The 33rd annual Silver Bells in the City Electric Light Parade is scheduled for November 17 and will air on FOX 47. We spoke with Tom Schultz, Chief Administrative Officer of Spartan Motors, about the company's sponsorship of this year's TV broadcast.
CIARA GARCHOW: Why is Spartan Motors sponsoring the Silver Bells in the City Electric Light Parade TV broadcast?
TOM SCHULTZ: We are very proud to be part of all of the great things going on in Lansing; we think it’s important to be a good corporate citizen. Our employee base is largely from the greater Lansing area and we've been very successful here; we appreciate the opportunity to give back to the community.
GARCHOW: What other community initiatives does Spartan Motors engage in here in Mid-Michigan?
SCHULTZ: Spartan is a proud supporter of the Charlotte community we call home. We take our role as the city’s largest private-sector employee seriously, so many of the initiatives and organizations we support are Charlotte-based. One of the most recent initiatives we participated in is Charlotte Rising, the community revitalization movement occurring in line with our governor’s Rising Tide initiative. Charlotte was recently chosen to receive funding to invest in the rebuilding and revitalization of its downtown district. We donated the first $30,000 as seed money to that organization.
Spartan Motors is a huge sponsor of AL!VE, Charlotte's community well-being center. Over a 10 year period, we will have donated $1 million to help bring that great center to Charlotte, Michigan.
Additionally, we make a sizeable annual contribution to the Charlotte Performing Arts Center, and support other community and educational initiatives on a regular basis through grants from The Spartan Motors Foundation.
Through our alliance with the Capital Area Manufacturing Council, we participate in Manufacturing Day, hosting area students at Spartan’s Charlotte campus for interactive tours and activities aimed at demonstrating that today’s manufacturing environment is clean, high tech, and an incredible career path for our young people.
Finally, we participate in the Lansing Area Economic Partnership (LEAP). Our CEO serves on many other Michigan-based associations as well.
GARCHOW: Are Spartan Motors employees encouraged to get involved in the community?
SCHULTZ: Yes, we definitely encourage our employees to get involved in many ways. For instance, for the Electric Light Parade, we have about a dozen employees who are going to prep our truck with nearly 10,000 lights. We also participate in the Charlotte Frontier Days and Celebrate Charlotte's Touch a Truck event, annually event.
In our facilities, Spartan Motors is a big sponsor of United Way, and all of our employees also contribute weekly into a fund for employee scholarships. They are rewarded for their donations by having the option to wear jeans to work.
We encourage local schools and colleges to tour Spartan Motors, especially for the STEM, to understand how great the jobs we have are and what kind of career they could have with us. It's pretty cool to build fire trucks, high-end motor homes, and the delivery trucks that we see every day in the community. We try to encourage the general public, and student groups especially, to come and see what we’re doing here and interact with our outstanding workforce of highly skilled, dedicated employees.
GARCHOW: Spartan Motors is in a major growth mode. Can you tell me a little about what that means for the company, the greater Lansing area and the workforce?
SCHULTZ: For us and our shareholders directly, it's awesome the stock that has grown by 300-400 percent within the last couple of years. So for all the people that believed in us, they are being rewarded mightily. As far as the workforce goes, we are very proud to have this Lansing area workforce in Charlotte, a lot of skilled trades resulting from General Motors. And from that we get a lot of great workers to engineer, design, and manufacture the world's best fire trucks, motor home chassis, commercial delivery vehicles, and more. We are really able to draw on the Lansing work ethic and hardworking farming background, which not only created a great workforce, it’s by and large what has made Spartan successful.
GARCHOW: What are some things that people in Mid-Michigan might not know about Spartan Motors?
SCHULTZ: Spartan Motors is a preferred employer and we've been successful in bringing people from all over the United States, not just Michigan, into the Lansing area. These folks are not only great workers, but they are also great contributors to various parts of the Lansing area. We are very proud of having that ability to draw great qualified people into Michigan the way we do as a preferred employer.
You asked what people may not know, and if they haven’t been paying attention, they really should know that we’re changing. Spartan Motors today is not the same organization it was five years ago. Today, we’re hungry, we’re more and more successful each day, and we’re making great choices for the business and for our employees.
I really believe that the driving force behind the change of Spartan Motors has been our new CEO and President, Daryl Adams. Daryl comes from an automotive background and has brought a lot of that discipline, rigor, and overall management and leadership ability to Spartan Motors. It brings Spartan on top of people's charts now as far as an employer of choice and a great stock to buy.
To learn more about Spartan Motors careers and initiatives, click here.