It started in 1951 with a gas station owned by Tom and Ada Beam. In 1953, they sold and installed seat covers and by 1955 they manufactured and sold seatbelts as an aftermarket safety device.
Today the 60 employees of Beam’s Industries create 850,000 seatbelts per year for amusement park rides, construction and agricultural equipment, fire trucks, ambulances and car restoration.
How does a seatbelt company stay in business for 59 years? It starts with a mission statement: Honor God by serving employees. “The mission statement provides direction for decision making,” says Edmond resident and Beam’s President, Mike Bosley.
Beam’s has twice been named one of the “Best Places to Work in Oklahoma. We’ve always been a company that cares about its employees. That was started by Mr. Beam,” says Chief Financial Officer, Frank Smith. “Our employees feel comfortable coming to us about personal issues and asking for help. We feel good about that.”
Sales Manager, Ed Pope has worked at Beams for over seven years. “This company puts Christian values out there and works to fulfill them. It’s the most respectful and caring organization I’ve ever worked for,” he says.
“The culture here is intentional,” says Neil Ferguson, director of manufacturing. “And there’s a list of people before us who started it. We create systems now that don’t let that die out.”
One notable change in 2002 was Open Book Management. Smith got the idea from Jack Stack, who developed ‘The Great Game of Business.’ Smith says, “I liked the culture of it. I wanted to make sure work was a place employees wanted to come to each day. I think God made us to work, but it shouldn’t be drudgery. Part of building that type of culture is building trust in ownership.”
Smith, who’s been with Beam’s for over 17 years, sees Open Book Management as a way to win at business. “It’s the single biggest thing to build trust,” says Smith. All financial data is shared with everyone in the company and each employee sees the same data. The only thing not shared is individual’s salaries. “We try to teach basic accounting to all employees,” says Bosley.
“Showing the numbers shows employees why you make the decisions you make,” says Smith. “Having the financial knowledge helps them assist customers better. They know, without coming back to ask, whether a deal can be done or not. You can’t be afraid to talk through financial decisions. Explain the decisions you make and commit to culture change.”
It’s not just the financial records that are open at Beam’s. Even the office layout is open. The president and CFO sit behind glass walls. An open room of cubicles houses directors, managers, administrative assistants and engineers. Windows look into the production area which is an open warehouse.
There is also no special treatment for managers. “Management is on rotation for break room and bathroom cleaning just like everyone else,” says Bosley.
Beam’s builds trust by building relationships with employees. In 2008, four employee-led “experience teams” were established. The teams include Communication, Community Involvement, Fun and the Spiritual, Personal and Professional Development Team.
Besides serving employees and building trust, Beams manufactures a quality product they believe in. “We make a product that saves lives,” says employee Mi Young Mangin.
With the launch of seatbeltplanet.com Beam’s is now able to supply seatbelts to the public. “It’s the first time seatbelts have been offered directly to the public,” says Bosley. Beam’s can install new webbing on old seatbelts. Through their site bucklebag.com, they sell a line of bags made out of seatbelt webbing
Beams is as strong and durable as the products it makes. Their mission to serve God by serving employees, open management style and innovative products makes Beam’s a dynamic company.