Executive Q&A: Guthrie manufacturer has an 'uplifting' job
Joe Robillard moved from Connecticut to Guthrie, Oklahoma, 14 years go to head the Autoquip lift manufacturing plant.
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Feb 6Joe Robillard, president of AutoQuip in Guthrie, talks...
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A: I was awarded a fellowship to earn my master's in business at Michigan State. Following graduation, I spent the next 16 years in human resources for Eaton Corp., a large manufacturer of automotive and truck components. I joined Eaton in Cleveland and moved from there to Tennessee, North Carolina and back to Ohio — Columbus.
Q: How'd you settle in Connecticut, where you lived before coming here?
A: A friend at Eaton had left and gone to work for United Dominion, now SPX, which makes rotor assemblies for helicopters. I joined United Dominion in HR but, over the 10 years I worked there, moved to vice president of operations. I was out of a job before I came to Oklahoma. I tried to buy the Connecticut company one day and was relieved of my job the next.
Q: You've always worked for manufacturing companies. What do you like about the sector?
A: You're contributing; adding value to the rest of the world.
Q: Tell us a little more about Autoquip.
A: We have a cadre of 12 mechanical engineers, who custom design 70 percent of our lifts to meet our clients' unique lifting needs for material handling. In 2009, we acquired American Lifts, a competitor that was based outside Indianapolis, and have maintained that brand and technology. We manufacture some 1,200 lifts annually, which can take anywhere from four weeks to 14 weeks and longer to make, including sheering pieces, welding and assembling. We believe we have the best employee base in the industry. We have a union shop with an average base salary of $20 an hour plus benefits. Eighty percent of our workers live in Guthrie and average service is 28 years.
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