20 years of Innovative Automation

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Happy Birthday, Innovative Automation!

Twenty years ago, Steve Loftus, Paul Tyndall and Jim Carnegie opened the doors on their company. Functioning as a custom machine manufacturer, Innovative Automation designs, tests and manufactures specialized equipment for industry.

It’s a specific, technical field and, over the years, its customer base has grown and shifted.

Retired owner Jim Carnegie recently returned to the fold and joined new owner Frank Gouweloos as they all cooked breakfast for their 45 employees.

It was the company’s 20th birthday. They chose, as a company, to celebrate in a way that’s unique in today’s working world, but in keeping with the spirit of this Saunders Road firm.

Each employee selected a charitable group that could use his or her help. Working through United Way’s member agencies, Innovative Automation gave each of its employees a full day’s pay and sent them out into the community to make a difference. The owners went too. They all enjoyed a breakfast at the workplace and then grabbed their tools and headed out for their charity workday.

What a way to celebrate a birthday!

Steve Loftus was complimentary on the work the employees chose to do.

Some went to a transition home for Canadian Mental Health and did maintenance, cleaned up inside and outside, and took care of those jobs that never seem to get done – repairs, cleaning, that kind of thing.

Some went to the new Hospice building on Penetanguishene Road. They went to do site cleanup and painting, and completed it in record time. And so, with time left over they ended up installing drywall that was waiting in a pile on the floor. Another job done.

Others went to two Red Cross locations, one to do assist in filing and admin, and a mountain of paper, others to a Bracebridge location to relocate part of a storage facility. They followed directions and did a lot of labour.

A group home for clients with the Simcoe County Association for the Physically Disabled got outside and inside cleanup, painting, repairs etc.

The artists ended up at Big Brothers/Big Sisters on Bayfield Street. They painstakingly recreated the billboard that bears the stars with names of waiting little brothers and stars with names of big brothers. It was a detail-oriented job.

Another group from the business adopted a family and went grocery and gift shopping, wrapping and assembly all ready for delivery.

A few staff went to the Salvation Army’s Bayside Mission where they peeled hundreds of potatoes, and then helped to prepare and served lunch. This was a humbling experience for all involved. One employee commented, “we don’t do enough of this. Making this effort strikes us all in a different way. I recognized someone I went to high school with … years go by and life is different. I’m glad I went.”

Owner Steve gave his day to Canadian Mental Health. Owner Paul went to Big Brothers.

Everybody was paid for their day’s work. That’s one way they got paid. As a company, the rewards were much greater. “People are always a little bit hesitant when you suggest something like this, but once they went out and worked, we got amazing feedback from some of the employees,” reports Steve.

The long-term employees are accustomed to their company’s commitment throughout the year to both Big Brothers/Big Sisters and to United Way. But an email from a newer employee lets the owners know they’ve created a community within the walls of their business. The employee expressed gratitude for the birthday idea, and for the many joint activities the company offers.

“There isn’t one person who didn’t come back in awe of the whole day,” says Steve.

Thanks, Innovative Automation! And, happy birthday!

Donna Douglas is a Barrie writer, available through www.donnadouglas.com