Our last millennial featured in this series is Zach Tondreau, the conformal coat lead at Saline Lectronics.
Over the past two years, Zach has moved up starting as an associate, progressing to associate coordinator, and now as a production lead at Lectronics. “This is my first job in manufacturing and it has been very rewarding. I’ve always tried to do quality work at any job I’ve had, but never received any recognition for it. I feel fortunate to have my hard work appreciated.”
According to Zach, he was just looking for a job initially to sustain his studies. When he joined Lectronics, he says his expectations were exceeded. “I had no plans of building a career with Saline Lectronics or manufacturing in general. Now, I enjoy my job and I am happy to come into work every morning. Working with Lectronics has been very rewarding.”
And this excitement is directly translated into motivation on the job. “Having my work noticed and appreciated motivates me to go the extra mile. A positive atmosphere at work is more important to me than financial gain.”
Of course, every job has its set of challenges. Zach notes that you have to work on every issue every day before they build up on top of the next day’s challenges. “Manufacturing is in a state of constant improvements—even if the existing process already works. Communication is a constant issue, so everyone has to be on the same page for the system to work.”
On Loyalty, Work Ethics, and Leadership
Loyalty and work ethics are among the key issues that companies point out as being difficult when employing millennials. Zach, however, seems the opposite of that stereotype.
“My idea of loyalty is doing the right thing, even when no one will ever know you did it. I feel Lectronics has been loyal to me. They’ve followed through with the promises they’ve made me, and have offered me one opportunity after another.”
The older generation tends to complain that millennials have little work ethic, and search for praise simply for showing up for work; Zach disagrees and argues that the older generation, on the other hand, can be complacent.
“I would say millennials can have a hard time focusing their attention and have poor work ethic; but the older generation has a difficult time adjusting to modern ideas, practices, and technologies.”
And working together is key to take the company forward, Zach says.
“The older generation has a lot of knowledge to pass on. I think leading the company forward requires combining their experience with the younger generation’s ability to adapt to modern times. Since I was hired at Lectronics, I’ve relied heavily on Jeff Riedel, our Lean champion, for support. I consider him to be my mentor.”
Attracting Millennials to Manufacturing
Initiatives such as STEM are among the steps being taken by academe to attract the younger generation to join the technology and manufacturing field, among others. However, Zach does not think enough is being done to make millennials aware of this line of work.
“When I thought of manufacturing, I thought of a couple technicians controlling an automated process. I had no idea of the number of people it takes to manufacture products. I think the younger generation can be made aware of careers in manufacturing through job fairs, or by visiting high schools and giving presentations to students. It’s important to provide examples of how the products they all use every day are manufactured.”
Zach’s strong work ethic and reliable personality has made him a key employee at Lectronics. He has a stellar reputation due to his sincere commitment of always doing the right thing and ensuring that a job gets done appropriately and correctly. Within his mentorship with Jeff Riedel, Zach is not only gaining a tremendous amount of lean manufacturing knowledge and leadership skills, he’s also learning how to be a mentor himself. Soon enough, he’ll be the one training and guiding the next generation of manufacturing employees.