Top Workplaces 2022: Employee care and benefits propel Laitram to the top of the competition | Economic news

When Hurricane Ida hit in August 2021, Laitram LLC provided hotel rooms for employees whose homes were damaged or darkened by the storm. The company also helped establish an aid program that raised approximately $250,000 to get affected workers back on their feet.

At the height of the COVID pandemic, the Harahan-based company set up its own on-site health clinic that provided employees and their families with access to testing and support. It also provided resources to help parents meet their needs while daycare centers are closed due to the lockdown.

Rather than layoffs or furloughs, Laitram provided additional incentives to employees involved in manufacturing whose jobs required them to show up for work. Despite challenges in recent years that have forced many companies to scale back, Laitram has met the challenges with a team-oriented approach, its executives said.

An in-house medical clinic assists Laitram staff in Harahan on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Laitram’s response to the double whammy of a pandemic and a hurricane is consistent with its culture, a culture that company management believes fosters company success and high employee morale. A global manufacturing leader in multiple industries, Laitram is a perennial winner of awards touting the region’s top employers.

Laitram rose to the top of the Times-Picayune Top Workplaces 2022 competition. Laitram employees say they appreciate the company’s benefits and extras such as on-site health and fitness centers staffed by nurse practitioners, a dietitian, a medical assistant and personal trainers.

But Laitram team members across the organization believe it’s as much the company’s intangibles and caring attitude towards its employees as the real benefits that make the company a special place to work.

“Generally, it’s the culture where employees are valued and rewarded for their efforts and accomplishments,” said Frank LaBiche, Laitram’s human resources director and employee for 27 years. “It’s about focusing on our people, their careers and how we can make work more enjoyable and their lives better.”

Laitram Corporation, founded in 1949, employs approximately 4,000 people at 11 locations worldwide – with just over 2,100 employees in the New Orleans area. Employees are divided into four operating divisions: Laitram Machinery, Intralox, Lapeyre Stair and Laitram Machine Shop.

A world leader in the manufacture of conveyor belts, the company holds more than 1,300 active patents. Intralox, Laitram’s largest division, is a pioneer in the development of conveying equipment widely used in food processing, beverage handling, can manufacturing, baking, case and box handling and l ‘packaging.

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The company’s humble roots go back to its founder, James Martial Lapeyre. When he was 16 years old and working in a seafood packaging plant in Houma, Lapeyre had the idea of ​​making it easier to peel shrimp. Four years later, the teen’s concept led to the issuance of a patent for the world’s first shrimp peeling machine.


Kelvin Cole works out at Laitram’s staff gym in Harahan on Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Photo by Chris Granger | The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate)

Lapeyre’s invention revolutionized the shrimp industry and paved the way for other inventions that formed the basis of Laitram – a name derived by spelling Lapeyre’s middle name backwards. All these years later, the company attributes much of its success to a workplace characterized by a commitment to innovation and integrity and a culture where employees support each other.

Employees love the work environment. Managers say this is keeping staff turnover low, even during the “big quits” trend.

Chuong Le, an assembly worker who has been with the company for seven years, said the reason for staying with Laitram goes beyond the impressive employee benefits package.

“As a company, they value their employees and constantly remind us that we are their greatest resource,” Le said.

Jolene Fehler, an Intralox division manager who has been with the company for four years, said values ​​such as “assuming good intentions” and “seeking understanding first” are embedded in everything employees do.

“What makes Laitram a great place to work is the focus on company values ​​and principles,” Fehler said. “Most companies talk about culture and what’s important to them, but it’s hard to see it translated into action.

“Because we value these principles, everyone has the same opportunity to contribute – to the company, to our customers and to ourselves.”

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Richard V. Johnson