Situation: Bayport, Minnesota-based Andersen Corporation, employing more than 9,000 people, is the world’s largest manufacturer of wood windows and patio doors. Des Moines, Iowa-based EMCO Enterprises, a wholly owned subsidiary of Andersen Corporation since 2001, manufactures Andersen®, and EMCO® doors. The top supplier to national retailers such as Home Depot, EMCO has a 90-year history in Des Moines and is a respected member of Iowa’s business community. When EMCO made a strategic decision to add a factory and distribution center in Luray, Va., the company sought strategic public relations counsel from Hanser & Associates to make the announcement, sensitive due to economic impact in Iowa and potential confusion among employees, and disappointment from Iowa community leaders.

Strategy & tactics: To successfully position the announcement among EMCO’s target audiences—current and potential employees, Des Moines and Luray community leaders, vendors and customers—we orchestrated these tactics: personal phone calls from EMCO executives to major customers and elected officials coinciding with the public announcement; contacts with community leaders; and media relations in Luray and Des Moines. A luncheon was arranged to inform employees of the expansion, thank them for their hard work and reflect on EMCO’s recent growth. Additionally, materials were distributed to key customers and vendors explaining the expansion and reaffirming the strength and value of EMCO’s partnership with the companies. In Luray, EMCO needed to hire 150 employees within six months. Hanser & Associates worked with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to gain positive news coverage and to advertise in Luray newspapers to recruit employees. We also developed packets for a recruitment event in Luray, and helped add an Employment section to EMCO’s website.

Results: Des Moines community leaders gave positive feedback and expressed willingness to work with EMCO on potential Iowa expansion in the future. EMCO management deemed the employee communications program successful and reported no adverse affect on productivity or morale at the Des Moines facilities. Additionally, VEC offices received more than 450 applications the week (triple the number of new-hires) following the public announcement of EMCO’s expansion. Also, when Andersen Corporation celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003, Hanser & Associates planned the Des Moines-area celebration, attended by news media, hundreds of employees, and Andersen’s executives.