ROGERS CITY, Mich. (AP) — Family, fun, and fish — it's all in a day's work at Carmeuse Lime and Stone.
The recent wintery winds held off long enough for 39 children and grandchildren of employees at Carmeuse to spend a few hours throwing snowballs, riding on sleds, and occasionally catching a fish on a frozen lake at the east end of the world's largest limestone quarry.
For the second year in a row, Carmeuse's Rogers City plant sponsored a kids' fishing tournament for the offspring of its company's 130-some employees, The Alpena News reported. The company invested $1,500 in the event to cover prizes and food, a testimony to the value it places on its employees and on the spirit of family and fun that it strives to cultivate.
Prizes were awarded for any fish that was caught, with gift cards for the largest catch in each species and a gift certificate for a free mount for the overall biggest fish. That award went to Dillon Cook, 14, of Rogers City, with a 31.75-inch Northern Pike at the end of his line. All the kids went home happy, though, fish or no fish. It was that kind of day.
The FISH Philosophy — that's what they call it at Carmeuse. The term originated at an open-air market in Seattle, Wash., where employees sing, joke, and throw patrons' purchases to them in a determined effort to make the workplace a joyful place to be.
Several years ago, according to company production manager Chris Schuch, Carmeuse's management adopted the FISH Philosophy as a way to enrich the work lives of their employees. The key ingredients of the philosophy, Schuch said, are to 1. Be present, 2. Play, 3. Choose your attitude, and 4. Make their day.
The international business's many locations have all adopted practices which encourage workers to have fun on the job. At the Rogers City plant, that has meant casual events from cookouts to friendly pumpkin carving competitions. Last summer a Where's William contest had employees trying to spot photos of their new boss, William DeChangy, hidden around the quarry, Where's Waldo-style.
"The goal is to make every day fun at work and to help people enjoy their jobs," Schuch said. "They're still getting work done, but having fun while they're doing it."
A FISH Champion is assigned at each Carmeuse plant, whose job is to stir up enthusiasm and promote a positive environment. Employees can earn "DWD" points — for a job Darn Well Done, when an employee goes out of their way to add to the quality of the work done at the business. DWD points earn entry into a quarterly drawing for fun prizes such as a tool kit or a weekend getaway.
DeChangy, Site Operations Manager at the plant, moved to the area in 2018 when he relocated from a Carmeuse plant overseas. The family atmosphere at the Rogers City plant has been a refreshing change from his previous experience.
"It's not like in Belgium," DeChangy said, citing the team-building activities and family-like atmosphere at his new position. "There is much more spirit here in U.S. companies. Here it's more important."
Employees were spread across the ice at the quarry lake recently, squatting to help their kids tie knots in fishing line and standing in groups, chatting amiably in the welcome partial sunshine. Employee and dad Steve Meyer was getting ready to take three bouncy little girls on a sled ride behind his snowmobile.
"I wish we'd caught more fish, but we're still having fun," Meyer said before taking off with his giggling charges.
Company wives and fisherchildren moms Nicole Peacock and Sara Hincka were all smiles as they watched their kids play in the snow around several round holes in the ice. They expressed appreciation for the positive atmosphere at Carmeuse, citing its sponsorship of Family Fun Days and fireworks exhibitions for the community. The ice fishing tournament for kids is one more reason that Carmeuse is a great place to work, the moms said.
Belgium winters are not like Michigan winters, and DeChangy and his wife Caroline are very new to the experience of ice fishing. At a recent event the couple kept an eye on a pole over a hole in the ice while talking with fellow employees and waving at their daughters as they zoomed by in a sled. The DeChangys spoke of the warm welcome they received from neighbors and co-workers when they moved to a new home so far from home.
"We don't have any family, friends when we arrive here," Caroline DeChangy said in her Belgian accent. "This kind of activity, it is an opportunity to meet people — to have fun."