Former Major League Baseball player, Sam Ewing, once said that, “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” And for those of us who have been in the workforce for most of our lives, we know that his assessment is true. Eminence Speaker is no exception. Our company has been built by the hard working hands of its employees since 1966. The foundation was laid with hard work and hard work continues to build on that foundation.
This month’s “We are Eminence” employee highlight shines its light upon Thomas Hill. Thomas is one of the many pairs of hard working hands here at Eminence. He and his brother, Eric, take great pride in running our US Distribution department. Glenn Simpson is Thomas’ direct report here at Eminence. Glenn has this to say about Thomas:
“Thomas is a great guy. He’s here every day which is a big plus for me. He’s got a very positive attitude and work ethic which makes him very easy to work with and be around. He always keeps himself busy. Not someone you feel you need to keep an eye on. A real asset for the company and especially our department. Besides that, he’s a Louisville Cardinal fan. How can you not like that!!”
I have personally known Thomas since our grade school days. Thomas is a man of integrity and honesty. His perceptions of life and the workplace should not be taken lightly. It was with great pleasure that I sat down and interviewed him on the first working day of 2013 about his Eminence experience.
JM: Thomas, you have been at Eminence for quite a while now. How many years has it been?
TH: 13 years.
JM: You are currently working in the US Distribution department. How did you wind up here at Eminence to begin with?
TH: I came in through Kelly Temporary Services. The temp service had found me a job at the Budd Plant in Shelbyville. Budd actually offered me a full-time position there but I turned it down.
JM: I was also offered a job at Budd many years ago, and I remember that they paid really well. Why did you turn the job down?
TH: I didn’t like the atmosphere and attitude of a lot of the workers there. They were making great money but seemed to be ungrateful and were on strike quite a bit; not everyone, but a lot of them. There was too much of a “that’s not my job” attitude with many of the employees. I grew up on a farm and you pitched in and did what you needed to in order to get your work done. I just didn’t like the atmosphere there so I told the temp service to find me another place to work and Eminence was next in line.
JM: So, what made Eminence attractive enough to keep you here?
TH: The family atmosphere. You had people here who had built long-term relationships. People here had watched each other’s kids grow up and knew their families. People here had the same work ethic that I had. I really liked the founding principles of the company and how it gives back to the community and employees. Things like the Christmas Dinners, company picnics….those type of things, they make a difference. The 4 day work week and benefits package are nice too.
JM: What was your primary job when you started and how did you get to be one of the employees working in US Distribution?
TH: I’ve been in US Distribution for 7 years but started out temping in the Press Room as a welder. At that time, most everyone was trained on other jobs within the factory as well. I’ve worked in the press room, Buttkickers, Final Line, Voice Coil department, and box line. I had been trained on so much that I could fill in just about anywhere. But my “official” jobs have been working on the Final Line, Press Room, and US Distribution.
JM: I know that US Distribution is a multi-layered job. What does a normal day look like for you?
TH: It’s really about customer service. When we prepare orders for our customers, sometimes we are required to get weight and height measurements to help them figure out final costs on shipments. We try to find the best way to assemble their shipments to save them money and reduce freight costs. We talk with many customers on the phone about the status of their orders and when they can expect them to arrive. There are several customers that we have gotten to know really well over the years. There is a lot of math involved in our job and a lot of physical labor.
JM: What are some things you’ve seen change since you were hired?
TH: I’ve noticed that we do a lot more business over the internet these days. BuyEminence.com is the avenue that most of our orders come through now. As far as the rest of the plant, there is better technology being used. The final lines are using better machines for production that result in less manual labor and wasted time. The processes are all standardized and make for better quality and assurance.
JM: Overall, what do you think is the best thing the company has invested it’s time and money in?
TH: I would say it is the Eminence Branded products. For many years people didn’t know it was our speakers in their systems. Now with the branded products that bear our name, people know who we are and trust products with our speakers in them.
JM: Looking over the years of workers that you’ve seen come and go, what are some observations that you’ve made?
TH: Qualified workers are harder to come by these days. Hard workers are getting harder and harder to find. The younger generation doesn’t seem to have the work ethic. I guess it’s all in how you were brought up but people don’t want to work anymore.
JM: What is your favorite memory associated with being here at Eminence?
TH: I remember when the Kentucky Headhunters came and set up a concert in our parking lot during working hours and we got to go outside and enjoy the concert. We were paid to enjoy the concert. It was nice. Little things like that go a long way with people.
JM: Last question…You guys make things look easy back there. What is the main hinge that makes US Distribution swing so smoothly?
TH: Use your time wisely. Know what you have to do and how you will accomplish it. You have to use your time wisely or you will get behind fast.
JM: Thanks for your time, Thomas.