Welcome to another Employee Spotlight series, where we bring you an exclusive interview with industry experts and shining stars in their respective fields. In this edition, we have the privilege of featuring Jim Grubba, an experienced Production Manager at Clark Engineering.
Jim’s extensive experience, expertise, and authoritative presence make him an invaluable addition to our team. Join us as we explore Jim’s remarkable journey, gain insights into product production from him, and recognize his invaluable contributions to the industry.
Jim Grubba: Elevating production to new heights!
As the Production Manager at Clark Engineering, can you provide an overview of your role and the key responsibilities you handle on a daily basis?
My day-to-day revolves around proactive planning and scheduling, recording, and documenting the previous day’s production, and monitoring efficiencies. I spend time coordinating and updating schedules with our Set up team to get machines ready to run for a successful/timely production run. There is constant communication with the production team, set up, and the rest of the management team members to meet customer demand.
Clark Engineering is involved in metal fabrication. Can you describe the typical metal fabrication processes involved, and how your team manages these processes efficiently?
Our fabrication process can be as simple as straight rod to length, and as detailed as 7 process operations that could include any combination of the following: extrusion, threading, heading, press forming, CNC bending, and milling/cross drilling.
In a fast-paced industry like metal fabrication, what are the most common day-to-day challenges you encounter, and how do you address them?
I would say the constant customer demand changes. Our team on the floor is very flexible in abilities and understands when I go to them with an urgent need, they perform. We have a weekly meeting to communicate and keep the team up to speed with parts that are urgent or hot.
Quality control is essential in metal fabrication. How do you ensure the products meet the company’s quality standards during the production process?
We have a robust gaging system and an active on-the-floor QC department. Our gaging is a multiple step poka-yoke for each forming process. QC develops an In-process Inspection Sheet for each operation to be monitored. Our production team is empowered and encouraged to inquire or question the quality of any process on any part. Kudos to our QC group; Clark is currently well over two years running with Zero PPM.
Could you share some specific examples of how you have optimized production schedules to meet tight deadlines or accommodate changing customer requirements?
Production planning and I regularly look at upcoming parts VS time available in our equipment. A normal thing for me to do is reach out in the schedule and adjust accordingly to run similar parts close together, saving set up times and transitions from part to part with our operators.
Safety is a top priority in any manufacturing environment. How does Clark Engineering maintain a safe workplace, and what initiatives do you undertake to ensure the well-being of your team?
The first topic at the start of our weekly production floor meeting is safety. We discuss a specific safety topic, and operators are encouraged and asked specifically if they have concerns. Weekly inspections on presses to verify operation and guarding. We are currently re-developing Safety and Housekeeping audits to identify and address potential concerns in each department.
Are there any technological advancements or software tools that Clark Engineering utilizes to enhance production management and operational efficiency?
We are currently investing the time and resources to fully utilize the business side of our software program. This is taking time, but little by little, we are drilling down to have this system fully engaged in our day-to-day operations.
What skill sets or qualifications do you look for when hiring new team members for the metal fabrication department?
We are looking for motivated people who push for success and have the right team attitude. These are the people who will bring ideas to the table, improving throughput or quality consistency.
Apart from your role as a Production Manager, what do you enjoy most about working at Clark Engineering, and what initially attracted you to this company?
I have always enjoyed finding the most efficient way to accomplish a task. Clark had many opportunities to do just that. This opportunity was a new challenge, a set of new processes and forming to learn. Most of my career has been around various types of cold forming, metal assemblies, and machining, this provided a good fit to learn, implement previous success to help grow Clark. With the purchase of Clark by MPI, we have received a breath of fresh air allowing us to move in a positive direction.
When you’re not at work, what are some of your favorite hobbies or activities that you like to engage in?
My free time is spent with my family, camping, hunting, and participating in competitive archery events. Weekly dinners with our adult children and grandchildren will approach 20…it’s chaos, but these dinners keep our family close. We will have the camper out 8-15 times a year all over the state of Michigan, parts of Ohio, and Indiana. I compete in local and state-level archery events year-round, shooting somewhere north of 15K arrows a year, and I will get out to enjoy the woods chasing whitetails for 20+ days a year.
How do you stay motivated and inspired in both your personal life and your role as a Production Manager at Clark Engineering?
Motivation on the Clark side comes from all the potential we have. MPI and our VP Christian Muzo have been a giant breath of fresh air. We are moving in positive directions to build a solid business.
What advice or words of wisdom would you give to someone aspiring to become a Production Manager in the metal fabrication industry?
Create a good working relationship with your production team members, and strive towards flexibility or being ambidextrous with equipment and what product or operations machinery can run.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your career journey so far, and what are your future aspirations?
The most fulfilling part of my career has been the opportunity to learn and adapt in the dynamic field of metal fabrication. I look forward to continuing this journey, contributing to the growth of Clark Engineering, and exploring new avenues in the industry.
As someone with a wealth of experience, what lessons have you learned in your career that you’d like to share with others?
One important lesson I’ve learned is the value of continuous improvement. Embrace new technologies, encourage innovation, and never stop seeking better ways to achieve your goals. Also, remember that strong collaboration and communication within a team are essential for success.