Our core values — family, respect, partnership, integrity and improvement — define our company culture and guide every aspect of our business, including our employees. We believe that every employee “makes their mark” on a company and should be empowered to make decisions and have an impact on our business. Dedicated to continuous improvement and professional development, we provide our employees with opportunities to grow in their careers and within our business.
“I started at JBI Spray Booths as a metal fabricator in 1999. When we were acquired by Curran Group, we started looking at advancements in the machines we were using. We purchased a turret machine, and I ran it before I started programming the turrets in the CNC programming department.
An opportunity arose for an industrial sales estimator, and I applied. I got the job in the industrial department and eventually became the Canadian sales manager. That job led me to selling automotive refinish truck paint booths in Canada as well, and I eventually became the truck sales manager in the refinish department. Today, I manage auto refinish national accounts, Canadian sales, East Coast distribution and major truck accounts, such as Penske.
GFS has given me a gift in the ability to grow. If I didn’t know something, the company would let me learn it and give me time to learn it. GFS gave me confidence and helped me grow as a person. Working here has made me a better person and made me believe in what I can do.”
Mike Falkner, Purchasing Specialist
“In 2014, I was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma cancer, which had spread from my back to the lymph nodes of my arm. It required me to undergo chemotherapy treatment for one year, which isn’t always the easiest task when working a full-time job. I continued to work at GFS throughout the treatment, and GFS supported me every step of the way.
It wasn’t until after I was done with chemo that my surgeon made me realize how much the community within our company had helped me survive. He smiled and said to me, ‘Do you realize that you have done what most people can’t do? Complete treatment.’ Then one of the nurses told me it takes two things to get through treatment — a positive attitude and a strong support mechanism. I never looked at it like that. My family, friends and the support system that GFS provided me really helped me through.
I communicated with some of the people on the We Care committee, and there were a handful of people who I didn’t work with day in and day out who would check on me often. Even Larry Will, our COO, would come and plow my driveways in the winter. Given a bad situation, the number of people who came out and showed themselves was an awesome feeling.
Not everyone has as strong of a support system like I did. When you stop and look, the network of support that GFS offers is pretty impressive. What the people here have done to support me and the GFS core value of family is unbeatable.
I love this photo of us all coming together, and it shows the kickoff of our internal We Care committee, which puts on different programs and fundraising efforts to help employees in times of need due to illness or natural disasters.”
Pam Berg-Merritt & Carla Gunderson, Accounting
They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case, that village is our accounting department. With tenure up to 35 years, the ladies of GFS accounting have watched — and helped — each other’s kids grow up. From building Valentine’s Day boxes in elementary school to helping plan graduation parties, these women have helped plan and execute everything from family functions to their kids’ weddings over the years.
The accounting group has more than 170 years of combined service with GFS. In fact, almost half of the accounting department’s employees have been with the company since it was known as JBI Spray Booths. Throughout that time, they have created more than 20 years of inside jokes, including Jill-isms and Pam-isms, but the unwavering support from each other, as well as GFS, has kept them feeling like a family.
“GFS has provided us the flexibility to get our work done, whether at home or in the office, during the week or on the weekend,” Pam Berg-Merritt said. “You want to feel like someone’s got your back, and sometimes it really comes down to family first.”
“If things come up and life happens, we are cross-trained enough to be able to cover other people’s work so they can focus on their family,” Carla Gunderson said. “You know somebody will have your back.”
Cory Hestekin, Receiving Lead
“In February 2019, I took a week of vacation for the birth of my son, Carter. He wasn’t breathing well and was later diagnosed with RSV. We then had to take him to the ER, where he was taken to Rochester by ambulance where he stayed for a week. He spent four days in the pediatric ICU, then another day of recovery in their normal pediatric unit. The airways to his right lung were completely closed from RSV and pneumonia, forcing him to be hooked up to a breathing machine. At this point, I was running out of vacation time, and I didn’t know what to do. After talking with my supervisors, they told me not to worry about work and take the time I needed to be with my family. The team really rallied together and took over my responsibilities in the receiving department so I could focus on my family during this difficult time. They also got us a really nice gift (pictured). We truly are one family, and I’m glad GFS truly values this at its core.
Michael Tonn, IT Intern
“I started at Global Finishing Solutions in 2011. I was 15 years old and needed a summer job. My uncle worked in the design department at the time, and he told me they needed help in the IT department, working with computers and printers. My grandma worked in IT at United Bank in Osseo, and that’s where I originally got a passion for computers. I continued to work at GFS a couple days per week during the school year, gaining more and more experience. After graduation, I attended CVTC, and GFS helped me with my tuition. Once I received my generals, I transferred to UW-Eau Claire where I will graduate in December with a degree in Management Information Systems. GFS not only continued to help me with tuition reimbursement, but they offered me the flexibility to work part time around my school schedule and full time throughout the summer. At GFS, I have worked with a wide variety of technology. We’re definitely above the threshold in the area. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the flexibility, work experience and financial assistance from GFS to get my degree.”
Amy McCune, Service Coordinator
“My husband, Brent, and I work for Global Finishing Solutions, and being active in our community is extremely important to both us. We work here, go to church here and raise our child here. The great thing about GFS is that they truly abide by the company core value of partnership. Not only do they encourage us to get involved in the community, they allow us the support and flexibility necessary to make it happen.
Through GFS’ employee-run committees, I am involved in many activities and fundraisers throughout the community. I serve on the We Care Committee — which raises funds for employees in times of need due to prolonged illness or natural disasters. I also serve on the Charitable Donations Committee — which provides monetary donations, scholarships and custom-made fire rings for community events, fundraisers, silent auctions and more.
GFS has supported me personally as well, allowing me the time and flexibility to participate in many community outreach initiatives, such as mentoring a local child with special needs. Brent also benefits from the flexibility, and is able to coach baseball in the summers.
GFS is the largest employer in the community, and they have done a great job of building and maintaining the bridge connecting us. For instance, GFS provided a $500 donation to purchase coats, snow pants and boots for local children in need of warm winter clothing. The donation was able to clothe all 47 children in need.
I love what I do internally at GFS, and I love what I get to do externally on behalf of GFS. If you can combine those two things, that’s partnership.”
Tim Urness & Corey Olson, Welding/Manufacturing
In an effort to minimize the increasing labor gap in manufacturing careers, GFS partnered with area high schools to begin a welding mentorship program. It didn’t take long for GFS welders Tim Urness and Corey Olson to jump on the opportunity to give back to the community and provide local high school students with an opportunity to learn from and work alongside industry professionals.
Both Tim and Corey began at GFS as Welder Is with little experience in the field. Today, both work as Welder IIIs and share many years of experience with GFS. Recently, Tim and Corey shared the skills and knowledge they have accumulated over the years with the next generation of welders — Tim at Osseo-Fairchild High School, and Corey at Alma-Center High School. They spent a semester alongside both schools’ welding students, giving them industry skills and experience beyond what the traditional classroom can provide.
“Seeing students open up and become willing to learn and adjust to new techniques I was teaching them was really neat,” said Corey. “I have enjoyed everything about my career in welding, and being able to pass my skills on to eager students was a rewarding experience.”
“My advice to students on their journey toward a career in welding is to go to college and get all the education you possibly can,” Tim said. “They should also research and explore all types of welding-related career opportunities before settling on one.”
Al Swett & Terry Rue, Volunteer Firefighters
Before Terry Rue and Al Swett joined GFS in 1990 and 2003 respectively, they also served as volunteers for the Osseo Rural Fire Department. While there have been many changes since the beginning of their careers — including a name change from JBI to GFS — what has remained constant is their dedication to the fire department, as well as GFS’ commitment to honoring and supporting our first responders.
In a rural community like Osseo, Wisconsin, individuals who are sent to an emergency scene are not paid for their time. The local fire department consists of volunteers with full-time jobs who sacrifice their time, safety and — many times — pay to help those in a crisis.
Fortunately, GFS employees do not have to decide between responding to an emergency call and having a career. From the manufacturing floor, where you can find Al and firefighter-in-training Cory Lange, to the office, where Terry works in design, all were quick to mention the positive role GFS plays in allowing them to balance both their day job and volunteer firefighting efforts.
According to Terry, “There has never been a time we have been told we can’t leave or respond to an emergency call. Many companies won’t let their employees leave until they have been paged multiple times by the fire department, but at GFS, we can take off as soon as we are needed.”
Not only does GFS give their employees the flexibility to respond, firefighters are also offered up to four hours a month of paid reimbursement for their service. They are able to personally manage their workload around the training and other commitments necessary to be a firefighter.
“My boss has allowed me the ability to manage my weekly work schedule so I can take Wednesday afternoons off to perform fire inspections around town,” said Terry. “It’s important that I’m able to control when I get my work done so I can still do these important inspections for our community.”
GFS also financially supports the Osseo Fire Department, especially with the fire department’s recent relocation to a new facility only a block from GFS headquarters.
“GFS helped with the purchase of both Jaws of Life and ropes equipment,” said Al. “Our Charitable Donations committee even made it possible to purchase new appliances for the kitchen at the new fire department.”
GFS understands the sacrifices first responders make and the essential role they play in the community they serve. Because of this, it remains a top priority that GFS employees who are first responders are allowed the flexibility and support necessary to continue their efforts.
Jason Garfoot, Senior Technical Advisor
“I started at GFS in 2016, shortly before the Center for Excellence training facility opened. We planned to use the training facility for GFS product demonstrations and training, but it has turned into so much more.
Around the same time, GFS launched REVO Accelerated Curing Systems in the United States. It was unclear how the short wave electric infrared curing technology would react with all of the different paint brands, since each paint acts a little differently.
To assist with testing, I reached out to all of the major paint companies. Once they found out what we were doing with the Center for Excellence, they all wanted to partner with us. It was a great way for them to get in front of customers, as well as do product testing of their own. Word spread and our relationships with the paint companies strengthened. We started teaching painter certification classes together, as well as showing customers new products together.
We keep everything open and honest, which is in line with our other core values as well. Any time we start a new partnership with a paint or tool company, we are upfront with them. If customers ask us if something works, we tell them the truth. It has promoted itself.
Once we started partnering with more and more companies, our distributors also started taking note. The working body shop environment at the Center for Excellence allows our distributors to show customers GFS products in real-time.
I never thought that this position would turn into what it is, but I love it. It’s different every day.”
Tyler Christianson, Machine Operator II
“Over the past six years, I have moved up from an Assembler on the Oven Line to a Machine Operator, and most recently, a Brake Press Operator. When production was slow one day this year, our lead, Gary, asked for volunteers to help a neighboring company, Titan Air. We were working four, nine-hour days, with four hours on Fridays, whereas Titan employees were working five, 10-hour days, plus Saturdays — you could say they were pretty busy. I volunteered, and so did my coworker, Sam. We helped them in the assembly of Air Make-Up Units (AMUs). Every so often, some of our welders went over to help out as well. Not only was it cool to see other processes and ways of doing things, it was cool to see how the AMUs we use on our own paint booths get made. I’m glad we were able to help out another company, and they were more than accommodating. They did an excellent job at making us feel important and included. They even invited us to their company golf outing and gave us Titan Air baseball caps for helping out.”
Mike Ausen, Planning Manager
Our commitment to “people first” works from the inside out. The dignity and courtesy we extend to our family of employees carries on to our customers, business associates and vendors. This is especially true for Mike Ausen, GFS’ Planning Manager.
Mike works with nearly every department of the company — through sales, design, engineering, purchasing, programming, manufacturing and shipping — to coordinate jobs and meet our customers’ expectations.
“Mike always has a what-can-we-do attitude, instead of a we-cannot-do-that attitude. Even when the project schedule puts pressure on the team as a whole, Mike treats everyone with respect, not letting the pressure get to him.” — Stephanie Risch, Quality Specialist
“Through all phone calls, meetings, spreadsheet updates, project scheduling and sometimes rescheduling, Mike maintains a positive, cheerful attitude. I appreciate his hard work!” — Pam Graham, Sales Support Supervisor
“Mike always puts the GFS team first. He is a great leader who is very open and listens to everyone to make the best decision for the customer.” — Jim Faragher, President
Vern Larson, Machine Operator II
“All of the folks that I work with and have worked with over the last 21 years at GFS are family. I have the best job in the company — I get to run the plasma table. I am creating and cutting products or parts for folks to be able to build our products. In order for them to do a good job, I need to do a good job. And that’s part of respect.
Another part of respect is knowing we work better together. As soon as you think you know something, you don’t know anything. When we put our knowledge together, then we know something. If I have a question on a drawing, I come out and talk to a drafter personally. Because I’ve treated them with respect, we can get something done. With shared information and working together, we can be better.
When you build relationships, it’s like living the golden rule — treat them how you’d like to be treated. We have to fill the needs of production, so we may need to stop what we’re doing to help out, and that’s respect, too — making sure people can count on you.”
Stephanie Risch, Project Coordinator
“I started with GFS eight years ago in the project management group as a project coordinator. My role was different every day, based on the needs of the individual project, customer, project manager and daily situations. The project management group is very cross-functional, which helped me grow. I enjoyed interacting with many different departments and learning how things flow through the company.
As our company grew, an opportunity arose to be on our internal business process improvement (BPI) team. I liked watching the cross-functional team truly work together as a whole. Relationships that are created through that process improve the company, and strengthen the appreciation and respect we have for each other.
Recently, I moved back into the project management group, working with our industrial and aerospace teams. I am excited to help the team and add value by stepping back into my project coordinator role.
Project management requires employees from many different departments to collaborate and give the customer what they need and want. Deadlines and customer requirements often raise tension and stress levels, but ultimately, everyone is working toward the same goal. We all work together, which shows respect for fellow coworkers. Communication helps drive that respect.”
Sandra Chacon, Sr. Sales Support Representative
“I’ve been with GFS for 14 years. I started at GFS’ facility in Mexico and worked there for six years. When we got notified that the Mexico facility was shutting down, they offered jobs for both me and my husband at GFS’ headquarters in Osseo, Wisconsin. At that time, crime was starting to get really bad in Mexico, so my husband and I took the opportunity for our family and careers. We knew that our girls would grow up in a safe environment in Osseo. We also knew that GFS is a good company, and we liked the people. I knew most of the people in Osseo because I worked with them on a daily basis as the production scheduler for our automotive refinish business unit.
The job I took was in the industrial sales department. It was a change, learning to use our system in a different way and selling a different product line. They were really patient with me, and treated me with respect, explaining new things to me as many times as needed. The team is great, and I love working with them. My transition was really smooth, and my daughters adjusted really quickly because they were so young.”
Will McFadden, Sr. Mechanical Engineer
“I started working on the paint line at DeVilbiss while I went to school. When they merged with Blowtherm, I was hired as an engineer. Since the Team Blowtherm merger with JBI that created Global Finishing Solutions, I am now the primary mechanical engineer for our refinish product line. I work from our Barrie office in Ontario, so I communicate daily with our design, engineering and refinish sales departments. Communication is key, and the other big factor is trust. Although there have been many changes and mergers through the years, what has kept me with GFS is that it is a company that practices what it preaches in terms of their core values. Leadership means what they say, and I have seen them be flexible with people’s hours. They’re there for people when they’re sick or have children who are sick; that’s the big difference. You can go just about anywhere to find a job that is mentally stimulating, but the other side of that is knowing the company will be there for you when you need it.”
Jenna McCune, Sr. Sales Support Representative
“The supportive leadership I have had during my time at GFS has helped me grow as an individual and think outside the box, as well as given me the confidence to be comfortable in any situation. Being on the sales team can often be a delicate balance, but I see our team making the right decisions daily that reflect integrity and honesty — both for GFS and our customers. When I make purchases for myself, I look for the same traits that we practice every day at GFS. I’m honored to be a part of a team that truly cares about the customer and the products we provide.
I have found that honesty is the best policy and the best way to maintain accountability and trust. Even if difficult or awkward tasks arise, in my experience, honesty and directness build healthy working relationships. Everything falls together with ease. I always strive to have the right mindset, keep that honesty and honor our customers’ requirements, all while keeping the company’s best interest at heart. I am excited to come to work every day, to see what the day will bring and how I can use my skills to help us be successful. Integrity is a very important trait in my personal life, so it’s no wonder that I feel right at home at a company that also honors it.”
Carmen McRoberts, Controller
“A big part of accounting is ensuring the integrity of our processes and systems. Making sure we’re compliant with accounting principles and covering our customers, all while seeing the big picture for the company. I’m always open and honest, and I try to be professional about it. It’s not always the answer you want to hear, but I’m always honest.
Another part is giving credit where credit is due. I play a role, but it is our team as a whole that does amazing work. When you make a mistake, you own it and put steps in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We hold each other accountable and follow through on commitments.”
Michael Harrington, Field Installation Supervisor
“Integrity presents itself in a lot of ways. We could cut corners in a lot of areas to get things done faster and easier, but this often results in quality issues and negatively impacts the customer’s experience.
If we catch a flaw in the design, instead of installing it the wrong way, we take the time to talk to engineering to ensure our equipment is structurally sound and that we have all of the information we need. We make things right so that we deliver a good, quality product to our customers.
Another important aspect of integrity is following through on commitments to deadlines. The work we do — and where we do it — isn’t always easy. Right now, we’re working long hours every day in the cold, wind and rain. Everything we touch is wet and cold, and my team still shows up to work hard every day. It says a lot about the crew we have.”
Kent Olson, Olson Tire & Auto Service, Customer
“I’m really big on Wisconsin companies. I was serving on the Governor’s Council for Workforce Development when I came and toured Global Finishing Solutions. I was so impressed with the tour that I brought the Workforce Council here for our Workforce Investment Meeting. I liked GFS’ story and I liked their people, so I never even looked at their competitors.
We chose GFS equipment as an investment in our state and our communities. GFS has really stepped up to the plate and has been tremendous to work with. Any differences in vision has been overcome. This has been a success story of how working together and staying together can help build a community.”
Vince Barney, Operations Lead
“To me, integrity is making decisions for the right reasons, and not constantly changing your decision based on your workload or when no one is looking.
Our team shows integrity in the biggest way by maintaining quality. Often, we don’t have a lot of turnaround time to get things ready to go out the door, and it’s up to us to stop it if there’s an issue. I always try to put myself in a customer’s shoes — would I pay for this? Would I want it to show up like this? It’s important to make sure everything is right and looks nice for the customer before it leaves our facility.”
Adam King, Estimating Supervisor
“Improvement is understanding that failure is often an integral part of advancement and success when implementing process changes.Failure leads us to a deeper understanding of what’s going to work and what’s not going to work. Setting lofty goals that are hard to achieve can generate unexpected outcomes. If you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough to succeed and find those improvements.
“It’s human nature to have aversion to change. We all get comfortable in the day-to-day luxury of our thought process and the repetition of it. To get everyone to think outside of that comfort box, they need to be involved in the improvement process. Everyone needs to have a voice and be heard, and to feel like they’re not being spurned by the changes that are being made. Their thoughts and ideas for improvement are welcomed with open arms.
“Improvement means going above and beyond your typical workload. It is going to take extra hours, but that extra effort should eventually pay off, as the short-term sacrifices are going to be worth those long-term improvements and gains. And improvement must be a team effort. Wherever we want to go and whatever we want to do, we need each other to make it happen.
“When you have a heavy focus on improvement, you start to realize that it’s a never-ending process. Sometimes, you get caught up in, ‘What’s the next improvement we need to make? What’s the next step we have to take?’ But you also need to take the time to celebrate your wins and accomplishments.”
Alejandra Valverde, International Shipping
“Improvement has been a part of my life since I started working.When I moved from the Mexico office to the Osseo office eight years ago, I adopted a mindset of improvement, but it wasn’t as strong as it is now. Whatever you are doing, you have to do it better every time. That’s what improvement means to me. It’s not just doing something because you need to do it. It’s doing something because you need to do it well. Every time I have a chance to improve, I go for it.
“I participated in a project to reduce damage to shipping containers. When there is damage to something we ship overseas, the freight is expensive. I was part of a cross-functional team that developed work instructions to help reduce damages. Since we did that, we haven’t had any damages reported on overseas shipments in the past three years. We have had good feedback from customers, and we haven’t had any issues since then.
“I am not afraid of change. As the head of my family, I’ve always talked to my kids about how women are part of a new age in which we need to work, and we need to get better. We have the same capability as men. We must succeed, no matter what. No matter what activity you do, you have to do the best you can.”
Steve Love, Parts & Filters Sales Manager
“In order to improve something, you have to have the courage to make a change. It is easy to come up with ideas and suggestions, but it takes courage to grab that idea, that process, that change, and run with it, and see it through.
GFS does a fantastic job of instilling a culture of continuous improvement, and truly supporting whatever ideas our employees have.Continuous improvement is not a dirty phraseat GFS. I talk to my team constantly about challenging the status quo — questioning the why and the how. A lot of things could be streamlined. It could be a small program change that could save hours of time. The most rewarding part is showing the value in what you saved, whether it is for you or the entire group.
It goes back to recognizing and empowering my team. We are constantly challenging each other, but we are positive about it. We celebrate those small wins when we solve a problem or change a process. We have a 5/10 rule. If you have an issue and want to vent or complain, for five minutes, you can do that. But after that, you need 10 minutes of suggestions on how to fix it. Venting is helpful and feels good sometimes. But what can we do to fix it?
The fun part is discovering all the indirect things that you find while you go down that goal path. There are things you realize that you didn’t know. As you start to unearth those things,it broadens your understanding and really allows that idea stream to start flowing more and more.”
Chad Schneider, Continuous Improvement Process Manager
“Improvement is a practice — an optimistic, actionable approach to problem-solving. It’s being able to look at a situation and always wondering how to make it better. For me personally, it comes from a place of never being satisfied. There is never an end state. We can “complete” something and celebrate it, but it’s always having that hunger of striving to push ourselves and make people and processes better.
At GFS, we take a stair-step approach to improvement — every day, we move a little bit up by focusing on something small to improve. The higher you move up the stairs, the easier it is to see the long-term potential of those improvements.
We have implemented more than 100 improvement events throughout the time that I have been with GFS. What we have learned is that if we develop our people, the processes will take care of themselves. That’s why we focus on engaging and investing in people — coaching, training and learning from them, and the company will thrive off of that development. We are growing good problem solvers and leaders to be able to solve any issue, and continuously move forward.
GFS has provided me an avenue for growth that I don’t know that I would have gotten anywhere else. In quality, you often will be niched in one area, such as purchasing. In a lean, continuous improvement function, you need to be a jack of all trades, but a master of none. The focus is really on the people — to motivate, engage and help them.”
Jessica Leinon, Marketing Manager
“When I started at GFS more than 10 years ago, I worked with my boss at the time to kick off a lead management program. He not only encouraged the growth of the company and our department, but also encouraged my own growth and success. I really enjoyed the marketing aspect of my job, and GFS recognized that, so they sent me back to school to get my bachelor’s degree in marketing. Along with my background in sales, it gave me an opportunity to move into the marketing department as the marketing sales coordinator.
GFS was flexible with my schedule when I went back to school, and they also helped pay for my education. They truly value growth and continuous improvement. Outside of schooling, GFS has encouraged me to participate in industry network events, such as the Manufacturers Alliance, to learn how others in the industry grow and improve. Currently, as the marketing manager, I continue to embrace the value of improvement and encourage my team the same way. Whether that’s self-education, conferences, industry trade shows, or going back to school.”
Tony Anderson, Sr. Maintenance Technician
“Growing up, I was always the kid in the neighborhood that others would come to when their bike broke. I am a carbon copy of my dad — not quite Tim the Tool Man, but if it’s broken, I can fix it.
Improvement is making things better, but it can also increase workload, at least temporarily. I see that here at GFS. Everything gets done, but someone has to do the work. A lot of that falls on our maintenance department. We recently completed all of the wiring for our intercom system. We installed 50 speakers on the manufacturing floor and in the storm shelter rooms. It’s a great improvement, but we had to put a lot of time and effort into it.
Before coming to GFS, I worked on a lot of different types of equipment, but never with steel manufacturing equipment, such as turrets and press brakes. Eight years ago, I never imagined I’d be playing an electrician at work, but it was a great learning experience. It was a whole new way of doing things, and it has helped at home for sure.”
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