Apex Tool Group has over 30 brands with over 40,000 tools
What I do at ATG:
I have responsibility for nearly 400 production associates at our hand tools plant in Dallas, Texas. As the Operations Manager, I lead our quality, safety, delivery and cost processes as well as the people side of running a large manufacturing operation. Five value stream managers report to me; they run our five main production lines: our Armstrong brand along with our ratchet, hex, wrench and socket lines. I work with them on our policy deployment objectives, action plans, and forecasting to make sure we meet our goals. People management and communications are also a big part of my job; I am very involved in our interviewing processes, our all-associate meetings and weekly supervisor updates.
Where I got my start:
I came to the U.S. in 1995 from Vietnam. Even though I didn’t speak English, the owners at the time hired me as a heat treat operator. I learned the language, and worked my way up to production coordinator. I began going to school for my degree in computer science while working full time; using the company’s education reimbursement program. Lean was a big part of our operations, and I gained a lot of new skills in this important manufacturing tool. I left to take an IT telecommunications position for a few years, but returned as a process engineer working in our finishing focus factory. Every few years there was a new opportunity here – first as a Value Stream Leader, and then a Value Stream Manager and later a Business Unit Manager. I completed my MBA two years ago, and was recently promoted to Operations Manager for the Dallas facility.
A day in my life:
We have a production meeting each morning to check on delivery status and troubleshoot any issues that have come up. Then we do a gemba walk of one of our five different focus factories; we review safety, quality, inventory, cost and delivery for that product line. Here at Dallas, we handle every element of hand tool manufacturing, from raw materials and forming to stamping, finishing and heat treat, and then plating, assembly and pack. There are a lot of teams and processes to stay on top of, every day, and spot any potential issues so we can quickly address them.
What I would tell a prospective associate:
The lean tools you learn in our manufacturing plants really helped me professionally, and taught me how to improve operations every day. Associates are truly empowered at ATG, you have the ability to make a difference and change how we do things by using our policy deployment tools. I’ve had many opportunities to grow my career here.