SFA is a firm believer that you can not only serve your customers, but you can learn a lot from them, too. That is why we love to chat with them about what they are up to on their shop floors, to help solve the problems they are having, and to also see why they chose a Manufacturing related career.
One of our customers had some great stories to tell, and we felt this would be a perfect addition to MFG Day 2016. Read on (and click the photo to the left for a larger view) to see how being both a Machinist and Programmer for manufacturing shop floors has changed James Baker’s life:
Why did you first get into machining and why have you stuck with it? “At first, I was a young married man with three small children and I didn’t want them to be hungry. That’s what started me in the machinist’s field. I was able to go back to school. Now, I’m 52 years old and I’m still enrolled in continuing education for my career, and also for music, for math. It was my family first, and then it became very inspiring. It was something different every day, something exciting every day. It was a blessing to be part of it, and it’s been 20 years into programming and 30 [years] in the machinist field. For me, it’s something I feel I’ll always do. It would take a lot for me to want to leave this field.”
What areas of interest would be appealing to the new generation for entering the manufacturing field? “I encourage all the young people out there that the machine shop is where you actually use math, trigonometry, algebra– it’s in the machine shop. I can program, understand and axis machines, and live tool equipment. We have 35k programs online. It’s a big deal.”
“It’s not me that’s done it – it’s the help I’ve had” -James on his career success
Other than going back to school, what other benefits have you seen from working in the manufacturing industry? “The machine shop business has helped put my kids through college and provided for us a wonderful home. Two of my children are in IT. The oldest son works for LinkedIn, our daughter has her Bachelors in business administration, and our youngest son is a restaurant manager, while also teaching tuba and low brass for middle school students. They are all great with technology.”
Were your kids naturally inclined towards technological or educational pursuits, or did you have to encourage them a little? “I started my kids on computers when they were in elementary school and they were quite talented, even as children. I also love teaching my grandkids math. One granddaughter is 11 and I help her with the math they are giving her. Pre-algebra work programs like “this train leaves at that time, etc.” I love working with my grandkids on pre-algebra. I have a math problem on my fridge at home and my grandson wrote a long division question in the quadrillions, and he is 10 years old! My scientific calculator errored out when I tried to replicate it, so I did the equation on paper, and he was right!”
It sounds like you’ve already done a lot for the future generation, in terms of getting them interested in manufacturing, mathematical or technological pursuits, but does your shop have any MFG Day 2016 plans? “We have done things where Boyscouts come out to the shop for MFG Day in the past. We also do plant tours on a reoccurring basis of our shop floor for all the middle schools, high schools and colleges that desire to go through the plant every year. We work very closely with local area schools. We care very much about manufacturing in this area and want kids to advance with the field.”
Do you have any advice for the future generation, in terms of your success? “It’s not me that’s done it – it’s the help I’ve had.”
James Baker is a CNC Supervisor at the Amarillo Gear Company. Find them online at http://www.amarillogear.com/.
Shop Floor Automations is an official endorser of MFG Day 2016. Interact with us on Twitter at @SFA_inc and use the hashtag #MFGDay2016