Categories
Faces of Manufacturing

Work ethic is key for Clark Dietrich employee

In the massive ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna, chances are most employees know and love Gordana Davis.

 

She just celebrated her second year with the company, and has been in manufacturing for 24.

 

“I’ve been working all my life,” Davis said. “I’m all about working and getting the job done.”

ClarkDietrich employee Gordana Davis stands in the Vienna facility.
Gordana Davis has worked with ClarkDietrich for two years, but has been in manufacturing for 24. Her commitment to her career and the industry are from a team-mentality of showing up to work to complete a task.

Born in Bosnia, Davis came to the United States in 1975 when she was 14, not speaking any English.

 

She went to school and learned the language from the foundations of ABCs and sounds.

 

In 1983, Davis got married to an American man. Together, they had three children.

 

Throughout her time building a life in the States, Davis worked as a cashier for 13 years before she headed to manufacturing.

 

Thinking about the start of her manufacturing career, Davis said: “I remember going home the first day, I couldn’t even walk up the steps.”

 

From there, she has learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people during her time in the manufacturing industry.

 

“Everybody put trust in me.”

 

Davis loves the physical labor that goes along with overseeing her work, keeping schedule to her tasks. “I like the fast-pace” environment of the industry, she said.

 

It wasn’t long before Davis learned every role in the company she could, training thousands of people over the years.

 

Davis has only called off once — one day — in more than two decades.

 

“It’s all about commitment,” she said. “You need to be here to produce the job so we don’t lose manufacturing.”

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition.

Categories
Member Manufacturers

Immersive safety program kicks off at ClarkDietrich

Vienna is home to the largest manufacturer of cold-formed steel in North America.

 

ClarkDietrich, a new member of the Mahoning Valley Manufacturers Coalition, is that manufacturer.

 

It has three locations within 10 minutes of each other, the largest situated on Ridge Road in Vienna Township, with 150 employees.

 

The other two locations are in Warren: Warren East on North River Road with 85 employees and CDH on Phoenix Road with 10 employees.

 

Nationwide, there are 1,500 employees in 14 plants.

 

ClarkDietrich’s Vienna location is also the largest in the company, Tina Parker, senior human resources business partner, said.

 

It is about 350,000 square feet and houses 35 roll forming machines, a machine shop and maintenance team with electricians and machinists who keep the equipment operating.

 

A shipping department organizes all of the logistics of the steel onto trucks, Parker said.

Safety first

When employees walk through the entrance at the Vienna location, they are instantly reminded of best safety practices.

A bright dojo was recently added to the training process.

 

Dojos are designated spaces for immersive learning.

A brightly colored training dojo is set up at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
As employees enter the entrance at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, they are greeted by a mannequin donning personal protection equipment in a bright hallway designed to help new hires learn safety.

“Our parent company (CWBS-MISA Inc.) wanted us to spearhead this type of interactive safety exhibit to show new hires the right way” to lift and use different machines, Parker said.

Getting to work

Leading the dojo project were plant supervisor Chris Plant and Alex Hertzer, plant superintendent.

 

Hertzer connected various departments for the “very interactive, very bright” learning space, Parker said.

 

The concept, Hertzer said, is “overstimulation” from a safety standpoint. That’s why it’s bright with green floors and bright lighting, and hands-on.

 

“It was a really great effort by the team – supervisors, operators, maintenance. It was fun to see it all come together,” Parker said.

How it works

The dojo gives new employees — some of whom may never have worked in a hands-on, manufacturing discipline — a first glimpse at manufacturing, making the industry less intimidating.

New hires are trained at ClarkDietrich in the training dojo.
Ken VonBergen, safety manager, leads new employees on a tour at ClarkDietrich in Vienna. The group spent some time in the safety dojo – a designated area for immersive learning.

“It shows someone who is maybe a spatial learner rather than a textbook learner,” Hertzer said.

 

A mannequin wearing personal protective equipment greets employees, who then move down the hallway, which is divided into sections.

 

“It’s nice because they’re not practicing on necessarily real machinery” that could be dangerous, Parker said.

 

Miniature cranes and tow motors are part of the experience. Employees also learn the correct way to lift heavy objects.

Miniature items are used to help train new employees at ClarkDietrich in Vienna.
Models of how to properly move about the ClarkDietrich facility in Vienna help new hires, as well as remind current employees, use best practices to prevent injuries.

Another dojo on the way

During pre-shift meetings, many employees will take time to stretch to limber up for the constant bending and stooping they’ll do throughout their day, Parker said.

 

“Stretching before they start their shifts really helps. We really encourage them to participate in the pre-shift meetings, the stretching activities in particular,” Parker said.

 

Next, another dojo is in its infancy stages, but it will focus on another aspect, Hertzer said.

 

An operations/productions dojo will be added to the plant in the near future.

 

It will show how to gauge tooling, and “other simple concepts” that aren’t necessarily second nature to a new employee jumping into the industry, he said.

 

ClarkDietrich is a newer member of MVMC.

Categories
Faces of Manufacturing

ClarkDietrich supervisor works way up ranks

Michael Fountain, production supervisor at ClarkDietrich in Vienna, has worked his way up the ranks within the company during his 11 years.

 

He first started in the corner bead department, the fastest-pace area of the facility, as a temp employee.

 

“I stuck my nose to the grindstone and kept at it,” Fountain said.

 

He ultimately was offered a permanent position, becoming a roll form operator for nearly six years.

 

Then, Fountain transitioned to shipping for four and a half years before taking on his current role.

michael fountain in forklift
Production Supervisor Michael Fountain worked his way up at ClarkDietrich in Vienna over his 11 years there.

New beginnings

Coming to ClarkDietrich was a career change for Fountain.

 

Working at Northside Hospital in environmental services prior to joining ClarkDietrich, Fountain was enlisted in the United States Army before that.

 

While employed at the hospital, Fountain was hopeful of a long-term relationship with Northside.

 

“I was looking to move up there,” which didn’t end up happening as the hospital was purchased, and some layoffs started to happen.

 

Fountain made it through a few waves of pink slips, but ultimately was laid off.

 

Through temp agencies, Fountain bounced around. When the call from ClarkDietrich happened, he told his wife he would hold off. Finally talking with the agency, he was asked if he would travel, and how far.

 

“I asked how far, and they replied, ‘to Trumbull County,’” Fountain recalled, responding: “I’m on my way.”

 

He hasn’t looked back.

Leading by example

 

During the interview process for production supervisor, Fountain was asked what his approach to being a supervisor would be.

 

“I had this big, grand answer” that was eventually summarized by the interviewer, Fountain said.

 

His approach is best said in three words: By your side.

 

“That’s how I like to lead. It’s not in front of my employees or behind them, but right by their side,” Fountain said. “If there’s an issue, I like to be right there next to them to figure it out together.”

 

There’s a side-by-side approach day in and day out at ClarkDietrich company-wide, Fountain said.

Finding a balance

 

Through his manufacturing career, he’s worked various shifts to best support his family, and each time, ClarkDietrich has valued his decisions, Fountain said.

 

When he’s had to take time off due to family deaths or sickness, his colleagues have reached out to check in on him, not to pressure him into coming back to work.

 

“They were making sure I was taking time to recover properly,” Fountain said.

 

It ranged from his team he supervises to facility administration and management.

 

For someone considering a career change or coming out of high school and not sure what to do with their life, Fountain said ‘look into manufacturing.’

 

“Get out of your own way,” he said. “Just jump. You’ll never know if you can fly or not unless you jump.”

 

When you jump and you start to fall instead of soar, Fountain said chances are, someone will be there to catch you and lift you up where you need to be.

 

“That’s a very positive thing I experience every day.”