For the nearly 5,000 people united under the newly created MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology, the communication of its creation was more meaningful than simply a name on paper; more dimensional than a logo on a business card; and certainly more sensational than could be captured in an All Employee memo. The joining of Affinia and MANN+HUMMEL is an unprecedented occasion that shifts the direction, vision and opportunities of our first-class workforce. To mark the momentous milestone, we asked our facilities worldwide to plan “Welcome Celebrations” where they would learn about our new employer, inquire about the future, and, above all, celebrate joining the MANN+HUMMEL family.
From my communications post in the U.S., I had the privilege of working with global colleagues as they planned events that were unique to the culture and spirit of their local regions. Together with PMA Project Manager Danielle Silvester, we equipped local coordinators with event-planning guidelines for the more than 30 celebrations around the world. Globally, we provided banners, flags, decals, Run-of-Show details, a PowerPoint presentation and welcome video that would provide a hearty MANN+HUMMEL welcome to the people. In addition, we assembled the celebration schedule with joint leadership to serve as speakers, and provided enough MANN+HUMMEL tote bags, water tumblers, pens and Hummelis (bumblebee keychains) to ensure every employee felt warmly welcomed into the MANN+HUMMEL family.
From there, the local planning teams took the lead, and they were fantastic! It was awe-inspiring to see these events come to life; here’s a snapshot of a few of the events we enjoyed around the world.
A ‘Lifting’ Welcome in Ukraine
In Krasyliv, Ukraine, employees at the 11-year-old WIX and FILTRON manufacturing facility warmly welcomed the Group Vice President, General Manager Wix-Filtron Europe Sigfrid Steiner and Vice President of Finance and Controlling MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology Tim Ciurlik with a celebration as colorful as the Ukrainian springtime flowers. Special decorations of “balloon art” featured an array of colors: blue and yellow of the Ukraine national flag; black, red and gold of the national flag of Germany, where MANN+HUMMEL is headquartered; and red, white and blue of the USA flag, where MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology is based. The green and white of MANN+HUMMEL’s corporate colors completed a rainbow that was uniquely that of MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology Ukraine.
After the festivities, everyone was given their MANN+HUMMEL “starter kit”, and was encouraged to take home balloons for their children, so that the families of MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology employees could also be part of the celebration.
Employee Loyalty Takes the Show in Venezuela
Let’s travel 10,036 km – or 6,236 miles – from the Ukraine to Valencia, Venezuela, where another celebration begins. The third largest city in the country, Valencia has been home to this workforce since 1979. Like all MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology facilities, the Venezuela facility has a loyal workforce whose commitment and dedication are integral to the company’s overall success. To honor employees, Venezuela had senior team members take center stage during two events at their celebrations. As a “surprise,” Mrs. Xenaida Briceño, an outstanding team member with 30 years of service, was invited to cut the MANN+HUMMEL cake.
It was an emotional experience that heightened when senior workers – all with more than three decades of service — lowered the Affinia flag and hoisted the crisp, new green and white MANN+HUMMEL flag. A moment of silence soon turned to loud applause as the team celebrated the new start and all the opportunity to come.
Gostyn, Poland, Shines with Fireworks
In the West Central Poland town of Gostyn, mild weather allowed the party planners to create an outdoor celebration. A huge tent provided cover for the facility’s 1,800 people, who met in four smaller groups with trumpet music and cultural food favorites — German pretzels, and traditional Polish candy “fudge” wrapped in decorative papers with the MANN+HUMMEL, FILTRON and WIX logos.
The celebration was highlighted with an amazing firework topped cake, along with 18 smaller cakes, all bearing the MANN+HUMMEL logo.
Perhaps most memorable moment was when MANN+HUMMEL President and CEO Alfred Weber, who had traveled to Gostyn for the event, spoke several sentences in Polish. “We are aware how difficult our language is, so it was a very nice gesture and sign of respect,” said the Gostyn team of Mr. Weber’s remarks.
North Carolina’s Allen Plant Looks to the Future
MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology is headquartered in Gastonia, North Carolina, not far from the company’s historic Allen Plant, which opened in 1961 to manufacture WIX Filters. More than 50 years since its opening, the plant still thrives with energy and activity, which came to life at Welcome Celebration activities. At the third shift celebration, employees gave a standing ovation to welcome MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology Executive Chairman Manfred Wolf, who has been with MANN+HUMMEL for more than 20 years and relocated to North Carolina to serve in a senior leadership position for the merger. The standing ovation was a show of southern hospitality and a true welcome to MANN+HUMMEL.
Also receiving a special welcome was Dr. James Ramere, Sadler Elementary School Principal. Dr. Ramere joined all three Allen Plant celebrations, including the 1:00am event, to personally thank leadership and Allen Plant people for their celebratory donation made to the local school, which serves children in grades kindergarten through fifth grade.
Many of our facilities made donations to local charities as part of their events, making the celebrations as important to our hometowns as they were to us. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this whirlwind of activity, and not just because of the number of emails, conference calls and airline miles accrued during the planning and execution of the events. Rather, it will be embedded in my memory because of the genuine spirit of welcoming I’ve seen – from our team to theirs, and theirs to ours. I believe MANN+HUMMEL Filtration Technology President Keith Wilson said it best in his recent blog when he described his experience during these early weeks with MANN+HUMMEL: “For me, it feels like home.” And it certainly does.