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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry presented the Award for Corporate Excellence to the head of Plantronics on Wednesday, commending the Santa Cruz headset maker’s corporate citizenship abroad.
Plantronics received the award for its environmental stewardship, innovative corporate culture and company achievements in Mexico where it employs about 2,200 people in a new state-of-the-art manufacturing and product development facility known as Plamex.
“The premium that Plantronics places on environmental stewardship alone probably would be enough to earn them the award of the ACE,” said Kerry in presenting the award. Kerry noted the facility has the largest rooftop solar power generator in Latin America.
“But, it’s what they do with their employees that really sets them apart,” Kerry said. “Plantronics does not just value their associates, it invests in them in every way — in their health, in their success and in their happiness.”
In presenting the award, Kerry cited the company’s unusually comprehensive employee initiatives that include preventative health care campaigns and services, subsidized vocational training, career development and traditional educational pathways and housing assistance.
The company “even helps its staff get married,” Kerry said, noting Plantronics tradition of helping workers navigate a costly bureaucracy around getting married. Plantronics provides wedding invitations, photos and a group ceremony.
“Folks, that’s a full service company,” Kerry said. “If that isn’t going above and beyond, I don’t know. It’s really no wonder the company’s been named Best Place To Work in Mexico three years in a row.”
Plantronics has a 42-year history making headset equipment in Tijuana, and in the last 15 years has earned a string of international and national accolades lauding Plamex.
“There are many remarkable things about Plantronics,” Kannappan said. “But, it’s really our people and our culture that set us apart.”
Rep. Sam Farr, who attended the ceremony, said Plantronics has promoted the best of American business ideals around the world.
“This Central Coast business has shown that taking care of your employees and your community are the first steps in building a world-class company,” Farr said in an email to the Sentinel.
Before the ceremony, Rosa Ruvalcaba who began with Plamex 18 years ago as a service center manager and was promoted to vice president of manufacturing about 18 months ago, said Plamex often receives corporate visitors, such as Toyota, Microsoft, Mattel and Panasonic, who want to see practices firsthand.
“The people are our jewel,” Ruvalcaba said. “We allow creativity. Not a lot of companies allow people to share thoughts and ideas and implement new ideas. It’s very different from other companies in Mexico.
The ACE honorees were selected this year from 43 nominations submitted by U.S. ambassadors. Plantronics was recognized in the new mid-size category. El Cajon-based Taylor Guitars was named in the small business category for its environmentally and socially responsible harvesting of rare ebony in Cameroon and Kentucky-based Fruit of the Loom won in the large company category for forging of a groundbreaking collective bargaining agreement with workers.
The state department has presented the award to two to three companies annually since 1999. It emphasizes “the important role U.S. businesses can play abroad to advance ethical practices and democratic values and to recognize exemplary conduct in their overseas operations.”
To view a video of the ceremony, visit http://video.state.gov.
Follow Sentinel correspondent Jennifer Pittman at Twitter.com/jenniferpittman