At Barry-Wehmiller Cos. Inc., a leader is a parent, a minister, a champion for employees.
And Bob Chapman, chairman and CEO, is the quintessential example.
When Chapman took the helm of the company after his father's passing in 1975, he led it the way he had been taught at business school -- with an end goal of financial success.
Under his leadership, Barry-Wehmiller transformed from a troubled bottle washer company into a $1.5 billion global conglomerate with nearly 7,000 employees, or "team members" in company lingo, at 65 locations.
Yet what defines Chapman is not the aggressive growth and acquisition strategy he pioneered at Barry-Wehmiller; it's his stalwart commitment to people-centric leadership.
After years of running the capital equipment and consulting firm, Chapman in 2002 decided that wasn't enough; he wanted to lead his employees, to help them find fulfillment through work. The epiphany, as he explains in his Truly Human Leadership blog, came to Chapman, a father of six, while sitting in a church pew listening to his rector.
"I envied how he had the opportunity to touch the 500 members of his congregation with his message week after week," Chapman writes. "As I listened to his sermon one Sunday morning, it dawned on me that I too had a congregation -- a much larger one comprised of the thousands of team members in our business."
With a team of associates, Chapman crafted the Guiding Principles of Leadership, which define the company's vision for its culture. The tenets promote communication, trust, respect and fair compensation, among others.
"At Barry-Wehmiller, we measure success by the way we touch the lives of people," Chapman says. "By focusing on bringing out the best in our people and offering them a fulfilling work experience, we see the ripple effect it has on their lives."
Through daily operations at the plant, his leadership blog, Barry-Wehmiller University, and programs like the Guiding Principles of Leadership Chevy SSR Program, in which outstanding employees are recognized and given the chance to drive a Chevy SSR convertible truck for a week, Chapman has created at Barry-Wehmiller the people-centric culture he envisioned. And along the way, he has distinguished himself as a thought leader among his peers and the manufacturing community.