The industry’s two largest manufacturers, Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries, were once again ranked by Training magazine as having two of the best employer-sponsored training and development programs in the country. The business publication for learning and development professionals announced its Training Top 125 at an awards gala at the Training 2011 Conference & Expo last month in San Diego.
Shaw and Mohawk have been ranked by the magazine for seven and five consecutive years, respectively, and for 2010 they were recognized as among the 20 best in the country. Shaw moved from No. 18 to No. 13, while Mohawk jumped into the 18 spot after being ranked No. 68 last year.
What makes this impressive is not so much the companies that were ranked higher—for example, Farmers Insurance (1), Verizon (3), U.S. Navy (7), Microsoft (9), Best Buy (12)—but the well-known brands ranked below the two flooring mills: Intel (21), Aetna, (22) McDonald’s (24), Jiffy Lube (33), Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. (41), MetLife
(44), Steelcase (57), FedEx (70), Loews Hotels (76), MasterCard (81), Century 21 Real Estate (86) and so on.
Only one flooring company in addition to Shaw and Mohawk was named to the Training Top 125—Tandus, which was ranked at No. 92, up four spots from the previous year.
“Training Top 125 companies realize how vital training is to their success and continue to invest in it, even in trying times,” said Lorri Freifeld, editor-in-chief of Training magazine. “Equally important, though, they maintain a laser focus on tying training to the achievement of corporate strategic goals and making sure they have the results to prove it.”
She said the magazine ranked the companies based on myriad benchmarking statistics such as total training budget; percentage of payroll; number of training hours per employee program; goals, evaluation, measurement and workplace surveys; hours of training per employee annually; and detailed formal programs.
Now in its 11th year, the ranking is determined by assessing a range of qualitative and quantitative factors, Freifeld added, including financial investment in employee development, the scope of development programs, and how closely such development efforts are linked to business goals and objectives.
Companies wishing to be considered for Top 125 ranking complete a detailed application, which is scored both quantitatively by an outside research and statistical data company and qualitatively by Training magazine editors as well as representatives from its Top 10 Hall of Fame.
Danny Crutchfield, Shaw’s director of corporate training and organizational development, said the company was especially gratified to have its efforts rewarded with the highest ranking it had since being recognized and also the highest ranking of any floor covering manufacturer.
He added the company’s senior leadership considers training and development of its associates and customers to be a strategic investment and competitive advantage, which is why it has invested so much into the Shaw Learning Academy since establishing it as a single sales training program nearly 20 years ago. Today, it encompasses eight Centers of Excellence whose mission is, in part, to partner with internal and external clients to help achieve the objectives of the business by delivering world-class development opportunities and training services.
“Our culture of continuous improvement is not only about processes,” Crutchfield explained. “It’s about continuously working to improve [and gain] knowledge, skills and abilities that provide business advantages. In addition, we have essentially opened the doors of the Shaw Learning Academy, welcoming our customers to utilize our learning opportunities and training services to make their businesses better and their employees better informed. This move has strengthened customer relationships and led to more business opportunities for Shaw.”
Opening the doors, he explained, means going beyond just teaching company employees and industry personnel. The academy is also active in communities where the company has a presence.
Recognizing training is particularly valuable to retail partners in this sluggish economy, Mohawk stepped things up in a big way last year, noted Mike Zoellner, vice president of marketing services. “In 2010 we created new tools for managing and improving business. We partnered with organizations such as Franklin Covey and U.S. Learning to give our dealers access to some of the most professional training programs in the nation. And those who’ve used them report significant bottom-line results, ranging from better margins to improved closing rates.”
Tim Gray, director of Mohawk University, said the mill’s residential flooring training arm teaches thousands of people each year how to become experts in different aspects of the flooring business, covering everything from installation to selling skills to business operations. “Courses can help novices learn the fundamentals or make seasoned veterans even better. And it is all done objectively with no sales or marketing distractions.”
As a result, he added, those who’ve used the new Mohawk University offerings are reporting business growth they say they wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. “In a blind survey of independent retailers, dealers who participated in at least one Mohawk University class reported 10% better sales than those stores who haven’t.”
The reason for this, Gray said, its classes go way beyond product and sales knowledge. “We have courses that stores can use to make dramatic, immediate gains in profitability and growth.”
The January/February issue of Training features this year’s Training Top 125, including the Top 125ers’ visions of training in the next five to 10 years. To order a copy, e-mail Gin Kujawa at firstname.lastname@example.org or download an order form and fax it to 952.401.7899.
The digital edition and individual articles can be found at trainingmag.com.