When I pull into the car park at 4.30am, I look at the grounds and I see the deer and the rabbits and I think what a lovely environment it is to work in. It just makes me feel good,” says Gordon Cook, trainer and assessor for sugar-free manufacturing at Wrigley’s factory in Plymouth, Devon.
Part of the 45-acre site, which exports about 25% of the chewing gum it produces, has been turned into a wildlife habitat.
Wrigley has been making gum since 1911 and its current range includes Extra — which it claims is Britain’s best-selling sweet — Orbit, Airwaves, Hubba Bubba and Extra Thin Ice, a relatively new product that is already notching up sales of £20m a year.
The British company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wm Wrigley Jr Company of Chicago and employs 716 people. Most staff (83%) say they feel proud to work for the organisation and 76% say they are excited about where Wrigley’s is going.
Gharry Eccles, the managing director, is much admired by his staff — 85% of them say he is full of positive energy and 74% say he runs the company on sound moral principles. “One of the things about Wrigley is that it’s a company with soul,” he says. “There is a vein of values that goes right through it because we are still a family company.”
The leadership team takes time to get to know staff, with regular walkabouts around offices and the factory. Many staff welcome this including Debbie Foster, the field support manager, who says with admiration: “They’re such an open bunch of people. They’re highly integrated with the hub of the business and they keep in tune with what’s going on.”
Eccles takes the time to write a card for every member of staff on their birthdays, enclosing vouchers entitling them to a three-course lunch in the canteen — where food is normally sold for 25% of its cost.
Life-long learning and development are among the company’s core values, and a huge variety of courses and schemes cover health and safety, management, staff motivation and leadership skills. Team-building events have included driving JCBs at Diggerland in Cullompton.
“It’s been an adventure,” says Foster, who has worked for Wrigley for 27 years. “I’ve had fantastic training and all the opportunities that anybody could have.
Now I’ve found myself for the past two years working as a field support manager, which is phenomenal considering that I started as clerk typist.”
There is extensive support for local charitable work and many staff are involved with local environmental projects. At Christmas time, employees’ children are invited to a pantomime, given a huge box of treats and presented with a £25 voucher. All staff — and the company’s pensioners — are given a free box of gum each month All this makes for a happy environment. “I’m smitten with my job here,” says Adam Lashbrook, a compensation and benefits adviser — one of the 76% of staff who say they love working for the company.
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