At Newmar, we believe our people are our greatest asset. Without their commitment to industry-leading quality and dedication to doing right by our customers, there is no Newmar Difference.
To help you get to know the men and women behind our spectacular line of Class-A coaches, we spoke with several members of the Newmar team about their roles and how they contribute to our shared success.
Name: Ritchie Diener
Role: Senior Group Leader, Manufacturing Paint Department
Years with Newmar: 23
How would you describe your role at Newmar?
I’ve had plenty of title changes throughout the years, but right now the biggest part of my job involves our Paint department, where we do prep work, painting, detailing, cutting and buffing. We also do service / warranty work. Essentially, we’re responsible for bringing Newmar’s Full-Paint Masterpiece™ Finish to life. My main responsibilities include bringing in the right people and making sure they have the proper tools and training to be successful.
My goal is to serve our customers, coworkers and management team by consistently producing finishes that go beyond industry standards. By doing so, we can exceed the expectations of our customers with each and every coach we deliver.
While describing your role, you used the word “we” and “we’re” quite a bit. Why is that?
The people here make the difference, they really do. Every once in awhile people will tell me, “Ritch, you’re doing a great job,” and I’ll respond with, “It’s not me, it’s my team.” They make me look good, that’s for sure. I’d put my crew up against anybody, because I truly believe they’re the best at what they do. It also helps that the Amish Mennonite community and general culture of the area in which we live brings us a work ethic, value system and range of skills that we as a group and a company find invaluable.
What is it that makes people want to work for Newmar?
People come to us because they know management and their coworkers will treat them with respect, and because they’re looking for an opportunity to put their skills to work building world-class products. Our people come in, work hard and get home to their families on time. They know what’s expected of them, get paid a fair wage, feel secure and know that they are making a difference.
The average Newmar employee has been with the company for 13 years. What is it about Newmar that keeps people coming back for more?
There are a lot of reasons, first of which are the values that come from the top of our organization. Everyone here is treated with respect and honesty, and no one is ever made to feel as if they are less important than anyone else.
Secondly, Newmar isn’t afraid to spend the time and money necessary to improve worker safety. In fact, there are regular meetings that focus specifically on what we can do to make our work environment even better for our employees.
Finally, I would add that employees here are made to feel important because leadership has made it a point to listen to what everyone has to say and reward those who present ideas that lead to an improvement or cost savings in our operation. It’s why many of our most significant innovations have come from men and women on our assembly floor, and why our company is such a happy, positive place to be.
You have a solid, experienced group working with you in the paint department. What have you done to help keep everyone together?
Well, the funny thing is, when new hires join our team, the first thing we ask them is “what are your goals? Is there somewhere else you’d like to be one day?” We don’t hold individuals back if they want to go to another group, because people do best when they’re doing the thing they really want to be doing. For some, that thing is paint work.
One way we keep our people motivated is with our pay scale. We use a piece rate system, which rewards them for the amount of quality work they produce, not how many hours they’re in the building. In the end, we truly believe people make the difference, and we want to treat our employees fairly and incentivize them as much as possible.
Where does your team find the inspiration to develop new paint designs and patterns from model year to model year?
Newmar has a team that includes individuals from our Design, Sales and Production groups. They work together with our graphics vendors to develop custom designs for each Newmar model. It truly is a team effort and there’s always something new to try.
You’ve been with Newmar for 23 years. What are you most proud of?
I get asked a lot, “How do you do it with so few people?” Because the reality is, Newmar’s paint department operates with a lot less man power than other paint departments in our industry doing the same volume. So I would say I’m proud of our efficiency – the exceptional quality we’re able to produce with a smaller group of individuals.
I’m also proud of our collective attitude and willingness to do “whatever it takes.” The way I see it, as a group leader, you have a choice to run your team like a ship or a battleship. When you take the battleship approach, you’re constantly fighting against something – management, the competition, etc. People do things out of fear of negative consequences. But with our people, it’s not us against anyone else. We’re a ship. And if there’s ever a problem, we clearly communicate our expectations to the employee and work with them to resolve the issues, while treating them with the respect they deserve.
I believe that approach makes people WANT to do the right things because it is the right thing to do. We, along with the rest of our company, have proven time and time again that we will work tirelessly to make things right. It’s just who we are. We just want to do the best that we can to make our organization proud.
Last question: What’s it like to work alongside your brother?
Well, we don’t exactly work side-by-side – my brother runs our Finishing department. He does a great job. He is also very witty and quick on his feet. When people taking tours come to my area (after they have been through his), they’ll ask me questions that I know he set me up for. It’s a lot of fun.