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Mini-cast 133: Jesse Tyler of Hypertherm

Bret Keisling is joined by Jesse Tyler, who is responsible for the Associate Experience at 100% ESOP Hypertherm. Jesse shares his EO A-ha Moments and why Hypertherm is a great company for its associate owners to work at.


Mini-cast 133 Transcript

Bret Keisling: [00:00:06] Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. I love all my guests, but nothing makes me happier than an honest to goodness employee owner. In this case, we have an honest to goodness associate owner.

Jesse Tyler, thanks for coming on the Mini-cast.

Jesse Tyler: [00:00:30] It's great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Bret Keisling: [00:00:32] You are responsible for associate experience at Hypertherm. If you're in the ESOP space, you probably know Hypertherm. It's a 100% ESOP. It's a global leader in industrial cutting, including plasma, software and robotics, and waterjet methods.

And Hypertherm leads the way in kind of culture and training in ESOP world. And Jesse, you're responsible for much of that as part of the associate experience, aren't you?

Jesse Tyler: [00:00:59] Yeah, we have a team of us that work through the company from across the company, from all roles and operations or functional teams across shifts that support the ownership culture at Hypertherm.

I'm one of the first faces and voices of ownership. Because I welcome people literally on their first morning, whether it's at our facilities in Lebanon, New Hampshire and at the same time in hybrid sessions around the country using Teams, Microsoft Teams. So we'll have a wide variety of new associates and they all get the same treatment with their onboarding and their welcome.

So we can have a VP sitting next to an 18 year old who just graduated from high school who is going to start their ownership journey. So I welcome them and then there's many more that follow me to teach and help them understand ownership.

Bret Keisling: [00:01:45] Jesse, I love that. And we're going to talk about Hypertherm more in just a moment, but as you know, every guest, there is one rite of passage if you come on the podcast and that is if they have it, we ask to share their EO A-ha Moment. Jesse. Is it possible that in your career in Hypertherm and in employee ownership that you have had a, or maybe several, EO A-ha Moments?

Jesse Tyler: [00:02:08] I am highly engaged and enjoy working at Hypertherm because I have recurring ever expanding A-ha Moments.

So, one I was thinking about was from a few years ago. I'm an HR now doing associate experience. I used to be in the sales and marketing when I came into HR. I was hosting one of our biggest global customers who buys our products to put on their cutting machines. And we spent a couple days together looking at products, meeting the engineers, tours, dinners, the whole bit.

And we kind of got to be friends. And they said, well, why do you like working here so much? And I said, well, I can go into any of our buildings, walk up to somebody I haven't met yet and say, can I get your help? And they'll smile, put down what they're doing, and they'll help. It's amazing. It's just amazing.

And on another visit...

Bret Keisling: [00:03:00] So that puts you, Jesse, on the receiving end of the culture, so to speak?

You just know that if you have to reach out the culture is such that your colleagues are going to be there and not just for you, but anybody who needs help, you gather together. That is very cool.

Jesse Tyler: [00:03:14] Yeah. A recent A-ha Moment has been, we have incredible levels of hiring the -- Hypertherm feeds the industrial economy and so you need to cut metal, you need to cut stone, you need to cut rubber and plastic. There's a high demand for our products. We're very thankful for that.

Well, we have a lot of people coming in for new hires and so we were running some larger scale onboarding. So a small example that I had, actually yesterday, was I needed to ask a whole bunch of people to help run a program that I can run by myself if we have, you know six or seven people coming in, which for a smaller company would be a lot. When we have 18 or 20 or 25 coming in, I can ask the team. So I'll like check with everybody. They said, we got your back. Tell us what you need.

And I sent the meeting invites and it was awesome because we're all busy. Every --it's a busy time in the world right now. And it was just this row of accepts, like right away. Boom, boom, boom, boom. And everybody just jumped in and made that commitment. That's an -- that's a culture, that's an ownership A-ha moment that --. I just love it. I just love it.

Bret Keisling: [00:04:23] And it again -- and nobody does culture better than Hypertherm. There are a lot of companies that do really great culture. I don't think anybody does it better. And if you think your company does it better reach out to me, I'll have you on as well. But both of these examples are, you know, a lot of the A-ha Moments, Jesse. They, they, they look at. It's kind of situational.

If you're an employee owner, it's not unusual to say somebody else got their statement and you realized it was real, you know, it's kind of an incident specific A-ha Moment. For you, it's kind of recognizing the beauty of the culture generally. And both of those examples really tie into what we say all the time.

We grow the pie and we share the pie. And both of your examples are just the manifestation of that philosophy. Am I right?

Jesse Tyler: [00:05:08] It is. And if I could share one, that still makes me laugh. So I was going to offer a group that -- we're big enough, that we have two cafeterias in our ten buildings on campus, nine occupied. We have two that are big enough, so we can have a cafeteria, so people can stay on site and get their meal. And I was going to feed them, not a very expensive, you know, fairly simple lunch because we were doing a long session and they got really aggravated with me and said, no! I want that in my profit sharing, I brought my lunch. Don't you dare spend the money on feeding us! Like in kind of a curt way.

And I was like, okay, first, you're totally awesome.

Bret Keisling: [00:05:50] [Laughter.]

Jesse Tyler: [00:05:51] And two, that's the ownership mindset, you know, and good for you for challenging that. It's great to have the warm, the camaraderie and all of that. But I think a lot of the A-ha Moments come when there's some stress and there's a tension and you can challenge each other for what's best for the company.

And it's not about your friendship. It's not about your connection. You got to put the company first work through those things together. You can pick up some of the rapport and laughter later. What's the best interest of the company? What's the best interest of the customer? If we all keep going in that direction, the other stuff will follow.

Bret Keisling: [00:06:24] I think that's absolutely great, Jesse. And I love all of the moments that you shared. And folks, I used to be a trustee. I spend a lot of time, you know, you don't want to see waste at an employee owned company. But you got to eat and a modest lunch is not going to derail the ship.

So it's the great attitude. Absolutely love the vibe. But I'm also like, have a sandwich it'll work out.

Hey, Jesse, we only have minute or two left, but I want you to take off your associate experience hat in terms of what you tell new hires. I want you to speak personally from your own heart. What does working at Hypertherm mean to you as an associate owner? What's it mean inside you?

Jesse Tyler: [00:07:09] I think it means, in the immediate, it means camaraderie. It means enjoying being around the people. I think you benefit from ownership, but I think you really have to commit to really go. And so I'm around an amazing group of people. So in my day to day, my hour to hour -- and I see this at other ESOPs where there's just this drive. There's this care.

I think in then the longer term, there's a lot of incentive to keep feeding the share price and see that potential. I'm 50 years old and I am on track to retire before I'm 65 -- or I guess I'll have to be 67 because they're moving it up. But I am looking forward to joining the retirees that I work with for storytelling and celebrations, I'm looking forward to being able to do that.

And so it's a balance of the moment to moment or week to week where things are, it's just enjoyable to be. But it's also knowing that when things get really hard and stressful, that things are going to be okay.

Bret Keisling: [00:08:06] I love that and everything that you're doing, Jesse, ties in. And you and I know each other, not well, but we've met at the conferences and have chatted and probably been in each other's presentations , but everything from your A-ha Moments to what you just shared about why it's important to you, is a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself.

To being a part of a team where the end result isn't necessarily the increased share price, but the increased share price is a direct result of all of the culture. So in other words, that's nice, but you guys aren't, you know, going in as M&A [Mergers & Acquisitions] vulture saying, how do we slash, how do we, whatever. You're building the kind of place that you want to be and are showing more profits at the same time. So that's absolutely wonderful.

Jesse Tyler: [00:08:59] Yeah. Yeah, it's it's just an ongoing journey to be an owner. And in these times it's great to hear of other employee or associate owned companies that are finding their way in this challenging environment with supply chain issues and all these other factors, employment challenges.

So it's-- feeling some, being part of something bigger at Hypertherm, but it's feeling plugged in to the other 6,500, you know, companies or whatever we're up to now in the US.

It's like, there's this, there's this future that's growing slowly, and now actually a little bit more quickly, where employee ownership, associate ownership is going to be the differentiator for all of those companies. And so it feels like I'm sort of part of a national community. For me, I find that really exciting.

Bret Keisling: [00:09:45] Well, Jesse, I'm really grateful, and so many of us are really grateful, that Hypertherm and you specifically are in the employee ownership space.

You are tireless in your efforts, not just at Hypertherm, but you do bring it to the conferences and share with the broader community. And I am very, very grateful. So I do want to thank you for coming on the Mini-cast and sharing your A-ha Moment and your view of Hypertherm.

Jesse Tyler: [00:10:12] Thanks, you're very kind with your compliments and I always enjoy our exchanges.

So thanks for being such an advocate and telling such a variety of stories and insights for ownership. It's important for the movement. It's appreciated.

Bret Keisling: [00:10:25] Thank you for saying that. And I am so lucky.

Bret Keisling: [00:10:35] And with that folks, we'll wrap up today's Mini-cast.

I do want to remind you that I am on Clubhouse. You can find me at EO underscore Bret. There are employee owners gathering on Clubhouse as we build an ecosystem there and I hope that you'll download the app or reach out to me for an invite and join us on Clubhouse.

And I just got back from my first business trip in 13 months, fully vaccinated. It was great to be out and about, but it does remind me the light is at the end of the tunnel, but our country is still going through an awful lot together right now. And that's how we'll get through it, together. And that's in the best spirit of employee ownership.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Bret Keisling; be well.


Bitsy McCann: [00:11:14] We'd love to hear from you! To contact us, find us on Facebook at KEISOP, LLC and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. To reach Bret, with one "T", email, on LinkedIn at Bret Keisling, and most actively on Twitter at @EO_Bret. Again, that's one "T". This podcast has been produced by The KEISOP Group, technical assistance provided by Third Circle, Inc. and BitsyPlus Design. Original music composed by Max Keisling, archival podcast material edited and produced by Brian Keisling, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The ESOP Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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