Milliken & Company (SC)Foster Critical Thinking
Milliken's Art of Innovation
On the career page of textile and chemical manufacturing leader Milliken & Company, the company claims that it seeks "innovators to lead in our quest for discovery, scientists and engineers to lead in our quest for continuous improvement, and strategic thinkers to lead in our quest for future growth.” To reflect these company values in a concrete way, Milliken displays art throughout its corporate campus in Spartanburg, South Carolina, providing a stimulating, inspiring environment that fosters employees' critical thinking and creativity.
Roger Milliken, the former Chairman and CEO of the company, was the primary patron of artist Harold Krisel, and Krisel’s artwork, fountains, and sculptures are focal points on campus. For Milliken’s campus courtyard, Krisel designed a 26,000 square-foot aeration pond with a stainless steel spray fountain. Other artists featured on the campus grounds, which are open to the public, include Marshall Maynard Fredericks, Dennis V. Smith, Omar Rayo, Klaus Ihlenfeld, Ellen Kochansky, Ilya Bolotosky, Elizabeth MacDonald, and others. The campus also features an arboretum.
Milliken believes that meaningful innovative design is more than just beautiful. It shifts the way people think and experience the world. In addition to displaying public art, Milliken’s Innovation Gallery illustrates the company’s approach to innovation and the resulting products. The gallery exists to portray the important role of creativity in the work environment, as well as to help stimulate and inspire Milliken associates to collaborate in designing products that solve problems on a human level.
Milliken’s campus also reflects the creativity of its employees. The company features an impromptu employee band (“The Associates”) that performs in various local venues such as Spartanburg Spring Fling and Music on Main and practices in the Kingsley Theatre at the company’s corporate headquarters. Local symphony quartets and high school performing arts troupes are also frequently featured at corporate meetings and conferences.
“Communities with thriving arts programs are proven to exude stronger, more vibrant cultures,” said Joe Salley, president and CEO of Milliken & Company. Many of the company’s employees serve the community’s cultural organizations. For example, several design employees and scientists have served as advisors for the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg’s STEAM Teacher’s Institute held at The Chapman Cultural Center and participated on a panel during the institute to discuss the importance of innovation in art and design both in the classroom and in the workplace. Over the history of the company, Milliken associates have also served on the governing Boards of Arts Council, The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, Ballet Spartanburg, Spartanburg Art Museum, Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, Spartanburg Science Center at the Chapman Cultural Center, and Music Foundation of Spartanburg.
“Innovation, art, and design are the heart of our corporation, and are inherent in our training,” said Salley. “The arts open our minds to the seemingly impossible and help us think with fresh perspectives, which is what our nearly 7,000 associates worldwide do every day to bring the Milliken spirit of innovation to life.”
It’s no wonder that Milliken was listed five times in Fortune magazine’s ratings of The 100 Best Companies to Work For and one of the BCA 10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts in America in 2014!