A Program That Can Strengthen Any Company

Bruce Hamsher is Leadership Coach for ProVia

By Bruce Hamsher

There’s certainly no shortage of training going on here at ProVia. We have installer training, IT training, and skills training in a variety of disciplines, all very practical in their applications. So when we decided to roll out a different type of training program – aimed exclusively at cultivating leadership skills and character development – we weren’t sure what our employees would think. We announced our first leadership class with 10 available slots, and soon we had 39 applicants! Clearly we have many who are hungry to learn, grow, and develop in a leadership capacity.

ProVia Leads

The development of qualified leaders can sometimes be an afterthought, but we decided to prioritize this important topic. In 2015 we started “ProVia Leads”, our in-house leadership coaching program. We completed our first class last fall, and you can see the happy faces of our successful participants in the photo below. Our goal for this program is to be proactive and to “get people ready before there’s a role to fill.” Everything is centered around servant leadership, where we lead by serving with humility.

The ProVia Leads Class of 2015 (left to right): Kari Crilow, Nick Schwartz, Heather West, Jason Cunningham, Wanda Seilhamer, Doug Irvin, Joel Herman, Jon Miller, Kim Troyer

A Learning Laboratory

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47 Years at Provia

Esta Winkler is Customer Service Team Leader for ProVia

Esta Winkler has worked at ProVia for 47 years and has seen a lot as the company grew and went through many changes. These days it’s quite unusual for someone to spend their entire career at one company, so we asked why she made this choice and how this has worked out for her. Following are a few excerpts from our interview with Esta, who will be celebrating her retirement at the end of this year.

How did you get started at ProVia?

I turned 19 in August of 1968, and in September I was hired to work for Alsco, which was the Sugarcreek facility where we made storm doors and storm windows. I worked in production for 10 years, mostly in the storm door department, and I ended up being a team leader in that department for several years. I really enjoyed working in the plant and making storm doors! Then there was a job opening in the payroll department in the office, so I applied and did that for a couple of years. Then I worked as a shipping clerk for a couple of years and also in the order department. Just all kinds of things, and I enjoyed learning as much as I could, doing different things. At one point they asked if I’d be interested in a newly created position as a customer service manager. I’ve been doing customer service ever since.

Esta with Lonnie Hershberger, Director of Customer Service  

What did they see about you that was a good fit for customer service?

At the time, I knew the product very well. I also enjoyed people. I was very friendly with everybody in the production area and of course in the office. I just obviously loved working with customers and we got along well. I guess I’m a people person!

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