Plant Manager

Entering the workforce, changing jobs, or are simply curious, Profiles series is the place to learn more about the career opportunities in the pump industry and the skills needed to be successful.

Hi, I’m a Plant Manager. What do I do?

About me: I’ve been in a manufacturing management position for a while, and because of that I’ve become a jack-of-all-trades. I’m a great communicator and listener, which is an important attribute when you talk to so many people inside and outside of the plant on a daily basis. Essentially, I set my plant’s goals, key performance indicators (KPI’s), and develop matrices, so I need to make sure I’m in touch with upper management in order to stick to our company’s vision. But I also need to make this vision clear and achievable by staying connected with the employees on the floor. I also speak to a lot of vendors, so I need to be relatively good at “code-switching” between a wide variety of personalities.

What I’m good at: I’m a very good listener. I take in a lot of opinions and synthesize them to make useful changes to our policies, procedures, and methods. I’m also good at keeping track of all of my employees so that when the time comes for performance evaluations, I can give them specific coaching and feedback to improve not only our operations but also the working relationship our company has with the employees.

What I like: Every day can look different as a plant manager, so I like variety. I find myself working best in high-pressure situations (no pun intended) and sharing my expertise with my staff. I love interacting with the plant employees and discovering what’s working and what isn’t, and bringing that information back to other managers within our organization. I like working with numbers and meeting with the sales team to set my plant’s capacity, budget, and efficiency. But I also like to switch it up and look at my plant with a creative eye to see if there isn’t any way to improve quality and efficiency—from our equipment and systems all the way through to final testing. I don’t like doing one thing for any long amounts of time and I enjoy using my brain in a lot of different ways. I work best with deadlines and clear goals, which helps me coordinate on-time shipments. I understand the power of learning and growing one’s knowledge base, so I find it fulfilling when I’m able to support members of my team to learn new things through cross-training programs and to help facilitate their professional development. Focusing on pumps, in this job, is something I truly enjoy and know a lot about.

What I’m looking for: If I were to switch jobs, I’d be looking for a job that allows me to be a great manager – setting deliverables and achieving tangible goals – but also a great leader. I’m the kind of person who inspires my staff every day by leading by example. I’m looking for integrity, passion, and that type of position comes with the right mix of technical experience along with interpersonal skills. I want variety in my workplace, and I found that when I took this job as the plant manager. On any given day, I could be talking to the CEO about the budget one hour, get into the details of an issue with a machine in another, and then take time to learn more about my employees the next.  If I’m hiring, I’m looking for someone who is interested in building and maintaining a great team, and someone who can see the big issues and the small minutiae.

My education: I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, but I know other plant managers that were hired with degrees in industrial engineering, manufacturing engineering, mechanical engineering or similar field. When I was hired, I was required to have a basic understanding of engineering fundamentals, and experience in manufacturing management or manufacturing engineering. I’ve been working in management for seven years, but some other companies may require less management experience, and more experience with machines, logistics, and pumps, and may require the candidate to have an engineering degree. Before I landed this job, I had a pretty good understanding of manufacturing equipment and the supply chain – and would assist my team in any way possible to accomplish our goal or to adhere to our vision. Currently, I’m often on the floor training new employees and setting them up for success. Sometimes, though, I spend time at my desk creating production and work schedules, optimizing work instructions, and updating upper management on non-conformances, assessing new vendors, and organizing my staff. All companies are different, but my company required me to have coding and program-writing experience, advanced knowledge of rotating machinery and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, and Lean/Six Sigma knowledge. While my work experience and degree made me a great candidate, it’s my communication and interpersonal skills that keep me successful in my role.

Where I work: While my experience has led me to specialize in manufacturing, and more specifically, in manufacturing management with a centrifugal pump manufacturer, I’ve found that a lot of the skills I’ve learned in my current role are applicable in any place a great leader is needed. Employers think I’m a great manager because of my experience with budgeting and my ability to back up my opinions with STEM-based reasoning. Conversely, many employers that offer STEM-based careers think I’m a great hire because I have people-person skills that allow me to more easily work among different departments.

How much I make: Because my job is based on managing people, I usually get paid more based on how big my company is, how many people I manage, and how successful I am. A small plant of 150 people or less will usually pay between $125,000 and $169,000 with an average of $140,000. Since I work for a bigger company with more than 150 people, my salary is higher with an average of $157,000 but the pay can be between $136,000 and $166,000. The benefit packages for my company also help me pursue further education with tuition reimbursement in addition to medical and dental coverage.

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