Primarily manufactures and remanufactures heavy-duty diesel fuel injection systems and related components.
Despite a 100-year-history as a business, AMBAC, which is partly owned by an ESOP, was struggling both financially and with its culture. Not only was the company facing threats in the marketplace and from its creditors, but it was also struggling to find ways to get its team working together toward a common future.
Implement The Great Game of Business® (GGOB) in August 2018 with the help of a coach, Kevin Walter, to help build a culture of ownership and engagement among the associates. CEO Robert Isherwood has also become a certified internal GGOB coach.
AMBAC turned to GGOB when it was on the brink of bankruptcy. The team then began an impressive turnaround. In 2019, AMBAC won GGOB’s Rookie of the Year award. But Isherwood says the company’s comeback journey remains ongoing. “In a lot of ways, we are still in ‘survival mode’ as the company turns around,” he says. “The most impactful thing GGOB has done to our financials is the simple fact that our financials are now a daily conversation. We may not always like it, but we know where we stand—and why.” Just as importantly, the culture inside the business has evolved from “the carpet people” versus the people on the shop floor, to understanding how everyone is working together toward their shared goals.
“GGOB has made us feel like more of one team, one family. We understand that this is "OUR" company. We take responsibility, and pride in the work we do, because we know how it affects the bottom line.”
~ Lori Murray, Marketing
Pain Points and Opportunities
Most companies are struggling to win the War for Talent these days. Not AMBAC. Named a Best Place to Work in South Carolina, the team continues to grow even through the pandemic and amidst fierce competition from other employers in their area. “We’re fortunate to operate in a city dominated by manufacturing,” says CEO Robert Isherwood. “Other companies are struggling to find people, we are not. We have been able to add some fantastic all-star level people, some of whom have been willing to join our team for less money in some cases because they are seeking greater responsibility and the opportunity to gain experience. We have found that there is not a talent shortage if you are truly a great place to work. We see ourselves as a factory that builds people.”
“It has been a great learning experience for me and makes for a laid-back workplace where everyone works together and helps to meet standard.”
~ Michael Yates, Assembly Tech
The AMBAC team created a MiniGame called “Tec-Rescue” whose goal was to decrease the cost of assembling a remanufactured fuel pump for one of their customers—to get down to a cost of “breakeven or better” since they had been losing money on every remanufactured pump. To kick the game off, team members broke down the assembly process to better understand what parts were being used and how they were put back together. They then assigned roles to those who could contribute best to the new process. The result was that the team lowered the cost of each pump where each one began to turn a profit instead of a loss.
The AMBAC team thinks a lot about the future of their business. As part of their strategic forecast, they identified a huge threat: their military business, which accounts for a huge percentage of their business, will soon drop to almost zero. “That reality has shifted our focus to ‘How are we going to keep everyone employed and dramatically change the product portfolio of the company?’” says Isherwood. “That has forced us to begin developing new products for new customers. It has been a hit to our profitability in the short term, but it is opening big opportunities for the future. We are making a massive investment in deciding who we want to be when we grow up and it is exciting to see how people are embracing thinking differently.”
“It has been a 100% change in the culture of AMBAC. It is now a better place to work!”
~ Raymond Keith Coleman, Lead Person