‘Thank You’ for a Job Well Done!

Special event makes employee recognition a family affair at WCMA

Sep 19, 2016

By Ron Russell

NTC Communications

WARREN, Mich. – Sixteen-year-old Sarah Perry already had a big-time crush on the Jeep Wrangler, but going off road in her “Go Anywhere, Do Anything” dream vehicle made her love unconditional.

Herman Jones with wife Lajimmease and daughters Zoelle and Valencia
     Herman Jones with wife Lajimmease and their daughters.

Sarah rode in one that conquered boulders, logs, hills, moguls and trenches on a rugged Trail Rated obstacle course at the UAW-Chrysler World Class Manufacturing Academy (WCMA).

But once wasn’t enough for Sarah. How about seven trips around the course before she got enough Jeep love for the day?

“ I’m madly in love with the Rubicon,” gushed the Anchor Bay (Mich.) High School senior. “It’s really a fun car. I know I really need this car – desperately.”

Fun cars were just one of the attractions for Sarah and about 250 others who attended the inaugural Family Fun Day for employees of WCMA and the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center, held on Sunday, Aug. 28. In fact, employees and immediate family members didn’t have a dull moment.

Activities ranged from the Ride and Drive obstacle course and go-kart racing, to a dunk tank that raised money to combat breast cancer, a “bounce house” for kids, a live DJ and demonstrations of interactive learning technology in the WCMA lab. Games, prizes, food and beverages added to the excitement.

But Fun Day involved much more than having fun. It was inspired by UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell, director of the union’s Chrysler Department, and Glenn Shagena, Vice President – Employee Relations, NAFTA, FCA US LLC.

Young girl enjoys her experience behind the wheel
          Young girl enjoys her experience behind the wheel.

It was their way of recognizing employees, showing that they’re valued and saying “Thank You” for the vital role they play in the success of special events, conferences and classes at WCMA.

“We’re extremely proud of this training facility and the positive impact it has on upgrading skills of the FCA US workforce,” Jewell said. “That wouldn’t be possible without the outstanding job done by WCMA and NTC staff members throughout the year.

“Unfortunately, a lot of times people don’t feel appreciated for what they do. It’s really cool that we could show our appreciation in such a visible way through Family Fun Day.”

Shagena said the event was a tribute to “the phenomenal amount of work that has been done to jointly develop and deliver world class training” to facilitate implementation of WCM methodology, support the skilled trades and meet other training needs of FCA US employees.

“This was an opportunity not only to recognize employees for all the hard work they do,” Shagena said, “but to also invite family members so employees could share their pride in where they work and what has been accomplished.”

Dunk tank helped raise about $1,200 to fight breast cancer.

WCM classes, workshops and events alone have touched more than 65,000 employees since the academy opened in January 2012. In addition, nearly 2,200 employees have taken classes at the facility for skilled trades journeymen and apprentices since January 2015.

“Family Day was the first opportunity to share this one-of-a-kind, amazing training space with our loved ones,” said WCMA Lead Scott Tolmie. “It was an absolute success and a true testament of our joint programs and how we can all work together and have fun.”

Donna Perry, a UAW Health and Safety Servicing Representative and Auditor, couldn’t agree more. She called the event a “wonderful experience” because she could share it with her Wrangler-loving daughter Sarah, her nephew Zaiden, 7, and her niece, Zanna, 5.

“Fun Day provided an opportunity to build a sense of community with our coworkers and our families,” she said. “We are members of a large organization and don’t always know the people we work with. This establishes an extended WCMA community that makes us stronger individually and collectively.”

Describing the event as “a beautiful thing,” Housekeeper Jasmine Foster echoed Perry’s sentiments.

“We work together all day, so we’re already a family in a sense,” she said. “But an event like this brings us closer together because sometimes you can get to know people better, find out more stuff about them, when you’re around them outside of work.”

For Foster’s three kids, daughter Amoni, 11; son Amere, 10, and daughter Jordyn, 4, the day was about having fun. They had a blast, especially when going off road in a Jeep during the Ride and Drive.

“The part where we were going up the hill, and then coming down the hill, that was kinda scary,” Amere said. “But it was real fun.”

“I liked going sideways in a Jeep,” added Amoni. “But there was lotsa other fun stuff to do, too.”

Foster with children Jordyn, Amoni and Amere.

Business Services Administrator Herman Jones gave Fun Day a rave review, noting that it’s the only employee recognition event of its kind he’s experienced in 25 years with the NTC. He attended with his wife Lajimmease and daughters Valencia, 9, and Zoelle, 6.

“It’s a first and it has something to offer for everybody, regardless of age,” Jones said. “It shows that the company appreciates employees instead of taking us for granted. And that’s a good thing.”

His wife also is a fan because the event had educational value as well as fun activities. She said it heightened awareness of WCMA and Jeep products, while also introducing children at an impressionable age to a hi-tech environment and career possibilities in the auto industry.

For Valencia, Fun Day was a perfect chance to learn about what her father does to support his family. “There are a lot of cool things for kids to do,” she said, “but I liked learning things my dad does that show he’s helping out at work. I think he’s doing a great job, and I’m very proud of him.”


Carlo Materazzo, Head of WCM, liked what he saw and heard at WCMA’s first Family Fun Day.

Joined by his wife and two children, Materazzo was a keen observer as he took in Fun Day attractions. He’s convinced it was the right event at the right time, because it embraces WCM’s holistic approach to respecting and engaging all employees.

“This is the right way to create the WCM culture in our company,” he said. “It should be the example for every facility in our company to make manufacturing a human experience.

“They should open the doors and allow families to see where our employees spend a large part of their lives, what they do and why they do it. That is a great formula for success.”