Veteran Employer Background – Manufacturing – Illinois Tool Works

Illinois Tool Works  |  |  |

Published in the July/August 2010 issue of print Search & Employ®  |

ITW designs and produces an array of fasteners and components, equipment and consumable systems, and specialty products and equipment for customers around the world. With $13.9 billion in 2009 revenues, 800 decentralized business units are located in 57 countries and employ approximately 59,000 men and women. The company has been in business for nearly 100 years.

“I really like to hire veterans because they reduce the risk associated with hiring a new person,” said Mike Burton,  a group general manager with the Space Bag division of ITW and a former captain in the United States Army. Space Bag produces vacuum-compression storage products.

“I can be more confident that the person will succeed in the company and will bring long-lasting value,” Burton said. “They bring with them a level of maturity and life experience that goes beyond their age.  They have demonstrated the ability to work in a team environment that is so important to today’s business.  They have experienced difficulty and come through victorious; they have learned discipline and adapted to changing situations. They have shown an ability to learn. All these things are givens when you hire a veteran.  They are a ‘hope’ when you hire everyone else. That is not to say that every veteran makes a great employee, but the odds are greater.”

Burton also believes that ITW is a good fit for veterans searching for a rewarding career. “Both ITW and ITW Space Bag are great places to work, for both veterans and non-veterans,” he observes.  “But a veteran will find us unlike most large corporations in the world. Although we are nearly $14 billion in sales, almost all decisions are left to the individual business units. This allows for creativity and initiative by individuals, something that veterans are accustomed to. We have a need at all levels for leaders with people skills that have technical abilities and can motivate others to action.”

Cheri Chappelle, the director of diversity and inclusion for ITW, agrees. “We always need good general managers and good technicians,” Chappelle said. “And the military is great at producing those. We find that veterans make great leaders.”

She added that while hiring has been slow recently, things are starting to get better. She also said that a large portion of ITW’s workforce is eligible for retirement, a factor that will spur hiring. “While we like to hire people and bring up them up through the organization,” Chappelle said, “we won’t have the time to grow people. We will need to hire externally to fill those positions.”

Burton and Chappelle agreed that anyone hired at ITW should want to do a variety of tasks. “Mike has to focus on sales, marketing, P&L, operations, and more,” Chappelle said. “In addition to my duties in diversity and inclusion, I also do recruiting and organizational development. We don’t just focus on one area.”

“Because of that, we’re only limited by our own abilities,” Burton added. “People employed at ITW are encouraged to grow their careers, and many find a lot of success doing that.”

About the Author

This article was written by Jay Myers