Richland Center Getting Healthy for Life

Richland Center employees are eating healthier, moving more and losing weight. Many of them will see improvements in their Numbers@Work health screening results this fall and save money on their 2016 medical premiums as a result. That’s because in May the facility kicked off “Healthy Living for Life,” a six-month challenge inspired by Kimberly Haskins Anderson, LVMCC Team Leader.

“I found myself drinking too much pop and not exercising. My blood pressure was up, I was tired all the time and I had a lot of pain in my joints. But I just couldn’t get motivated to lose weight or eat the right thing,” said Kimberly. “A few of us at work talked about doing some kind of weight-loss or food challenges. So we approached management about doing something plant wide, and they were all for it. After all, what better way to lose weight and eat right than to have a plant-wide challenge?”

Photo: The Fat Busters team—Rachel Gruner (team captain), Darlene Doudna, Grace Gruner and Cheryl Hilby—weighs in on Richland Center’s shipping scale.  

A Unique Approach

Richland Center has held weight-loss challenges before with limited success. So this time, the plant wanted to do something different. “We aligned the challenge with the fall health screenings, allowing employees to see health benefits and qualify for the premium discounts in the Health Management program,” said Eric Klang, Plant Manager. “This isn’t just about weight loss. It’s really a focus on healthy living.”

That aspect was appealing to Richland Center employees. When they invited everyone at the plant to join in, 129 people—about 35% of the plant—signed up. “It is so exciting to be part of a program that promotes the fact healthy living is a lifestyle, not a diet,” said Sandy Matteson, Warehouse Team Leader.


Another key difference is that much of Healthy Living for Life is employee-driven. Employees serve on the Steering Committee, which guides the program, and as team captains, attending captain’s meetings and reporting back to their teams. “I really like how everyone is involved and gets to give input,” said Rachel Gruner, Manufacturing Associate. “And that the program gives incentives for different challenges.”

Photo: Richland Center Healthy Living for Life participants (click photo to enlarge)

How It Works

To keep participants engaged and the program fresh, Richland Center added several popular features like monthly challenges and team weigh-ins. Here’s an overview:

  • The Steering Committee sets monthly goals and challenges. Challenges inspire participants to do everything from exercising to drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables. For example, last month, participants could choose to try organic foods, eliminate sugar or count calories. The goal is to educate people to make these actions part of everyday living.
  • People compete in teams for challenges and weight loss. There are 30 teams with three to four members each. Because it’s a team-based challenge, there are no individual weigh-ins. Team members weigh in together on the plant’s shipping scales.
  • They earn points for prizes. Teams get points for losing weight and/or completing monthly challenges. The team with the most points each month gets $25 You ROKs for each member. The teams with the most points at the end will get a bigger prize. But it seems most people are participating for the camaraderie and motivation. “The challenges within this competition make the lifestyle easier to adapt to,” said Sandy.
  • They have fun with it. The first challenge was to choose the best team name. Participants got creative with names like The Cereal Killers, Chunky Monkeys, The Fat & The Furious and Dump the Rump (the winning team name). The Steering Committee also keeps things upbeat by giving away Rockwell Automation water bottles.RichlandCommsBoard
  • They communicate a lot. There’s a Healthy Living for Life communication board in the plant. Employees can see the monthly and overall leaders, get free passes to local exercise facilities, find coupons for organic foods, learn about new weight-loss or fitness apps, share healthy recipes, and more.
  • Participants get support but not advice.“We’ll tell them not to drink anything bad, and they’ll ask ‘what is bad?’ We’ll say we want you to look it up and make the decision for yourself. You decide,” said Sally Gald, Production Control Analyst. “We leave it up to the people to make the decisions because once the challenge is over, understanding what is good or bad is key.”

Photo: Team captains Kim Haskins Anderson (of team Well Rounded) and Todd Kaukl (of team Chisled) show off the communication board.

Results So Far

With time left to go on the challenge, employees have lost weight—580 pounds in the first three months!—and made impressive lifestyle changes. “I quit drinking Diet Pepsi. I used to drink about four to five bottles a day. I eat more fruits and veggies, and I exercise and walk more than ever before,” said Kimberly, a member of the Steering Committee. “I’m having fun, feeling better, eating good food and hoping to save money on my health insurance.”

She’s not the only one. “People hope to have better results on their screenings. You can see it. They put up the sign-up sheets early in August for the screenings. Nearly 150 signed up in the first week and the screenings aren’t until October,” said Noah Krachtt, Production Manager. “Attendance for the health screenings is going to be great this year.”

Given their efforts over the past month, there’s no question participants will see better numbers this year. But more important, they’ve adopted good lifestyle habits that will help them stay healthy for life.

If you have questions about the challenge or starting one at your location, feel free to contact Sally Gald or Eric Klang.