Healthy Thinking: Local partnership offers fitness membership, wellness benefits to employees

December 28, 2014

Originally from The Morganton News Herald

While people everywhere are thinking about resolutions for the New Year, the Valdese factory of Kellex Seating is kicking off a major company-wide wellness initiative to make healthy changes possible for its employees.

Company leaders rolled out their plans for several new benefits and programs at an annual Christmas luncheon last week, speaking directly to employees about the changes they’re making to offer them better opportunities to get fit and lead healthier lifestyles.

Kellex announced that it will cover the full cost of an annual membership for each employee to the Jimmy C. Draughn Aquatics and Fitness Center. The individual memberships, which normally cost approximately $300, are being offered to the company at a discounted price through a newly established private-public partnership with the local government.

Valdese Town Manager Jeff Morse and other local leaders were guests at the luncheon and spoke to employees about the advantages of this new partnership.

“We have a very active wellness and fitness center and we have private memberships for individuals,” Morse said. “We wanted to expand this to our industries, especially with Kellex leading the way because they’re always oriented toward wellness for their employees.”

Morse said he knew it was a great concept when Kellex President and Owner Chris Rice approached the town about a partnership.

“Employees are going to have full access to the wellness and fitness center, as well as all the programs that we provide, organized and individual, for them to exercise and learn healthy life skills,” Morse said. “This is a new venture — it’s a fringe benefit that Kellex is offering to its employees and it’s a great private-public partnership. I think it’s going to be a great success.”

Kellex also is encouraging its people to participate in the town’s triathlon program, which will begin in January. It will provide organized training schedules and help people transition into regular exercise through running, biking and swimming. Participants will set a goal to participate in the program’s triathlon event in April.

“It’s not a race. It’s a self-motivating way to get involved in exercising,” Morse said. “It’s a ‘complete, not compete’ triathlon.”

Additionally, Kellex recently established a minute clinic within the factory that is offered in partnership with Burke Primary Care. Nurse Practitioner Leslie Cummings is available in the clinic to provide care for employees for four hours each day, five days a week. The clinic officially opened on Dec. 10, and Cummings said it has already served more than 30 people.

Rice said he hopes that the extra effort that Kellex is making to help its employees lead healthier lifestyles will encourage other local industries to take similar steps.

“If we do it, it pushes other people to do it,” Rice said. “Our goal is for the other industries in the area to do it, too.”

Morse said that he has always been impressed with the love that Kellex has for its employees, and he is confident that their work will inspire other local companies to take the same initiative.

“They truly have a relationship with their employees and you don’t always see a lot of that from the top down,” Morse said. “I know a lot of industries have a relationship with their people, but Kellex takes it a little bit further.”

Morse said that private-public partnerships like the one that Valdese has established with Kellex will help improve the community overall.

“Business and government are one in the same — we exist because private industry exists, and they exist because we exist. If they have a healthy workforce, it makes them more productive and it makes them more successful,” Morse said. “When industries are successful, the community is successful and government is successful — it’s all intertwined. Anytime we can partner with the private sector to improve the quality of life of our citizens, it’s a win-win.”

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