Ted Driggs 12.28.2016
The cool air greets me as I’m kissed by the sun setting shine of an autumn season just outside the facilities doorway at Okuma America. My time is done for yet another day in my manufacturing life, as I walk toward the truck that got me here nine hours earlier. Many of my colleagues have already gone, so the background noise of a global machine tool giant is muted, overcome by the wind whispering from the now colored fall leaves in the parking lot trees. I pause for a moment and let the memories of days gone by play back like an old VHS video tape of transferred ancient 8mm movies in my head.
My Early Career
I can still visualize my first day of work on a third shift radial arm drill press long ago. I can see the metallic chips and shop floor in that plant laden with the grime of machines and men and women reshaping the metals which drive our great nation. Fast-forward in my journey I see my life in the cutting tool industry in Ohio and Michigan, followed by a brief stint selling machine tools, to helping the government manufacture an aircraft to replace the B52 called B1B. The tape still moving, I come to the technical side of machine tools applying a small Austrian engineered brand to the huge world of metalworking.
The Number 20
Lastly my journey stops here, Okuma America, and the tape abruptly shifts to play mode snapping my daydream rant back to the present. And then it hits me. The number 20 flashes in my head. Yes 20; or four score; or four times five and two times ten. A number which transfixes me in the here and now. For you see this is my twentieth year at Okuma. It is the number 20 of my 43 years doing the work that allows us to drive cars, have hips and knees replaced, to fly around the world at near Mach speeds, to watch movies from DVDs and on LED televisions instead of some old VHS player.
Half My Manufacturing Life
It is my manufacturing life spent in one community; one location; for one company in a time when employee occupation mobility is the norm. It will be my final stop in life’s journey of which my father, who traveled before me, would have been very proud. As we flip the calendar to the fresh start of another new year I’m reminded of the value of the experiences we collect throughout our lives and careers. Twenty…yep that’s the number on my mind. It is half my manufacturing life at Okuma America Corporation.
This is the point when I realize it’s time to get in the truck and drive home. End of tape - rewind…
Ted Driggs is Project Manager, Okuma America Corporation.