Ed Catmull, President of Pixar Animation and Disney Animation, is no stranger to problem solving. In his newest book “Creativity, Inc.” he describes how Pixar is able to produce such great movies. Problem solving is a huge part of that. He says, “The responsibility for finding and fixing problems should be assigned to every employee, from the most senior manager to the lowliest new hire.” Here at Eminence, we’ve got some great thinkers and problem solvers, not the least of which is Paul Woodcox. Everyone in the plant knows Paul. He has been involved in solving problems for every manufacturing and engineering department within Eminence. His supervisor, Kevin Parrish, has this to say about Paul:
“Paul’s meticulous and analytical approach to dealing with everything from normal day-to-day manufacturing issues, to major problems, makes him a great fit for the Manufacturing Engineering Department.”
I sat down with Paul recently to talk about his time here at Eminence.
JM: How long have you worked here at Eminence?
PW: I’ve been here for 12 years.
JM: Where did you work previously and how’d you wind up at Eminence?
PW: I used to work for a company called Interwood Forrest Products. We dealt in Veneer and different forms of lumber. I was a manager there until the company had to downsize, at which time they let several of us managers go. I was there for about 12 years as well. They took good care of us when they downsized, though. It was as good of an ending as you could have asked for considering the circumstances.
As far as getting hired on here, I’ve been trying to do that since I’ve been an adult. It’s been hard to get on here. When things at Interwood ended, I tried again. I was called in by Carla Jones for hire. I started working on the Round Table on the final lines and worked into the Manufacturing Technician position.
JM: You were in the military for a few years as well, right?
PW: Yes, Marine Corp. 7 years.
JM: So what type of skills does a person have to have in order to be a Manufacturing Technician?
PW: Well, I had worked as a production manager at Interwood and have been involved in manufacturing all my life except for the 7 years I was in the Marines. So, I’ve had a lot of experience with this type of work and the processes involved in manufacturing. You need to have a very scientific and analytical mindset. This job requires a high level of mechanical aptitude and mathematical capabilities. Generally, you need to be a good problem solver.
JM: So, not to make things sound easier than they are, but you guys are really problem solvers for the manufacturing side of the operation. Would that be a correct assessment?
PW: Mostly. Our job is to troubleshoot everything in the plant. We are always looking for ways to make things more efficient and improve upon our manufacturing processes and the quality of work life.
JM: What is your favorite part of your job?
PW: That’s a tough question! It’s hard to narrow it down. I love my job. It’s something different every day. You never know what the day may bring and that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable. I love the people who work here. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people here and it is like a family.
JM: I know your department has been involved with job shadowing. How is that going?
PW: Honestly, it has really opened our eyes to what it really takes to do our job. There are a lot of things that we take for granted because we’ve done this for so long. When you bring someone in that doesn’t have that experience, it really opens your eyes to what is needed for this job and how much knowledge our team really possesses.
JM: What would you say to new workers that come to Eminence?
PW: I would first advise them to be patient. Take the time to learn about what we do here in every department. Learn what all goes on here and how the manufacturing works. Take the time to learn how we produce a tremendous amount of quality while being efficient and staying competitive in our market.
JM: Paul, you know this as well as I do, a guy with your background and skill set could work just about anywhere. What keeps you here?
PW: Everything we just talked about. I love the job and the people. The people here have been a privilege to work with. They beat the other people I’ve worked with in my life, hands down.
JM: Paul, thanks for all the work you do and for talking with me this morning.