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By Tom Brown, Executive Director, Corporate Production and Sustainability, Brewer Science

Brewer Science is a global technology leader and manufacturer of innovative materials and processes used in the fabrication of semiconductors and microelectronic devices. In 1981, the company revolutionized lithography processes with its invention of Brewer Science® ARC® anti-reflective coatings, one of the many innovations we’ve produced that helps make electronic devices as small, fast and affordable as they are today. Our products and solutions are an important part of the tablet computers, smartphones, digital cameras, televisions and LED lighting that you use every day, and we run our business right here in Missouri.

Unlike so many of our competitors, we’re not located in a big city on one of the coasts, or in a typical “silicon community” in a booming metropolis with a large population. Brewer Science’s corporate offices are in Rolla, Missouri (a great town with a population of approximately 20,000), and our second manufacturing facility is down the road in Vichy, Missouri.

We also have several small satellite sales offices located strategically around the world, and another facility in nearby Springfield. The core of Brewer Science was built and remains in rural Missouri, and we’re proud of that fact. With over 400 employees, we’re an important part of our community, and our community is incredibly important to us. But being in the heart of rural America as we are, we do face some challenges to compete nationally and internationally.

Our biggest single challenge is relationship building.
We’re simply not located near our customer base, and the nearest major airport is 100 miles away in St. Louis. That means it’s no simple task for clients or potential customers to drop in to see us and our facilities; once they fly into the Midwest, it’s an hour and a half drive to our corporate offices, and another 15 minutes to our manufacturing plant. So yes, our location is a challenge, but it is not a problem.

We overcome the challenge of our rural location through a variety of proactive sales, marketing and public relations efforts:

  • Travel. We travel a lot. Nothing replaces the value of personal interaction with potential new clients and customers. Until they know Brewer Science, they’re not likely to happen upon us in Rolla, so we have to go to them.

  • Teleconferencing / Videoconferencing / Web Conferencing. We are power users of modern communication tools to interact as directly and effectively with our customers as possible. Nothing replaces face-to-face, in person meetings entirely, but these tools are the next best thing when it comes to building and retaining strong client relationships, and we use them every day.

  • Corporate Videos. We produce a wealth of corporate videos on a variety of topics, including the history of Brewer Science, our environmental stewardship and initiatives, product overviews, technical concepts and applications, plant tours, our corporate culture, research and development, quality management systems and much more. Videos give prospects and customers the opportunity to learn more about Brewer Science, and to see the high quality and expertise we bring to the table. Our videos help drive customer visits and sales!

  • Webinars. The world of high tech has myriad opportunities for webinars to explain and teach important operational and manufacturing concepts, provide product demonstrations, explain software applications and more. Webinars are an important tool to help customers understand the features and benefits of our products, and how we can become a valued supplier to them.

  • Press Releases. Brewer Science regularly circulates press releases to a variety of industry trade publications and media outlets. Press releases get our name out there as an authoritative industry expert, and they also have great value for our website and search engine optimization efforts.

  • Ebooks. We promote ebooks on topics such as sustainable manufacturing, technical applications and processes, scientific industry news and more.

  • Blog. Our online blog is very active and full of insightful, informative articles and information. We’re careful not to just tout Brewer Science; our blog is designed to have a much broader educational and informational value, and postures us as an authoritative resource in our field.

  • Social Media. You’ll find Brewer Science on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media forums, and we keep them active. We release regular updates on important company and industry information, and direct followers to our website and other useful resources.

  • Community Outreach. We participate in and sponsor a number of charitable organizations and community events. It’s a critical part of our public relations that honors and respects our community, and presents the company as an important part of the community, and a great place to work.

  • Tradeshows and Industry Events. We exhibit at and attend important industry expos and events, which helps promote Brewer Science and creates opportunities to meet new customers and networking partners.

  • Website. We are fanatical about enhancing, improving, updating and maintaining our website to consistently present a strong, top quality image and offer our prospects and customers a valuable resource for information about our products and our R&D expertise, as well as important industry information.

  • Web Presence. Brewer Science recognizes the tremendous importance of managing every facet of our web presence, including where we advertise and publish information, where we’re listed in online forums and directories, external linking to our site, staying on top of web analytics, and more. Search the web for “Brewer Science” and you’ll see what I mean; we dominate the first 5 or 6 pages of search results. That doesn’t happen by accident, we work hard at it.

Our other biggest challenge is finding and retaining good people.
Again, this is a challenge, but not a problem. Because of who we are as a company, the way we treat our people, our commitment to quality and innovation, and our relationship with our community, good people want to come work for us.

We overcome the workforce challenge by fostering a workplace environment where people want to be, and by taking a proactive approach to finding the best talent. That applies to positions at every level in the company, from the simplest role to the most skilled. Here are some of the things we do to ensure we have the best talent in our recruitment pool.

  • Corporate Culture. Brewer Science is incredibly proud to have been the recipient of multiple “Best Place to Work” awards over the years. We realize that how we treat each member of our team is the foundation of our ongoing success. Some facets of our philosophy include:

    • People first. It’s not all about the bottom line. Nothing is more important than our people, and that means everyone, at every level. We support and believe in our people at work, in their personal challenges and endeavors, and in the community. When we trust in our people and treat them with respect and dignity, they reward us with incredible dedication and loyalty; they become members of the Brewer Science family. From our maintenance team, to line operators, engineers, managers and executives, everyone is respected and supported as an important and valued member of the team.

    • Promote from within. When we have opportunities, we always do our best to find the best person for the job from within our ranks, helping them assume a mantle of greater responsibility, so they can continue to grow to their highest capability. When we promote from within, we give that individual all the support, training and mentoring we can to help them succeed in their new roles.
    • Leadership. Dr. Terry Brewer, our founder and leader, works hard all day every day, and he instills that work ethic throughout the company. When the workplace environment is powerfully positive, and leadership at all levels embraces the needs of their people in concert with the needs of the company, everybody wins. Great leadership isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about leading through example and giving them the power to grow and be an important, valued part of the team.
    • Empowerment. We listen to our people. They know that their ideas are taken seriously, that their input on improvements is always respected and appreciated. The employees at Brewer Science have the power to impact change, and we hope that gives them a feeling of ownership in the mission and environment of the company.
  • Recruiting. This is an integral part of our Human Resources Team, and it’s not about placing “help wanted” ads. We have a recruitment team dedicated to finding the right talent. We focus our recruitment efforts on hiring at entry level, which allows us to grow and develop our talent. Our philosophy is focused on networking to seek out qualified candidates to invite into the Brewer Science family, not just waiting to see who comes through the door or answers an ad.
  • Interviewing. Like every company, we look for the right skills and talents to fill positions, but we place just as much importance on the type of person we want to hire. In our case, we want people who believe they can make a difference in the world, and who are motivated by the challenge of achieving. Our pre-hire interviews emphasize what Brewer Science can do for the job candidate, and how they will become an important part of the company. Applicants are interviewed by a top-level executive or director before an offer is given, showing the investment in the people we employ from the top down.
  • Internship/CO-OP/Post Doc Program. Each year, we invite 30-60 individuals to join us for an incredibly valuable hands-on job experience. Brewer Science has built this program to the point where we have internship/CO-OP/Post Doc inquiries coming from all over the world. We use this program to find talent with interests and promise in specific areas of focus. It’s an excellent opportunity to evaluate and screen potential employees through direct interaction and experience in the work environment. Many of our best hires began through this program.

    We also challenge the participants to focus on “giving back,” by raising awareness of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and manufacturing. We do this by supporting local curricula at the K-12 level, participating in events not only in Missouri and the United States, but in Europe and Asia as well. Over the last 5 years, this program has raised $15,000, which was matched by Brewer Science, providing $30,000 to assist with classroom science curricula in Belle and Vienna, Missouri.

Brewer Science embraces its role as a high-tech company in a small-town community. We proactively reach out to customers using all the tools and resources of the modern business world, and we offer a workplace environment where people want to come to work. As a result, we continue to grow and prosper, and we’re consistently able to hire and retain top quality people.