About OPEX

Values & Principles

9 Values | 9 Principles

The values of OPEX go beyond being merely corporate, as they are deeply rooted in the Stevens family’s values. Al Stevens, the company’s founder, believed that while family values were important, he wanted to establish some basic principles to guide the company toward a successful future. For this purpose, he created a planning group consisting of representatives from various departments of OPEX. Taking them offsite, he tasked them with identifying the fundamental ideas or principles that could explain the company’s success.

Values

A Personal Perspective on Our Values

Kathy Stevens, Stevens Family Member

The values of OPEX are not just corporate…they are our family’s values. Donna Stevens and I greatly respected our in-laws, Al and Joanna Stevens, the founders of OPEX. They modeled to us their work ethic, integrity, and belief in the value of the individual, which is foundational at OPEX. As David (OPEX CEO) and I raised our four children, and as Mark (OPEX COO) and Donna raised their two children, stewardship, trust, and service were principles that we tried to incorporate into our parenting styles. Perhaps the most fascinating real-life laboratory to test organizational flexibility and fairness was on the twelve extended family vacations we took together!

Although these values are important to all of us, we are human and have sometimes stumbled. But these shared values have helped redirect us and are guideposts that draw us together. There is an awareness amongst our family that we are blessed, and with that blessing comes great responsibility.

I am so thankful for the foundation that Al and Joanna laid. I have great respect and love for David and Mark. They have worked hard and led with strength. And there are the six grandchildren of Al and Joanna who carry on this legacy. Whether they work at OPEX or not, they are practicing these principles in their lives.

Kristen, Jonathon, Ashley, Jenny, Alex, and Andrew have traveled different paths but have been nurtured with the same values. I am humbled to see how this generation has grown and how they have chosen to share their views of “family values.” I hope that as you read the thoughts expressed by our family, you will share with me the excitement I feel for OPEX’s future.

Integrity
Dave Stevens, President and Chief Executive Officer

At the core of integrity is being whole and behaving in a unified way in one’s life. But integrity is more than just acting consistently. It is acting consistently with moral principles dictating your direction.

Early in the history of OPEX (before my Dad bought the company), there were people in key management roles who were chronic liars. My Dad said that lying was such a way of life with them that they would tell a lie even when the truth was better. After my dad bought the company, he made it clear that lying would not be tolerated. To this day, we practice truth-telling as part of a culture of integrity.

Integrity is a lifelong endeavor of living and acting in a moral, upright way. I am reminded daily that there are people with cell phones. They are recording the images of how we do life and conduct business. When we turn on the five o’clock news and see our image displayed in high definition, will we be pleased with how that image has defined us? I hope they close the TV segment with the words, “He is a man of integrity.”

Truth
Mark Stevens, Chief Operating Officer

Today’s society has lost the notion that we should always tell the complete truth. It seems good enough to most people if we simply do not lie. I submit that if we intentionally say something that we know will mislead people, then in essence we are lying. There is a big difference between telling the complete truth and saying something that is technically correct but would be misleading if taken at face value.

At OPEX, we must model a culture of truth. Sometimes, it might seem reasonable to mislead someone, but we must resist the temptation. Speaking the truth may, in some cases, hurt us in the short term, but in the long run, it always leads to the best outcome.

Even if the truth costs us an order or causes us to make a special trip to see a dissatisfied customer, in the end, we can all sleep well at night, not worrying about whether we will be caught lying because lying is not acceptable at OPEX. We simply don’t do business – or life – that way.

Fairness
Ashley Lamb, HR Administrative Staff

We live in a culture that teaches us to “look out for number one” – ourselves – no matter what. But in the Stevens family, we learned to do things much differently. It isn’t about whether we are receiving fair treatment but whether we are giving it. Our faith that God helps, especially when being fair, is hard.

I’ve observed with our family that being fair is an opportunity you sometimes need to actively seek out. It is important to examine how our actions affect others: family, friends, co-workers, and customers. My family has always been very intentional about how they affect others. For example, OPEX seeks to provide adequate healthcare to its employees fairly, regardless of their position in the company. Providing great healthcare is simply a matter of fairness, of doing what’s right.

Stewardship
Al Stevens, Chairman of the Board

Stewardship is a principle taught in the Bible. A steward is a caretaker entrusted by the owner to guard and invest what has been given through careful use of time, talent, and wisdom to improve its worth. A caretaker is accountable to the owner for the results that are produced. We are caretakers of everything we have in life, including OPEX Corporation. This is an awesome responsibility when you consider all the families that depend on OPEX for their livelihood.

We are also conscious of our need to be good stewards of the world God has given us. In April 2012, we took a major step to become one of the largest commercial companies in New Jersey to meet all of our electrical power needs through solar panels. The initial investment was significant, but it will result in savings lasting for several decades and benefit the environment.

Organizational Flexibility
Jon Stevens, Director of OMATION

Organizational flexibility is the ability to understand and manage change. I believe that change within OPEX can be structured within our culture, industry, and employees. When I think of flexibility, I think of a rubber band. You can stretch and change the shape of a rubber band. You can pull a rubber band in all directions. However, if you pull it too far, it breaks.

Looking back twenty years, I can think of many illustrations where OPEX has demonstrated its organizational flexibility. A few major examples stand out. 2003, we were getting our feet wet in the scanner market. We had a great idea to take a scanner and place it on top of our Rapid Extraction Desk. That was a tremendous success. Since then, we have changed the product numerous times to meet customer demands.

Our entry into the Warehouse Automation marketplace is probably the most remarkable example of organizational flexibility. I believe our rubber band is being stretched more than ever in this new product market. Yet, we have not reached the snapping point because even though we are flexible, we stay within the boundaries of our other corporate principles and values.

Servanthood
Jen Hale, Stevens Family Member

As I grew up, I began working in OPEX’s HR department. One of my favorite tasks was to help plan company lunches that happened each month. As we would order the food and prepare for the lunch, I was always amazed at how many people wanted to help. Whether it was picking up the food, going to the store to buy food if we were having a cookout, or setting up tables, there was never a shortage of help. It also struck me that we never had problems finding managers to serve the food. Any time we asked, the answer was always “yes.”

Not only was this something the managers loved to do, but it was sometimes quite entertaining for all of us to watch! Some were better than others. However, their attitudes were always positive. It was humbling to watch and was yet another reminder of how thankful I was to work somewhere where managers loved to serve those who worked for them.

As I have grown up, moved away, and worked for other organizations, I have realized how essential this corporate value is. It forces all of us to look past our selfishness and serve those around us at work, in our community, and homes. If we cultivate the value of servanthood to those around us, ordinary people will do extraordinary things. I am thankful to have watched and continue to watch; this trait grows at OPEX.

Strong Work Ethic
Alex Stevens, President Warehouse Automation

Most of us will have different jobs, roles, and responsibilities throughout our lives and careers. When we work hard at whatever role we are in, our experiences will inevitably help us in the future. In an organization the size of OPEX, there are many interdependencies. Part of what motivates me (and others) to work hard at my job is knowing that we depend on one another in this organization. If I work hard and do a good job, then in a small way, it allows other individuals in the organization to flourish and keep doing their jobs.

We all have an active role in working hard, doing our best, and keeping the organization moving forward to continue to provide for our families.

Thomas Jefferson is often quoted as saying, “I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the luckier I get.” The basic concept behind this is that the harder we work, the more opportunities we open ourselves up to, and the more likely we are to be successful.

As an organization, I like to think that if we all continue working hard and doing a great job at our specific function, we will continue making great products and creating more opportunities for ourselves.

People More Than Position
Drew Stevens, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing

Many companies view their employees as assets that possess specific skills. Employees’ skills define their rank within the hierarchy of the organization.

Recognizing employees as human beings and not as skill sets promotes an egalitarian corporate culture that de-emphasizes hierarchy and breaks down artificial barriers. Employees can connect with senior leadership at OPEX professionally and personally because they are valued as people, not defined by their position.

“People More Than Position” dictates how we treat others at OPEX. But it also reflects a personal attitude of how we view ourselves. If we believe that a professional title doesn’t make us superior to others, then we will naturally treat our fellow employees with respect.

“People More Than Position” has been a corporate value of OPEX since its founding. OPEX’s business practices model that value. Employees have open access to senior leaders in an environment that de-emphasizes the importance of title. The culture of OPEX reinforces the focus on people.

Trust
Kristen Miranda, Executive Support Coordinator

Trust is something that we do regularly without even recognizing it. Sitting in a chair, we trust that it will hold us up. When we walk into a building, we trust that the roof will not collapse on us. But trust is more than believing things won’t let us down. Trust involves people.

Over the past few years of working at OPEX, I’ve seen how trust is woven through almost everything we do. I have learned to trust those around me to help me get my job done. I have to trust that Production will build the machines correctly, that Shipping will ship them to the correct location, that Service will show up to install the machines, and that Sales will present the correct message to our customers and prospects. In an organization where teamwork is required, trust is essential.

But trust goes two ways. Not only is it important to trust others, it’s important to be trustworthy. To me, being someone people can trust is just as important as trusting others.

As a family, we recognize that each employee trusts us. We know that you trust us for your livelihood. This is not something that we take lightly. When decisions are made about growth and expansion, one of the big considerations is: Will we be able to sustain this position if the growth does not continue at the current rate? One of the reasons we ask this is because each employee trusts OPEX to provide their next paycheck. We recognize that not only have you put your trust in us, but in many ways, you have put the well-being of your family in our trust. To our family, that’s important.

“After all, we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We will also readily admit that these “principles” keep calling us to live within their boundaries.”

– Al Stevens, Chairman of the Board

Principles

In 1993, Al Stevens took a planning group to an off-site meeting to address the organization’s future. The planning group was comprised of representatives from various departments within OPEX.

The assignment was to identify the basic ideas or principles that would help explain the company’s success. In the four years leading up to this task, OPEX moved to a new location and introduced several exciting products to the marketplace. It was the appropriate time in the history of OPEX for the founders to formalize these principles so they could communicate to the rest of the family.

Those who participate in the day-to-day activities at OPEX will be the first to confess that we have not always lived within the boundaries of the Nine Corporate Principles. After all, we are not perfect. We make mistakes. We will also readily admit that these “principles” keep calling us to live within their boundaries. Our hope is that they are more than words decorating our office walls and coffee mugs.

Conduct all business in a fair and honest manner.
Michael McLain, Regional Service Manager

“Conduct all business in a fair and honest manner” is the first of the nine corporate principles, and rightly so, for it is possibly the most crucial principle that any company can hope to adhere to.

We need to remember that without our customers, we have no business, so we must not try to “put one over on them,” as it were. This means being forthcoming about what you can and cannot do for your customers. Recognizing those boundaries and upholding them is essential.

Ideally, we should strive to make every customer feel like our only customer. Remember, our “business” is not just in our dealings with our customers, but it’s also our interactions within the company itself. When we are “fair” and “honest” with our coworkers (be it Tech Support, Management, or a fellow Field Technician), we only strengthen the foundation of the company and, in turn, ensure the stability and security of our own livelihoods.

So, when we think to “conduct all business in a fair and honest manner,” we need to remember that it’s not just about fixing a piece of equipment when it’s down and not working: It’s everything we do; every piece of paperwork we fill out, every conversation we have, and every set of eyes that we make contact with.”

Listen and be responsive to customers’ needs.
Lonnie Amico, Receptionist

To listen. What does that mean to “listen” to someone? For me, it is being focused and fully present to what is being said. You cannot be distracted and partially listening or thinking about something else as the person is speaking to you. A good listener isn’t thinking ahead of what kind of response he or she is going to give as the person is speaking; the good listener is simply listening to what is being said.

Often, I am the first contact for a customer or prospect when they call in to OPEX. So it is very important to be pleasant and do my best to answer their questions.

If a customer has a personnel or product problem, I want to resolve the problem as soon as possible so that the customer has another reason to remain loyal to OPEX. If a prospect calls, I want to make sure their experience with OPEX is favorable, and that starts with me. When we listen carefully and respond in a timely manner with answers to their needs, it increases the likelihood that they may become a customer.

There have been times when I have been asked a question by a customer that I cannot answer. When this happens, I let them know that I will connect them with someone I know who can help them.

The non-negotiable for any receptionist – actually, for all of us – is simply this: “Listen and be responsive to the customer’s needs.”

Recognize the value of the individual.
Vinay Shah, Engineering Supervisor – System Development Support

In a crisis, your family is your backbone and support system to rely on as you navigate through the rough waters. During difficult times, we realize how much our family and friends really mean to us. I am very fortunate to have two families: My blood-related family and my OPEX family. 

When my own family went through a crisis, my OPEX family was there for us the entire way. The Stevens family sent flowers to the hospital. My colleagues and superiors always made sure to ask how my wife was doing and if I needed anything. Despite their busy schedules and ownership status, Mark and Dave Stevens made sure to obtain regular updates about my wife’s condition.

This is not out of character for OPEX. This is a company that is dedicated to recognizing every individual and supporting them through thick and thin. It has been heartwarming to see how OPEX employees are willing to help others overcome tragic events that occur from time to time, such as the passing of loved ones, house fires, and family health crises. Whether it’s offering financial support, moral support, or flexible hours, OPEX is always there to help.

OPEX leadership excels at caring for their employees, and I am blessed to be a part of a great organization with great people.

Maintain conservative financial management, which will dictate future growth.
Melissa Rainho, Assistant Controller

The premise of maintaining conservative financial management has never been more evident to me than it has in the past few years. Both personally and professionally, I’ve seen individuals and companies struggle because they were not acting as stewards of their finances.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve all witnessed global supply chain challenges and economic fallout. Maintaining conservative financial management not only helps you keep your head above water during difficult times, but it allows you to continue to grow and take advantage of opportunities available. I have no doubt this principle has helped us navigate the waters during this time.

It is important to remember that we are all stewards of the company’s finances. Our growth is dependent on the decisions we all make in our day-to-day roles. From purchasing supplies, to bringing in revenue, to being conservative while traveling, all these responsibilities have a direct impact on our future growth.

Move ahead continually and deliberately to ensure the ongoing survival of the company.
Mike Sparango, Mechanical Engineering Supervisor

To look like “a deer in headlights” is a well-known American expression referring to someone who is stunned or at a loss for words when caught off-guard. Instead of reacting, they freeze up completely.

In a fast-paced business environment, we don’t ever want to get caught off-guard or fail to react to sudden shifts or changes. OPEX is committed to moving in a direction that makes sense for today’s environment as well as future business needs. Our employees handle today’s tasks, while at the same time recognizing that a rapidly changing market may require another set of skills for future assignments.

We believe you must move ahead continually and deliberately, or you are likely to fall behind and fail. We live this principle daily by continually reinvesting in products through more sophisticated engineering and manufacturing processes, customer-driven software enhancements, and well-defined work cell configurations for machine assembly.

For instance, in 2007, we entered the mixed-mail sorting market with an innovative product for high-density mail storage and sorting: The Mail Matrix® mail sorter. This mail sorter then gave birth to a product idea that might be one of the boldest moves in our history: What if, rather than delivering an envelope to a bin, you reversed direction and retrieved from a bin, not an envelope but a product? With this idea, the “Perfect Pick” was born, and our business deliberately surged ahead.

Exercise freedom from tradition and convention if a better method can be devised.
Tanya Hamlin, Process Design Analyst

In its 49+ years, OPEX Corporation has always exercised freedom from tradition and convention by devising better methods in all of our products and their revisions. It’s no different for OPEX’s production lines. We began a couple of years ago by using collaborative robots, which brought us into Industry 3.0. Recently, production started delving into Industry 4.0 by utilizing an IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) application called “Tulip.” Tulip provides data quickly, serving customer requests and meeting compliance requirements.

The data Tulip outputs help our production departments build quicker and smarter while being able to broadcast results in real-time. Even though it meant moving away from the traditional OPEX production line, moving our Sure Sort iBot line to an IIoT application has proven to be a better method. We’ve eliminated the need to extract data from our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system a month after assembly to determine our production quality and the “low-hanging fruit” necessary for continuous improvement. Now, we can communicate items of concern quickly and effectively.

OPEX will always devise better methods to be world leaders in the industries we serve. We will also strive to bring that same tenacity to improving our production lines in the manufacturing world. We can’t wait to see what Industry 5.0 brings.

Focus on business expansion only in related fields.
George Muttathil, Mechanical Engineer

This principle has been carefully chosen by our founders to remind us that when we try to expand into new areas, we should not stray too far from what made us successful in the past.

On the surface, it may look like this principle contradicts what OPEX has done historically. OPEX started as a payment remittance processing company, then expanded into digital document scanning, sorting, and then robotic warehousing. At first glance, this might seem like we’ve drifted “outside our lane;” however, the fact that OPEX has been very successful while expanding into each of these new areas suggests there’s more to it.

It is not typical for a company to enter a new market successfully. OPEX has managed to do it repeatedly with a very high degree of success. This isn’t an accident, and it didn’t happen overnight. This broad expansion of OPEX’s product portfolio has spanned many decades and has been a slow two-step process. First, OPEX finds ways to do things better than the competition, and then we apply what we’ve learned in other areas. Our commitment to this principle is what has ensured our success.

Although we try to “stay in our lane,” OPEX is constantly finding ways to make our lane wider while staying true to our focus.

Minimize layers of management in order to maximize employee empowerment.
Jon (JP) Longshaw, Program Manager

The first time I heard Principle #8, I rather cynically thought, “OPEX has managers just like any other organization.” But over time, I realized that OPEX is truly unique in its structure and approach to management, resulting in some key differences that you won’t find at most companies.

The first is accessibility. It has been ingrained in the company’s philosophy since the beginning that employees have direct access to the owners and high-level management. The second is empowerment. Employees are given an opportunity to have direct involvement in the company’s decision-making process without needing to go through several layers of management.

Don’t get me wrong. OPEX does have a management structure in place. There needs to be a CEO, President, and so forth in order to operate properly. But the difference here is that the people below them are empowered to make decisions that will contribute to the success of the company. It is refreshing to work at a place where you have direct access to the top, ownership over decisions, and a vested stake in what you feel is best for the company.

Eliminate the “it’s not my job” attitude.
Winnie Chow, Director of Legal Affairs

This is a principle that I learned and have practiced since my childhood. As a young child living in Hong Kong, I vividly remember my mom always telling me that I not only have to do what is asked of me, but that I also need to do more than is asked to show that I truly understand what I’m doing and why. It’s quite possible that my mom told me this while I was doing my homework in a less-than-attentive manner!

Fast forward to today. Having worked in OPEX’s Legal Department for almost 20 years, I can tell you this principle is very much a part of my daily work life. While my core responsibility is to work on various types of legal transactions such as sales proposals, purchase agreements, or maintenance contracts, I also receive non-legal requests from our customers during the course of working with them.

For instance, I recently was stumped when a customer asked me how we package our scanners, what types of material we use, and whether the materials are recyclable. I had no idea, but I knew who would know the answer. I called one of my colleagues in Shipping and he explained the process and provided the packaging information, which I then forwarded to our customer.

Instead of just pushing these things off to someone else, I know that I am better able to complete a customer transaction because we lend a helping hand to each other. This in turn contributes to OPEX’s success, and helps me (and others) grow and learn in the process.

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

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Would you like to be part of the next wave of technology and work for a company that values its employees? We believe that by investing in our team, we can achieve great things together. If you’re interested in being a part of a dynamic and forward-thinking team, take a look at our current opportunities!

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