Allegion’s family of brands has been pioneering safety solutions to keep the places where we work, live and thrive safe for, in some cases, over a hundred years. Behind this rich history of innovation and safety are the individuals who have dedicated their careers to the production of Allegion’s wide array of security solutions.
During the month of October, in conjunction with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), we celebrate “Manufacturing Month,” and bring awareness to the many valuable and vibrant opportunities within the industry and at Allegion. Below, you’ll meet a few of the tenured individuals who have helped to bring the rich experience and depth of knowledge to Allegion’s manufacturing operations located in the U.S. for many decades. In a later article, you’ll have the opportunity to meet more Allegion team members from some of our additional sites around the world.
Ricky M. (43-year tenure)
Operations Production Manager
Allegion’s “Schlage” Operations – Security, Colorado
In 1978, Ricky began working for Schlage’s Colorado Springs area operations as a foundry helper, pouring brass, bronze and stainless-steel molds for lock components as part of the custom products produced there. He knew manufacturing was a career he wanted to pursue right out of high school, likening himself to the types of students Allegion connects with during our annual MFG Day events in October. “I liked to build things and understand how things work. I like being part of a team. I love technology. Manufacturing gives you the opportunity to work in and learn about many different careers – all in one place,” Ricky comments.
After a year in his foundry role, he moved to the hand plating operations as an electro-plater, where he plated custom finishes on decorative trim. Ricky then transferred to the shipping department and worked as a materials specialist, followed by work as a shipping lead, for 12 years.
Ricky was promoted to management total quality (MTQ) coordinator for training and development, in 1992, where he was responsible for coordinating employee involvement, continuous improvement, process re-engineering, lean and team dynamics efforts, and was also involved in an important ERP launch in 1995. At the time, the system was considered cutting-edge technology and required PC training and implementation on the floor. In addition to his normal job responsibilities, Ricky also taught associates how to use Microsoft’s Windows 3.0, how to type on a keyboard and about the World Wide Web – which was all new technology. Ricky remembers, “Oh, how times have changed in the workplace as this technology is now so integrated in our work and home life. It has gone from a tool to a way of life. But, this caused a great deal of anxiety and stress on a workforce that had very limited experience with computers. Dealing with the fear of the new technology was the first fear we had to overcome.”
As an outcome of this new technology, Ricky was asked to transfer back to shipping to help mitigate system challenges and earned additional responsibilities in customer service and corporate traffic along the way. He also held roles as logistics manager, production control manager and production manager throughout his career in Security, Colorado, with various manufacturing responsibilities.
Today, Ricky serves as the operations production manager and oversees the breadth of manufacturing responsibilities at the Security site, as well as manages changes to the ERP systems and supports the design and implementation of engineering changes and new product launches.
Ricky reflects on the wide array of experiences he has been afforded in a career in manufacturing: “Look at my career. I have had opportunities to learn foundry, polishing, electro-plating, shipping, logistics, production control, people management, how to be a part of a team, ERP systems, OPEX, engineering, HR, finance, quality, safety, customer service, love and support for your community, politics, etc. You get a taste of everything in one spot,” he recalls.
Ricky says his tenure at Allegion is because of his opportunity in each of these career paths. “I have been given challenges. I have been taken out of my comfort zone and challenged with growth opportunities… the support to fail and learn from my mistakes. I have always been made to feel like a part of something bigger…I feel like my voice counts and people listen,” he reflects.
Ricky continued to describe what he has learned from other leaders and partnerships at the company, as well as Allegion’s culture itself, saying, “I learned early on what inspired me and what demotivated me. I choose to inspire and include. That’s what works for me. Allegion has given me the opportunity to get involved with what manufacturing has to offer. Allegion paid for my schooling. Allegion is a company that values the talent within the company and is very good at promoting from within. They have values. They believe in those values. They live those values. As I get closer to the end of my career, I get asked, ‘When are you going to retire?’ I tell them, ‘When this is not fun anymore, that’s when I will retire.’ Looks like I may be here a while longer!”
For the next generation, Ricky shares some sage career advice. He says whether you are just starting out or, like him, haven’t decided what you want to be when you grow up, there is no better place to get a taste of what the real world has to offer than in the manufacturing industry – where you can be a part of a family. “Manufacturing can provide you with a lifetime of new and challenging opportunities. You can change careers and never have to leave and start over. Why pick one when you can have them all!” Ricky summarizes.
David (Larry) W. (55-year tenure)
Utility Operator – Plant 2
Allegion’s “Steelcraft” Operations – Blue Ash, Ohio
David (Larry) started his career with Steelcraft on April 20, 1966. In the last 55+ years, Larry has positively influenced our customers, our business and the lives of thousands that he’s interacted with. Rather than continue in the family business of farming or continue working his job at the sawmill, Larry decided to pursue a job in manufacturing and reached out to his contacts at Steelcraft in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area.
At the age of 19, Larry joined the company in the mullion cell area of the frames value stream as a brake operator, making $1.75 an hour on second shift in 1966. Within one year, he transferred to “Plant Two” (small parts production) and has been there learning, producing and teaching ever since.
When asked why he has stayed with Steelcraft for so many years, he praises many of the people he has worked with, including his team leaders. He says he was, “treated well throughout the years,” including by his current team leader, Rich K. “Rich is the reason I stay here now,” says Larry. “He takes care of us.”
In addition to his 55 years of tenure at Steelcraft, Larry also met his wife at the company 41 years ago when she was a team member in Plant Two. They’ve now been happily married for 40 years. He has also coordinated a ride share with many Steelcraft team members who were commuting from his hometown in Ohio for over 30 years, purchasing several large passenger vans and charging riders a small fee each day to help cover gas and maintenance expenses. Lastly, in his 55 years, Larry has missed less than 20 days of work, proudly stating, “We have good days and bad days, but you could count on us coming to work!”
Steelcraft Plant Manager Nick C. reflects, “For any of you that have had the pleasure of meeting or working with Larry, you know that one small article can’t encompass his 55 years of experience at Steelcraft. However, we all thank him for the service he’s put in, and the lives he’s made better as a part of it.”
Spencer B. (55-year tenure)
Allegion’s “Steelcraft” Operations – Blue Ash, Ohio
Fifty-five years ago, Spencer set out looking for a, “J-O-B” as he described it, and one of the available careers at the time was in manufacturing. After reaching out to an acquaintance who currently worked at Steelcraft, he showed up for his interview and remembers being hired on the spot.
His career at the company first began in the door department, in area called check and grind. Starting as a laborer, he worked his way up through the company, learning to use computers in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and eventually earning a position in the planning office – a department that served as the liaison between the shop floor and the front office at the time. In this role, he was responsible for planning and scheduling work, taking care of the production office (which involved a lot of paperwork at the time), quality control and material ordering, among other responsibilities. He says it was an interesting role and time went by quickly. So quickly, that he remained in this role for 45 years.
As technology continued to progress and the facility began to shift towards paperless activities, the planning office eventually disbanded, and Spencer had the opportunity to return to the shop floor as a spot welder, working on custom small parts and then the integrated frame line (IFL).
When asked why he has chosen to stay at Steelcraft – and now, Allegion – for all of these years, his answer was simple: “I was given the opportunity to grow and provide information and expertise to grow the company. I had a lot of responsibility and my opinions and ideas were accepted,” he remarks.
Frankie W. (43-year tenure)
Allegion’s “Republic” Operations – McKenzie, Tennessee
Over 43 years ago, Frankie started his career at Allegion’s Republic Operations in McKenzie, Tennessee, as a handler helper on the paint line. Over the years, he has also held roles working on the door line, the brake press, in door modification, metal shear and as a sideloader/forklift operator. Today, Frankie works as a materials specialist and has responsibility for warehouse operations.
As a fresh high school graduate, Frankie decided to take a chance on manufacturing at the recently opened McKenzie plant, noting there weren’t many job opportunities in the rural community at the time. He’s stuck with the industry and the organization because of the good living it has provided for himself and his family. “This day and time, manufacturing has more modernized advanced machinery and technology, where people can have a good career in manufacturing and make a good salary,” he reflects.
As far as working for Allegion goes, Frankie is encouraged by the updates our company has made since acquiring Republic, stating, “They have made many improvements for our safety and security and new equipment for the plant.”
Benjamin A. (40-year tenure)
Maintenance / Facilities Manager
Allegion’s “Von Duprin” Operations – Indianapolis, Indiana
Benjamin (Ben) first began his career at our “Von Duprin” operations in Indianapolis, Indiana, on April 1, 1981, as a setup mechanic in the machine shop. For many years, he held a variety of different positions – working across a variety of different departments and shifts – and eventually landing himself a supervisor position in 1988. Thirty years after he attended high school, Ben decided to go back to school and earn a secondary degree to make him eligible for further promotion, and he was named the operations leader for second shift in 2003. His career there has also included serving in roles such as factory unit manager, process owner and member of the operational excellence deployment team, where Ben worked to align all cross-functional areas through value stream analysis to improve the customer experience. Today, Ben manages the facilities and maintenance for both of Allegion’s Indianapolis plants.
When asked why he chose to pursue a career in manufacturing, Ben says, “I love seeing things go from raw substrates to finished goods. You feel like you accomplish something every day.” He adds, “Developing people and seeing them grow is the best feeling.”
Ben has worked at the company for over 40 years and says it’s because of the way he has been treated. “Allegion has been very good to me. They paid for my college and have provided a good life for my family,” he reflects.
At Allegion, we believe manufacturing matters, and our people play a critical role in keeping customers safe whenever and wherever our solutions are used. Manufacturing is essential and there are many opportunities to flourish in exciting, vibrant and successful careers, such as those you’ve heard about above.