Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

A Personal Look Back at 2019

In several ways I am sad to see 2019 fade away, but such is life. 2019 was a year of personal growth I had never experienced before. Doyles Production closed in January, then five months of project management for Verizon business in Plano..

So what was Doyles Production? It was a fabrication facility in Jasper, Texas that built high pressure pressure vessels for oil field operations. The vessels were anywhere from 3 – 6 inches thick, and took weeks, sometimes months to build. Doyles was a wonderful place to work, and the company provided high paying wages to the Jasper Texas area. As with everything else in life, everything must come to an end. In January of 2019 the workers were called into the lunch room and given the news that the company was closing.

Pressure vessels in a welding shop

After being laid off at Doyles I was picked up by a technology company and sent to Plano, Texas as part of a telecommunications project management team. While I had little formal training in project management my background in networking and technology came into play. While in Plano I was exposed to Six Sigma and Lean. While reading about Six Sigma and Lean I discovered they tied in directly with my background in manufacturing.

How did Six Sigma and Lean tie in with my background?

A week after I graduated high school in 1986 I went to work for S&T International, which is currently located in Mauriceville, Texas. However, in 1986 S&T was located in Woodville, Texas rather than Mauriceville, Texas. The company manufactured a wide range of industrial products, such as piping and pressure vessels. In the summer of 1987 I went to work for Ohmstede in Sulphur, Louisiana. Starting off as helped I worked my way up to a boilermaker and rotating nightshift leadman. In 1992 I left Ohmstede, mainly due to the excessive amount of overtime we worked. There were times when I did not get a day off for a month, sometimes six weeks at a time.

At one time I had worked at just about every welding shop between Beaumont and Lake Charles. Due to the working conditions and low wages I decided to go to college. In 1995 I started college at Lamar College in Orange, Texas. Took one summer semester there, then started at Lamar College in Port Arthur. While going to college at night I worked full time at various fabrication shops across Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana.

Let’s ask that question again, “How did Six Sigma and Lean tie in with my background?”, because I have 15 years on the shop floor manufacturing experience. I have seen first hand companies struggle to be profitable, yet they never did a time study, or a process improvement experiment.

Time and time again I witnessed first hand companies blaming employees for going over their allotted time for a process, yet never explained to the employee how to do a job more efficiently. The two exceptions were Ohmstede and Brask Inc. (Industrial Equipment) in Sulphur, Louisiana. Upper management was always looking for ways to improve the process and helping employees be more proficient.

Park in McKinney Texas

When I was exposed to Six Sigma and Lean while doing project management and Verizon Business, those concepts tied in directly with my 15 years of on the shop floor manufacturing experience.

Let’s just say 2019 was a whirlwind. I was sorry to see Doyles Production close, but it opened doors for me that I never thought were possible.

What are the next steps?

To start off 2020 I applied at numerous online universities to get a Bachelors Degree with a focus on project management. The goal is to take what I was exposed to in Plano, the continue my education.

Let’s circle back to the opening paragraph.  Why am I sad to see 2019 fade away?  Because it was a very productive year both in personal development and financially.   2019 opened doors I never thought were possible.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018