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Regional Food Manufacturer Invests in their People for Business Improvement

Regional Food Manufacturer Invests in their People for Business Improvement

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Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation is a private label, contract, and food service manufacturer headquartered in Chester, Illinois.  The organization produces over 8,000 items for more than 500 different private label brands across 14 manufacturing facilities. Spanning four states, this family-owned business employs more than 3,000 people.

Gilster-Mary Lee had seen government and customer requirements tighten and needed to bring in a workforce that was capable of meeting the requirements, as well as address the efficiencies and bottom line results they needed to maintain. In order to do this, they needed assistance addressing people skills, as historically, the company focused on hiring and promoting those with the machinery or efficiency skills and not necessarily the softer skills.

IMEC has been very successful for us. They are really people that have a tremendous amount of experience but still relate very well to our workforce; be that anyone from the line worker up to the President and everyone in between.  —Tom Welge, Vice President

The GML leadership worked with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC), part of the MEP National NetworkTM, to implement the Training Within Industry (TWI) module of Job Relations for a group of supervisors. Working with the team to understand how they can use techniques to improve relationships with employees through a four step method really laid the groundwork for increased human development and positive relations within the group. The Job Relations module also addressed how supervisors should handle corrective action situations with an employee.  Overall, the primary impacts realized from the training were improved absenteeism and improved morale among staff. "Ultimately we want to reduce turnover and avoid costly mistakes," said Tom Welge, Vice President for GML. "It truly allows people to become more successful in their job."


  • Cost savings of $100,000
  • $50,000 investment in employee skills
  • $50,000 investment in business processes
  • Improved absenteeism and turnover rates

Could your company benefit from assistance with workforce training? Connect with your local MEP Center for more information.


MEP National Network Logo
The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) is the official representative of the MEP National Network in Illinois. The MEP National Network is a unique public-private partnership that helps small and medium-sized manufacturers generate business results and thrive in today’s technology-driven economy. The MEP National Network comprises the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP), the 51 MEP Centers located in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

About the author

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC)

The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center (IMEC) is a team of improvement specialists and technicians dedicated to providing organizations in Illinois with the tools and techniques to create sustainable competitive futures. The experienced hands-on team at IMEC works closely with its clients to plan critical business improvements in the areas of Leadership, Strategy, Customer Engagement, Operations, and Workforce.

With more than 50 full-time staff and partners positioned statewide, IMEC delivers the local expertise to not only plan and strategize, but to implement and evaluate the effectiveness of client improvements. In fact, IMEC assists more than 500 companies each year with successful business improvement projects.

As a result, IMEC has demonstrated a return on investment that exceeds 19:1. This is made possible as organizations become more effective and efficient – and together with IMEC – excel toward enterprise excellence.

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