NEW PORT RICHEY — Long before the concept of a four-day work week became trendy, Ron McVety had an idea for his small, Pasco County-based manufacturing company.
What if his staff had Friday afternoons off?
“So everybody can get half a day to play with their kids or do whatever they need to do during the week,” his No. 2 Rick Walker recalls him saying. They both had young children home for the summer holidays at the time.
Half a century later, FACTS Engineering still have a Friday afternoons free and the business has won the Work-Life Flexibility award in the Tampa Bay Times 2023 Top Workplaces.
“Ron takes care of us,” read one FACTS employee survey response.
The camaraderie is “unmatched,” read another.
It has been a challenging few years for the company, which has about 60 employees and operates out of a 60,000-square-foot facility tucked into the New Port Richey woodlands.
Supply chain slowdowns threatened to rupture the business McVerty founded in his garage. They import both raw materials and finished goods for manufacture and assembly. Lead times of 10-12 weeks used to stir panic.
“Those lead times are now regularly 50-60 weeks,” Walker, the company’s vice president, said in a recent interview. “It really puts a huge burden on everything we do.”
In recent months, staff across the tech industry have experienced a period of immense whiplash. After lavishing their employees with perks in a tight labor market and a war for talent, companies have turned to mass job cuts.
“We were thinking we may be able to scoop up some of those people,” said Walker, who has been with the company for more than three decades. But filling some specialized positions has proved tricky, he added. Particularly as the company wants staff to come into the office.
“The recruiters told me: ‘Once we let candidates know that these are not full-time remote positions, we lose over half of them,’” Walker said. “They don’t even want to know what the salary is.”
Layoffs across the industry and the rising cost of living, he added, have also made people hesitant to relocate. “There’s a lot of fear,” he said. “The economic conditions just have been too scary to make a big move.”
During the pandemic, because FACTS manufacture products used in food processing and water treatment, their services were deemed “essential” — a term Walker hates. “Anybody that’s working to support their family, as far as I’m concerned, is an essential worker,” he said.
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About a third of staff worked remotely while the others came in if they were willing and able.
Today, none of the staff are remote-only. But the company has a trust-based system in place, for employees to request hybrid flexibility when needed.
“Ron and I are kind of old school. We don’t get this work from home thing,” Walker said.
The engineers and administrative staff all work out of the New Port Richey facility, topped with 677 solar panels, leading the company to proudly proclaim they are “powered by the sun.”
Walker says the company’s retention rate — the average staffer has been at the company more than a decade — is testament to the success of their “people-first” culture. It’s evident on their balance sheet too, he said.
“The last two years, we broken all of our sales records,” he said. “On top of that, for the first time in our history, we’ve carried a backorder.”
Mechanical engineer Eric Gatch, 36, began working at the company a year after graduating from the University of Florida. Now, 13 years later, he says he’s still proudly a member of the FACTS family.
“It’s a pleasure to work here,” said the Land O’ Lakes resident and father of two. Particular highlights, he says, are the tight-knit culture, the ability to be involved in “every step of the design process” and the monthly bonus sharing plan, with 10% of profits shared between staff every month on top of their salary.
And, of course, spending Friday afternoon with his children.
The company designs, manufactures and distributes products used in automation in factories and other facilities.
Location: New Port Richey
Employee comments: “I get to work on fun stuff, solve unique problems, and be with my friends.”
“I love that my job challenges me every day in different ways , I love being a part of like Family. I love that everyone cares and that you have flexibility when needed. I’m paid well, and I just love the job I do.”
“I work with amazing people creating products that automate our world.”