WACKER’s Deepened Community Commitment Marks Transformative Year In 2023

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024
  • Ashley Bohle
The Wacker Commons is a 14,000-square-foot multi-purpose space with a seating capacity of 1,100 people, situated in Cleveland and serving the Bradley County area. It results from a strategic partnership between the PIE Innovation Center and Wacker Chemical Corporation. The facility hosts various events, including athletic competitions, college and career fairs and conferences, and showcases business and industry opportunities. The Wacker Commons is named in honor of Dr. Alexander Wacker, the founder of WACKER.
The Wacker Commons is a 14,000-square-foot multi-purpose space with a seating capacity of 1,100 people, situated in Cleveland and serving the Bradley County area. It results from a strategic partnership between the PIE Innovation Center and Wacker Chemical Corporation. The facility hosts various events, including athletic competitions, college and career fairs and conferences, and showcases business and industry opportunities. The Wacker Commons is named in honor of Dr. Alexander Wacker, the founder of WACKER.
Celebrating over a century in operation, Wacker Chemie AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany, charts a course of sustained growth and innovation. Since establishing its manufacturing operation in Charleston in 2015, WACKER has produced hyper-pure polysilicon vital for semiconductors, solar cells, and pyrogenic silica, a crucial component in creating silicone rubber. 

In 2023, WACKER deepened its community engagement with the following initiatives.

Performance Excellence (PeX) training combines Lean and Six Sigma components to improve safety, productivity, cost, quality and customer experience.
Six Sigma uses a step-by-step approach for its programs using the acronym DMAIC, which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. The Six Sigma program uses a belt certification program. “We want to build our employees’ capabilities and confidence first, then increased productivity will follow,” said Tony Neading, WACKER’s NCA Productivity Manager. “In Charleston, over 125 employees from Wacker sites across the United States received training, and nine individuals received Lean, Yellow, Green or Black belt certification in 2023.”

VetNet, an employee resource group launched in July, demonstrates WACKER’s commitment to supporting military veterans through resources, mentorship and community-building initiatives. Karla Walker, who served in the U.S. Navy, is the regional co-chair for VetNet.  “This employee resource group consists of not only veterans but parents, siblings, and supporters of veterans,” said Ms. Walker.  The Charleston site employs over 100 veterans, so this is an important initiative for our team.  

As part of the company’s ongoing commitment to community engagement, Wacker-Charleston Senior Director Ken Collins affirmed the company's pride in contributing to the community: "We've been pleased to be a part of the community," said Mr. Collins. “Team members can often be seen in the community volunteering at Habitat for Humanity and in the schools.”  The Charleston site proudly serves as a STEM BEST Partner with Bradley Central High and Yates Primary Schools. “ Our team enjoys working with students in STEM education, mentoring, and other education activities,” said Wacker-Charleston’s Community Relations Specialist – Communications Coordinator Lisa Mantooth.

One of the most impactful initiatives introduced in 2023 was the innovative TOPs Hi-SET Exam program to bolster education and workforce development. Wacker-Charleston's Human Resources Director Teri Cassem highlighted the program's aim to eliminate barriers for participants without high school diplomas, providing them with educational opportunities and a pathway to success. Ms. Cassem remarked, "There is a reason they did not complete high school in the first place. This program attempts to remove those barriers."  Students can prepare for their hi-set test and work at WACKER, all during a 40-hour week on site.  This program has been a life changer for the individuals who completed it, earning their high school equivalent diploma and a full-time job at the site.

Renaming the event space at the PIE Center to the Wacker Commons demonstrates our commitment to student education and success. Dr. Linda Cash, the director of Bradley County Schools, commended Wacker for contributing to the community’s appeal as a great place to live, work and raise a family. She said, "Wacker is a treasured friend and partner. We are grateful for their continued support, collaboration and generosity. The history and success of WACKER will be proudly displayed in the lobby for the community to enjoy.”

Throughout 2023, WACKER actively participated in community events, sponsoring Mainstreet Cleveland Friday Festivals and contributing to the vibrant atmosphere in downtown Cleveland. 

In the spirit of innovation and community support, WACKER-Charleston continues to set new standards that impact industry and society. The company remains dedicated to safety, excellence, growth and fostering strong community bonds as it moves forward.
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