Alum’s Company Aims to Foster Community, Camaraderie, and Cohesion
Mark Rohlfs ’93 wants employees at the manufacturing company he co-founded to feel a sense of belonging, and he has gone to great lengths to ensure his employees continue to be engaged as members of a team throughout the pandemic.
December 8, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Mark Rohlfs ’93 says his goal was to create the type of workplace that was important to him – an environment where employees felt valued and had input into their work experience. He co-founded his own business with his sister, Nancy, to do just that.
Now president of East Coast Precision Manufacturing, a company based in Chester, Conn., that produces precision-machined plastic parts, Rohlfs enjoys serving not just as his employees’ boss, but as a mentor and friend.
“The most rewarding part of my career is taking care of my employees,” he said. “I am proud of the education that they receive, the fair compensation, and the friendly workplace environment.”
Dedicated to creating a sense of community in the workplace, Rohlfs made sure the entire team got together for outings outside of work every three months, before the coronavirus global pandemic. They also planned regular activities at the shop, including team-building events. They have continued to stay connected during the pandemic, and a physically-distanced outing earlier this year brought them to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Conn.
‘Don’t let opportunities pass you by’
A third-generation machinist, Rohlfs earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of New Haven. As a student, he experienced a sense of community, much like what he strives to create at his company, among his classmates and professors.
“My time at the University helped me learn the skills and discipline that I would need for running a business,” he said. “I gained confidence in my ability to persevere through difficult tasks, and to succeed. I always believed the professors had a genuine interest in my understanding of the subject matter. It was important to them that I learned.”
Rohlfs discussed recruiting and working with Generation Z employees in a story featured in a recent issue of Modern Machine Shop magazine. He says that those who own and manage machine shops are increasingly recruiting and hiring members of Gen Z – a cohort that includes many current University of New Haven students.
Rohlfs describes his Gen Z employees as “hard workers, tech savvy, and who work as a team,” and he offers this advice to current students at the University.
“Work hard, and keep learning to keep yourself moving forward,” he said. “Live inside your means, and don't let opportunities pass you by.”