A DEWSBURY firm has put the emphasis on its employees.
Rixonway Kitchens has recognised a number of long-standing personnel – and pledged to maintain its “winning formula” for retaining its staff.
The commitment to its staff comes against a background of UK unemployment at a near 17-year high and job security under attack at companies across all sectors.
By contrast, the social kitchen manufacturer has several employees who have notched up many decades with the firm.
Bob Matcham, 65, and 62-year-old Allan Battye have worked for the firm for more than 30 years and have no intention of retiring.
Another employee, Russell Townend, 44, started sweeping the floors as a 16-year-old in 1984 and is now manufacturing manager.
Rixonway has seen many changes throughout the years. Commenting on his first impressions when he joined, Mr Matcham said: “The factory was, cold, dirty and dark in places. It always flooded when it rained and there were lots of small cramped work spaces on the ground floor of an empty mill that made it hard to work and manoeuvre products around.
“There was only 15 staff that worked on the factory floor back then, with four machines and we only had one vehicle that delivered all the products.”
Today, the company employs 450 people at its 170,000 sq ft state-of-the-art headquarters and is the second biggest employer in the town.
Operations director Nick Greenall said the company’s success was down to its employees.
“A company is only as good as its employees,” he said. “With unemployment figures hitting 2.7m, there is a lot of doom and gloom out there.
“We believe our employees are our most important asset. It’s clear to see that when employees feel secure and enjoy their job they certainly give us everything they have got.
“We must be doing something right as we have 21 employees who have worked at Rixonway for 20 years or more and 40 who have worked here for 15 years or more.”
Working for the firm is also a family affair. Twins Clive and Richard Whitehouse, 57, have been working at Rixonway since 1996. They share the same shifts, the same holidays and travel to work together. Their brother Nigel also joined the company in 1996.
Twenty years ago, Rixonway employed two employees with learning difficulties through the Government’s Pathways scheme. Both employees are still with the company today.
Rixonway has also become ambassador for the Yorkshire and Humber National Apprenticeship Scheme, offering six apprenticeships this year across all areas of the business from accounts to the production line.
Formed in 1978, Rixonway Kitchens is the only UK kitchen manufacturer working solely in affordable and social housing. It makes 12,000 units a week and employs more than 450 people at its Dewsbury base with 40 designers who operate nationwide.