By: Carson Clark
Throughout October, we are celebrating U.S. manufacturing — and the men and women who work in our plants to bring innovation to life every day. Carson Clark is a Production Supervisor at our Cleveland Operations, and is a member of the Global Supply Chain Leadership Development Program. He shares his thoughts on why Manufacturing Matters to him.
I’m going to be honest with you. Before this year, I knew nothing about manufacturing. My plant exposure consisted of a dozen brief tours that ended with a sandwich and a cookie. Why does manufacturing matter? My response to that question has greatly evolved. At its core, manufacturing impacts families. It impacts the family lives of our consumers. It also impacts the family lives of our 93,000-member Whirlpool community.
In 2017 I’ve had the privilege of leading a 95-person team that executes the porcelain finishing process at our plant in Cleveland, Tennessee, where we make all branded, premium cooking products. Cleveland is a mixed-model plant, which means we inherit a lot of part variation. For example, consider oven cavities. While some plants may have five oven cavities, Cleveland has 35 different finished cavities that all require individual setups to properly enamel. This leads us to schedule smaller batch sizes and necessitates greater program customization in our powder booths.
Cleveland, Tennessee, may seem like a random location for an oven manufacturing plant, but it’s uniquely qualified. Cleveland has a rich heritage of producing cooking products, dating all the way back to 1879. The manufacturing process in this town has grown from two brothers making stoves in their backyard to the one-million square foot facility that Whirlpool completed in 2012. Throughout that time period, manufacturing has been a cornerstone for the community and helped countless individuals.
Cliff Bynum, who started with Magic Chef in 1978, exemplifies the Whirlpool values. He has had nearly 20 family members work at the plant over the years, from his mother to cousins, and most recently a nephew. When asked about his time in manufacturing and Whirlpool, Cliff said, “It’s raised four children for me, shown my kids a work ethic that I think they’ve appreciated. I’ve got a lot of pride in the work we’ve done.” He went on to mention how even his grandchild is now benefitting. Cliff has shared his honest, diligent leadership style with many at our manufacturing plant, along with dozens in the community as a high school athletics coach.
“It’s raised four children for me, shown my kids a work ethic that I think they’ve appreciated. I’ve got a lot of pride in the work we’ve done.”
While my manufacturing experience has been focused in Cleveland, I recognize that each of our plants has its own story to tell. So, again, why does manufacturing matter to me? Because at the end of the day, it’s what Whirlpool Corporation does. And, we do it with really great people. So here’s to 106 years of Whirlpool manufacturing history, and protecting 106 more for my family.