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More than 20 associates will be celebrating their 20th anniversary along with GECOM tomorrow.

It’s been 20 years since GECOM first opened its doors and the community welcomed a foreign manufacturer as one of its own.

Through the years, the plant has grown and diversified into a world leader gaining global attention. It is a jewel in parent company Mitsui Kinzoku’s crown, according to Frank Jesensek, vice president of operations. A lot of that, he noted, has to do with the people in the white work shirts who give their all every day.

On Friday, in conjunction with the company’s 20th anniversary, GECOM will celebrate the more than 20 associates who have been with the company since the beginning during a catered lunch for all of its employees. Jesensek said the employees are the core of the plant and that idea goes into the company’s approach to business.

“The best thing (about GECOM) is the people that are here. Their willingness to work, their cooperation, their skills,” Jesensek said. “We take our work serious, but it doesn’t mean we take each other too seriously. We can joke and have a good time but, when things get tough, we all pull together. That speaks to the strength of our community and Greensburg’s community.”

Being a part of the community has been a major push for GECOM management. They encourages associates to be active members outside the workplace. Many GECOM employees can be found participating on non-profit boards, community projects and even city government. This idea of caring and involvement has created a positive atmosphere inside the walls of the plant as well.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with a management team that let’s me be involved,” Bonita Meyer, administrative assistant in human resources who is also a 20-year employee said. “It’s one thing to give money, but it’s another to be seen and get your hands dirty.”

While GECOM encourages even its top associates to be active - the original president of the company sat on a number of civic and government boards - it also spreads money throughout the community. It is a big supporter of the United Fund, Community Foundation, the YMCA and others.

Jesensek said working for a company that cares creates a certain morale for the workers. However, its not the only reason he feels people stay at GECOM. Every day, he and others in management try to create and maintain a positive work environment.

“If you can work and still enjoy the atmosphere, that’s a bonus. You’re more likely to stay,” Jesensek said. “There are bad places to work, and there are good places to work. We’re one of the good places.”

Meyer agreed working at GECOM has been an enjoyable experience filled with fun and friendly people.

“I like my job so well, it’s not really work. The days are long but it’s gone by so fast,” Meyer said. “I don’t think people come or go solely because of the salary. I think they stay or go because of the way they feel. It’s about the people. I think the people know the company cares.”

That sentiment can be seen in the associates who have donned the white shirt for well over a decade. After the 20-year associates, there are scores of others celebrating their 19th year. Even more with 15 or 10 years, according to Jesensek.

“We have a great deal of people who have been here a longtime,” he said.

During those years, manufacturing around the nation has taken a hit. Many plants have closed and lost jobs overseas where wages are lower and less competitive, Jesensek said. GECOM has never thought of that, even when times were tough.

“This has been stable employment. A lot of factories have gone under and many have cut jobs but GECOM is still here and going strong,” Jesensek said.

He said that is also the plan for the future. With two decades under its belt, the company will look ahead. One of the first steps, Jesensek noted, was actually taking a step back to revisit old ways of doing things that may have been lost in the shuffle of growth.

“We’re really trying to get back and get all the associates involved. You can drift away from that over time. We want people to be involved and realize they can help drive change,” he said.

With a workforce of 1,400, Jesensek said he and other GECOM managers are committed to serving those people the best they can by pushing the company beyond boundaries for the future. It may be difficult but, with the team they have, success is only a matter of implementing action.

“We’re looking to be here for a long-time. We’re always looking forward to the future,” Jesensek said. “It’s a challenging future but a prosperous future.”

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