As Key Employees Near Retirement Age, Jade Manufacturing Turns to MEP Center to Educate and Empower Team

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Home / Results / As Key Employees Near Retirement Age, Jade Manufacturing Turns to MEP Center to Educate and Empower Team

Company Profile

Founded in 1945 by Arthur Boyle, Jade Manufacturing Company Inc has remained a family-owned business for three generations. President Chris Burch and Director of Manufacturing Steve Gruner are currently at the helm of the company which builds products to exacting military standards from their machine shop in Warwick, RI.

The company has won numerous awards for their work, including multiple Raytheon Operational Excellence Supplier Awards and the Rhode Island SBA Manufacturer of the Year. Jade currently has 18 employees.


Jade Manufacturing is run “like a family,” said Burch. They invest in skills training, reward loyalty and deliver on a positive work culture. As a result, employees tend to stay with the company a long time.

This longevity is both an asset and a concern. Jade focuses on avoiding high costs associated with frequent employee turnover. But at the same time, noted Burch, “If you have 8 guys of retirement age and 2 of them leave, the impact on sales and production will be big six months down the road.”

After a key employee left with little notice, Burch and Gruner felt it was a priority to bring some education to their other aged 50+ employees about retirement planning.

Jade Manufacturing has leveraged the resources of Polaris MEP, Rhode Island’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, many, many times over the years. The MEP team has supported the Jade team with everything from market research, to cybersecurity, to sales plans, to employee training and safety documentation.

Gruner and Burch did not think of looking elsewhere; they emailed Polaris MEP.


$210,000 retained sales; $55,000 increase in sales
$42,000 direct savings; $36,000 unnecessary investments avoided
2 new jobs; 3 employee positions retained
$85,000 invested in new processes, equipment, and workforce practices
Rhode Island glassblower designer Tracy Glover working in her studio

Jade Manufacturing has relied heavily on Polaris MEP over the past decade to provide critical information and advice at affordable rates. Keep up the exceptional services you provide to Rhode Island businesses. 

Steve Gruner
Director of Manufacturing, Jade Manufacturing Company


Polaris MEP strives to be “the resource” for RI manufacturers. When appropriate, the manufacturing consultants will connect clients with outside specialists.

To help Jade, the team reached out to two unbiased retirement planning advisors to put on a presentation and Q&A that would empower employees.

Gruner is himself over 60 and noted, “When the reality of retirement gets closer, and those numbers become real it’s like nearing the edge of a cliff and the drop becomes real too… anxieties rise.”

“Before we did this, Chris & I talked about how we didn’t want it to appear we were just trying to get employees to stay,” added Gruner. “We wanted to give them education to make them feel good about their decisions and, frankly, make them feel good that we have their best interests at heart.”

One trainer, Paul Cooney, focused on helping the older team members understand the financial implications of retirement timing. The other, Joe Sinapi,  addressed medical/health considerations. Both answered questions from the 8 workers in the room, showing how those two areas dovetail.


The casual lunch session proved very educational and empowering to employees. It also gave the two leaders needed insights for future-proofing their business. Many companies only think about succession planning for the CEO; seeing how heavily their team is weighted to older workers motivated Gruner and Burch to accelerate workforce changes.

Jade has hired two new team members who are younger and bring needed skills for an increasingly modernized sales and production environment. One will assist with project management and the other machine shop management. Both new Team Members will help Jade continue satisfying customers and grow sales. Jade also increased their investments in cross-training for all employees.

“In terms of morale, I don’t think I’d ever had anybody come up to me after one of these sessions and say “Wow, hey thanks,” said Gruner. “I had multiple people do that this time.”

Burch said the small investment of time and presenter fees is already paying off in tangible ways — future sales retained because the company won’t have excessive turnover that affects quality/productivity. Also, the high cost of recruiting/onboarding/training is avoided.

The biggest outcome of the session for Burch, however, was a personal one: “As much as we’d like [our older employees] all to stick around for another 15 years, it’s like family. We really want everybody to feel comfortable when they’re ready to go and know Jade supports their decision.”