flavor and keep costs down.''The ultimate goal is to drive down costs,'' says Silverstein.But he eschews the practice of maximizing profits by squeezing employees.

''You've got to give loyalty back,'' he says.

With 22 offices and 1,600 employees around the country, annual sales of $200 million, and growth in sales that has been doubling every five years, Arch Aluminum's owners know a thing or two about the bottom line.

Although Arch Aluminum, which makes glass and aluminum doors and storefronts, has gone through the transition from a mom-and-pop firm to professional management, Silverstein is still the first to arrive in the Tamarac office each day.

And employees and supervisors are still welcome to walk into his father's office and offer suggestions or voice complaints. ''We have an open-door policy here,'' the 44-year-old executive said as several employees detoured around the family pet -- an English mastiff that comes to the office daily -- to come in and talk.

While Silverstein admits Arch's salaries are not the highest in the market, the company picks up 65 to 75 percent of healthcare premiums for employees and their family members -- a benefit worth up to $400 a month. Employees also receive life insurance and disability insurance, paid vacations and holidays, and a 401(k) retirement fund with 50 percent employer matching funds.

The philosophy at Arch Aluminum is that being a benevolent employer is part of being a good corporate citizen.

An employee with a problem, such as an overdue tax bill, for example, can obtain an interest-free loan to be repaid over time.

''One good thing about Arch, we don't lay people off,'' says Fred Hankerson, the production manager, ''People here get 15 to 16 hours a week of overtime. When it's slow, they go down to 40 hours a week.'' Hankerson, 44, has been at the company for 17 years.

Taking care of employees' well-being is also good business, Silverstein says.

On the cavernous shop floor in the 130,000 square-foot facility, everyone wears safety glasses, and employees handling glass wear leather aprons, safety gloves and arm and chest covers with metal grommets that make the glass slide off their bodies rather than slice off skin.

Silverstein says that he tries to advance employees from within, building on their strengths.

But once an employee leaves for a better paying job, Arch Aluminum isn't interested in rehiring. Silverstein says he doesn't want to create the culture that comes with rehiring workers who are shopping around for the best deal.

600450 Arch Aluminum & Glass
Date: 1 September 2004

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