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Highlighting the many careers in Manufacturing Southeast Colorado has to offer

John Reed

Production/Plant Manager
DeBourgh Manufacturing

Careers in Manufacturing come in many different forms – from HR to Accounting to Technology and everything in between – there is more to Manufacturing than line assembly. To learn a little more about what a career in manufacturing looks like, we spoke with John Reed, Production/Plant Manager at DeBourgh Manufacturing in La Junta, CO.

First, tell us a little about your current position and how long you’ve been at it. Basically, what does a person in your position like you do? What does your day look like?

I am called either the Plant or Production Manager here – I think I’ve been in this specific position for 5-6 years now, but I’ve been with DeBourgh since 1992. I facilitate communication between departments, and basically make sure we have everything we need to keep everyone productive and production on track. I’m responsible for making sure what we sell gets built, on time, and that everyone has the resources they need. I spend a lot of my time communicating directives in the shop, following metrics to stay on track, and resolving any problems that arise.

What drove you to choose your career path?

I started at DeBourgh right out of high school, not particularly excited or certain about my future career. I started at the bottom and then worked my way up to a lead person, then a supervisor position, and eventually the position I have now. I didn’t come here thinking I would build my career, but once I saw how the owners treated everyone and what a close knit family-owned company this is, it just felt comfortable right from the start.

What sort of education or experience do you need for your job?

I worked my way up, learning as I went mostly, but along the way I’ve had different certifications (fork lift, etc.). As I’ve come across challenges that I needed some help with, the company has paid for me to take quite a bit of college courses that have helped build my skillset considerably.

What’s the most enjoyable part of the job?

Well one aspect of my job is working with people which I love. I am good at sympathizing with other people, and I like helping others. That is a fun and rewarding part of my job – helping other people work through problems. The other aspect of my job is technical – I really like following production through from start to finish and trying to see how we can make positive impacts for next time. I get to find new ways to improve and that is very challenging but rewarding.

What’s the worst part of the job and how do you deal with it?

Probably the most stressful thing here is the swing in the seasonality – we have distinct slow and busy cycles. So that makes it tough trying to balance the right amount of personnel so we don’t have to let people go during slow times but have enough for busy times. It is challenging but we are always working on strategies to improve.

What advice would you give to those aspiring to join your profession?

My advice would be to look far enough forward that you can get through the things you may not love to get where you want to be. Success won’t happen overnight, so keep your goals in sight. Personally, I worked night shifts and positions that I really did not like, but in the end it was necessary to get to where I wanted to be.

Commitment is also important. There are many companies that are willing to support new folks to get where they want to be if they are willing to make the commitment to be a part of the team.