The Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) at Georgia Tech sat down with Chantrey Reece, master scheduler at BorgWarner in Asheville, North Carolina, who recently became the first recipient of the GaMEP Manufacturing Leadership Certificate, to learn what he gained from the program and how he’s using it at BorgWarner.
Tell me about yourself.
I’ve lived in Asheville my whole life, with the exception of when I was in the military. After leaving the Army, I came back to Asheville and began working for BorgWarner, an automotive components manufacturer, and I’ve been with the company for 12 years. On the weekends, I like to take advantage of the outdoor recreational opportunities in North Carolina, where I hike, bike, and raft with my wife and two kids.
What is your role at BorgWarner and how has that changed over the years?
I joined BorgWarner in 2005 as a freight unloader and have worked my way up through the organization. I’ve held positions in the warehouse, as a material handler, shift lead, and multiple roles in the scheduling department.
Today I’m the master scheduler. I oversee the scheduling of five machining departments and the final assembly department. Our team is in charge of the scheduling of components that are going through the assembly lines, as well as predicting any downtime needed for maintenance on the machines. In my role, it’s important to use capacity planning to make sure our products are produced on time and that we are able to meet customer demands.
How did you hear about the Manufacturing Leadership Certificate program, and why did you feel it was the right program for you?
A few of my teammates and I signed up for GaMEP’s Lean Boot Camp to gain more knowledge about lean practices. A few weeks before the course, I received an email saying that Lean Boot Camp was a core course of the new certificate program. I started looking into it a bit further and saw that it really addressed a need for me.
When I started in my current position, it was the first time outside of the military that I had to manage other people knew the technical aspects of my job really well, but I didn’t have the leadership skills necessary to support and grow our teams. I felt that this certificate would help close that gap.
What was your favorite course in the certificate program, and why?
Leading for Organizational Excellence was the course I enjoyed the most. It taught me how to put together a strategic plan and carry it through to execution within my teams.
What were your top three takeaways from the certificate program?
I learned a lot from the courses that I took and have implemented many of the things I’ve learned, but I think the three biggest takeaways for me were:
- It takes good communication to be successful with change.
- You need to have well-defined processes and if you don’t, you need to start there.
- Employee engagement is a must. Management and the teams need to work together and be open to giving opinions and receiving feedback. If that relationship can be established, things will fall into place and happen much more quickly.
So knowing all of this, how has BorgWarner benefited from the certificate program?
Based on the skills and outlook that I brought back, BorgWarner quickly saw the benefit of it.
First, I sat down with others in the company, walking them through the classes I took, answering a lot of questions, talking about how the concepts could be applied. We then began conducting value-stream maps — a lean tool — in specific departments. It gave us some quick wins, and people across the company began buying into the changes. We got people involved in ideas and decisions who had never been involved before, and they became eager to participate and have their voices heard.
We are only a few months into implementing what I and others have learned in these classes, but we are starting to see a culture shift in the organization, and that is exciting.
We now have six other people going through the certificate program.
Besides what we’ve discussed, is there anything else you plan to do with the knowledge you’ve gained from these classes?
Absolutely! The skills that I learned are applicable to many different aspects of my life. After taking the project management class, I now make lists of must do’s, should do’s, and could do’s in order to help organize and manage my personal time in addition to my work schedule!