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Gateway Press--Taking Care of Business. . . and People

November 1998
Louisville, KY's Gateway Press invests in equipment and workers.


BY ERIK CAGLE


THE SEVEN Dwarfs may not be working in the bindery department, but it's a safe bet that there are Gateway Press employees who whistle on their way to work.

Save the Hi-Ho jokes; this Louisville, KY-based commercial printer is a real workers' paradise. Even as the company grows bigger—an $8 million expansion added, among other things, 20 new jobs and brought the total number to nearly 300 employees—the personal touch can still be felt.

How much do the employees love their work? The average tenure is 14 years. Although the company was founded in 1950, four employees have 40-plus years of experience and countless others have 20- and 30-plus years of service under their belts.

Why do the workers love their jobs? Employees have never been laid off due to a lack of work, for one. Gateway Press employees who have been employed at least five years can take advantage of full in-state college tuition for their dependents. Additionally, Gateway pays union scale for its non-union shop and kicks in with an annual bonus equal to 25 percent of pre-tax profits.

For the average employee, that bonus equals seven weeks' salary.

Toss in employee empowerment—a flat management structure—and Gateway Press is as an attractive of working environment as...Disney World.

In return, Gateway Press reaps the benefits of quality work. Dennis Brown, a vice president of the company, is elated with the results.

"It helps morale—employees truly believe they have control over the quality that they put out," Brown remarks. "If any of our workers see something that is unacceptable, they can stop the machines with no recriminations."

Gateway Press has instituted a teamwork philosophy, based on the ideals of CEO C.W. "Kit" Georgehead Jr., which places equal importance on each worker's position. The functionality of the plant, he reasons, hinges on everyone accomplishing their tasks.

Gateway Press backs up its words with actions, or rather, dollars. The bonus concept started in the 1970s, and during one year the pool surpassed the $1 million mark, or approximately $4,000 per employee, before taxes.

"It was decided years ago that rather than give it all to Uncle Sam, we could give some to the employees," Brown remarks.

The college tuition perk was the brainchild of Georgehead. When the company's founder—C.W. Georgehead Sr.—passed away, the younger Georgehead wanted to do something with his portion of the estate to dedicate in his father's memory. The result is an open offer for free in-state tuition for employees with five or more years of experience.
 

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