U.S. Manufacturing

Helping Americans Sleep Easier, Sinomax Brings Hundreds of Jobs to Tennessee

Manufacturing has always been a hallmark of Tennessee’s economy.

As commissioner for economic and community development in this great state, it’s my job to find lasting opportunities for growth and make them available to the members of our communities.

Tennessee’s commitment to innovation has put us at the forefront of today’s manufacturing renaissance. One of the more recent investments in our state comes from Sinomax – the largest producer of polyurethane foam bedding in China, which now has a facility in La Vergne, Tennessee.

We’re seeing a growing trend of companies reshoring production to the U.S., simply because it is more cost effective to produce and distribute products here. But to the members of these communities, this trend means so much more. While making it a goal to fill its workforce from the local crop of talent, Sinomax has committed to provide 350 La Vergne-area residents with high-quality, family-wage jobs.

I believe the U.S. manufacturing trend will not only continue, but also build momentum to become even more competitive in the years ahead. To stay competitive, we know that companies need a team of qualified workers who can excel in today’s manufacturing environment. Tennessee is fortunate to have an excellent governor who has truly become a pioneer in higher education. Because of initiatives like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, which offer all Tennesseans the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees, our state leads the nation in developing and maintaining an educated, well-trained workforce.

We’re sending a clear message to employers about our commitment to building the highly-skilled workforce they need to face the future of manufacturing. And an investment in American jobs and manufacturing means we’re also providing our neighbors with an environment that creates a sustainable path into the future. We are grateful for companies like Sinomax that choose to invest in our state – and our people.

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Innovation

Tracking Turkey: New Tech Tells the Farm-to-Table Story

Taking that first bite of Grandma’s green bean casserole made from your family’s secret recipe. Watching football with your Uncle Bob who falls asleep before half time. Giving thanks around the dinner table with family.

These moments give us Thanksgiving Day stories to tell for future generations. But as we enjoy that feast and time with loved ones, there is another story to be told – one that starts with a family of farmers laying feed for their turkeys.

As the senior buyer for turkeys and hams, I’m excited about helping make Thanksgiving meals even better. We believe customers shouldn’t have to choose between products that are affordable or good for the environment, so we are working with suppliers like Cargill to offer items that are good for families, communities and the planet. Part of that is providing customers with easy access to information, which gives them peace of mind that they are purchasing the best products for their families this holiday.

For the first time this Thanksgiving, we’re testing new blockchain technology on packaging of Fresh Honeysuckle White® turkeys, in the Texas area, allowing customers to get the full story behind the star of their meal by tracing their turkey from a family farm to their table.

This turkey technology is innovative, but also pretty simple. You just go to Walmart and pick out a turkey, then text or enter the package’s code at HoneysuckleWhite.com, where you’ll see stories of the family farmers who raised your specific turkey. You’ll also see a message directly from the farmer.

Customer desire for more information led to the development of this blockchain-based solution for turkeys. In 2014, the Honeysuckle White brand found that 44% of turkey consumers think it’s important for companies to be transparent in their practices. Studies in 2016 showed 73% of consumers feel positively about companies that are transparent about where and how their products are made, grown or raised. And more than half of consumers consider farmers one of the most-trusted sources on food-related issues. This year, the Honeysuckle White brand held focus groups that confirmed consumers feel good about buying turkeys raised by family farmers.

It’s important for us to work with suppliers to drive transparency in the supply chain and share information with our customers. Cargill will use the pilot as an opportunity to learn more about the value of traceability in its turkey supply chain. And this test is a great example of an answer to our customer’s needs. Having worked for Walmart for more than 26 years, I still get excited about finding new products and innovations for our customers. Trust and transparency is a huge part of it, and this turkey test is only the beginning.

For more information on these turkeys, the farmers and the blockchain technology, click here.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Competitive Edge: Fan Gear Scores Big for American Jobs

Anywhere you go in America, there’s a sense that folks have a strong connection to the places they came from. We always root for our home teams.

Sports can create a bond that makes people feel close to home, even when they’re far away. At WinCraft, we manufacture licensed sports equipment for teams in the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, Team USA, the NCAA and over 500 colleges and universities. It makes sense that, for American sports like these, every team’s products can be made in the U.S.A.

When Walmart announced its commitment to help create American jobs through buying more American-made products, we knew it was something WinCraft needed be a part of. Supported by their initiative, we’ve built a brand-new manufacturing facility in Winona, Minnesota, and created over 70 more jobs for the wonderful people in our town. WinCraft employs over 675 people in Minnesota, Iowa, Washington and Florida.

Check out this video to see our WinCraft team spirit in action.

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Community

Acre for Acre Promise Preserves Nature for Generations

As a parent of four young children, watching their reaction to seeing a family of deer walking through a shallow stream will always be one of my fondest memories.

The smiles, giggles and amazement on their faces: It was nature in its purest form and something I hope to be able to experience with my children’s children one day.

Conserving one acre of wildlife habitat for every acre of land Walmart developed was the goal of Acres for America, which was founded in 2005 by a partnership with Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. That was a commitment of $35 million over 10 years.

That original goal has turned into one of the most impressive collaborations in U.S. land conversation history. In 2015, Walmart renewed its commitment to the program by contributing an additional $35 million over 10 years, with a goal of protecting an additional 1 million acres across the nation. And now the program is creating eight new land conservation projects across Hawaii, Northern California, Southern California, Montana, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina, which will protect and connect wildlife habitats across more than 100,000 acres through $3.8 million in grants and $81.2 million in matching contributions.

The 2017 grants include a rare native Hawaiian forest, longleaf pines in Texas and sustainably harvested forestlands in Minnesota and Montana. They protect ancient redwoods in northern California as well as 1,600 year old bald cypress trees in North Carolina, the oldest known trees east of the Mississippi River.

I’m excited that Walmart is working through their Acres for America program to ensure those beautiful habitats are around for generations to come – one acre at a time.

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Opportunity

These Vets Helped Each Other - Now They Pay it Forward

For veterans leaving the military, transitioning to civilian life can be a challenge, but Jarred Crabtree and Jeff Kowalik are determined to make it a little bit easier.

The two met in the U.S. Army, where Jeff was Jarred’s lead drill sergeant in basic training. An injury sent Jarred home earlier than he’d anticipated, but the two kept in touch over social media. When Jarred learned his former drill sergeant was leaving the Army, he knew he had to reach out.

Jarred had made the transition from military to civilian life twice before. After a time in the Army and seven years in law enforcement, he had become a market manager for Walmart’s Oklahoma City stores. He was still at Walmart when he rejoined the Army and met Jeff in 2010.

“When I injured myself, it was devastating,” Jarred said. “But the group of veterans when I came back was so supportive, I immediately felt better – like I could put all my energy and skills back into my job here.”

After 18 years in the Army, Jeff was medically retired and having the all-too-common experience of struggling to find...

Posted by Walmart Today on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Jarred wanted other veterans to experience the same kind of support and community he had, so he invited Jeff to come tour one of his stores in Oklahoma City, where they had several developmental co-manager positions open.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better for the role,” Jarred said. “I remembered Jeff’s leadership skills and his ability to lead diverse groups of people. He had the skill sets we needed.”

During his 18 years in the Army, Jeff had never had to look for a job. “When you leave the military, you have to remember how to do everything again,” he said. At Walmart, Jeff had to learn a new lingo and a new role, but he said it goes hand in hand with what he learned in the military. “The leadership, how hard you have to work, the service – there’s an honor behind what you do here.”

Jeff and Jarred are passionate about having other veterans join their teams at Walmart. They know the value veterans bring: professionalism, adaptability, teamwork, problem solving and ingrained leadership skills.

“If you want a job, all you have to do is come apply. You don’t have to start at the top, but with dedication and hard work, you’re going to move up,” Jarred said. “There’s so much opportunity, and it’s not just on the sales floor. With all the positions we have, whether it’s in operations, support, merchandising – when people realize what’s available, they’re amazed. You can lead people, and that’s what Jeff and I get to do every day.”

Now, Jeff mentors his team members at Walmart and in the broader veteran community. He works with the Veteran Support Foundation, which supports various veteran projects across the country, including helping homeless and disabled service members. He also maintains the veterans’ appreciation board at the front of his store, a photo display that recognizes associates who have served in any of the military branches.

“There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood that ties you together,” Jeff said. “When I came to Walmart, it was extremely heartwarming to know I had someone like Jarred, who was also military and also a leader above me who I could learn from.”

Jeff and his family have since moved to Houston, where he’s a co-manager of a Walmart supercenter, and his wife Jennifer is an assistant manager at another supercenter nearby. Meanwhile, Jarred was promoted to a director of implementation and sustainment. That means he’s now the main point of contact for Walmart’s central division of stores to ensure they’re operating successfully. But both veterans are taking what they learned and continuing to encourage other veterans around the country.

“Don’t give up,” Jarred said. “That’s the biggest message I’d want to get across to other veterans: there’s something out there for you. Ask questions. Don’t just apply online – come visit the store. Come talk to us, because you’ll find more people like me and Jeff who want you working with us.”

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