Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

Mar-Bal, Inc. – A #WorkplaceParadiseNEO Company

What a fabulous time to be living in Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio! In a few days the Cleveland Cavaliers will be raising their 2016 NBA Championship banner at their season opener, and across the street the Cleveland Indians will be hosting a World Series game for the first time since 1997. Go Tribe! One of the Tribe’s biggest fans is Maria Gaeta, Director of Human Resources for Mar-Bal, Inc. I’m excited to feature Maria and Mar-Bal in our first Workplace Paradise article.

Maria and I have known each other for years. We served together on the board of the Cleveland SHRM chapter, and Maria has had a highly successful career in human resources and HR consulting. Maria has won numerous awards for her work and contributions, including a 2015 Women Who Excel award and a 2016 Award for Organizational and Employee Development from The HR Awards of Northeast Ohio. Maria has been with Mar-Bal for four years and has made quite an impact.

Mar-Bal, Inc., headquartered in Chagrin Falls, OH, is the leading integrated compounder and molder of BMC Thermoset composite products and value added finishing services.  Mar-Bal has been recognized as one of America’s fastest growing companies for 2 consecutive years (2013, 2014).

Since 1970, Mar-Bal has engineered and manufactured quality, customized materials and parts while delivering unmatched client cost-effectiveness through superior customer service and commitment to the total value.

Here are some additional insights about Mar- Bal and their strategic direction:

Mission Statement

To develop and manufacture Engineered Composites that will create value for our customers and all stakeholders (employees and communities).


To be the premier thermoset composite solutions provider in the industrial and appliance markets and growing in new markets with great people and efficient operations.

Mar-Bal created a Values Tree based on feedback received from an employee survey, with the most cited values in bigger, bolder letters:


Mar-Bal provides truly innovative engineering solutions to solve customers’ technical challenges. The company culture strives to move quickly and be agile. They hire the best and work to develop great talent that wants to grow, contribute and make a difference, in a fun, award winning and challenging environment.

While the company is doing extremely well, Maria says it is challenging finding the best people – especially for the shop floor. “Working on the shop floor can be very challenging. It’s dirty, hot and itchy. We really have to provide value to our employees in order to compete with larger, publicly-held companies in the area” Maria tells us. As part of the effort to step up their game in the talent attraction area, Maria helped create a link on the Careers section of their website called the Realistic Job Preview. The Job Preview provides a step-by-step guide about working for Mar-Bal, the hiring process and employee testimonials. There is information about safety guidelines and an employee handbook. Great transparency for interested candidates.

But that’s not all. In order to compete for talent in today’s tight job market, Maria has included information about possible career paths, compensation and benefits. “We provide many opportunities for our people to earn bonuses and additional time off based on reaching goals, and for contributing ideas to improve quality and lower costs.” How has this extra effort paid off? Watch and listen to those who work for Mar-Bal to get a first-hand perspective.

While much of this article describes Maria’s background and contributions, she is the first to point out that the company’s success is a team success. “As a family owned business, we have an open door policy. Our executive owners, Scott and Steven Balogh, are often on the shop floor talking with supervisors and workers. Everyone has a voice at Mar-Bal, and everyone contributes to our success.”

For Northeast Ohio, there is another benefit of the family ownership. Scott and Steven Balogh are from this area, are active in area associations and are committed to Northeast Ohio. Part of that commitment includes adding a new plant here in Northeast Ohio. That means more jobs, which will contribute to our Northeast Ohio economy and success.

For all these reasons, we are proud to have Mar-Bal, Inc. as a Workplace Paradise in NEO!



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The Art and Science of Performance Reviews

The Art and Science of Performance Reviews

Performance management practices are evolving rapidly and the practice of annual performance reviews is under the gun, especially as it is tied to compensation and rewards. Last week I attended a conference at the University of Akron titled “Do Performance Reviews have a Future?”. The conference was presented by The Leadership & Human Resource Management Advisory Board. This was my first time at their conference and I was impressed. The speaker lineup included professors, attorneys, consultants and HR leaders. The speakers explored various aspects of why annual performance reviews as we have historically known them are ineffective (often counterproductive), as well as alternatives to improving the process.


Many of the findings presented reinforced concepts now familiar in HR circles. For example, Adam Ross of Goodyear discussed how Goodyear is becoming more strategic and how important it is to connect that strategy to employees. Mary Vales of Hyland Software said their culture is connected to the vision, mission and values of the company, and Hyland’s commitment to their people has helped the company move up various lists of great places to work and also driven financial results.


Mary then used a short clip in her presentation that depicted a fictional employee receiving praise and positive feedback from her boss, coworkers, family and friends in a Video Review. The video evoked a powerful and positive emotional response from the employee. It was a unique approach, and one that any employee would treasure.


Alan Colquitt from Eli Lilly took another approach, talking about the science behind performance appraisals. More to the point, he talked about the lack of factual data supporting the premises of traditional appraisal processes. For example, the idea that people are motivated to perform better with pay incentives has proven false. Instead, he said, people are motivated by goals, meaning and making progress. Alan pointed out that 95% of managers are unhappy with their company’s performance management systems. If managers are that unhappy, imagine how their people feel.


Yes, the annual performance review practice took a proverbial beating that day. However, even though many companies have abandoned the practice, most have not. Or at least not completely. The challenge is to find something that is better and more effective, and then to implement in a positive manner. This can be especially daunting in global organizations. Joseph Lubin from PRADCO gave several examples of clients that were in process with changes, and the successes and ongoing challenges they face. Madhavi Rubbo from GE discussed the challenges of changing a strong company culture on this topic, as well as rolling out a new process in waves around the world. Most examples of alternatives to the annual performance review were described as works in progress with results to be determined.


Ultimately, I am not sure we answered the conferences question about whether performance reviews have a future, but I concluded that in its traditional form, at best, the performance review is on life support.


During the Q&A session, I asked the group of speakers about the origins of the movement away from the annual review – is it rooted in managements desire to improve the bottom line, or in dissatisfaction of employees? Based on their responses, it appears this change is being driven by unhappy employees. Given the growing shift in supply and demand of talent (at least growing demand), the response was not surprising. Even so, my observation is that improving the way we evaluate and recognize people does lead to greater engagement and satisfaction, and that will lead to greater profitability.


Thanks to the University of Akron, the Advisory Board, the sponsors and, especially, the speakers for a great conference!


For help developing and implementing performance review and other talent practices that contribute to greatness, please contact me. We are happy to help.


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Talent Management Practices that Lead to Greatness

Talent Management Practices that Lead to Greatness

When LeBron James entered the NBA he was dubbed “The King” and appeared destined for greatness. Now he is the best player in the world. How he got there, though, was through a tremendous amount of coaching, practice, skills development and training.   Your people have a destiny with your company as well. Is it for greatness? That depends largely on your talent management practices. With focused talent management practices that contribute to success, your people can also reach greatness.

Consider the following list of talent management practices and see how they can contribute to greatness:

Talent Management Step Talent management Practice How it Contributes to Greatness
Identify Talent Pipeline Development Scouts for Greatness
Attract Talent Employment Branding Showcases Greatness
Hire Talent Recruiting and onboarding Selects for Greatness
Develop Talent Learning and Training Prepares for Greatness
Deploy Talent Strengths Based Job Matching Positions for Greatness
Manage Talent Performance Management Coaches for Greatness
Reward Talent Compensation and Benefits Recognizes Greatness
Engage Talent Align with Purpose Integrates Greatness
Promote Talent Succession Planning Accelerates Greatness
Measure Talent Talent Analytics Predicts Greatness
Energize Talent Culture Development Sustains Greatness

Everyone wants to be great at what they do. As you develop and evaluate your talent management practices, think about how they contribute to a destiny of greatness for your people.

For help developing and implementing talent practices that contribute to greatness, please contact me. We are happy to help. Randy Samsel 216-548-0740

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