Volume 40,   Issue 10                          October  2005

Issue @ Hand

Team Spirits

Maybe it’s because this is being written at 5:30 in the morning on the day after the last game of the season for my beloved Washington Nationals. For awhile there in June we fans thought that today would be the start of their post-season competition. But the Nats ended their season where just about everyone expected them to: dead last. You know, it was a great ride and we still love them any way. 

Or maybe it’s because I so enjoyed reading Jack Welch’s latest book Winning. It’s one of the best bizlit books I’ve read in a long time. The key, he says simply, is the same for baseball as it is for business: the team with the best players wins. Simple. The company with the best players wins. Implicit in what Welch says is that the best players know how to form a team, and how to turn their own talent into a collective one that is greater than each of their team member’s individual contributions.

Or maybe it’s because I think I can tell (after all these years of visiting and writing about hundreds of companies) which teams have the best players. You just know it when you see it.

But it’s most likely because of the people at J.E. Berkowitz that I am thinking about teamwork today. The company celebrated its 85th anniversary—that’s right 85th—in late September with a celebration held at one of its premier projects: the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J. During those 85 years, the company has remained a family-owned business that is now in the midst of its third generation of management. And with great-granddaughter Julie, 17, who recently scored a perfect 800 on her Math SAT, I would have no doubt about the generations to come.

The company’s work is everywhere. It supplied the glass locally for the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell Pavilion, the Comcast-Spectator Wachovia Complex, among others, and internationally on jobs such as the World Trade Center in Shanghai, China, and Hakirya Towers (Israeli Ministry of Defense Headquarters) in Tel Aviv.

One of the things that made the celebration so enjoyable was its focus on the company’s employees. The high degree of respect and comfort between employees and the Berkowitz family was evident throughout the evening. It was great to hear everyone poke fun at president Arthur Berkowitz, and to meet his Dad, Ed.

“JEB is really unique in this day and age,” said Christine Norris who handles communications for the company. “They do what people say can’t be done. They are manufacturing high-quality products at reasonable prices right here in the United States, in the Delaware Valley. A lot of people say that can’t be done anymore, but Berkowitz does it.” And they do it quite impressively—to the tune of $40 million in sales a year.

It is amazing what you can do with a team of best players. For J.E. Berkowitz, their teamwork shows. For the Nats, there’s always next year. 


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