A Peek Inside Zekelman’s Family-First — and Family-Grown — Workplace
Chris Vadala was wired to be an electrician. The third-generation electrician grew up watching his dad climb the ranks from entry-level to a top spot at Zekelman’s Wheatland Tube facility in Wheatland, Pennsylvania.
When he launched his career, Vadala didn’t immediately join his dad on the factory floor. First, he took a detour into the restaurant business. But the unhealthy work environment soon had him doubting that career path. “The people were really unfriendly,” he recalls, describing the work culture.
So Vadala returned to his roots, embracing the family trade at Wheatland, and hasn’t looked back since. His experience at Zekelman has been a complete 180 from the cutthroat restaurant industry.
“People have your back and help you out if you need something or can’t make a shift,” Vadala says, noting that he always feels supported by his peers and is never uncomfortable going to leadership with concerns or issues.
That supportive family environment isn’t an accident. It’s the kind of workplace Zekelman actively creates for teammates, explains Rachel Cyphert, Human Resources Director, Wheatland Tube. “We are trying to create a culture where our teammtes say, ‘I get to go to work today,’ and not ‘Oh, I have to go to work today,’” she says.
One sign Zekelman is doing it right, according to Cyphert: the fact that many of the company’s teammates, herself included, choose to spend personal time together in and out of the workplace.
“One of the best reasons to work here is the people,” says Nikki Jaggers, a Tester Operator at Wheatland Tube. “I’ve had friends that I’ve made down here for … 30 years. So it’s very rewarding to be able to work with people that I can say are family.”
Jaggers is another legacy teammate who found her way to Zekelman after seeing her mom’s positive experience working for the company. She attributes a lot of that success to Zekelman’s Chairman and CEO Barry Zekelman.
“The company has helped me a lot … especially Barry Zekelman,” she says. “He’s very, very generous … and he’s down to earth.”
Barry’s daughter, Sam Zekelman, has also watched her dad grow the company by promoting a workplace culture of respect and teamwork. So when it came time to grow her own career, she was inspired to take a role in Zekelman’s marketing department.
“I saw how my dad connected with teammates and supported their success, and I knew it was a place I wanted to work,” she says.
Another one of Barry’s fans? Cyphert’s 9-year-old son, Dallas, who says he hopes to one day join the company as an engineer. He even takes a photo wearing a Zekelman hard hat every year.
“I see how happy my mom is working for Zekelman and I would like to work for Barry one day,” he says.
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