Investing in people pays dividends for you

In manufacturing, investing in people will have tremendous benefits for a company in the short- and long-term.

04/17/2017


Eric Runge, plant engineer, West Liberty Foods. Courtesy: Leading2LeanIn its "People of the Plant Floor" video series, Leading2Lean, a Plant Engineering content partner, has shared the stories of manufacturing workers and their pride in their work. One of the people they interviewed was Eric Runge, a 38-year-old plant engineer for West Liberty Foods in West Liberty, Iowa. The edited transcript of the video follows. The full video can be found here.

You start out your life on a path, and that is your expectation, that is your goal. Sometimes you don't expect those paths to change.

I had originally started my career path as an automotive mechanic. I went to school through a program for General Motors and as I got into that career it just didn't work out for me well. I was struggling to make ends meet. Things got a little tough there, transitioning from jobs with bills and such.

I had already started out thinking I was going to be an automotive mechanic. That is what I went to school for and invested money in and everything else, and that didn't work out. I can't say exactly how I got through it all. I did focus on work quote a bit, got really involved learning new skills doing several projects. I have always had a passion for learning new things. (At) West Liberty Foods, they were very open and welcoming. They brought me in with minimal experience, and said, "You know, if you are willing to learn and willing to train, we will take you on."

West Liberty is a small town, population roughly 3,000 people. It's very quiet. I ended up moving to West Liberty and I had worked at the plant for 10 years prior to moving here. It made things a lot more convenient for me just being 10 to 12 blocks from the plant.

I love grilling and cooking. I like to prepare big meals, trying new things. We've got three different styles of grills. Being a single father, there are things you have got to be able to do, and one of those is cooking. I am the type of person that when you are going to do something, do it right. I started cooking when I got bored making the same old thing; let's make something a little fancier and a little more creative. My close friends and family know that when I put on a meal, I put on a meal. I like to impress people.

When I get an opportunity where someone is willing to teach me something, show me something, and it is something I would love to do, I always take advantage of those opportunities. I am not a failure. I will get good at what I do. I push myself. I am big on the quality of work that I do, I want it to be the best.

When I came to West Liberty Foods, I started as a maintenance mechanic. I couldn't do anything electrically. I wanted to know this stuff and I wanted to be good at it and at some point, from the time I started to roughly a year and a half into it, I was the one that everybody was coming to and asking questions. And when I got awarded that second shift electrician job, it was a big feat for me because I pushed and I tried and I got there.

As far as my role in the company now, I strive to be a leader. When somebody comes to you, saying, "Hey, I want to learn, I know you know how to do this and you can show me," you can't turn your back on those people. A lot of people have helped me out, helped teach me, helped me work to where I am, and in turn I have helped guys that have come to me for help wanting answers. And the interactions that I've had, the good and bad with several people over the years, all those relationships have helped make me who I am.

With my department, the maintenance side of the business, I treat that as that is my family. I reference back to me being the one that didn't know, but I had the ambition there. You can directly see what you are doing to positively impact another person. You just essentially helped make his life better. You helped make that person more valuable.

Over the years, I have worked with quite a few people. If I were to look back and if people would have not been the way they were with me, then where would I be?

My own personal morals (are that I feel) like you kind of owe something, that you need to give back. That investment comes back, and you have got to find a way to have those relationships to get to where you need to be.



No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me