One of the first things we see as we pull up to Wov-In in Jackson, WI, is a giant costumed dog galloping by. Representing the company’s hot-selling brand, Promopet (products for the pet owner, like collars and bandannas), the man in costume is the company’s director of production, Joe Johnson, who is a third generation owner of the company along with sisters Jessie Johnson, president, and Joe Johnson, CFO.
If it seems a little odd that one of the company’s top dogs is donning, well, a dog’s costume, it’s part of the culture at Wov-In, where any of the siblings are happy to pitch in to get the job done. On this 95-degree afternoon, brother Joe is at the barbecue grilling brats, and big sis Jessie is overseeing a bean-bag toss game near the parking lot. The kids’ mom, Jeri, is busy running around with the camera taking pictures. And though she’s not an official Wov-In employee, she has her own office and is there constantly, according to Jessie, bringing her children lunch every day. (Friday is their favorite, PB&J day.)
Because Wov-In is a longtime family business (it was started by the Johnson’s grandfather), its owners have been able to keep that culture alive with its 60-plus on-site employees. While hot-selling lanyards, bags and pet products are being woven on the company’s shop floor, it’s not uncommon for the company’s IT director to announce the score of the Milwaukee Brewers game over the loudspeaker or for employees to be celebrating someone’s birthday in the company break room.
“We really are like family here,” says Jessie, noting that many of the employees have been at the company long before she joined 16 years ago after getting her MBA. “Some of the employees here have known me since I was a baby.”
Jessie would love to talk more, but she’s off to judge a costume contest, where employees showcased their best spirit wear for the company’s beloved sports teams, the Milwaukee Brewers and, of course, the Green Bay Packers. “We love our games and contests here,” says the company’s top chief, while giving 50 dollars in cash to the contest’s winner, a woman in full Green Bay garb who introduces herself to the crowd as “Mrs. Clay Matthews.” “It adds a little fun to the day.”