At first blush, people might not think that Google and Miller Ingenuity have too much in common. One is a tech giant, the other an international manufacturer headquartered in Winona.
But both companies have a strong company culture of innovation, and to continue that, Miller Ingenuity CEO Steve Blue unveiled Tuesday the company's new creation station. It's a 1,200-square-foot lounge and meeting space designed to help both relax and stimulate employees and encourage problem-solving.
It's a unique idea for a manufacturer, and Blue said a creative space will continue to set Miller Ingenuity apart from the competition as it continues to rebrand its image and develop a culture of forward-thinking problem-solving.
"We've been on an odyssey when we decided we wanted a culture by design," Blue said. "To me the creation station is as much of an asset as anything else in the building."
Blue unveiled the station during a company meeting Tuesday. Along with the station, Blue presented an award for outstanding teamwork and spoke about where the company is in its mission to determine its own culture.
Miller Ingenuity has spent the past several years rebranding, and unveiled its new public image last summer when the company changed its name from Miller Felpax. Behind the scenes were years of work on the company culture, company leaders working with stakeholders.
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"The most important part of our company is our values," Blue said. "Values are what drives everything else. Nobody can duplicate our culture and values."
After the meeting, employees and their families gathered to participate in the official opening of the creation station with a balloon release. And then employees got to tour the new facility. For many, it was their first look at the new space.
Sets of double doors separate the creation station from the main production floor at Miller Ingenuity. Going from one space to the other is like stepping into another world as the noise, bustle and hustle of the manufacturing spaces transform into a cool, comforting atmosphere.
Employees led the planning and design of the space, Blue said. And many were impressed with how it turned out.
"It's absolutely awesome," said Eric Armstrong, Miller Ingenuity's senior vice president for global marketing and sales. "I walked in yesterday for the first time and it blew me away."
The space will also help company officials work with clients and customers, Armstrong said -- and helping the customer helps the company see more growth.
"CEOs won't hesitate to buy a punch press or CNC machine," Blue said during an interview in the creation station. "I see this as an asset that will drive innovation. This asset will generate ideas."