Written by Kim R. Dykman, Purchasing/Supplier Development at Apex Spring & Stamping
What is your most valuable resource? This is a question that many organizations ask themselves and many times, the answer is focused on expensive equipment or the latest technology. However, at Apex Spring & Stamping, our answer is different. Before I tell you more, I want to tell you a story about a man named John.
John was 19 years old painter living in the Grand Rapids area. His painting business was small but successful, yet he had a desire to learn and do more. Through some conversations, John heard about a very small company (only 5 people!) that was looking to hire a part-time position. With a desire to do more, John pursued this position without knowing what it would turn into.
The small company was Apex Spring and Stamping. John received the opportunity to meet with the founder Wayne L. Nash, and quickly impressed him with his determination, positive energy, and willingness to roll up his sleeves and work. John heard the words “You’re Hired,” and got started right away.
His New Position.
He was placed in a position that was very different from professional painting. He entered the world of Shipping and Receiving, which at the time was not a “department”. In a very short time, he made an impact and proved to be the right man for the job. Shipping and Receiving soon became an official department where John built shelving, organized, and set up procedures for checking in material. Not a moment was wasted because that was not John’s style and work ethic. He was quick to clean up, readily available to help machine operators, and even jumped in to do some maintenance and yard work around the building. This young man was leaving his mark on the company and it did not take long for Wayne to take notice.
Wayne offered John the opportunity to advance his skills and take various classes at Grand Rapids Community College and the Applied Technical Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. With an education and a bit of internal training, John quickly made a jump in his career again. He started working on the various machines at Apex including the Fourslides and Vertislides. He was a natural at setting up these unique machines and making sure that the parts were run to print efficiently and accurately. After some time he became the Supervisor and was responsible for all of the machine operators working on training, schedules, and personnel issues.
As Apex Spring & Stamping grew, the customer’s demands for more detailed documentation for measurements, certifications, and reports became more common. At the time, quality control did not exist as a full-time position but there was a need for Apex to invest in quality to meet the demands of the business. John assumed the role of Quality Manager and started the quality department at Apex which is now a team of seven. This painter was now developing into a leader in the West Michigan manufacturing community.
He didn’t stop there.
In 1994, John led Apex Spring and Stamping through the process to be the very first ISO 9000 registered spring maker in Michigan. This ended up being one of the highlights of his career and a major breakthrough for Apex. But it took a year’s worth of effort, focus, and dedication to accomplish.
The International Standard for this requires that a company follows guidelines, writes a manual, develops procedures, and provides work instructions. Once these are made, the company is expected to follow them to the letter. Back then, online resources weren’t available and there were very few books ever written on this topic. It took over a year to achieve our registration but with John’s “hands-on” approach, a few classes in Detroit, and some administrative help the goal was met. A big celebration occurred when our registration arrived along with the flag that designated Apex as an ISO Certified Supplier.
So, who is John?
John Newville is one of the most valuable resources at Apex Spring and Stamping and is celebrating his 39th year with the company. He isn’t an expensive machine nor is he the latest and greatest technology, but he is a wealth of knowledge and experience that helped build the very foundation of what Apex is today.
As Apex has continued to grow, John has eagerly stepped into various roles. From Shipping and Receiving to now a full-time role within the Sales & Engineering department, John is filling gaps, solving problems, and is a true example of a G.R.E.A.T. employee. He also has taken on the responsibility of overseeing our assembly work at our Howard City location and is often involved in the various trade shows we attend.
After 39 years he still loves coming to work, getting a new challenge, and says the best part of his job is “helping our customer solve problems.” As I sat down to speak with John and learn about his journey at Apex, the same energy and determination of that 19-year-old man was still present in his posture and presence.
At Apex, we have always focused on our team members as our most valuable resource and John Newville helps us understand that first hand. John Newville, THANK YOU. Thank you for your service and your example of what it means to be a valuable resource.
We pride ourselves on employee longevity and low turnover and truly believe that each person is an important part of our success. We would not be here, serving our customers, if it wasn’t for the individuals that support and work for Apex every day. If you are interested in learning more about available opportunities to work at Apex.