Our operations director Zach recently took over an enormous project: the relocation of our production facility in Nevada. He has been with us for 10 years already, now managing our two US-American manufacturing sites. Zach views himself as a ground level air traffic controller, that is taking care of all processes running smoothly. We talked to him about the challenges of managing two teams in two locations, the future of our American production and what keeps him occupied off the job.
Hi Zach! Can you tell us when you joined Spread Group and explain what is your job here?
I started in 2012 as the operations manager for the Greensburg facility. Now I’m the operations manager for both of our North American facilities in Greensburg, Pennsylvania and Las Vegas, Nevada.
If you were to explain your job in three short sentences to somebody like just to summarize, what would you say?
My job really boils down to being ground level air traffic control. You know, the word director and the title are really appropriate because people come to me needing either resources or an answer or solution. Either I help them with that, or I direct the information to who can. And I do a lot of connection in between like an air traffic controller. So, a lot of my time I feel like I’m kind of waving things in, it’s a lot of making connections and making sure resources are adequately shared.
You took over a big part in the relocation of our production facility in Nevada. How was this experience for you?
It was challenging for sure, but it was definitely a positive experience. I really enjoyed it. Taking over the project at a later stage was not easy, getting myself up to speed, figuring out where and what was already planned. You know, being both remote and on site, it was a lot. It was a great challenge. It’s a great test run for when we move the Greensburg facility someday. It was a lot of work. But it was also rewarding and I’m really glad that I did it.
What are the plans for the future of our production in the USA? Can you already tell something about that?
One of the biggest things we’re going to do is making sure that we standardize processes, you know, globally and especially within the US. The time zones being so far apart makes it really hard to communicate. We have got a couple plans in place with changing supervisors, travel times and some weekly meetings to keep both facilities aware of what’s going on. So, if somebody has a great idea at one site, we can share that information with the others, and I’ve been connecting the maintenance teams a lot more. So that if one of our pieces of equipment has an issue, they have a much bigger group to communicate with. We’ve set up the teams chats and we’re communicating a lot better now. And so, to me the thing I’m looking the most forward to is building a national team.
What are qualities or maybe soft skills that you need in this position and in the interaction with your team?
Being an active listener. There’s a lot of people that get into leadership positions based on any given skill, like being very good at a particular job. From a leadership perspective to me the most important thing is being an active listener and having empathy, emotional intelligence. Because if you don’t have those two things, you’re not going to build a team. You know, I can hammer out specific statistics and the time per piece or point out mistakes that are made. But if I don’t do it in a way that connects with people and builds them, then it’s going to fail.
Are there any hidden talents or hobbies you’d like to share?
I’m an amateur car restorer. I have two project cars. One is a 1969 Mustang and one is a 1973 Scout. I don’t do it for money, I just do it for my own entertainment because I like fixing things and it’s a nice contrast between my day job. No two days are the same. You know, like sometimes it’s very hard to recognize what I really accomplished in a day. But when I’m working on something mechanical, there’s a very tactile experience. I can take a part of a car, I can clean it, I can repaint it, I can put it back together. I can make it work again. So that to me is sort of like a cathartic release to counterbalance a hectic day. And in addition to that, I am also a guitar player at a local indie rock band in Pittsburgh named Sommelier.
Oh great, we should definitely check it out! Thank you, Zach!