Department Recognizes Machining Company for Troop-Employee Support
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2007 When one of its employees was deployed to Iraq for National Guard duty, the Ultra Machining Company reached out to take care of him and his family while he was gone. Those efforts have earned the Monticello, Minn., company a top Defense Department award.
The employee, Sgt. Lou Jacobson of the Minnesota National Guard, was so impressed with the support he received during his deployment that he nominated the company for a Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Ultra Machining Company, or UMC for short, is among 15 businesses and organizations selected this year to receive the award, which honors businesses and organizations that provide exemplary support for their employees who serve in the Guard or reserves.
“It’s a family-orientated company, and they try to go above and beyond,” Jacobson said of Ultra Machining, where he has worked for about four and a half years.
When Jacobson, a 17-year military veteran, was deployed to Iraq in September 2005, Ultra Machining Company made up the difference between his Guard salary and his civilian wages and kept up his contributions to his retirement plan. When Jacobson’s deployment was extended, Ultra Machining officials immediately reassured him that his job was safe.
“I wasn’t at all worried about job security,” Jacobson said. “They made it perfectly clear that my job’s going to be there.”
In addition to the company’s support, Jacobson’s fellow employees reached out to his family while he was gone, keeping in close contact with them. When a wind storm blew down the fence on the family’s property, 22 Ultra Machining employees came to the house and spent two days repairing the fence, planting trees and building a sandbox for the children. The employees also donated items to a raffle to buy an airline ticket for Jacobson to come home between training and his deployment.
“The award really is for the employees of UMC,” said J.E. Dotterer, UMC director of operations. “They’re the ones that pretty much did everything.”
Dotterer said that the caring environment at UMC can be traced back to the Tomann family, who founded the company. The company’s lunch room features pictures up of every single employee, along with a job description, to foster a family environment, he said.
“We did not do anything that we would not have done for a family member,” Dotterer said of the company’s support for Jacobson.
Jacobson is the only Ultra Machining employee in the reserve components, but many employees have military experience or relatives in the military, Dotterer said.
“What we truly believe at UMC is the only reason we’re allowed to do the things that we do are because men and women in uniform stand up and put themselves in harm’s way, and that allows us the freedom to do what we do,” he said.
UMC is a 140-person shop that makes medical instruments and products for the aerospace industry, and also does other general-contract machining.
The Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recognizes U.S. employers that rise above the requirements of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Defense Department agency, manages the award process. ESGR assists Guard and reserve members and their employers understand employee eligibility and job entitlements, employer obligations, benefits and remedies under the act.
The Freedom awards will be presented Sept. 12 in a ceremony here.