Building the Future with Trust | Heather Bruce | Osmundson Mfg. Co.
President and CEO
Today, more than ever, it is essential for leaders to think about future generations because they have the power to shape the world. Leaders who think beyond their interests and consider the long-term impact of their decisions can create a better future for everyone. In fact, generative leaders strive to leave the world a better place than they found it. They focus on creating an inspiring and enriching human experience for their people outside of work.
Generative leadership is a new way of leading that focuses on leaving the world a better place than it was found. Generative leaders strive to inspire and enrich the human experience by building great cultures and workplaces where people can do their best work. Heather Bruce, President and CEO of Osmundson Mfg. Co. is a true generative leader who seeks to foster innovation, organizational agility, and high performance over time through her work. Heather believes that her obligation to society and the planet is at the core of her business, not just an afterthought. She wants to leave the world a better place than she found it by seizing a rare opportunity to do better for her shareholders, customers, teams, society, and the planet. “I am both passionate and stubborn, family-focused, and I care about making a genuine impact. These qualities return to the core values we utilize to drive the company forward. I am of the mindset that you should leave something better than you found it. I want to leave Osmundson to be better off for the next generation,” says Heather.
Becoming A Straightforward Leader
Heather is a direct, no laissez-faire approach leader. She believes becoming a straightforward leader can help the company in several ways, including enhanced communication, trust, authenticity, and courage. “Clear communication is key to building trust and promoting authenticity. When you are straightforward, you tell people that you respect them and your relationship. This can help build a deeper connection and create more trust,” explains Heather. “Additionally, when you role model straightforward communication, you are more likely to get it in return. This can help create a positive workplace culture and motivate employees to improve.”
Another benefit of straightforward leadership is that it can help to build trust between leaders and their team members. When leaders are transparent and honest in their communication, team members are more likely to feel valued and respected. “Many of my male counterparts in the industry are more democratic in their coaching style, but I look for intrinsic motivation in my people,” states Heather. “I set high standards for speed and efficiency, and I am deeply committed to my goal of moving the company forward on a larger scale. I focus on the people and qualities that keep us consistently improving to meet that goal.”
Heather has always aspired to be an independent entrepreneur who could change any industry. From childhood, she knew she wanted to be a leader, have her schedule, create something meaningful, and offer brilliant solutions to complicated problems. “I didn’t realize what that entailed until after college when I developed a passion for manufacturing and operations – I just knew that I never wanted to work for anyone else. And I am grateful that my employees now motivate me to be a better human and leader every day,” adds Heather, whose father has been her inspiration.
Heather’s father has always given back to the community selflessly. Hailed as always true to himself and his values, he has always helped people in need. “My father came into the company when it was almost bankrupt and built it into what it is today. Now I have the pleasure of building upon that and giving back to the community as much as I can. My parents also taught me that, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” I am blessed with so many things that I am so happy I can give back to my community and neighbors,” elucidates Heather.
Building A Great Company
Osmundson is a fifth-generation, family-owned manufacturer of high-quality, high-performance tillable blades and cultivation tools. Osmundson blades are 100% American-made and have been for nearly 120 years. Founded in 1903 as Osmundson Spade, the company currently employs approximately 100 at its 142,000 sq. ft. headquarters and production facility in Perry, Iowa.
Recently, the company broke ground on the company’s new multimillion-dollar manufacturing facility in Hickory that will produce farming disc blades and create 80 quality jobs over the coming years. The company’s investment includes purchasing nearly 35 acres to construct a 150,000 sq. ft. facility, which will house two hot production lines and support cold workstations that will produce 20-inch and larger disc blades for the agriculture and construction industries. The investment adds to Kentucky’s $39 billion manufacturing sector, whose annual payroll exceeds $4.72 billion. Administration-to-date, private-sector new-location or expansion manufacturing projects have announced over $22.6 billion in planned investments and will create more than 30,500 full-time positions.
For the road ahead, Heather’s main goal for Osmundson is to be the first call in the industry for its product lines. “I recently had the honor of receiving the Legends in Manufacturing award, and I would love to reach “40 Under 40” and “Top Workplace in Iowa” in the future. Most of all, always being able to give back to the community is my goal,” says Heather. “I enjoy creating different avenues of success for my people, whether that be through education, food security, or employment opportunities. I would love to double the charitable giving we do for the Food Bank of Iowa each year. I am also working with schools in the area to help kids get more interested in VOTECH, not just STEM.”
Heather regularly holds State of the Company events where she talks about what the company is doing and where they are going so that everyone can feel connected to their bigger mission. “We let our employees know about all of the opportunities available to them when they first get hired. For example, all employees from the shop floor to office personnel get hands-on training,” adds Heather. “If they are willing to learn new skills, we are happy to get them the training and certifications they need to succeed. We also offer tuition assistance for anyone who wants to go to college. You don’t have to go to school for any particular program related to the job, but you do have to return that time to the company.” This is a legacy from Heather’s father’s era, where he believed that anyone who wants to better themselves will want to invest back into the company. And even when those employees leave for bigger and better things, Heather and her team wish them the best, knowing they invested in helping them be the best they can be. In addition, the company assists with one year’s worth of college textbooks for their employees’ children in hopes that this continuous improvement will help the community as a whole.
Professionally, Heather plans on growing the business to twice the size it was when she started as CEO. “I want to grow the brand and pursue different industries than our company has ever been in so far. We recently broke ground on a state-of-the-art facility in Mayfield, Kentucky, which will be the first endeavor outside of Osmundson’s hometown in Perry,” concludes Heather.