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Jorge Colin: A Caterpillar Supervisor
Jorge Colin lives and supports his family based off of his effort as a Caterpillar Supervisor. He had to earn his way up to this particular position after working there for a few years at a lower position, and once he reached that level things were going good and bad for him. Things were going well since he was receiving a better pay, however things were also starting to travel downhill at Jorge’s work since the economy is getting worse.
How did you come to work at Caterpillar?
I had quit my job at Sam Goody and was working part-time at newspaper distribution center. I met an elderly couple who said I should submit an application and resume to Caterpillar. So, I did and later the couple said I would get a call from Cat. A few days later I got a call from Caterpillar to come in to take a test. I took the test and a couple days later they called for me to offer me a job as a forklift operator.
What is your specific job to do at Caterpillar right now?
I am currently the lead supervisor for medium wheel loaders fabrication. That means we do all the welding on the skeleton of a tractor, we machine it, and put on additional blocks, studs, and bosses. We then send it to the paint line to be painted for assembly. There are specific requirements we must follow, such as weld sizes and the order that we weld the frames together. Some welds are very important to the safety of the operator of the machine, and these welds are checked three times throughout the process.
What type of education is needed for this job?
A college degree in business would be the most beneficial because in essence, you are running a small business unit operating as a part in a larger business. Most of the technical data can be learned from on the job training, but the most important skill to have for this position is being able to manage people. While being the supervisor of 75+ people is challenging, I prefer to look at it as one big team. Without the people on the shop floor, some of who have more than 30 years experience of welding, we would not be able to get the work done in the amount of time required. I’ve learned that my operators want three things. One, they want iron in front of them to do a day’s work. Two, they want a paycheck at the end of the week. Three, they want to go home safe each and every day. These are the three main things that they want of me.
How is the economy impacting you and your work?
I have had to lay off more than half my workforce and many of my support personnel, i.e. logistics, planning, engineering, safety, etc, have also lost their jobs. There just is not a demand for our product. I guess more accurately put, many companies out there no longer have a solid credit rating with which to borrow money to buy expensive machinery. In addition to this, because our cash flow has also been effected, many improvement projects to the facility have been stalled. The amount of inventory has also been reduced to free up some cash. We have been operating under a “just in time” philosophy. This means that I get the iron that I need just before I need it, but this also means that we need to know exactly how many we have of every part and this is an enormous undertaking considering how many different parts we use.
In such bad times, what is compelling you to stay at Caterpillar and not go looking for another job?
I am so busy at my job that I do not have time to go looking for another job! Seriously now, I am grateful to Caterpillar. I started as a forklift operator and did the best job that I could do. I studied for the inspector’s exam, passed it and was offered a better paying job inspecting machined parts. I then went through a series of tests and interviews and was eventually offered a third shift supervisory position. My supervisors have reviewed my performance and have placed faith in me to be a lead supervisor on dayshift because they believe I can get the job done. I intend to prove them right.
How much faith do you have in your work that Caterpillar will make it through these rough times?
There is no doubt that these are rough times, some say the most difficult times ever for us. Caterpillar, as a company, will make it through these tough economic times, but not without some lasting changes. There are many Caterpillar facilities through out the world and some may very well have to be closed in order to cut costs, but I do not believe that Caterpillar will be forced to file for bankruptcy or ask the government for monetary funds as some other big companies have. We have to operate more efficiently and more cost effectively than ever before, but we also can’t sit around and plan on how we are going to do it, we need to be doing it yesterday.