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AIM to Honor Six Flags, United Personnel, and Sanderson MacLeod

HOLYOKE — Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), the statewide employer association, will honor three distinguished Western Mass. businesses today, Oct. 18, for unique contributions to the state economy.

AIM will present Next Century awards to Six Flags New England of Agawam and United Personnel of Springfield. The association will also present the 2018 Sustainability Award to brush manufacturer Sanderson-MacLeod of Palmer. The awards will be presented at a celebration of Western Mass. employers from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke.

Next Century awards honor employers, community organizations, and individuals who have made seminal contributions to the Massachusetts economy and the well-being of the people who live here. The Sustainability Award recognizes excellence in environmental stewardship, promotion of social well-being, and contributions to economic prosperity.

The economic footprint of Six Flags New England is every bit as unmistakable as the Superman roller coaster that rises along the Connecticut River above the largest amusement park in New England.

Six Flags, which began to operate the former Riverside Park in 1998, has spent millions of dollars over two decades to expand its lineup of 100 rides, shows, and attractions, along with the largest water park in the Northeast. The company is the region’s largest seasonal employer, hiring more than 3,000 people each year during a nine-month season that stretches from the spring through the summer to the holidays.

The 235-acre park is also a linchpin of the tourism economy both for Western Mass. and the entire Commonwealth. The organization’s 13 roller coasters draw thousands of visitors to the region and provide national media exposure for Massachusetts as a destination.

At a time when finding qualified employees remains a defining challenge for Massachusetts companies, United Personnel of Springfield connects more than 700 people each day to good jobs throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut.

It’s been that way for 35 years, since Mary Ellen Scott and her late husband, Jay Canavan, started the company with the goal of providing employment opportunities to match the skills and aspirations of a range of Western Mass. residents. The company has thrived during the intervening decades by deftly weaving itself into the fabric of a regional economy that operates to a unique degree on personal contact and trust.

United Personnel recently created a scholarship fund in the company’s name that will help deserving students from the Gateway Cities of the Pioneer Valley continue their educations. The fund will be administered by the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.

Many manufacturing companies have adopted continuous-improvement initiatives, but few small employers have adopted them as comprehensively as Sanderson MacLeod. The company initiated a continuous-improvement effort while establishing a lean culture under which employee teams identified waste. Sanderson MacLeod says involving the work force in improving the company created a rewarding experience.

Sanderson MacLeod says the move to lean manufacturing has made the company measurably more efficient, producing more parts in a shorter amount of time. On-time shipping metrics improved, and lead times decreased. As a result, the company has brought in additional business based upon its ability to produce quality parts delivered on time. Employment has increased 23% since the process began.

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