The Rockford Adams Story – A Ten Year Change Journey

The Adams Confectionary plant in Rockford, Illinois faced multiple challenges. The plant’s world-wide division had recently been acquired in a hostile takeover. The competition was coming at its products “with all guns blazing”. Half of the 600 highly skilled workers would be retiring in the next five years. The plant manager knew that the plant needed to transition to higher levels of quality and productivity or see its products moved to sister plants in Canada and Mexico. He asked Dannemiller Tyson to help him engage his leadership team and then the entire plant to create and commit to an action plan for the future.

Over the next six months, DTA consultants helped to engage everyone in learning about the challenges, imagining the possible future and designing a strategy to get there. We worked first with the manager’s team of direct reports in a series of planning meetings. Then we helped expand the circle to include all the managers, supervisors and team leaders. Finally, we facilitated a two-day meeting where the entire plant of 600 colleagues were actively engaged in learning, sharing ideas and committing to actions based on four common goals. After the big meeting we helped see that tasks teams were chartered and launched. Then it was up to the people of the plant to take the future into their own hands.

Over the next year, everyone pitched in to create new processes, take costs out and train many new workers while keeping the plant running at a very high standard. Dannemiller Tyson consultants facilitated a “reunion” meeting after twelve months that brought all the workers back together to share their success stories and decide on what needed to be done next. Over the next five years, the plant survived and thrived while the division was sold again to new corporate management. Today, ten years later, few of the original workers remain but the banner committing to the strategy signed by every worker a decade before still hangs in the entry to the plant. The vision of creating a plant that could compete in a demanding world economy and ensure jobs for hundreds of Rockford families has been realized.