Universal Fibers

I relish the moments when I get to geek out on design by learning more about the mechanics that make up our built environments. I’ve always been a “why” person, annoying my parents by pushing the question until it was decided that buying the full Encyclopedia Britannica and bringing home text books on everything from car mechanics to mathematics would be the best way to lessen the frustrations associated with never-ending “why”s.

So being asked to tour the Universal Fibers mill in Bristol, VA, as part of their efforts to introduce Thrive—a new sustainable Nylon 6,6 fiber—to the market, was an exciting endeavor. Sometimes it isn’t until the opportunity presents itself that you wonder, “How *is* carpet fiber made?

The method of creating carpet fiber is a synthesis of complex and surprisingly simple—or at least it was easy to grasp once I was introduced to the beakers of nylon pellets and mechanical pieces laid out in the conference room which introduces visitors to the inner workings of the mill. The scientific chemical process isn’t daunting when approached as an A + B = C recipe.

As Joe Parry, Director of Global Marketing and Brands for Universal Fibers, ushered me through the inner workings of the mill, past color mixers and extractors, one word kept popping up: “we.”

He explained that as part of their work with Gensler-Chicago, Universal Fibers had taken a good look at how they identify as a whole. It isn’t enough to stand as a corporate entity in and of itself—they wanted to relay that who works for them is just as big a part of their company as the products they produce.

The we’s which make up companies are so important in that respect and pride in one’s work is introduced through the human aspect. As an industry, we’re seeing the impact it makes in the work force when employees are more actively involved, whether that is through changing their environment with open offices and collaboration spaces so they can work the way that is best for them at that moment, or being made to feel as if they’re individually part of the bigger picture.

For Universal Fibers, that inclusion is manifest through the reminder of “we”—that they are individuals that make up a whole with common visions and goals. It also comes out in other ways; the spacious Customer Care Center located front and center in the mill, for example. While the Customer Care Center is accessible to customers and industry partners to utilize and located before you enter the production hub, it was the last stop on our tour. “We have a medical team who provides physicals to employees,” Parry explained. “We’d normally be in there, but it’s full of wellness check-ups right now.”

This focus on employees as important partners of the organization has broader implications which go towards Universal Fiber’s goals; employees take that respect and focus back out into their community. Bristol, VA is a blue collar town of around 18,000, so the impact of “we” easily moves through the populace. “We” has become a driving force in showing the butterfly effect companies can have in their environment.

This post is part of a campaign with Universal Fibers.