Van Meter Receives 2 Awards from Rockwell Automation

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Van Meter was recognized with two awards from Rockwell Automation, presented during the 2024 PartnerNetwork Conference March 20 in Orlando, FL.

Van Meter was recognized with Rockwell’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Award. The DEI Award honors a Rockwell partner that has made DEI part of its business strategy and taken steps to make the industry more diverse. Through leadership development, recruitment, companywide education, and community outreach, Van Meter has focused on inclusivity to become a stronger organization.

Lura McBride, Van Meter President and CEO, said, “We’re honored to receive this recognition —especially from a respected, global organization like Rockwell who sets a high standard for themselves in the inclusion space.”

“Having an all-inclusive culture is a key component of our workforce strategy,” added McBride. “We want each of our 850+ employee-owners to confidently bring their best self to work knowing they are part of something special—a workplace where differences are valued and celebrated.”

McBride’s passion around inclusion extends to the greater electrical distribution industry. In 2021, McBride helped found iBelongHere, a non-profit that provides training opportunities and educational resources to make the electrical industry a more diverse and welcoming place to work. Karmen Wilhelm, Van Meter’s Chief Marketing Officer, said she believes McBride’s involvement with iBelongHere prompted Van Meter’s leadership team to take a closer look at its approach to inclusion.

It led Van Meter to build its “ALL-INclusive statement,” outlining what is important to its employee-owners when building an inclusive work environment to attract and retain talented people. The statement says that inclusivity is an expectation regardless of race, age, gender, identity, physical and mental abilities or anything else that makes people different.

How did Van Meter put that statement into practice? Internally, it started educating company leaders in bi-weekly leadership meetings and invited a keynote on diversity to its annual leadership conference. From there, Van Meter started offering education opportunities to all employee-owners, including English language tutoring, inclusion training in new hire orientation and a Women of Van Meter group that provides industry training and connects women throughout the company.

Externally, Van Meter created a Community Impact role to support underserved populations through charitable donations and volunteerism. It also focused on recruiting diverse candidates with a social media campaign called “I am Van Meter.” Van Meter published 11 short video reels highlighting topics like a father who took paternity leave, an immigrant joining the team, a woman in sales, a military veteran and more.

Wilhelm said, “We had a ton of fun with the campaign. It was a chance to creatively tell individual stories about why our employee-owners feel included and how Van Meter helps them be their personal best.”

Van Meter’s company values are referred to as the Five P’s (People, Partners, Progress, Place and Profit). “It’s no accident that the People P is first in the lineup,” said Wilhelm. “When you put people first and are intentional about the experience you create for one another, great things can be accomplished.”

In addition to the DEI Award, Van Meter also received Rockwell’s 2024 Distributor Partner Innovation Award at the PartnerNetwork Conference.

Annually, the Innovation Award honors a distributor that has successfully planned and executed an innovative and transformative solution using Rockwell and other partners’ digital and disruptive technologies. Van Meter received the award for helping a Midwest university improve cybersecurity and reliability by modernizing its legacy boiler system and network.

What set Van Meter apart? Cyberattacks can lead to costly downtime and, in the case of a boiler system, present serious safety risks to anyone nearby. Instead of waiting for a cyberattack to happen, Van Meter’s smart manufacturing team partnered with the university to assess its current state and proactively develop a solution to minimize its long-term risk.

Jackie LaFleur, Van Meter’s Smart Manufacturing Manager, said, “We didn’t just respond to our customer’s problem. We challenged them to think deeper about their long-term needs, which resulted in a more secure, resilient boiler system for the university and a better long-term plan for managing cybersecurity risk.”

In addition to recommending a solution to the university, Van Meter engaged Cybertrol Engineering, an automation control system integrator, to install and implement the solution. Cybertrol Engineering and Van Meter used a phased approach to upgrade system software and add additional control to build resiliency while minimizing operational disruption.

“We have been working with Van Meter for many years, and it is a true partnership,” said Cybertrol Engineering Executive Vice President Tim Barthel. “Van Meter will diligently investigate a technical problem, collaborate with us on the optimal solution for the customer and then seamlessly integrate our experienced engineers in the deployment process. From the customers’ perspective, this unified approach ensures simplicity, excellent results and long-term support from both Van Meter and Cybertrol Engineering.”

Van Meter and Cybertrol Engineering are connected through Rockwell Automation’s PartnerNetwork of best-in-class partners serving up superior support and services, market-leading technology and a streamlined approach to business. Van Meter Smart Manufacturing Business Consultant, Josh Reitz, credits the PartnerNetwork for the ability to effectively help customers leverage data, protect assets and connect their workforce.

“It’s Rockwell’s comprehensive ecosystem of services and solutions partners that empower Van Meter’s smart manufacturing team to create meaningful change for customers,” he said.

Van Meter is one of the first electrical distributors in North America participating in Rockwell Automation’s new Information Solutions Value-Added Reseller (IS VAR) program. The program empowers its smart manufacturing team to partner with customers (like this university) that are looking to modernize their operations with information technology and software-related solutions.

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