“To be best in class for the customers we serve.” Whirltronics’ mission statement shines through in the day-to-day operations that go on under its roof. But, delivering quality products doesn’t come without collaboration from the engineers, the production team, and of course the quality manager.
The quality manager oversees the quality system at Whirltronics. From inspecting new parts to assisting in the metallurgy lab, you can find Lee Schultz evaluating products to ensure they are up to standards. As Whirltronics’ quality manager for twenty years, Lee has been a part of the decisions and changes that make Whirltronics who they are today. We asked Lee to share some of his thoughts on work.
What was your first position at Whirltronics, and how did you hear about it?
“My first position was quality. I have performed responsibilities from maintenance to metallurgy to the gopher that runs and gets parts. I saw an ad in the Drummer or the paper and put in my application and a couple of months later I got home and my mom said “I talked to a nice man from Buffalo at Whirltronics, and he is very nice and you should just go work there.” And the rest is history!”
What is your first memory of Whirltronics?
“Sitting in the conference room for my interview and watching the cup of water on the table shake from the presses just like in Jurassic Park from the T-Rex”
What are your goals within your current position?
“Whirltronics has changed a lot since I started. When I started we would do year-end inventory that would take 3-4 days because of the number of parts that we had in the process. Now we do that same inventory in 3-4 hours. We still have lots of parts in the process but everything has improved thanks to lean manufacturing. Goals within the position would be to try to reduce parts per million for customer issues and internal scrap and rework.”
Throughout your years at Whirltronics, what are some highlights that stick out to you?
“I remember my first or second year of doing inventory, pulling a basket of parts out that were waiting to be formed that had four previous inventory tags on them, meaning that had been to that point for four years and sitting out in our shop with about an inch of dust on them. That does not happen anymore! Another highlight would be when we added our metallurgy lab in 2002 and our 3rd and 4th heat treat lines.
The lean manufacturing process has completely changed Whirltronics from what it was twenty years ago. There is also a lot of new technology out there. When I first started we would handle a part five times and now we handle it once. We were able to change that by going from a separate area for every step to using cells where each step is hooked together using the new technology such as conveyors and robots.”
When you go back to work today what are you looking for to ensure quality work?
“We can have things like on a lawnmower blade the center hole is too small, so we will pull parts aside and ask quality if we will scrap them or rework them. I will work with our operations manager to figure out the best way to handle it if we are reworking them. I spend most of my days going through our quality system, making sure everyone is filling out documentation and we are getting proper documentation to our customers, and tracking our internal metrics for quality.”
What is your favorite thing about working at Whirltronics?
“It is the people here. It is a family atmosphere with a great group of people. It is a rewarding job with good employee appreciation!
Whirltronics’ award-winning success is achieved with hard work from individuals like Lee. His length of service and dedication are integral to the stamina and life of the company as a whole. Internally, Whirltronics is like a family, working together to accomplish goals, and having fun in the process. Externally, customers are being taken care of by people who enjoy what they do and want to bring their own success through the quality of a good product.