CHICAGO Steel Plate Fabricators in Knoxville, Tenn., is one of 15 recipients of the 2013 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, chosen from 2,900 nominations sent in by guardsmen and reservists, according to the Department of Defense.
It is the highest recognition given to employers by the DoD for exceptional support of guard and reserve employees. "Im humbled and overwhelmed to be one of the few selected. Its an incredible award," Steel Plate Fabricators president Mike Russell told AMM. "We have had several reservists employed throughout the company over the years," in sales, production and other functions, ranging from a Vietnam veteran to one who is currently deployed on active duty.
"We give them assurance their jobs are secure after they serve their country. We welcome them back with open arms," Russell said.
The company also gives guardsmen and reservists additional time off before deployment, and again upon their return to connect with their families and get reacclimated to civilian life. "If you have a happy employee, you have a productive employee," Russell said.
The company stays connected to its deployed workers by e-mail and Facebook, and by sending care packages. "We also talk to their families to check on them."
Russell said hes always been "partial" to hiring military personnel. "They are self motivated, disciplined and take instruction well. They are a valuable resource to the country and the company," he said. "We are family owned and tightly knit with 25 employees. When one teammate is deployed, we really miss them."
Steel Plate Fabricators produces custom components for mining, refining and utilities, among other industries.