Employees can help solve growth-related problems -- provided you give them the opportunity. Last July, Solar Press Inc. shut down its printing plants, rented a nearby community college, and assembled 320 full-time workers for a day of information sharing and brainstorming.

The eight-hour retreat, dubbed Solar Brainstorming Day, came complete with T-shirts, catered lunch, and a beer party afterward. Since July is the company's slow month, says company CFO Joe Hudetz, little production time was lost -- and the payoff, he thinks, will be substantial. "We know there's no way management can control the company's aggressive growth on their own. We need the help of all the employees to do it."

Top managers gave short speeches, and presi-dent and CEO Frank Hudetz presented a slide show on Solar's projected growth and future plans. Employees then met in departmental groups to discuss production bottlenecks, space and equipment needs, staffing requirements, and the like. The upshot: a list of 50 problem areas, each one to be the focus of an employee task force during the coming months.