Louisville plywood company seeing record profits after increasing minimum wage nearly 40%

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – At a time when so many businesses continue to deal with the hardships of the pandemic, Winston Plywood and Veneer in Louisville continues to thrive.

One of the main reasons?

“The best way to compete in this marketplace is to have the best people, and the best people come with a bigger paycheck.”

Since July 2020, Winston Plywood has increased its minimum salary by nearly 40 percent. A starting wage of $15.25 an hour will be available on November 1, 2021.

“Our wages are the highest in our history and the business is doing better than it’s ever done before,” says president and CEO Bruce Warren. “I think that’s a great correlation.”

Warren says Winston Plywood saw profits go up after increasing their minimum wage from $11 to $13 an hour. They’re hoping that trend continues when they go up to $15.25.

“Better people are more productive and so you can afford to pay them more,” he says. “If you look at the cost of making plywood, better people make more plywood.”

Warren says the increase in pay is also aimed at giving them a competitive edge when recruiting new employees.

“People that are capable of running a machine, and people that drive high-lows (forklifts), those team members, coupled with maintenance team members, and a number of other positions are highly sought after,” he says.

It is also an investment into their existing workforce.

“We want our team members to have a career here,” Warren says. “We don’t want this to be a stepping stone to go somewhere else. And part of that is a fair wage.”

Shirley “Mac” Lee started out working in utilities with Winston Plywood in 2017. Now he’s the lead clerk for their shipping department.

“They take care of the ones that’s taking care of them,” Lee says. “If you come in and do a good job, they’ll reward you for it.”

Warren says it also goes back to their fundamental belief in paying their workers a livable wage.

“I have had a number of people that have come up and said, ‘You know, I’m able to finally buy my first house,” he says. “…it gives them more economic security and the less that our team members have to worry about, the better they do (on the job).”

Winston Plywood is currently in the middle of expanding, which will create the need to fill more of their higher-paying jobs. They are hosting a job fair Saturday at the Louisville Dome from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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