Tuthill Exists to Wake the World

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Tuthill Exists to Wake the World

Andy Swindler
Conscious businesses prosper through purpose-driven people-first practices, but many still struggle to tell their courageous stories. I help connect the dots.

We’ve told many stories about companies that are working toward creating a sustained and impactful inspiration in the workplace. Now we’d like to tell you about a company that has been on their journey for quite some time now: Tuthill.

And even though they have made amazing progress, Tuthill would be the first to tell you that they may never reach their final destination. That’s because this is a company that dares to dream big. It’s also a company that illustrates all five stages we’ve talked about in this book: Believe, Discover, Ignite, Engage and Impact.

But first, I want you to imagine a brick company so concerned about its employees’ health that it purchased the patent for a steam-powered truck to help ease their workload. Pretty remarkable, especially when you realize they utilized these trucks over a hundred years ago to save the lives of their employees with four legs, not two. That’s right, Tuthill, one of today’s leading manufacturers of industrial pumps, implemented steam-powered trucks to save the hearts of the horses that hauled heavy loads of clay from the quarry.

Now that’s putting heart in your work.

 

Believe

Ever since James B. Tuthill founded his company in 1892, Tuthill has worked to blend traditional manufacturing with current ideas about people. And while they’re happy to talk about what their company sells, they are even more excited to talk about what it believes. And they don’t stop there. Tuthill uses their beliefs to have a positive impact on others by inviting them to come alive.

Part of the reason that Tuthill can embrace what it believes so confidently is because they have always been a family owned business.  And for more than a century, their company has been concerned about their employees. Current and 4th generation owner, Jay Tuthill, remembers his father as a stern, stoic businessman with a huge heart and a soft spot for human dignity. He was concerned about everything – even what the bathrooms were like.

Tuthill Corporation: Wake the World

In 2005 Jay decided he wanted to take his company’s respect for human dignity a step further and create a space for the heart to thrive. He realized that his company was more than just a way to make money – it was his whole family’s legacy. He also realized that their legacy expands beyond one lifetime. When he looked hundreds of years into the future he asked himself, what do I want left behind? Chad Gabriel, Tuthill’s Director of Seismic Branding, explained it this way, “It took quite a leap of faith to invest in discovering our purpose, but Tuthill did it and they haven’t looked back since.”

In fact, they spend more time looking forward than backward. To help ensure their family legacy continues into the future with the 5th generation, Jay’s son, Andy, is currently learning the business working at Tuthill’s Springfield, MO, factory. He was also involved in the creation of their Compass. When Andy steps into the leadership at Tuthill, he will be able to carry on the Tuthill legacy of living their values.

Why do they do this? They do this because Tuthill truly believes it has a responsibility to wake the world and they take that responsibility very seriously. One of their first steps toward finding their higher purpose was to become a dedicated conscious company in 2005.

The journey of a conscious company starts with conscious leaders. While Tuthill considers all its people to be leaders, CEO Tom Carmazzi still must set the stage and lead by example. He said, “What I like about aliveness is it combines two aspects/pillars of conscious company: awareness and responsibility.” As Chad put it, “A conscious leader is fully aware and awake to what is, while being responsible and at choice for creating what she or he wants.”

When Tuthill first began to focus on what it believes, its vision statement had three bullets: Build a Great Company; Grow Healthy Families; and Have a Seismic Impact on Our World. They understood what was needed for the first two, but the third point had them stumped. How exactly were they going to have a seismic impact on our world? When Chad joined the brand team in 2011, he was charged with finding a better way to express their purpose. Chad and his team began searching for answers, but it wasn’t until they started asking the question “Why?” that they found what they were looking for.

 


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Discover

In 2014 when Tuthill set off on their voyage to discover their Why, they didn’t know exactly what their destination would be. They felt that the vision, mission, values and brand that they had been using since 2005 was fundamental to their culture and operations, but perhaps too vague. “Some folks got it and some didn’t,” Tom said. “We felt as if there had to be a way to bring it more and more to life, so it is something that people can actually take ownership of and really feel a part of it.”

They realized it was time to evolve and widen their aspirations. It was time to head toward their north star and look for a goal that was so ambitious it might never be reached, but would keep them from becoming too complacent and settling for a goal that didn’t expand their horizons.

Chad picked up the story from there, “We enhanced our goals to include our purpose and words like ‘love.’ This was a big deal in Tuthill’s existence and we wanted to emphasize this in a big way. We called this enhancement to our vision, mission, values, and brand the Compass because it guides us on our journey.” Tuthill keeps their compass with them at all times (they even made a pocket guide!) because it always points them in the right direction in case they are ever blown off course. Finally, after a long journey of exploration, Tuthill found their Why, which is wake the world.

Tuthill Corporation Mabbly Interns - Wake the World

Simply put, their Why clearly expresses what Tuthill believes their business is all about. It is simple, genuine and aspirational, and it shows an authentic desire to enhance the good of the people within their influence. It also reflects their belief that companies are responsible for making a positive difference in the world.

And the best part is, their Why was already there – they just had to find it.

Part of the process of moving toward their higher purpose is looking backward at the history of their company. When Jay and his team looked back, they discovered that Tuthill has always put heart into everything they do – from the very beginning when Tuthill found ways to save horses’ lives to the present where they are inspiring aliveness in their employees’ through conscious company culture. Tuthill has always been focused on creating a space for the heart to thrive.

One thing they didn’t do was worry about getting it right the first time. They didn’t want to spend time iterating endlessly until the cows came home.  It was time to stop rethinking, rewording and rewriting. It was time move on, focusing on excellence versus perfection. The important thing was to stay flexible and be open to new ideas as they went along, even if that meant giving up something they were attached to.

Their journey hasn’t always been easy, but they persevered. In late 2008 the company hit hard times and Jay was advised to cut their conscious company investment. He said that it was out of the question and they kept going and growing.

 

Ignite

After Tuthill crafted its purpose statement, they set about finding a way to ignite their Why within their company.

The question was: how do they get everyone to care about (and want to share) their Why? And beyond that, how do they ignite a long-term passion that keeps them going over the long haul and leads to innovation.

Culture is the culmination of what we do based on what we believe and Tuthill wanted to develop a culture of believers. They were also trying to find clarity in the direction they wanted to go and align their employees behind it, welcoming their input in that direction.

The first step was to wake their employees and so they started with this question: Each of us living, but are we truly alive? On a superficial level, they could have focused on incredible teamwork or unmatched service or amazing products. All of these are vital and lift a person’s sense of purpose at work, but they decided to go deeper and focus on the people themselves. So Tuthill invested deeply in the personal development of their team members.

At first they met some resistance because their employees were attached to the old language of values. And while everyone was readily willing to work on making company pumps, some weren’t as willing to work on their own pumps — their hearts — and to work on becoming more alive. It took a while for people to realize that it wasn’t about changing everything. It was about enhancing what they already had.

Tuthill had started conscious leadership retreats in 2004 to help their employees find clarity and responsibility because without those, life can seem like a random walk. Their new Why of wake the world was discovered in 2014 and clarified Tuthill’s stand for aliveness that had existed throughout its history. This is giving them an opportunity to enhance their retreats to inspire and wake their people. It also gave them a place where they could realize what they already have and where they wanted to go next. As Chad Gabriel puts it, “We create the space for the heart to thrive.” His favorite part is seeing people come alive during these retreats. “It’s a life shifting event,” he says.

In the beginning not everyone saw it that way. During the first retreat that Chad co-facilitated at the front of the room, someone asked, “So when are we going to get to the work training?” At that point, it hit Chad that “This is far from work training — this is life training.” He went on to say that they can choose to apply these awareness tools anywhere. They just need to practice and realize that no one’s an expert. As Chad said, “This is a life journey and we’re always on it.”

Not everyone was ready to change and some people left the company. Others reevaluated their lives and left so they could concentrate on things more important than work, such as family. To Tom Carmazzi, this meant the program was a success. It tightened Tuthill’s culture around their now well-defined Why and values, which naturally led to some people deciding they didn’t want to be part of that culture.

When Tom was asked which of the 700 team members get to attend these retreats, he smiled and said, “It’s not an org. chart thing. We’re all leaders in our own way and so from the shop leader on the floor to guys like me, we want us all to have that experience and really unleash that inner aliveness because it’s in each and every one of us.” Tuthill describes aliveness as “An energy, a belief and a way of life that brings passion to everything we do.” So far Tuthill has helped more than 500 team members explore how to be themselves and be awake to their individual lives.

Tuthill believes that the work we need to survive (the ego) should not overshadow the rest of our lives (the soul). Or to paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emerson, it’s through man’s actions that his soul appears. While balance between the ego and soul is important, Tuthill doesn’t want their workers to become too comfortable and complacent and stop growing. The way they see it, a person can be alive without being effective. Similarly, one can be effective without being alive.  But the sweet spot for growth is through activities that inspire both simultaneously, and to create a balance between the comfort of knowing and the discomfort of learning and growing.

Tom gave us a great example of what this means. He said, “Each year I conduct ‘Business Updates’ at all our locations, for all employees. Three years ago during one of these updates, I had the Poem on the screen and I asked if anyone would volunteer to read it. Someone did. When they finished I asked: ‘what’s here for YOU in this poem?’ The spirit of this question is for folks to truly reflect on what is written in the poem and how does that relate to their lives. Usually, this starts slowly, but I am patient. On this day, the silence lasted a little longer than normal, when suddenly, an operator from the factory says: ‘When I read this poem I think of a bright light which is me. In the top part of the poem there is a barrel over me that hides my bright light so no one can see who I really am. In the bottom part of the poem I take my barrel off and let my light shine.’ You could have heard a pin drop! I was touched by his courage to speak authentically in a very diverse audience.”

In other words, we don’t just come to work — WE COME ALIVE.

Employees come alive

Success in business requires more than inspiration and purpose. A successful business must consistently apply attention to improve how it delivers value to its stakeholders. Tuthill developed the Tuthill Business System (TBS) as a clear commitment to be process-based, to be a “lean” organization focused on continuous improvement and to become better at what it does each and every day.

TBS begins by listening to the “Voice of the Customer” to determine what they value and remove all waste that hinders the delivery of that value. Although this sounds simple, it is the relentless pursuit of waste that becomes the challenge. Tuthill strives for excellence in everything they do: from the genesis of an idea for a new product to the introduction of that product; from the receipt of an order to shipment of the related product; and from delivery of the original unit to follow-up parts and service. TBS is modeled after the Toyota Production System and has been popularly described as Lean, Kaizen, TQM, etc.

How does all this relate to making industrial pumps? Tuthill’s first pump actually came out of that steam-powered truck that saved the lives of horses, creating innovation from empathy. It was a lubrication pump called L-Series, which is manufactured in Alsip, IL, and used in applications for lubricating equipment such as wind turbines. To this day Tuthill’s product innovations all begin with heart.

 

Engage

“One by one we become many and a work force becomes a life force.”

I couldn’t have said it better.

Wake the world is not only aspirational — it’s inspirational. Now that Tuthill had awakened a feeling of being alive in their employees, it was time to share that passion with the world and put it to good purpose. They began looking for ways to share their Why with people outside their company — people who may never have heard of Tuthill and didn’t know anything about their company (nor would ever be a prospect customer), but who needed someone to ignite their heart with a spark to help them come alive and embrace the rare gift of life we each have.

Tuthill’s belief in “a life full of curiosity, clarity, grit, grace, gratitude and love” brought them this far. The challenge now was to expand that vision and take it to the world.

Tuthill realized the methods they used to ignite their employees wouldn’t work outside their company. Going from 700 to 7 billion would take some time and they were going to have to come up with new ways of doing things. But to start, wake the world meant anything they could do to get their stories out of their four walls.

Tuthill is our star example of a company that infuses its Why into all of its engagement with the world through marketing and media. This is rare. Most companies are at a much earlier stage of this journey, perhaps just beginning to discover their Why, much less igniting their culture and putting purpose at the core of all external communications. We’ll share other examples of companies with different Why’s to give a broader sense of how to engage the market with your own stories, which likely won’t be quite as ambitious as Tuthill.

Again Tuthill didn’t worry about getting it right right away. They watched what they created unfold and, if it wasn’t what they intended, they took a closer look at their options and choices and changed course as needed. They learned and iterated.

Tuthill assembled a team with people from every part of their business including customers, employees and board members. Then they asked these stakeholders “If you could support any type of organization, what would it be?” They used those responses and developed a set of criteria to help decide which organizations they wanted to support. The organizations they chose had to have a global (or at least national) reach and opportunities for employees to engage in a personal way. The last thing they wanted was just to write a check.

They soon discovered that their employees love supporting organizations centered around cancer, children and veterans. They wanted to start with one cause partner, so they chose Team Rubicon, a veteran based disaster response volunteer organization that stands for aliveness in the literal sense. They exist to reduce the alarming number of daily veteran suicides by helping them to rediscover their sense of self-worth, purpose, and community.

The cause partner funnel contains about 28 future partner options. It was created after the partnership with Team Rubicon was initiated and Tuthill is looking to form two more (three total) by 2021. In the meantime, they’re trying to figure out what they have to offer these groups. Tuthill wants to work with organizations that have a variety of needs so everyone can find a way to help.

By August of 2015 Tuthill was ready to share their plans to wake the world with the rest of the world. They held multiple purpose launch events throughout the company. They announced their purpose and Jay shared stories of their history and how they got to where they were that day. Tom shared stories of their journey and unveiled the Compass to talk about their journey forward. Then they launched programs for employees to engage with Team Rubicon and invited them to join.

Tuthill realized that if they’re going to wake the world, they might need a little help. And since they believe that people are responsible for making a difference in the world, who better to help spread their message than other organizations including Lou Malnati’s, Camp Kesem, various universities and the Conscious Capitalism group.

Engagement is key

To show how serious they are, in 2011 they launched Awaken U to share their ideas with like-hearted people who want to explore Tuthill’s journey and possibly embark on a journey of their own or share the journey Tuthill is on. Those who attend Awaken U help each other discover more about consciousness and explore everything from improving company process to challenging employees to discovering their passions. Tuthill is working to build relationships in the conscious community and with like-hearted leaders so that when the doors open to the public, there’s an interest in it.

Another way Tuthill engages the world is through their purpose portal, WakeTheWorld.com. On the site, they explain conscious culture and generously share a set of  tools they’ve developed to promote dialogue and to show how everyone can be a conscious leader in life. These tools are: Policy Deployment, Learning Zones, Designed Partnerships, Aliveness-Effectiveness Matrix, Radical Responsibility Wheel, Trickster’s Triangle and Performance Excellence. WakeTheWorld.com also shares information about their cause partnership with Team Rubicon and provides a way for others to become involved.

Tuthill says, “We want to unleash the individual greatness in people. This is done intentionally through retreats, education, tools, structures, dialogue and most importantly, modeling the behaviors we want as we create the uncommon work environment we love so much. The creation of a conscious company that will wake the world does not happen by accident. In fact, it takes a lot. Even some math: Awareness + Choice + Responsibility = Aliveness”

Tuthill is always on the lookout for new ways to reach out. They’re thinking about launching “Aliveness Day” as a fun new holiday about being alive. They’re not sure what will happen, but as Chad says, “That’s the fun part.”

Tuthill is just getting started and it will be fascinating to see what other ideas they come up with. After all, when you set out to wake the world, anything is possible.

Or as Tuthill puts it, “We don’t just come to work, we come alive. And when we come alive, the world comes along.”

 

 

Impact

Tuthill is continuously measuring its impact and refining how it does this.

Chad explained, “Our impact is being measured by the number of employees engaged, the dollars raised/donated, and the number of events we participate in and/or organize. As of today, approximately 29% of our employees have participated in Team Rubicon activities. Momentum is building and more people are registering with Team Rubicon. We have appointed Team Rubicon Coordinators at four of our locations and are working with Team Rubicon to create engagement opportunities year-round. We’re still in the early stages and are focused on deepening this relationship with Team Rubicon. I am also looking ahead. In three to five years I can see us having a total of three cause partnerships active so that we can broaden the spectrum of opportunity for our employees to engage in waking the world. I want this connection from such an aspirational purpose to each and every employee to be known, even if they don’t choose to engage at this time. I’m looking for ways to improve this as we speak.”

“With this ‘secret sauce’ to power us forward,” Chad continued, “We know we’ll be an ingenious company that supports flourishing families and spirited communities. To measure our progress towards becoming an ingenious company, we measure our economic performance against manufacturing companies that consistently rank in the top 1%. To measure our progress toward flourishing families and spirited communities, well, we’re still working on a good set of measurements. Suffice it to say, however, that we’ll be looking for progress toward our Vision — A legion of like-hearted people with astounding impact.”

This “sauce” is a very intentional blend of who we are and what we do. Conscious company is a journey — a journey committed to aliveness. Tuthill employees are invited to live into their personal greatness and to lend a helping hand to others so that they too can be great. Within a conscious company, we retain all the human frailties, but we recover from our mistakes quickly and positively.

And while Tuthill has always been focused on pumping heart into the world, it has never been about using their products to wake the world.  We’ve told stories about many great companies who use their products to engage the world. Lyric Opera uses art and BenchPrep uses computer software. It’s natural to want to use what you do well to make a difference.

We’ve also told you stories about great companies such as Artisan, who focus their Why on ways to help improve the lives of their employees and represented talent.

But Tuthill is unique because it doesn’t directly use its product (pumps) to engage the world and it doesn’t limit its engagement to just its employees, which are only one of its stakeholder groups. Tuthill’s far-sighted altruism is a good example of how a humanitarian focus can bring higher purpose to lives and increased profits for their company.

They are methodically laying the foundation for a community of like-hearted people to expand their impact to as many people as possible. In 2017 Tuthill plans to build a media hub, TheOriginalPump.com, which will serve as a digital destination to organize ideas and actions.

Tuthill realizes that they are on a never ending journey and there will probably never be a final destination. Once they get to the top of a hill and see where the road goes, they just keep going. Chad acknowledged, “At times it can seem overwhelming, but knowing we have support from one another, we continue to climb. We may never reach our aspirational goal in our lifetimes, but we are laying the foundation for future generations.”

One of the reasons we’re writing this book is to explore what kind of impact those of us in business can have on the world. Businesses wield an unmatched amount of power to do good in the world, and most aren’t living up to their potential.

During Tuthill’s discovery of their purpose, they explored the following questions: If Tuthill was gone tomorrow, what would the world miss about us? A competitor would probably take over making its pumps, but would those pumps fuel the heart like Tuthill does? Would that company be conscious of its impact on the world and actively seek ways to make the lives of its employees and the lives of people outside its company better? Would that company care about helping its employees come alive as much as it cares about making money?

Probably not, because Tuthill is on a journey of their own design and each company must make its own way down its own path. Yet while Tuthill is a one-of-a-kind company, it is not a once-in-a-lifetime company. As we have shown in this book, there are hundreds of companies whose unique experiences determine where their journey leads. Fortunately, there is plenty of room for thousands more to join them. The future of our world depends on it. As Chad reflected on this he said, “When I had my first son, I was questioning whether I could ever love my second son as much prior to his birth. It only took a fraction of a second of holding him in my arms to realize that love is an unlimited resource.”