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4-day week works for Fort Wayne company

CEO Fred Merritt doesn’t have a crystal ball – he just pays attention.

So a decade ago, Riverside Manufacturing, 14510 Lima Road, began a four-day workweek that includes production coming to a halt.

The business makes vehicle components for defense, fire and emergency agencies, delivery firms and other industries.

Just not on Fridays.

“We were very proactive,” Merritt said of the company’s 10-hour days. “The four-day workweek results in a much more relaxed environment. Employees in administration are able to tie up loose ends prior to the weekend without the pressure of production.”

Merritt said the 300-person company has experienced improved attendance and morale.

“Workers are able to tend to personal matters like doctor or dentist appointments that they may have had to deal with during the work week,” he said. “We’ve also had minimal turnover, and there is less stress on Monday because workers were able to look after matters without the hustle and bustle of production.”

The company recently touted an agreement with the Allen County Highway Department. Riverside installed modules in a number of dump trucks that allow drivers of the vehicles to maintain greater control over electrical system functions, such as activating the salt spreader.

Such contracts are, in part, the result of administrative staff being free to concentrate on other products and contracts on Fridays, Merritt said.

“It is working out well,” he said.

Executives also worry whether technology overload interferes with business.

Mark Becker is the newly appointed CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. The organization is the merger of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Wayne-Allen County Economic Development Alliance. The group’s goal is to create a common vision when discussing investments and job creation.

Becker said one of the things he is monitoring is the use of technology as he blends the two staffs.

“Everything moves so fast nowadays,” he said. “We want to make sure that we use smartphones, tablets and other (devices) effectively and that they don’t detract from productivity.”