Employee Highlight: Jeff Hotopp
In order to have a successful business for over 100 years, you must have dedicated and talented employees. Our company is no exception. With a group of just over 200 employees, we would be hard pressed to find better candidates to run our business. In just the last two months, we held our annual employee appreciation Cincinnati Reds game and our annual employee appreciation cookout at our headquarters in Mason, Ohio. These events exemplify how appreciative we are of our employees and all that they do. As Israelmore Ayvior stated, “The growth of an organization is not dependent on the number of employees in its register. It is dependent on the number of employees who show dedication and commitment to the vision of the organization.” We are fortunate to have so many employees who are dedicated and committed to the vision of our business.
There is no employee who embodies this commitment and dedication to our company’s vision more than Jeff Hotopp. Jeff got his start in manufacturing over 40 years ago working in a local mom and pop shop cleaning bathrooms and sorting parts from chips. Shortly after, he began his career at Ashley Ward, as a screw machine trainee. As his career progressed, Jeff has transitioned from a trainee, to a machine operator, and eventually to the supervisor of the Acme Gridley department. He now holds the role as lead machinist where he helps everyone out on the floor doing things that other people have trouble with and teaching those new to the department. Through his 39 years here, Jeff has continually bought into our company’s vision.
The value that Jeff brings to Ashley Ward is unrivaled. Each day Jeff brings his willingness to share his knowledge to work. As the manufacturing industry strives to bring in young talent, we must have employees willing to teach. Jeff most certainly symbolizes this characteristic, which is a huge asset to the company. Each day, Jeff brings his lunch pail to work, putting his head down until it’s time to head home. Jeff still finds joy in running machines and turning wrenches to produce the tangible product at the end of the day. Through his work ethic, willingness to teach, and his can do attitude, Jeff is the poster child for what a perfect employee at Ashley Ward is all about.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Jeff and ask him questions surrounding ideas such as the future of the manufacturing industry and the importance of finding young talent to ensure manufacturing continues long into the future. Here are some of his responses to the questions we asked.
Q: What is the best part about your job?
A: I still love working on machines and turning wrenches. I also really enjoy helping people. That’s been part of my job for the last 35 years and seeing that end product makes it worthwhile.
Q: Can someone support a family while working a skilled trade?
A: Absolutely you can. You have to live within your means. My wife stopped working eight months into pregnancy with our first kid and hasn’t worked outside the home since. Although I have upgraded and added onto my house, I have lived there for the last 35 years. I helped get my five kids through college even though I didn’t pay for all of it, I still helped quite a bit. We live comfortably and I have some money in my 401k, so yes you can definitely do it if you become skilled. You can’t just come in and stay the same.
Q: How important is the younger generation to the success of manufacturing?
A: I don’t know whose going to do it, but it is essential. Today, there are no more young people coming into the industry and in ten years, if the industry doesn’t do anything, the industry is going to be hurting. You’re getting to the point now, that it is supply and demand. Somethings got to give and if it doesn’t we aren’t going to have these machines which isn’t realistic. There will always be a niche for these machines.
Q: What qualities do you typical see in someone who works in manufacturing?
A: They are more technical and they are usually a hands on person. They don’t mind getting dirty. Also, manufacturers aren’t afraid to try things. I see a lot of people with self-confidence who are willing to try new things without fear of failure.
Q: Any advice to those who are thinking about a career in manufacturing?
A: You can make a comfortable living in manufacturing. I’m a perfect example how a one income house, in manufacturing, can make provide enough to live quite comfortably.