Self-reliant. A team player. A leader. A good thinker.
These are just some of the words used by supervisor Todd Corle to describe Mike Wood, who has been taking opportunities and finding ways to make them better since he was hired by NPC in 2001.
“The one thing I love about this company is they give us the opportunity to take care of the company,” Mike says. “It is everyone’s role to try and make things better. No matter what it is, whether it is at work or at home.”
Prior to working at NPC, Mike Wood was a welder and also spent time working at a sporting goods store. Then Mike came to a point in his life where he “wanted to find a place to work that was going to be long term.” When applying to NPC, Mike “heard a lot of good things, and that I could just make a home there.”
Mike’s first position was training as a flatbed operator in the company’s bindery department.
“I had no idea what a flatbed was, but I was always eager to learn,” Mike recalls. “Before I started at NPC, I was shy and quiet. The flatbed was really nice for me. I was working by myself all the time.”
And then Mike got a little help breaking the ice with his co-workers.
“When asked if I was interested in a perfect-binder operator position, I went over to that machine to work with sometimes up to 13 people, depending on the job,” he says. “I think it really helped me come out of my shell. It helped me grow as a leader just to be able to train with different people and help them out.”
Mike was chosen to work on the perfect binder because he did not have any quality issues and was able to meet his production goals when working on the flatbed machines cutting and trimming paper. “I was not a person they had to look over,” he says. “They knew I was self-reliant and would do what needed to be done. I always tell my kids if you are going to do something be the best at it. I come in and I try to give 100%.”
Using his past experience as a flatbed operator is just one of the many ways Mike has been able to solve a problem on the perfect binder. “They were having a lot of issues with the way a product was being cut,” Mike says, further explaining that the printed piece was not being cut in a uniform manner. “The perfect-binder operator (at the time) wanted to throw away the product. I was over there that day and said to the supervisors, ‘I think I can save the product.’”
Mike was given the opportunity. He used the skills he learned when operating the flatbed to cut the product in a uniform way so it could be run efficiently on the perfect binder. “That was the point where my supervisor told me, ‘You’re part of the perfect-binder crew. That is what we want, we want you over there.’ That is what solidified me being in the bindery area.”
When discussing improvements within the company, Mike believes “in order for all to succeed, everyone has to have a hand in it.” Mike has seen this first-hand from the day he was hired. “When I came here, they were asking for opinions. They always kept an open dialogue. That is one of the things that makes this place so good. They take that information and run with it. They allow us to run with it, too.”
Having a great team mentality is one way Mike has been able to lead successful production efforts. He keeps that open dialogue with the people working on his production line.
“I love having new people on my line,” Mike says. “There have been times where new people will ask a question that will trigger something and really get you to start thinking. I am always looking for that next thing to make my job better and easier.”
Throughout his years at NPC, Mike has had the opportunity to help with the implementation of new ideas. He was part of an effort, while working on the perfect-binder crew, called the “5S Initiative plus 1.” Mike’s machine was one of the first machines that they applied the initiative to. He explained it was meant to “sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain, plus safety” for production lines.
“We took everything out of our area but the machine. Then we only pulled back into the area what we needed to perform our job,” Mike said. “It is a way to keep your area completely organized all the time.”
This initiative proved to be a success in several ways: improving the ease of operating a machine, making the production area more accessible, and helping operators focus on running the equipment as efficiently as possible, according to Mike. “Some of us really ran with it, I actually did it at our house,” Mike says with a chuckle.
This initiative soon became a company-wide plan.
Mike has also served on the company’s safety committee. As a committee “we got together every month; we would go over any safety issues, see how we could have prevented it, and what we can do to prevent it in the future,” says Mike, who served on the safety committee for one year.
Although he’s no longer part of the committee, Mike still takes a safety-first approach.
“If I can make the job safer and be efficient at it, why not?” he says. “If I see something that stands out to me, I make sure I always bring it to somebody’s attention.”
“In my experience, the only thing that holds you back at NPC is yourself.”
– Mike Wood
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