This is going to be the first post in a series that I want to do. I believe that no matter where we are in life, there are always lessons to be learned if we are willing to look for them. Because of this, I want to reflect on each of the jobs that I’ve held and highlight three things that the job taught me.
My first real job was working at a small, family-owned factory. The couple who owned the business went to the same church I did and they offered me a position when I was 19. They are wonderful people and I would definitely recommend buying from them. Their business is called Paw Paw Everlast Label Company and you can see their website here.
I started off in a General Production position working on a simple product before learning the more complex processes and becoming a Machine Operator.
So, here’s three things that I learned working in a factory:
1. Care about your employees. Steve & Terri (the owners) were really good about this. They did actually care about all of us who worked for them. There were many times when they would be celebrating something, like one of their kids’ birthdays, and they would invite us to join in the celebrating and would give us pizza and cake for lunch. Or they would talk to us about how our lives were going and would share advice if they thought we needed it. It was a very tight-knit community since it was a small business and all of the employees got to know each other. It was also common for siblings to work together for them. In fact, one of my brothers also worked there with me for a while.
2. Your performance impacts the other members of your team. This was a very important lesson for me to learn. Each job station had an established rate for how many components should be completed per hour. One day I was running one of the machines and one of my co-workers, who was working on the the step before my station, was doing a really good job of keeping up her pace. I quickly realized that I was the bottleneck in the assembly line and that it was important for me to push myself to keep up with the pace because I was holding the team back. I try to remember this wherever I work so that I can help whatever company I am with to grow and succeed.
3. Who you work with impacts how much you enjoy your job more than what you’re doing. Believe it or not, factory work isn’t the most thrilling job in the world. Sure there are days when you get to try a new, fun process. But there are also days when the novelty of the new process has worn off and you have to work your butt off churning out hundreds of components in order to complete an extremely large order (this is more common). And this is where the quality of your co-workers come in. Working with Steve & Terri and their other employees, I never once felt like I hated my job. We all tried to have a good time and keep each other entertained so that we would have a good environment and good attitudes to work with. I worked hard and sweated a lot in that small shop (they’ve since expanded), but I also laughed a lot and had some of the best times of my life with everyone who worked there.
So, those are three lessons that I learned working in a factory. Let me know what you think of this kind of post. I’ve got a few more jobs to cover and I’m planning on writing more in this “3 Things I Learned” series.