A non-game related post, bear with me for a moment if you will.
Some of you that have been following the blog for a while may be aware that I was laid off from my previous position back in, what, January of this year.
I was fortunate enough to find, not only a new job, but a position doing what I love, for a company that is really moving forward and kicking ass.
In my position managing a maintenance department, I spend a lot of time dealing directly with suppliers and contractors on projects I’m sourcing. And one of the most common questions I get, that I never heard before this year, is “So, how’s business for you guys? You busy?”
And I can truthfully answer, “If I have a machine go down, I’ve got trouble, because we’ve almost got more work than we can handle… and as soon as we find more capacity, we get more work. We’re busier than heck, and going strong.”
Realistically… we don’t have more work than we can handle, because we’re expanding capacity at a rate that feels just right. We are carefully analyzing requirements and sales and improving our processes. In some places, saying that would be a snow job, but yes, we really are. It’s crazy, I’m not used to working with management teams that really DO care to improve and get things right the first time. Usually, you deal with people that say they are commited to process improvement and quality improvement… but really stopped thinking the day they got their MBA, because they knew it all at that point.
It’s not like that here. It’s kinda wierd, actually. You’re not supposed to look forward to getting to work to get cracking on the days projects.
The company I am with is in the flexible materials industry. What that means, is that we work with raw flexible materials and create beautiful, functional containers for the end user to fill with their product for the consumer market.
Okay, pushing aside the sales-speak… we buy huge rolls of plastic and foil films, print them using a roto-gravure press method that is capable of beautiful color graphics, laminate those layers of film to form complex combinations of materials with varying color and pliability indexes and UV resistance, then slice/chop, cut and seal them to form… pouches. With or without zippers, pull open tops, spouts to pour or drink from, you name it.
You ever see Spam in the supermarket these days? Well, if you look, you’ll see they sell Spam by the Slice, and it comes in a sealed foil pouch rather than a metal can.
Yeah, we make those. Those exact ones. You buy Spam by the Slice, you bought our pouch.
You know Friskies cat food in the stand up pouches, and Mighty Dog dog food?
Yeah, we make those pouches, too.
We also make the sealed pouches that the 2pam chloride/atropine injectors come in for the military.
This isn’t a small time operation, is what I’m saying. We run strictly by AIB food procedures as well as medical standards in all areas of production, which means we are very, very clean and careful. We’ve got HVAC clean room requirements and food grade materials requirements that add interesting challenges to maintenance. We just had our AIB plant wide audit a month ago or so (which I had a massive share in pre-auditing) and passed with flying colors.
I’m in charge of the maintenance and facilities engineering department.
I couldn’t be happier.
I don’t mind saying, when I see the trend in the commerical products industry to move from cans to pouches, it fills me with a warm, contented glow of job security.
But nothing, nothing could compare to the feeling of awesome I had this morning.
I was walking through the plant, checking on areas of maintenance responsibility, making sure that assigned work was being done, and I saw our latest customer’s product in the assembly line for the sealing stage.
I just stopped dead in my tracks.
I knew that color. Anyone that had ever been in the military would know that color.
And the material we work with, that this particular product comes in… omigod. No, it couldn’t be…
I moved closer, and looked at the printing…
US Armed Forces MRE Granola pouches.
We’ve started making pouches to hold MRE food for our armed forces.
I swear, I couldn’t be happier. The thought that we’re going to be contributing to something that so fundamentally affects the folks in the service is just freaking awesome.
I just HAD to go find the production manager, an old Navy dog that I get along with very, very well… and just point to the rolls, and make “Wha” noises.
He nodded and said, “How freaking awesome is that.”
Yep, that really says it all. How freaking awesome is that.
There is a potential downside, though, that only occured to me later.
Please… please don’t make us print pouches for Chicken A La King. I don’t think I could stand knowing that I was the cause of that much pain and suffering.