Real Stories of Manufacturing Careers: The Position of Machine Operator

Posted on: March 28, 2017

When a person is hired for a position in manufacturing, they are entering a career full of opportunity for growth and advancement. Last January, we spoke with Jonathan Camp about his responsibilities as a line setter and what he enjoyed most about the assembly job. He described the transition from foodservice as the first time he’d felt like he had a career instead of a job. You’ll find his story here on our blog. Line setters often operate specialized equipment and work with machine operators to ensure a product is made to the proper specifications.

The next person featured is our Real Stories series on industrial career paths is John Moore. Through Friday Staffing, John was hired in February 2016 as a machine operator. What began as a temp position has turned into a full-time job with benefits and a bright plan for the future.

Life After High School Graduation

In 2014, during his junior year of high school, John moved with his family to Western North Carolina from Martinsville, Virginia. He worked at a fast food chain while attending Hendersonville High School. When he graduated in 2015, however, he was unsure of what he wanted to do next.

Like many graduates uncertain about their next step, John spent a year traveling with a peer originally from Brazil. They spent some time in São Paulo where his friend’s family was from. They also traveled to Rio de Janeiro, where the Summer Olympics would be held shortly after.

When he returned, John was in search of a job. His mother encouraged him to contact Friday Staffing. He’s so glad he did! Our staffing agency placed John in a temp position with an automotive manufacturing company in Fletcher. He was hired full-time in August.

Earning a Salary & Degree

In school, John was always interested in math and science. When he found out that his employer offers a Tuition Reimbursement Program that will help workers pay for degrees in business and economics, he was very excited. “The area I’m studying is where my company is hiring,” says John. Once he earns his degree, John will be better positioned to work in financial analytics at the manufacturing facility.

Since last summer, John has been studying Economics at Blue Ridge College. At the end of 2018, he will graduate with an Associate of Science and he hopes to transfer to UNC Asheville for his bachelor’s.

By working as a machine operator, John has gained a perspective that will set him up for success in another position in the company. “This puts me in a unique situation, being a person starting off on the floor,” says John. “It gives you a little more insight into what the company needs.”

Working evening shifts, John is able to take three courses online and one in-person geography course at Blue Ridge.

With a Little Help from a Mentor

“I’m mainly working machines called stamas and broaches,” says John. “I manufacture anchors that go onto the brake calipers. When you press on the brakes, anchors are the mechanism that puts the brake pad together toward your tire to make it stop. It’s very important.” His daily duties are focused on these anchors, but for many people it changes depending on what the supervisor finds they are best at.

As a machine operator, John works either by himself or with a setter (also named John), who has been with the company for five years. “Being able to learn from him has been extremely important for me in doing my job even better,” John shares. The setter usually oversees quality checks.

“There are certain guidelines we look for to ensure that the part is manufactured well. A lot of it is visual inspection. When we’re manufacturing the parts, we also do gauge checks. There are certain holes that are cut into the anchors to hold it to the caliper and we do gauge checks on the threads of those holes to ensure that the threads are going all the way through the hole—that they’re not too small, that they’re not too large.”

We Want to Help You Find the Right Path

Many of John’s peers from high school are still unsure of their paths. At just 19 years old, John is earning a full-time salary with benefits and earning a degree. “My friends are like, ‘You have a job with benefits. You have a 401k. What’s that?’ You’re introduced into the real world a lot faster than they are, which I think is a good thing.”

Our team at Friday Staffing has placed many employees in production environments where they are able to gain valuable work experience and achieve their professional goals. Whether you choose a path in manufacturing, clerical, or industrial, we are committed to helping you find a job and discover a world of possibility! Check out all of our available job posts, and contact us if we can lend a hand.