Industry of the Year Awards 2017

The Greater Hall Chamber’s 2017 Industry of the Year Awards were presented at the 9th Annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon at the Chattahoochee Country Club on November 14. Sponsored by Lanier Technical College, the awards honor area existing industry leaders based on economic impact, workforce excellence and corporate responsibility.

The Greater Hall Chamber continues to focus on the importance of existing industries in Gainesville-Hall County Georgia, and business remains strong.   In 2016-2017, 44 new and expanded businesses announced the creation of 1620 new jobs and $285 million in capital investment for Gainesville Hall County.

Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce

2017 INDUSTRY OF THE YEAR AWARDS

Count On Tools, Inc. (Small Employer Category / 1-50 Employees)

Kipper Tool Company (Medium Employer Category / 51-200 Employees)

Victory Processing LLC (Large Employer Category / 201+ Employees

Small Employer Category
Count On Tools, Inc.
Curt Couch, CEO
2481 Hilton Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501
www.cotinc.com

Count On Tools, Inc. provides global manufacturing solutions with expertise in small-arms components, consumable manufacturing, as well as non-woven and adhesion system technology. Curt and Renee Couch started the business in their garage in 1991 distributing PB Swiss precision hand tools. Last year, they invested $2 million in six (6) new CNC Swiss machines, added 5,000 square feet to their current facility and plan to add more technology again next year. To maintain an efficient operation, they incorporate PPE access, reclaim oils, restrict water usage, and have converted all facility lighting to LED technology. Count On Tools is comprised of a family type structure with their 35 employees generously sharing profits during the Christmas Holidays.  The company provides annual health screenings and an employee assistance program. There are liberties within the company that allow each employee to advance at what performance level they invest. They regularly employ high school students and allow student and teacher groups to tour the facility. Count on Tools serves several sectors of commercial manufacturing creating an unrestricted growth trend for the company.

Medium Employer Category
Kipper Tool Company
Elizabeth Garrish, Senior Operations Executive
Chris Hulsey, Senior Marketing Manager
Tabitha Weaver, Marketing Supervisor
2375 Murphy Boulevard, Gainesville, GA 30501
www.kippertool.com

Kipper Tool Company is a Woman-Owned Small Business serving military, commercial, industrial and local consumers since 1992.  The company specializes in creating custom toolkits as well as individual tools and supplies sold directly to consumers in their retail location. In 2017, the Kipper Tool Company secured a new government contract, strengthening their presence in the military marketplace, increasing sales and adding new employees to the sales team. In addition to increased sales, Kipper invested in new equipment this year and plans to do it all again next year. The culture at Kipper lends itself to service, and they are currently contributing to the Boys and Girls Club, Sisu (formerly CCAF), and Northern Star, as well as their annual “Wounded Warriors In Action” golf tournament. In a unique fashion, they have a garden outdoors to reduce water usage by several hundred thousand gallons per year and contribute to employee health at the same time. The 65 employees enjoy super bowl parties, Thanksgiving potluck, and Christmas parties. They are offered health screenings and flu shots and participate in area 5K’s such as the Chamber Chase annually. Employing Work Based Learning High School students and college interns as well have been a Kipper standard for years.

Large Employer Category
Victory Processing LLC
Phillip Jones, Vice President
2080 Industrial Drive, Gainesville, GA  30504
1100 Airport Parkway, Gainesville, GA  30501
www.victoryfoods.net

Victory Processing LLC has grown from 28 employees in 2006 to its current 1,700 employees. Earlier this year, they increased production by 18% with a $1.4 million investment and the creation of 230 new jobs. In the past year they have expanded their building, added new equipment and jobs and they plan to do so again next year. To invest in the industry’s future, managers speak in classrooms upon request. Maintaining about 20% below the industry average on workers’ comp claims is, in a large part, due to the three-prong process for new hire safety orientation, which includes a custom video and a supervisor walk through. Victory is a significant contributor to Straight Street Ministries which was started by one of the owners, Truett McConnell University and several other local churches and ministries. Employees enjoy a company-sponsored soccer team and 5K participation, bonuses, and holiday and vacation pay. They also have funded employee assistance to help employees in need. Employee training and tuition reimbursement allows them to promote from within and they have had several success stories of employees advancing in the company. Giving back to employees and the community is a priority.

Corporate Responsibility
Bitzer US Inc.
Brandon Grant, Vice President
4080 Enterprise Way
Flowery Branch GA  30542
www.bitzerus.com

Bitzer employs 195 people and manufactures equipment used in commercial and industrial refrigeration, air conditioning systems, and also waste heat to electricity converters. Bitzer is a longtime member of the Greater Hall Chamber and is active with representatives on the Industry Roundtable and Leadership Hall as well as contributing to the Hallmark Initiative. The company contributes to the food bank. They hosted the North Hall High School Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Program for a plant tour and have further STEM events planned for the next several months. Bitzer recycles unusable parts and installed a waste water evaporation system. Employees enjoy profit sharing, family picnics at Lanier Islands and access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Full tuition reimbursement is offered to employees furthering their education in a field that brings benefit to the company, and they have started the registered apprenticeship program with Lanier Technical College. Bitzer just completed a 53,000 square foot addition to their existing footprint.

Safety and Environmental Stewardship
Ceramic Tiles Services, Inc.
Lamar Hughes, President
470 Woodsmill Road, Suite B
Gainesville GA  30501
www.ceramictileservices.net

Ceramic Tile Services has 32 employees and fabricates mosaics, bullnose tile, and cut to size tiles. CTS works with Set Free, Way Up, Goodwill and others to offer second chance employment. They hold blood drives and donate to Family Promise and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. CTS has replaced light fixtures for energy efficiency and upgraded wiring. They recycle plastic, metal, cardboard, paper and use a custom built water recycling system for production. Many employees are trained in CPR, First Aid, and they are a Certified Drug Free Workplace. An exercise workout room is onsite for employee use. Employees enjoy quarterly Employee Appreciation Days and team building functions off site. Since opening in 1991, they have grown from 2,000 to 48,000 square feet and are currently expanding to offer digitally printed bullnose with kiln fired glazing.

Workforce Excellence
ALBAform, Inc.
Jan Vintrlik, President
5405 Rafe Banks Drive
Flowery Branch GA  30542
www.albaform.com

ALBAform, Inc. employs 75 people and manufactures precision metal components, primarily wire seating for the automotive industry. Employees enjoy a pay-for-performance structure that encourages them to gain additional machine knowledge and proficiency. Specific new hire hands on training is designed to accelerate learning. Employees have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), have an attendance recognition program, and are eligible for significant schedule flexibility. There’s fun to be had, too, with the company’s sponsorship of the 2017 Lake Lanier Dragon Boat Race providing an employee outing. Focused on building the future talent base, they hire part-time high school and college students as well as providing in-classroom presentations on real industry challenges. Over the last 12 months, ALBAform has grown its customer base by 17%, added eight robotic machines, and created new jobs.

Workforce Development
ZF Gainesville, LLC
Brandon Loftus, Head of ZF Gainesville, LLC
1925 New Harvest Frive, Gainesville GA  30507
1261 Palmour Drive, Gainesville GA  30501
5405 Rafe Banks Drive, Flowery Branch GA  30542

ZF Gainesville, LLC employs more than 500 people in three locations in Hall County. They manufacture driveline components for construction equipment, automobiles and trains, steering systems and axles for trucks and buses, and wind turbine gearboxes. Their structured Leadership Development Program provides opportunities for employees to advance from production to Team Leader to Supervisor and beyond. The ZF Production System provides lean manufacturing techniques like 5S and machine operation technical training.  Employees can take advantage of the tuition assistance program to transition into a completely different career path and have opportunities to work in any North American location or location around the world. This year ZF Gainesville is employing nine Work Based Learning High School Students onsite and has allowed multiple student and industry groups to tour the manufacturing facilities. For 30 years ZF has brought an international presence and global footprint to our community focusing on employee development and advancement.