Employee Dreams Come True At Walker-Clay
Company In Gift-Giving Spirit All Year Long
A lot of Best Places to Work companies like to say they they cultivate a family atmosphere. At Walker-Clay in Hanson, MA, there’s no mistaking it. President William Clay’s father started the business in 1956 with a partner, Ned Walker, but started pushing his son Bill to join in the business after finishing college. Bill was teaching high school girls math (yes, they separated the girls from the boys in math class where he was teaching in Maine in the 1960s), and he held out for three years before he joined the company and eventually bought out Ned.
Since then, a number of members of the Clay family have worked at the company, including Bill’s two daughters, who are sales reps today. But the family atmosphere doesn’t stop there. Walker-Clay used to produce its own calendars for many years and would hire college students every summer to come in and assemble them. Many of those college students, like Susan Santry, got their start at the company that way. Santry was one of the first women hired for the job (“They said it wasn’t a girls job, but I convinced them I could do it,” she says. That was in 1968, and now Santry is the vice president of operations at the 14-employee company, and a number of her family members (including her brother) also worked in the calendar division.
If you talk to virtually any employee at Walker-Clay, most will tell you either that they got their start in the calendar room, or that their children or siblings have worked there at one point or another. And many of the employees who got their start in the calendar room (which is no longer—Walker now outsources the production of its calendars) end up sticking around. The retention is so low that even those employees who aren’t family sort of feel like they are.
“I love it here,” says Cindy Anderson, a production specialist who was busy packing up pens for a client when the Road Tour stopped by. Walker-Clay does a lot of fulfillment for banks (as well as company stores), and Anderson often finds herself creating gift baskets for customers. “I get to be creative, especially around the holidays,” Anderson says of her job. “It’s like arts and crafts in school.”
Walker-Clay is in the gift-giving spirit all year long as it creates interesting incentives for its staff members. Currently, there is a “dream wall” near the company’s entrance where employees put pictures of a reward they were dreaming of (up to 200 dollars). The “dreams” included photos of a ballerina (one employee wanted to send her daughter to dance camp), a trip on the Provincetown Ferry for a lobster roll, and a fancy dinner at a restaurant called Moo. Clay told his employees that if the company reached its goal of increasing sales by 15 percent, everyone would get their reward.Luckily, employees hit the benchmark, and everyone will get their desired gift.
“The wall gave everyone some good motivation,” Clay says. “We kept walking by the pictures, especially of the ballerina, and said to ourselves, ‘How can we disappoint that little girl?”