Engineering – More than Nuts and Bolts … Last week: Networking, Driving, and a steakhouse.

This past week was incredibly busy, and I found myself improving my skills in and out of the shop. I have formed an awesome relationship with the other shop guys, who have… well, different… backgrounds than I do. Lets just say they’re older, talk much more colorfully than most, and one has a giant star tattooed on his face.

Working alongside and connecting with the shop guys has allowed me to experience how crucial it is to have a good relationship between the management and the hands on workers. My on-site supervisor (and uncle) General Manager Jeff Nguyen has given me more insight into this duality of power and charisma that makes up a manager. He likes to call the ideal manager a “benevolent dictator”, who relates with the workers as if they were one of them, but has a firm leadership attitude that reassures the team that they are still in charge.

I witness this occasionally when Mr. Nguyen and our lead shop guy, Joe, would negotiate the scheduling of priority work orders. I learned that in the beginning of his employment a couple of years back, Joe and Mr. Nguyen would frequently disagree with each other, in a way that was not efficient. Mr. Nguyen continued to tell me that their growth over the years has allowed them to not only get along with each other, but to maximize efficiency for the company. Throughout the week so far I have heard many of my co-workers, including some of the administrators in the office, disagreeing with each other but getting stuff done. Mr. Nguyen has advised me of the importance of disagreements in a team, and has even gone far enough to say that “he does not hire people to agree with him but instead to contribute quality ideas and quality work”.

Throughout the week I had the opportunity to exercise some of my newfound networking skills while I delivered/picked up work. Delivering to customers around Houston was a learning experience like no other, starting with traffic… It sucks.

Regardless, I made good relationships with the our local customers, talked with their managers, and learned that first impressions are crucial when picking up/dropping off parts. I rode along with Joe one day, on a trip that should not have happened in the first place. We were outsourcing our work to another machine shop that had specific equipment that we did not, which complicates things for us, our customer, and the other machine shop. Mr. Nguyen told me that their company tries to avoid doing these maneuvers as much as possible.

Upon arriving to the other machine shop, Turnco, I noticed that Joe immediately greeted a the lead machinist, a man named Manuel. He was an older gentleman, and the two talked like they were related. Joe had a very positive attitude, and so did Manuel, which really made our job easier on this trip. While leaving, I asked Joe how long they’ve known each other, and he said… “about 20 minutes”. Moral of the story, an optimistic attitude makes any business trip productive and more efficient.

Since I started driving for Stabiltec about 3 weeks ago, I have clocked in over 2,000 miles on the shop truck’s odometer. Good thing I work in the oil industry…

I also celebrated my birthday last weekend, had some incredible dinner at a local steakhouse.



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