Hytek Finishes, a division of Esterline, is the largest supplier of specialized aerospace and defense surface finishing in the Pacific Northwest. Hytek operates 24 hours per day with three work shifts. Located in the northeast corner of the Kent valley, there is only one bus route within a half mile of the worksite, the Kent Transit Center/Sounder Commuter Rail station is nearly two miles away and the site is not within walking distance of any amenities or services. Yet Hytek has created a successful commuter program. According to their 2013 commute survey which was conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation, only 65% of Hytek employees drive alone to work. That shows a 25% reduction in the drive-alone rate since 2007.
Hytek provides a 50% subsidized ORCA Passport card to all employees on all shifts. The ORCA Passport provides unlimited rides on Metro Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Kitsap Transit, Sound Transit Express buses, Link Light Rail and Sounder Commuter Rail.
Hytek subsidizes 10 commuter vans and coordinates an in-house rideshare database. Hytek encourages employees on all three shifts to rideshare and reduce their carbon footprint. Hytek management fully support the commute program. Many senior and middle managers are daily riders in vanpools and one senior manager rides the train from Tacoma and then a VanShare to make the two mile connection to the worksite.
The Employee Transportation Coordinator says that the entry level wage at Hytek is $11 per hour. It is easier for someone to accept that wage when they add in a benefits package that includes a generous commuter benefit.
There is an enthusiastic group of employees who encourage others to try vanpooling and carpooling. They tell all new employees about the comfort of riding in vanpools, the low cost, and the ease of not driving alone to work. Not driving alone has become part of the culture at Hytek.