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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 21, 2018

ContiTech CEO visits MP Continental plant from Germany Wednesday

New PVC line unveiled
Jul 12, 2018
Photo by: Grace King ContiTech CEO Hans-Juergen Duensing, of Germany, toured Continental’s facilities at 400 Goodyear Rd. in Mt. Pleasant while visiting for a ribbon cutting of the expanded PVC line on Wednesday, July 11.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Continental’s grand opening of their PVC line prompted ContiTech CEO to visit the Mt. Pleasant-based plant, traveling all the way from Germany for the ribbon cutting on Wednesday, July 11.

The hose plant at 400 Goodyear Rd. is expanding their services in Mt. Pleasant following the closure of the Hannibal, Mo. plant earlier this year. In the past two years, Continental has created 55 new jobs in Mt. Pleasant due to expansion for a total of 295 employees.

CEO Hans-Juergen Duensing dined with plant employees on the lawn before touring the plant with other members of upper management in the company and learning from local employees about special projects they are working on. The noon lunch was catered by Sweet ‘n Saucy, of Fairfield.

Earlier in the day, Duensing sat down with shop floor employees for a ContiTalk — a time for the CEO to hear from employees in the various ContiTech branches and address concerns and questions in an informal setting. Continental employees range in experience from two months to Rick Anderson with almost 50 years.

“Whatever we want to talk about, he was happy to discuss,” said Ken Kauffman, who has 15 years’ experience at the plant. During Kauffman’s time at Continental, he said there has always been an open-door policy when it comes to talking to the company’s decision-makers — even with the international aspect of the company.

Steve Porter, who has 12 years at the plant, said the conversation with Duensing focused a lot on the growth not only of the Mt. Pleasant plant but of ContiTech companywide. Porter was especially interested in how the company will update the old equipment and modify the technology to become more efficient.

While it is bittersweet to employees like Jeanne Janssen, a Plant Purchasing Manager who had her feet in both Mt. Pleasant and Hannibal for the last 30 years, to see the Hannibal plant close, she also sees the opportunity for expansion in Mt. Pleasant.

Especially with the CEO in town, Janssen was proud of her company for taking an interest in people on the floor instead of leaving all the decisions to high-level management.

As a part of an international company, Janssen said it’s nothing to be on a conference call with people from two to three other countries. “It adds a different flair,” she said. “There’s that German overall footprint.”

Following the company lunch Wednesday, Duensing and other ContiTech employees from Germany and the Fairlawn, Ohio offices gathered in the newly-renovated cafeteria where employees can get reduced-priced sodas and free coffee.

Denise Hill, Continental Human Resources manager, gave a quick presentation as people donned bright orange vests, stepped into steel-toed shoe covers, slipped on clear protective glasses and clipped headphones attached to walkie talkies onto their ears to communicate.

Walking onto the production floor was serious business as ContiTech employees walked through the double doors.

Rich Reisdorf, Continental Plant Manager, led the charge, introducing the plant that was first opened in 1977 and talking about their efforts to become the employer of choice in Mt. Pleasant.

Continental safety specialists were the first to present to Duensing on their safety plans — the most noteworthy the increased participation from staff in talking about safety.

Other Continental employees spoke about Continental’s environmental impact, naming three initiatives to decrease their carbon footprint. The Plastic Initiative is removing plastic — other than that used in production — from their facility.

The second initiative is the Recycling Centers added in various locations throughout the plant. Finally, the Green Initiative includes efforts such as replacing florescent lights with 203 LED lights and installing a zinc removal system to reuse water, which reduces their water usage by 45 percent and their zinc output by 90 percent.

Craig Anderson then talked about his projects as a project manager, including adding an additional 14 people to one of the production lines, which increases capacity and aligns with growth initiatives, he said on the tour.

Finally, the group was shown the latest line expansion from 2016, walking through how the upgrade streamlines the process and most efficiently uses the labor they employ.

Reisdorf even pointed to the additional room next to the eight production lines which, although not enough room for a ninth line, creates other opportunities to increase productivity at the plant.

“Customers don’t only want a hose that functions, but they want a pretty hose,” Reisdorf said as he spoke about new ways they can cater to their customers and move production “to the next level.”

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