Our People

Meet John...

“Try to prime yourself with education, and listen to those who you work with. Accept their constructive criticisms, ask questions and have a great attitude— that’s probably the most important thing.”

Tell us about what you do.

My title is Director of Operations with the Fossil Group. We have three different locations at three different plants. And I manage those at the director level, I have three wonderful site managers that I work with and I keep everything running so to speak. I’m usually in the support role but this is my first time in a direct operations role.

So if you were describing your job to some young kids, how would you describe it?

Really my primary role at the director level is to make sure there’s a culture of safety and productivity, and have a value for performance at all of our plant sites. Those are probably the most valued aspects to me—making sure that our folks are working safely and understand how important safety is. But as far as daily responsibilities go, they’re quite varied. For example, getting our boiler and piping permits, making sure things are running on schedule. I also do estimating and scheduling. In reality, I’m in a support role for my managers.

How did you get into this line of work?

It started with my father, he was a plant manager for First Energy, it was Allegheny Power back then so I got into it at a very young age. That was back when you could get a job working in a plant at 16 or 17 years old. That’s how I got into it. Then I became a mechanical engineer, got a degree and went through several large projects. With the exception of about 4 years where I wasn’t directly in power I was doing government work, I have always been in power, either nuclear or fossil for as long as I can remember. Every Saturday my father would take either me or one of my four siblings into the plant, ever since the age of six and show us around the plant, I think that had a major influence on me.

That’s a pretty cool experience as a kid. Did you find that fascinating?

Oh absolutely— fascinating, exciting, amazing. It was like going to the carnival for me back then. It was also a learning experience for me. I met a lot of good people, too.

In the engineering industry there is a major challenge right now as far as getting a new generation into the industry. Is that apparent to you currently in the field?

Well at this place in time I’m trying to mentor my replacements in the form of my managers, I want one of them to take my place in about five years or so. On the corporate side we are reaching out to the tech colleges and trying to get a program together. But we’re still in the making contact stage. We’re seeing if we can create sort of a triad between ourselves, our customers and the technical schools to see if we can get more welders. So, those are some of the things that personally, if I’m talking to or working with somebody I may give advice if they’re willing to listen. Also the skills we’re talking about are transferrable across multiple industries. So, of course we would prefer if these people we’re training stay with us but we’re teaching skills that make for a good, lasting career.

How much customer interaction do you have on a regular basis?

At the corporate level, weekly. At the plant, it really depends what we have going on at the time. We are definitely customer focused, we listen to what their needs are and try to fulfill them, or we even anticipate what those needs will be. So, the first year that we had this contract that we’re currently a year and a half into, we spent the first year pretty much just trying to understand what the client needed. Now we’re trying to get ahead of their needs and ask ourselves what the client will need and go from there.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in a similar career path?

Try to prime yourself with education, and listen to those who you work with. Accept their constructive criticisms, ask questions and have a great attitude— that’s probably the most important thing. And if you don’t truly like what you’re doing, find something else to do. It sounds terrible, but really don’t spend your time doing something you don’t want to be doing. Find mentors, be engaged with what’s going on around you, don’t just do a job to get it done. Really, if you don’t enjoy the job you’re doing you’re not going to have the good attitude or the desire to learn.