Careers in Manufacturing: Steady, Yet Dynamic

Ask a cross-section of current manufacturing professionals in the region about the nature of the work they do, and you’ll get a variety of answers. But ask them about the rewards of working in manufacturing, and similar responses will come up. That could be because Volusia County is home to such an astounding range of goods produced that the hallmarks of the field converge with the same elements of job-satisfaction many professionals seek.

Whether they started their careers in the 1970s or 2019, these five Volusia County manufacturing professionals’ stories echo the same themes, showing that while the nuts and bolts of their work differ, the heart of their work pays off in opportunity, growth, and job satisfaction.

Name: Norman Lane

Career: President and Chief Engineer of Rotomation Inc, Ormond Beach

Time in position: 30 years

After earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida, Lane helped companies research, develop, and produce projects from army cook stoves to missile guidance systems to solar cells and semi-conductors, work that led to his longtime leadership at Rotomation, Inc., which develops and produces rotary actuaries for machinery in a variety of industries.

Name: Cassidy Gall

Career: Kitting and Inventory Control, Command Medical Products, Ormond Beach

Time in position: 6 months

When her Spruce Creek High School Academy of Information Technology and Robotics (AITR) class toured Command Medical Products, then-Junior Cassidy Gall “stumped” company president Jim Carnall with “a question about one of the leak testers,” Gall relates. “Not even a week later, my teacher told me I was offered a summer internship at Command, and I immediately accepted.” Gall’s internship and graduation from AITR led to paid positions in data entry, shipping, and manufacturing before reaching her current office. She hopes to soon start training in maintenance.

Name: Katie Greene

Career: Office Manager and Preventive Controls Qualified Individual, Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweet Shop, Daytona Beach

Time in position: 4 months

Greene formerly worked as a veterinary technician and a warehouse associate. In January of this year, she took a position as Sales Associate and Factory Worker at Zeno’s, and her hard work got her promoted to Office Manager for the candy producer in February.

Name: Ashley Linsmeier

Career: New Product Development Engineer, Teledyne ODI, Daytona Beach

Time in position: 2.5 years

Linsmeier first took manufacturing-related courses such as CAD and welding at Menominee High School, night classes in CAD and electrical at Northwest Technical College, and earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle. She then started at Teledyne as an Associate Engineer and took advantage of numerous on-the-job training opportunities, working her way through several positions before her current one. She is pursuing an MBA with Project Management concentration at Florida Institute of Technology, with Teledyne providing tuition assistance.

Name: Jack Dell Baughman

Career: MO3 Saw Operator, ABB Manufacturing, Ormond Beach

Time in position: 24 years in position, 42 with the company

Baughman worked various jobs simultaneously, including factory work at ABB. After a while, he received on-the-job training for various positions, which have had him acting as a Supervisor and Lead Man, as well as supervising the transition of acquired companies to the Ormond Beach location.

Common perceptions of manufacturing careers can be misleading, and the reality can be pleasantly unexpected, too. Gall notes, “Some of the seemingly simplest jobs can surprise you with how much work they actually entail. The amount and ease of advancement potential is also surprisingly high in manufacturing.” Over the years, Lane has been surprised that “my job satisfaction comes from working with people and not things. When I started out it was all about the technology and, while that is still interesting, my relationship with my team, customers, and suppliers is more satisfying.” Baughman claims that his family “cannot believe how much I love my job. They say I’m a workaholic.”

When asked about the rewards of their positions, these professionals consistently cite an enthusiasm for their work. “The main reward for me is the experience,” Gall says. “There is no shortage of new things to learn in this line of work.” Greene speaks enthusiastically about her company’s expansion to the national arena. And Lane enjoys contributing to a growing industry. “Manufacturing is a great field to be in,” he adds, and he considers the entire manufacturing field to be “stable, valuable, and satisfying.”

Those considering careers in manufacturing should be aware that the field is always evolving. “There are a lot more women in engineering and manufacturing than there were 20-30 years ago,” Linsmeier says, and women outnumber men in her department. She adds that “having a network of women in industry has helped me grow professionally and has helped me find strong mentors and great technical contacts.” Long-time manufacturers Lane and Baughman attest that the rising expectation for companies to produce higher-quality products faster and cheaper is challenging and keeps their work interesting, but they credit their longevity in their fields to listening to and learning from their colleagues, old and new, and always studying the field for changes in technology.

Linsmeier agrees and advises taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities inherent in the field: “Always look for ways to grow. If someone offers to pay for your training or education (even if you aren’t sure that you are interested), do it! You never know what doors that it might open for you later.”