Leadership at Special-Lite opens the door to engagement

STORY 269 MAGAZINE

At Special-Lite’s headquarters in Decatur, Michigan, CEO Henry L. Upjohn II is a regular sight on the production floor. A visionary in both leadership and engineering, he has played a pivotal role in the history of this entryway manufacturer. Not only has Upjohn personally designed many of the specialty machines and unique manufacturing methods that give Special-Lite doors their unshakeable quality, but he has also engineered the positive work culture that sustains his staff.

The key to Special-Lite’s success may indeed be Upjohn’s hands-on management style. “He’s really involved in Research and Development. Typically, he’s out in the tool room, right in there with those guys working on machinery,” says David Glynn, Director of Administration. Although he still has a hand in inventing mechanical innovations, Henry’s main area of focus is getting to know every employee personally. “I think many people thrive on it. They like being able to talk to him, because he’s down to earth and easy to talk to,” says Glynn, “I think having that presence here for them is just reassuring. Everyone can see that he’s engaged, he’s part of the process, and part of us.”

This engaged leadership is the driving force behind the palpably positive culture at Special-Lite—every team member knows that management has their best interests in mind. For instance, Upjohn understands the burden that excess rules and regulations can have on his employees: He has done away with the timeclock and entrusts everyone to be responsible for their own work.

Although the company’s leadership works tirelessly to improve the day-to-day experience of every team member, their futures are also taken to heart. By investing in workplace culture and the overall financial wellbeing of its employees, Special-Lite simultaneously invests in its own future.

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