WATERLOO — Ronan Industries Inc. may manufacture wood shipping and packaging materials, but what it builds is better people, said John Flessner.

“I have witnessed the company grow. ...They have never lost focus on the care of the personnel,” said Flessner in nominating Ronan Industries as a Courier Employer of Choice.

Founded in 1999, Ronan Industries designs and manufactures wood shipping packaging and containers for wholesale clients. Flessner has been at the company for 10 years. In that time, he’s witnessed the company’s growth, with added employees and expansion to two facilities.

Founder Ronan Schwickerath emphasizes teamwork and steady improvement.

“We try to create an atmosphere that is positive and always pushing to make things better,” he explained. “Our management team is very involved in the day to day operations so they are working directly with the employees building morale and continuous improvements.”

Schwickerath and his wife, Lisa, set the tone by creating a positive, close-knit workplace.

“I believe it is important to be part of something; that’s how we socialize,” said Schwickerath. “Maintaining this in the workplace keeps everyone involved and makes it a positive atmosphere.”

As a result, team-building happens on and off the clock, with small events, lunches, hockey games, and even comedy shows for employees.

“I think they really enjoy these times,” said Schwickerath.

The camaraderie extends to how employees interact with each other, customers and the community.

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“The best thing about Ronan Industries is that our employees care about our customers and vendors like we do ourselves,” he said. “If they have an emergency, we pull together and make it our emergency.”

To find new talent, the company foregoes traditional advertising, Schwickerath explained. Instead, the company opts for individual interactions.

Schwickerath believes that’s the best way to communicate what it’s like to work at Ronan Industries.

“We use recruiters, ... so we get a one-on-one with each new employee before they start,” he explained.

Existing employees receive annual performance reviews and also have opportunities for cross-training.

When it came to compensation, Schwickerath drew on his own experiences to develop the company’s salary and benefits packages.

“In the very beginning, I always wanted to make sure the employees always had insurance and benefits,” he said.

Ronan Industries offers health, dental, optical, and accident insurance, and there is an IRA plan for employees who have worked there two or more years.

Another benefit is Schwickerath’s kindness, said Flessner.

“They are very good about helping employees better themselves (and) show compassion for those employees who are struggling financially,” he said. “The bottom line is that Ronan has a good heart and does what he can to give back to his employees and the community.”

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