When the economic recession hit America’s industrial heartland, second-generation owner Mark Lamoncha used technology to empower his team members and save his family business.

Humtown has been producing industrial cores and moulds in Ohio since 1959. Just as it did to many other manufacturing businesses in the Midwest and around the world, the 2008 economic collapse brought disaster. Humtown went from more than 200 employees to 17.

Unbowed, Lamoncha saw an opportunity to implement an idea he had long been considering.

He knew that unlocking the human potential of his team members was the key to redefining Humtown’s competitive advantage. So, to heighten their engagement, he incentivised performance by converting the labour portion of the job to a visual earning rate in real-time, engaging them in their task. For Humtown team members, a higher output translates to a higher earning rate, which is updated every cycle and displayed on a nearby screen. To add to this, Humtown uses gamification to foster a dynamic of positive competition.

Lamoncha recognises that a business and the sum of its team members are one and the same: when team members win, the business wins.

Prioritising people has led to a wider transformation in Humtown’s culture, of which the visual earnings system is only a part. For example, there are no supervisors on the factory floor. Instead, there are performance coaches whose express purpose is to help workers and, by extension the business, perform better. The results are staggering: Humtown’s productivity increased by 400 per cent on the first job the system was installed on.