Integrating Communications to Sustain Company Culture


How a manufacturing leader is using communication and collaboration solutions to drive operational effectiveness and preserve a longstanding culture.

When Pella Corporation started 88 years ago as a family-owned windows and doors business, the founders sowed the seeds of a culture that values employees and communication above all else. In the almost nine decades since, Pella has grown to 10 manufacturing facilities and more than 200 showrooms across North America, but has sustained its culture despite the pressures of geographic growth and technological change.

As the options for technology-based communication and collaboration multiplied, having more choices actually introduced complexity and impeded adoption. With cultural durability still a core priority, Jim Thomas, director of IT at Pella, decided that simplification and standardization were the keys to success.

“Employees are a key piece of our competitiveness system,” notes Thomas. “We’ve always sought IT tools that can drive communication effectiveness. But we found ourselves with an environment that offered too many communication choices, and technology ended up getting in the way of effectiveness instead of enabling it. With engagement being such a core value for us, we knew that integrating all communications on a common platform was a strategic move to drive adoption and user satisfaction.”

  • Thomas and IT manager John McConeghey chose Cisco WebEx for all of Pella’s communications, including audio and video.
  • Today, company employees conduct in excess of 500 WebEx meetings every week, with several thousand attendees.

Network Prioritization

With 12 facilities connected to the corporate network, Thomas and McConeghey have identified and prioritized crucial network traffic to help to ensure the right levels of performance for voice, video, and applications.

“When people have a poor experience, they aren’t going to go back to try to use the capability again,” McConeghey explains. “We’ve put controls in our network to deliver the right levels of performance. For example, we leverage the WebEx camera functionality frequently, and we’ve prioritized that traffic so it can be seamless for every user, every time.”

  • Pella’s sales and training departments have been significant adopters of WebEx for collaboration and communication.
  • With 1500 sales professionals across the country, Pella leverages WebEx for live and recorded training.

Thomas sees WebEx as a smart yet simple way to keep a geographically dispersed organization functioning together. And McConeghey says mobile technologies have allowed him to support flexible work styles. He has one database administrator who needs to work remotely for several months of the year, and WebEx provides that option.

BYOD Contributes to Culture

Pella isn’t immune to the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) phenomenon, but Thomas views it through the lens of culture enablement. If he can continue to deliver technology that promotes teamwork, enhances collaboration, enables flexibility, and builds effective workspaces, he’s doing his job.

  • Currently, Thomas and McConeghey are considering application virtualization as a key component of their BYOD strategy, with policy and security management being big priorities.
  • They are running a pilot of Citrix XenMobile with 20 users and plan to expand capabilities in the next 6–12 months.
  • They have implemented Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to register and track the devices, and appreciate the involvement and engagement both with and between Cisco and Citrix.  

“We’ve made a significant commitment to and investment in our communication and collaboration platform,” says Thomas. “Our goal is to continue to push boundaries, innovate our processes and workflows, and enable our deeply-rooted culture. I’m confident that we are well positioned to do that.”

More Information: To get a Forrester Report on the latest trends in secure mobile collaboration and additional resources, click here.