36 min read

How to Tackle Hiring By Recruiting Student Athletes To Man The Line

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Factories are fighting to fill open roles.

And a lack of standardization creates a bottleneck that makes it hard for frontline employees to hit the ground running on day one.

But what if training could be easy, traceable and scalable when you onboard workers?
What if manufacturing teams could be set up for success in their roles immediately?

Kawasaki has been building seemingly ageless sport motorcycles since the early seventies. If any manufacturing knows how to hit the ground running, it’s them.

You may have seen this story making headlines this past summer. It reads like the longline one of those inspirational sports movies:

When a farm town hits hard times during a down economy, one factory hires college football players to use their skills from the defensive line, to build motorcycles on the assembly line.


We sat down with Kawasaki’s Tim Melvin (Human Resources Manager) and Jake Matheny (Production Manager) about how to tackle open roles by recruiting student athletes.

A full transcript along with additional resources are listed below.

Show Notes:

01:36 — You have open roles, but there’s a leaky bucket compounding the retention problem

08:33 — What job can I do that fits my lifestyle and doesn’t displace my sense of balance?

10:10 — Hiring athletes from local colleges to run the line. Movie script or hiring strategy?

13:43 — Brainstorming hiring ideas creates the question, “Really? You’d let us do that?”

17:30 — Investing hiring & training resources in temporary labor pools

25:00 — How to capture and bottle all of the excitement as fresh eyes come onto the floor

35:00 — Do sports teams who work together on the assembly line win on the offensive line?

Brian Sallee:
Welcome to the voices of manufacturing. I'm Brian Sallee. I'm joined today by my co-host, Michael Muilenburg. We've got an exciting topic and guest today. We're seeing many manufacturers struggle to fill open roles. Most recently, I saw the CEO of Aptar on CNBC talking about their biggest challenge as a company.

And it's filling open roles at their factories. This challenge is getting a lot of attention, but you know, I'm really not hearing a ton of practical solutions on how you solve this challenge. Michael. I know you have a lot of experience with this particular challenge. You've talked with us previously about what you've called the shifting workforce.

What are you seeing in the industry when it comes to this challenge around filling open roles? You know, is it really as big of a challenge as what we're hearing from the mainstream media? 

Michael Muilenburg: Yeah, I think Brian, since the pandemic we're all experiencing labor shortages in retail and service industries and maybe we're waiting to see it on CNBC before we realize how much it's impacting manufacturing.

But I think the trend in manufacturing started well before the pandemic, with people looking for better jobs retiring early to try different career paths. And so it has been a challenge for quite a while. And I think that the phrase I've heard is, it's not only attracting talent or recruiting, but it's the retaining part of the equation.

Brian Sallee: That's particularly difficult. Not only are you having a hard time filling those open roles, but then you've got this leaky bucket as well. That is making it worse, compounding the problem, I'd say. 

We're going to jump in with the guests. I have a rather unique story to tell. I kind of laugh about it. I was browsing manufacturing news when I came across the story of a Kawasaki plant in Missouri that hired 40 football players from their local college to work in the factory. I'm a former college football player myself. I thought, when I heard this story, that it was a great idea.

College athletes have a strong work ethic. They're used to working as a team, but their schedules are quite busy, typically. So my main thought was, how did Kawasaki make this work? And so we're going to jump into this topic today, and joining us are Tim Melvin and Jake Matheny from Kawasaki. Welcome to the show, guys.

Tim Melvin: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Brian Sallee: As we kick off this episode, you guys obviously work for Kawasaki. Could you tell us a little bit about your roles there and a little bit about the factory you work at?

Tim Melvin: Okay, I'll go first. My name's Tim Melvin. I'm currently the human resources manager here at the plant. I've been with the company for a little over 33 years. I started as a supervisor in production and held different positions in the last five and a half years that I've been in HR. We've seen a lot of changes in 33 years, but from production to materials to production control or planning, and then back to production and into HR. That's been my path here at Kawasaki

Jake Matheny: Hi, I'm production manager over materials and assembly here at Kawasaki. I've been here for 18 years. I started off right out of high school, about six months, at the American Institute of Business in Des Moines. I didn't really care for it. So I decided to come here just as a job for the summer. Here I am 18 years later after working as a full-time team leader, supervisor, assistant manager, and production manager for the last two years at Maryville.

Brian Sallee: I think that's an interesting background or way you got into manufacturing. I think that's common for a lot of folks. They tend to stumble into it and then stay there for a long time. It seems like that's pretty common.

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Michael Muilenburg: What products are you producing at that Kawasaki plant?

Tim Melvin: We produce small gasoline-powered engines for lawn and garden and the turf markets. Our primary engine families range from about 14 and a half horsepower all the way up to 38 and a half horsepower in V twin.

And they go into, primarily again, lawn mowing. Whether it be riding mowers or ZTRs, they are the ones that are prominent in today's market. We ship not only domestically but also to a worldwide market. And our customers are going to put these products into a lot of different units for their lawns and gardens. And it's full assembly from components all the way to the finished engine going out the door. 

But we do more than that. We actually have a portion of our engine block. We actually have dye-casting machines and high-pressure injection molding and we will have furnaces. We melt the aluminum. And again, that injection process actually forms the pieces of the engine. Once they're cooled off, they go to what we call our machining area, where they are prepped for assembly. Whether they're drilling, they're getting the gasket surfaces prepared, things like that.

And then ultimately it goes to assemble. As you mentioned, from the very first frame, the first operation picks up the crank. And it is completed all the way down the line. They're leak testing each one of the engines. Jake's team runs them up and adjusts the RPMs and things like that to our customer specifications. 

Brian Sallee: So this facility truly provides engine production from start to finish.Wow. And you guys are located in Maryville, Missouri. What's the population there? Tell us about what it's like to source labor there and find people to come work for you, because you guys are doing some pretty sophisticated manufacturing there.

Tim Melvin: Maryville is the county seat and, not far from it, an extreme Northwest portion of Missouri, with a population of about 11,000 people. It is about an hour and a half north of Kansas City, very close to the Iowa border. We get about 60% of our workforce from this county, but in Iowa and the surrounding counties in Missouri, we draw the rest of our employee base.

It is heavily based on agriculture. Some of our employees are even part-time farmers, they'll leave here and go to their second job and jump on the tractor or, or feed their cows or whatever it is, as far as the farming environment. We have steadily grown in the last 30 or so years and it is just recently, with the onslaught of the pandemic, that we've started to see some difficulties in. Not really the attraction, but the retention of the people in our positions here.

Brian Sallee: Tell us a little more about that, Tim, as far as the challenges of filling open roles, but also retaining people. You've got that leaky bucket problem that we were talking about earlier. How long has that been going on for you guys now?

Tim Melvin: Too long. If I may say so. We work very hard. We have a system, we call it talent management, that does an incredible job of recruiting and bringing people into the plant. But we also have that leaky bucket, like you mentioned, and it's difficult to maintain those employees in today's society and today's opportunities.

If they don't like the structure of the job here at Kawasaki, then drive down main street and there are three, four, or five other places that are hiring on the spot. And it seems like the workforce of today is not as concerned as an old man, like me, with the benefits side of things.

What am I supposed to do? What can I do? What job can I perform that fits into my lifestyle that I feel comfortable doing that does not displace my work-life balance in too big of a manner? And that's what they're after. That's the kind of thing that they're looking for. And we really struggle to maintain that workforce.

We've done pay surveys and feel we have a very equitable pay package. I think our benefit package is incredible, if I may say so. But today's workers are looking for more than that, and we're having a difficult time trying to understand exactly what they're after and to arrange our benefits, pay structure, whatever it may be, that not only attracts, but gets them interested in staying here and motivated to do the work that we require.

Michael Muilenburg: It sounds like you've also got some stiff competition in the city and maybe even the county.

Tim Melvin: We do, we do. The university here in town is another big employer. Surprisingly for an agricultural small town, Maryville has a pretty solid industrial base. And there are several other industries in this town. From going to different community meetings, we're all facing the same situation with a declining number in the workforce, and motivating them to do the work and be interested enough to stay.

Brian Sallee: Tim, I want to shift to this fantastic story. I told Michael, it sounds like a movie, something out of a movie. You hired 40 football players from a local college. It just sounds like it'd be a great movie script. I'm curious, you know, how did this happen? How did this get started? I know you guys have a strong relationship with the local community college. How did you develop that relationship? You know, and really, how did this partnership get going? 

Tim Melvin: Well, I'll give you a little bit of background. And then as far as this particular situation, I think Jake might be able to answer that better. But for several years now, since I've been in the HR field, we have had a partnership with Northwest and we call it the power bearcats. Which is the mascot of Northern University. And the attempt is to try to express the fact that we have jobs here for college students, and we even do the math forum, and how much they can make over the course of a year, over the course of four years, if they choose to get a job here.

We even modified some of our structures to go with it. Some part-time jobs we call 'em full-time. They're Kawasaki employees, but they only work those 20 hours whenever their schedule allows. And we're very flexible with it. But this particular instance is actually more through our contract service agency. And it's an idea. I think that Jake and some of his team had this particular one

Brian Sallee: One follow-up question for you guys there. Maybe this is for Jake. You are actually using an agency to help recruit and fill some of these open roles? That's an outside agency, not a part of Kawasaki, is that right?

Jake Matheny: Yes. We have a temporary agency where we work. They actually recruit, they're not always recruiting for us as full-time employees. Sometimes they're just filling the gap or hiring part-time individuals that can't commit to a full shift. But yes, we work with an outside agency actually.

Brian Sallee: Okay, And when did you guys start working with that outside agency? Has that been something you've had in place for a long time or is that a recent, recent ad?

Jake Matheny: It's been something we've had in place for a long time. Like I said, I started here in 2003 and I actually started through Kelly Services at the time, the temporary agency. And we've, over the last 20 years or so, changed contract agencies for various reasons.

Brian Sallee: AJake, I'd love to hear more about how this got started. Then it sounds like you were heavily involved in working with this agency to try and fill roles.

Jake Matheny: I first heard from the floor that we had a couple of athletes from Northwest that were working from 10 in the morning to 5 o'clock at night. And after that lasted a couple days, I went out and I just started talking to one or two of 'em and was like, "Hey, how's it going? How long are you going to be here? We have a referral bonus, so if you have any other athletes or friends or college students at all, you could get referrals for everybody that you bring out here.” 

And after a couple of days, I noticed there were four or five more. So I went back to those individuals and I just started brainstorming ideas. I said, "Hey, what do you guys think about getting enough athletes to run your own assembly line?” We had an assembly line that was down for a lack of manpower reasons. The light bulb went off like, “Really, you'd let us do that?” Absolutely!”

I said, “I'm very serious. This is not a joke. If you can get enough athletes and we can spread 'em out throughout the assembly to train them in various jobs, we will support it with full-time team leaders, if you could get enough people here to sustain your own line.” And within a matter of three weeks, we had 36 athletes.

Not all football players. There were some track, basketball and baseball players, but it all started off with mostly football players. We called it The Northwest line. And we told people, you're going to know the sport they play because these guys are monsters. They're huge.

Tim Melvin: I'm almost 6 feet 2 inches tall and weigh 220 pounds. And they put me to shame in size. They're so big, but that's kind of how it all started. Just a conversation of, “Can you get enough of your buddies out here? And if you can, let's make it work, let's make it happen.” Really, they were the biggest recruiters, just recruiting the other athletes.

Brian Sallee: I think the part that you said even put some full-time resources on that line. And then I heard, you know, you say, "How can we make this work?” And so, how did you make it work? Because as I mentioned before, I'm a former college athlete. I know how much time you have in your day. It's tough to get schoolwork done, practice training, all the other stuff you need to do. So how'd you guys accommodate their busy schedules?

Jake Matheny: Well, for the most part, everyone except, I believe, two people had the 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM shift. We had 'em spread out across multiple same model lines, learning various processes. And then, of course, when the first shift ended, they actually transferred all the guys over to our second shift line to jump on and start learning other processes that happened for about three weeks. We did that until we were comfortable with, "Hey, we're ready to start the Northwest flex line!”

And then once we did that, it was very simple. We provided two experienced team leaders from among our Kawasaki employees and team leaders on an assembly line. They're the individuals that are there to assist. They're the teachers and coaches. If somebody's getting behind, has a quality concern, or if they need to take a break or something, then they'll, they'll be the people filling in.

And we had two team leaders in assembly and setup immediately. We had a supervisor, Jennifer Clements. She's one of our production supervisors. She's the real deal. When we started throwing this idea out about a Northwest flex line, she stepped up immediately, like, "Hey, I want to supervise this."

So we just kind of absorbed it. And we started off with the two team leaders per 36 people. That's quite a bit. We generally have a team leader for about 10 individuals, but these guys were pretty self-sustaining. They were quick learners. They even trained them on various jobs. Some of our jobs out here can take up to five days just to learn and be self-sufficient in.

But these individuals just learn very, very quickly. They were very dependable in that aspect. Quality-driven. Some of our go through quality rates on some of the days of the Northwest flex lines were better than our normal.

But as far as making it work, really, it was about a three-week scenario of training on training on various processes across our normal production lines. And then on a Monday we went live.

Brian Sallee: Oh my goodness. That's such an incredible story. The way that it all happened, pretty organically, this wasn't something that was pre-thought out by you guys, i.e., “Hey, we're going to go recruit a bunch of student athletes.” 

You just kind of saw a trend there. “We've got a few of these guys. Can we get more of 'em?”  

I’m curious, I think that's often a concern for a lot of manufacturers with short-term labor is that we're going to invest, as you said, maybe five days to train on a process. And then, how long are we going to be able to have this employee work for us? Especially if you're a part-time student athlete. What was your thinking? Were there any reservations among management about investing resources in this type of short-term, temporary labor pool?

Jake Matheny: No, not at all. We didn't have any concern because these individuals, from the get go, learned so quickly. We knew going into this that our investment in their training time was going to be very minimal. We went in the middle of July when we started and we knew that we were going to end this around August 5th.

So we really only had a very short time with them. But we had no hesitation in the investment of the training time, just because we knew our risk versus reward was there. We're going to get a good product and good quality out of these individuals.

Michael Muilenburg: I've got a follow up question. As you're onboarding these people right off the university floor, into your factory, how did you shaft? How do you change the onboarding and training process to create that speed and momentum, if at all?

Jake Matheny: It didn't really change. We averaged five or six of these individuals going to one of our other five assembly lines that build that specific product. And really they were absorbed well. Training isn't something that's new to us. We're training and onboarding people every single day in assembly throughout all departments. But specifically in assembly, because that's where our biggest labor shortage is at the moment. 

The onboarding process was minimal. If 36 athletes showed up on a Monday, that may have changed it, but they were spread out over three weeks or so. So really, it wasn't anything that interrupted our product.

Everybody was very welcoming because we announced, "Hey, we're going to make this happen and announce the training plan to all of the production supervisors.” They announced it to their people. Everybody out there had a clear message that these individuals were coming to our lines. The Northwest Flex Line is how we referred to it.

Brian Sallee: That was going to be my next question for you. What was the reaction from the rest of the company? A lot of the full-time folks who had been there a while had concerns on their part. And then, how do you integrate these young college students into your larger workforce? Did you have to make any changes there?

Tim Melvin: No. It was just as easy as it sounded.

Jake Matheny: It really wasn't a challenge, to be honest. We provided the production supervisor and the two KMM team leaders. But beyond that, there was really no interruption. We've started a lot of assembly lines in this factory, even in the 18 years I've been here. We've built new assembly lines. We've had new model products and created teams in the past. 

And I've said this to my assembly staff, and we've heard it from other members of management.I have never seen an assembly line start as smoothly as the Northwest Flex Line. That’s something to commend, not only our staff but these individuals themselves. They had the motivation they wanted to be working with their teams outside of just on a football field or on a basketball court. They wanted to see the value in what they were doing. And I think they got that from working here.

Tim Melvin: If I can add something in there as well. As far as the other areas of the plant, whether it be our quality teams, our materials, or anybody that supported the assembly lines, again, Jake's team has some very structured processes in a way that it's the same thing over and over again.

For our quality team, as they go in to analyze and confirm the quality, it doesn't make any difference who is doing the job. There's one way to do the job, and they're able to analyze it. The materials group were delivering parts to that particular area, no matter what the standardization. That is a part of Kawasaki and very definitely within Jake's group. While it's complex, Jake's team and these individuals made it look pretty.

Michael Muilenburg: Tim, were there any specific skills that you looked for in these applicants? Or did you say, "We just want" motivated, able-bodied people, and people that want to show up and work”? Were there any other attributes that you looked for?

Tim Melvin: We always like to have somebody who's knowledgeable about assembly processes and engine knowledge, perhaps. But for some 30 some years of my existence with Kawasaki, we've always had the philosophy that we can train anybody in whatever position. What we really look for are more of those soft skills. You mentioned the motivation. Getting out of  bed in the morning and coming to work. That got that in this group because they're already by design in their athletic associations.

They're motivated. They've got that self-drive. This is a group that, from my understanding, was already up at the crack of dawn and hitting the weight rooms. They would do that portion of their training, and then change clothes before coming to work. And then when they got back home, they did more practicing and things like that.

It’s not like we went out and recruited specifically for those. Because again, we feel pretty confident in our standard jobs. We can train anybody in any position. This group just made it so easy from everything that I heard from Jake and his team that it went so smoothly for us.

Michael Muilenburg: I've heard from other companies in other situations where the lack of standards or standardization creates that bottleneck. And it sounds like you don't have that bottleneck which allows them to really hit the ground running and work safely and be productive from day one.

Tim Melvin: With anybody that we hire, whether it be through our contract agency, whether it be some full-time, some of our part-time people that we employ, Everything's standardized. Whether it's our dye, our casting operations, our machining assembly materials, you name the group here in this company, and we try to standardize everything.

And part of the reason for that is that it just makes training that much easier. And, and I guess I'll use the word traceable. You can tell when something is not quite right. Jake's team, especially the experience he threw in there with his group of individuals. They excelled at that.

Michael Muilenburg: I would imagine again, with a high degree of standardization, motivation, discipline, this onboarding that you described, it's more than likely they came up with ideas and observations and suggestions. Were you able to capture some of that, to bottle some of the excitement that these new eyes brought?

Jake Matheny: Sure. Several of them had several ideas that we implemented or took into consideration. But really, for the most part, they were just here to work. They wanted to come in; they were motivated. They were not only here to work, but also to have fun. There was good camaraderie between them. Not all the individuals knew each other coming into this. Yes, they were Northwest athletes, but they weren't all members of the same team until they arrived at the Northwest flex line.

They were eager and, after talking to several of them after a couple days, even when they were ending their employment here, they were very excited. They wanted to come back next.

Brian Sallee: Did you get a sense of what they were expecting from manufacturing before they came in on their first day? And then how did that match up with what it was really like for them?

Jake Matheny: Factories, you know, ever since we were kids, you always hear the stigma against a factory. If you don't want to work in a factory, then you don't want to work in manufacturing. And I think a couple of them had that mentality. They had already told their buddies. I had heard from a couple of the guys I was talking to initially that they didn't want to work in a factory.

But once everybody started coming in and words started spreading, They're like, "Guys, this isn't that hard. And we're making a lot of money.” And once those individuals got in here, they started telling their buddies, "Yeah, I mean, it's kind of overwhelming, but you give it a day. It's really, really fun. It's entertaining.” 

This is something that I don't think any of these individuals anticipated when they were coming to Maryville, Missouri to attend Northwest to be assembling commercial lawn mower engines. But I think they got a lot of satisfaction out of it.

Brian Sallee: It's really neat. And do you think that their experience, working at your plant and getting hands-on and participating in manufacturing, do you think that's going to change for some of them their career outlook? Are you hearing from someone that they want to actually get into manufacturing after graduation?

Jake Matheny: In the short time that they were here, I didn't hear any mention of the long term coming into manufacturing. Several of them asked about some of our higher level, more experienced engineering jobs, like production supervisors. They had asked quite a bit about what that was like. About how long it took to get there.

But for the most part, there were a lot of what I call farm boys. They aren't afraid of work. They really weren't. They come in here, they jump right in. They ask a lot of questions. I saw several individuals within a matter of the same day. They were learning their job and mastering it.

They were also telling their neighbors how to perform that task. Or showing them an easier way to do a task. That was something that we don't see that often. It was kind of a breath of fresh air to have an entire team, you know, 36 individuals. They pick it up quickly and they're here to have fun.

They're college kids, right? They're going to show up late from break, show up late from lunch, have their cell phone out. We had some minor behavior correction, but nothing major. In all honesty, they're working together and they're accomplishing products on behalf of our team.

But several of them at the end did mention to our team leaders, supervisors, and myself that they're really excited. They're asking, “Are you guys gonna do this again next year?” And as fast as it came on, it seems like that's as fast as it went away. We would love to be able to team up and do this all year round.

So I think once everybody's schedules get aligned and they decide what they can work around, I would hope that we'll see some of those individuals or some of their buddies come back. According to this group, we're going to see a lot of them return next summer. And hopefully, we can get more than a month 

Brian Sallee:  Do you anticipate creating some more flexibility if they do want to work during the school year where maybe they're coming in for shorter shifts? Is that something you guys are looking to implement as well?

Jake Matheny: We do have that currently, but we don't have a line dedicated to a shortened shift. That's not something that we have currently, but we always wait until we get it. People will be working seven to noon every day. And once we feel comfortable with that and retain enough people to make that move, we will absolutely do this again.

It doesn't have to be with college kids. It was just that's what we had dealt with in a short amount of time and it escalated very quickly and we made it happen very quickly. That's just what we do at Kawasaki. We adjust and overcome.

Brian Sallee: Tim, you talked about this earlier, just with the challenges, people want that work-life balance, you want to retain workers. One of the things you've got to give them is that work-life balance. Do you guys see that as becoming something that you're going to have to accommodate more in the future? More five-hour shifts?

Tim Melvin: I think it has already started somewhat. I mentioned earlier that we recognize the need for people that just work 20 hours a week, basically a part-time situation. But for Kawasaki we have talked about it for some time now and especially with the success of this program.

If there are parents out there who have to drop their kids off, but they could be at work at nine o'clock and work until two, and then they have to leave to pick up their children from school. Right there's five hours a day. 

Maybe we could do a whole line like we did with these athletes. But even if it’s just one or two of them, our contract agency has worked very well with our teams here and what they call flex time. And we have several individuals who are only putting in maybe four or five hours a day because that's what their schedules allow now.

I think people want to be able to work their hours. They want to do a good job, but they have other things going on. We will continue to look for those kinds of options. We struck it very well with this athletic situation with the Northwest line, and it's just been impressive. And people here at Kawasaki still talk about that line and everything they got done. They were doing over 250 engines a day in a five-hour shift. And that's pretty impressive right there.

Brian Sallee: Kawasaki is a great example for other manufacturers to follow. How can we be more flexible with our shifts? You guys started a whole line for this group of employees that had unique circumstances that you had to work around.

I still want to go back to what really enabled you guys to be successful here. You had standards in place, and you had a good training program. I don't imagine you could onboard somebody, get them up to speed if you didn't have those things in place. If you're just relying on job shadowing, could you have done, could you be successful with this type of model?

Tim Melvin: I agree with that. And I put the credit on this to Jake and his team because it would've been very easy for them to say, "Five hours a day, we're not going to accomplish anything. The training's going to be crazy.” It could have been so simple to say, "No, we can't do this.” Well, number one, it's the ingenuity of some of the individuals here at Kawasaki, the drive that they have to be successful.

And then, just our product line is in high demand in today's market, so we're always looking for ways to get more of it out there because our customers are begging for it. And again, kudos to Jake and his staff. This wasn't something that they just shrugged their shoulders. It took some careful planning. It took resources, sacrifice, perhaps, in some cases. But Jake's team was on top of it from the get go. As you can tell from that article you read and from the things we're saying, they were extremely successful at this, even though it was for a short period of time. We're very, very proud of what went on in those few weeks, out here in our production.Brian Sallee: 'Michael, I was going to ask you, have you seen anything like this before? Is this something you've seen other manufacturers adapt to in this way?

Brian Sallee: It seems like the timing was perfect, as you're supporting growth in the new economy and flex work. What a brilliant idea to have a pilot and get some of those barriers knocked down and pave the way for future iterations.

Michael Muilenburg: The whole football team concept is pretty new to me. I'm working with a specific team. I've seen people working partial shifts or having these 20-hour week jobs. I was working part-time during the second half of the second shift when Mount St, Helens blew up. I was a high school student working, making respirators part-time and they were able to accommodate that because they had this huge volume growth. So I think the concept's been around for a while.

But leveraging a university, leveraging teams, leveraging people that are already working together in sports, I think is very important. I was also wondering if there was any impact on the sports teams. Did they win more?

Tim Melvin: We will find out in the coming weeks. The BearCat football game is coming soon, and we'll be watching. So we'll find out. Some of the reports that I heard were that workers were almost self policing. If one of them made a little quality error, then their teammates were on them because, if you want to use the analogy, they just fumbled the ball.

And they don't like that. The drive that they have is to be excellent at what they do. And I believe that this group of individuals demonstrated that they have that drive for excellence not only on the playing field, but also on an assembly line in Kawasaki and Maryville, Missouri, in what they were doing for us in that short amount of time.

Brian Sallee: Well, Tim and Jake, I really appreciate you guys coming on the podcast today and sharing this story with us. It's absolutely fascinating. I think you've given some other manufacturers out there some ideas on how to be more flexible and accommodate different potential candidate pools.

Thank you for coming on today; we value your time. 

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