Do you recall what was happening in your life in November of 1984? Roger Grubbs does. I had the pleasure of chatting with Roger recently as he recalled the day he and his cousin James Patrick rode to their job interviews together, seeking welding positions with Groen. It’s a good story because they both got the job – and would you believe it, they’re both still here!
James is a top welder on the large kettle line to this day, and Roger’s career path has taken him to different departments, and different countries…
Roger started his career with Groen as a welder on the TDB kettle line when MS production was out of a warehouse in north Jackson. Roger enjoyed the position and prided himself in learning to weld everything he could on the line. When the company moved the large kettle line from Chicago to Byram in 1990, Joe Clark promoted Roger to a lead position on the large kettle line. He stayed in the position for years, but never missed an opportunity to assist elsewhere – like the time he helped set up the pizza prep table line when it first moved to MS.
In 2012 Roger accepted a position in tech service, where he currently works on Joe White’s team. In addition to his day-to-day role in tech support, Roger also does start-ups for CapKold. He performed nearly 20 installs for CapKold in 2019, and his travels have taken him as far as Japan.
Roger frequently encounters customer requests for information on Groen units that are still in service after impressive lengths of time. That’s how Roger and I ended up on the same email recently – a rep was showing off a Groen Kettle that had been in operation since 1955 (and looking to Roger for parts information)! I asked Roger how often he gets requests for “historic” Groen parts like that. “I’m pretty sure all the old ones come to me,” Roger replied with a chuckle. With a career history like his, that seems right to me.
When asked about a highlight from his work experience over the years, Roger recalled when the Leico 1200 CNC/PNC spinning machine was installed in Jackson in 1993. The machine was built in Germany, and it was a big deal because it was one of only four machines in the US that large. Roger spent a lot of time working with that machine during his tenure in the factory, and in 1997 he become the programmer of the machine – which he still enjoys assisting with to this day.
Outside of work, Roger enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife, six children and nine grandchildren. He’s an avid gardener – growing his own beans, tomatoes, corn peppers, okra, and squash. He also enjoys tinkering on his old truck and riding his bike.
When I asked Roger about any potential plans to retire, he said he’ll retire when he is 103, or at least as long as it takes to beat the longevity record for Unified Brands. Though he’s not certain what that record is, his buddy Joe Clark had nearly 50 years in when he retired, and that seemed like a pretty good goal to Roger.
If you want to reach out to Roger to congratulate him on his 35+ years with the company, to ask him a question about Groen equipment that is still in operation after years (and years) of service, or to hear some of his unpublished stories that are sure to make you laugh, give him a call at extension 6045.
If you want to be part of a future employee spotlight, or would like to recommend one of your teammates, please send an email to Kellie Wood, Director of Marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for the stories Roger, and for your dedication to Groen.