GOSHEN — Lippert Components employees in the hundreds were brought together under the unifying banner of sport Saturday for the company’s first soccer tournament at Goshen College.
A first for Lippert, a supplier of components to the recreational vehicle, residential housing and numerous other industries, the tournament was the brainchild of Julio Cruz Reyes, a cultural integration coordinator for Lippert and one of the main organizer’s of the soccer matches.
“We have a division called Cultural Integration, and one of the things we decided to do is, we understood that sports is something that can bring people from many different backgrounds together, the love of sport,” Cruz Reyes said. “You can have many differences, but we all have that one thing in common. So that’s one thing that we decided to do is, give it a try, and let’s see the response from our team members, and go from there.”
Having anticipated maybe eight to 10 teams signing up to participate in the inaugural tournament, Cruz Reyes said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that the idea had really resonated with the company’s employees across multiple plants, garnering an overwhelming amount of buy-in.
“We ended up having more than 500 team members participating in this event,” Cruz Reyes said. “We have about 34 different teams, both men’s and women’s teams. And these are all Lippert team members, and all the teams are from different plants. So all the plants are being represented.”
Kicking off bright and early at 8 a.m., teams battled it out on the Goshen College practice fields throughout most of the day, eventually concluding with championship games for the top teams in late afternoon.
“We actually have a replica of the World Cup trophy that our team members are playing to win. Then the winners will also get a plaque, an LCI First Annual Soccer Tournament Championship plaque. That’s going to be given to each player who wins the championship as well,” Cruz Reyes said. “One of our core values at Lippert is being passionate about winning, so many of our team members from their respective plants are very passionate about the chance to bring back the trophy.”
While trophies and bragging rights are all well and good, Cruz Reyes was quick to note that the true goal behind Saturday’s tournament was fostering company unity and fellowship.
“This was pretty much just a fun way for us to bring all these different plants together and truly execute our mission statement from our company, which is ‘Making lives better by developing meaningful relationships with co-workers’. And the same holds true with our motto, which is ‘Everyone Matters’,” Cruz Reyes said.
“So now we are having our first-ever soccer tournament at Goshen College. Because of course, Goshen College is part of our community, and we want our mission to extend to the community as well. So it’s really just about bringing people together under the love of sport, celebrating our wins, and then just really celebrating ourselves, and getting to know each other more. We get to work with each other and next to each other for a long time every single day. So now, lets step outside and have some fun, and really celebrate and get to know each other.”
For Ana Galabic, a relatively new Lippert employee with just four months under her belt, word of the tournament and the reasoning behind it only served to bolster her already high opinion of the company and it’s mission. She was all-in.
“One of the great things about Lippert Components is that they like to build relationships and community to make lives better. That’s one of our core values, to be together and have a community,” Galabic said of the company. “So that’s what I feel the tournament is really about, just getting everyone at the plants together and getting to know each other.”
And given the success of Saturday’s tournament, Cruz Reyes said his hope is to make the tournament an annual event, company willing.
“I think we’ve had a very good response from this event. We have a lot of different nationalities taking part in this event. We have many team members from North America, from Central America and South America, from Africa, from all over the world. I think we have more than 10 different nationalities taking part in this event. So this is truly integrating, and exactly what our mission is all about,” Cruz Reyes said of the tournament’s positive impact. “So yes, we want to continue bringing that to our team members. And if our business allows it, we will continue to do things like this in the future. Our goal is to continue doing this every year if possible, absolutely.”