ConMet celebrates new employees, products

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Mar 20, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Brandon Case, in the tool department at ConMet, works on a large mold used to produce plastic components for semi-trucks.

ConMet, a structural plastic component plant in Canton, is celebrating its recent achievements on March 22 by celebrating the hard work of its employees.

What they do

ConMet, one of the largest suppliers for the truck industry, designs and produces all types of plastic components used is 18-wheelers, utility trucks and even some school buses. In January, ConMet launched a new product line for the Kenworth 680 and Peterbilt 579.

“That’s the Cadillac of semis,” said Everett Lynch, ConMet’s environmental health and safety supervisor. “We had to hire 30 new employees to get up and running.”

Lynch said ConMet wanted to show appreciation to those employees who came in rather quickly and got started on the new product line. To celebrate the company’s latest achievement, a cookout will be held in their honor on March 22 at the plant. A Kenworth 680 and a Peterbilt 579 will also be on site so the employees can actually get to see the end result of all their hard work.

The ConMet plant in Canton has been in operation is 2004, but not many people in the community know it exists or what its employees do.

“Basically any semi truck has our internal and external parts,” Lynch said.

ConMet makes many different storage compartment pieces that are installed either in the cab or inside the truck’s trailer. The plant also makes parts for Volvo, Mack, Navistar, Freightliner and more.

ConMet is the second largest manufacturer in Haywood County behind Champion International in Canton. Human Resources Manager Steve Thompson said it was good to see the manufacturing industry be successful in Haywood.

“It’s a diminishing industry and we need to hold onto it as much as we can,” Thompson said.

Plant Manager Nate Dingus said Canton was an ideal location for the ConMet plant because it is central to many original equipment manufacturers, including a Kenworth plant in Ohio, a Volvo plant in Virginia and Volvo and Freightliner plants in Arden.

Who they are

Dingus is responsible for the entire 215,000-square foot facility. He has been with the Canton plant for three years and was the plant manager in Bryson City before that.

The Canton plant had about 120 employees when Lynch started working there seven years ago. It now employs 320 people and plans to keep growing. He said he was a prime example of ConMet’s commitment to career development.

“I came here as a third shift product supervisor and now I’ve taken on environmental safety and some HR duties,” he said. “The career development has been amazing.”

With a vast amount of departments and job duties at the plant, ConMet tries to hire locally to fill positions and is willing to train first-time plant operators. While there are entry-level positions, the plant also requires highly trained employees, including supervisors, engineers, technicians, product designers, accountants and other administrative roles.

“Our employees from Western Carolina have a lot of talent,” Dingus said. “We try to develop people locally who want to be here and grow here.”

Thompson said another important thing to know about ConMet is that it is a part of Amsted Industries, which is a $7 billion worldwide company privately and employee owned.

“From the first hour they begin work they are part owner of the company and own company stock,” he said. “So we wan them to come in and act like they are.”

Lynch said the company also tries to incentivize employees to take ownership of their department by offering prizes in exchange for cost-saving solution ideas. The overall team goal is to reach $2.5 million savings and as of March, the ConMet team has saved the company $1.25 million with its original ideas of how to improve processes.

Inside the plant

While their jobs can get complicated to explain, a few ConMet employees attempted to explain what they do on a daily basis.

Wayne Moore is a product supervisor at ConMet and has worked with the company for more than five years. He is the first line of defense when it comes to employee safety in his department and making sure his team meets the daily production goal. He supervises large pieces of equipment, some of which is owned by the customers and given to ConMet to complete certain product lines.

Mark Sanner is a program manager and has worked with the company for almost seven years.

“When a new program is awarded, I take the drawings from Vancouver (corporate headquarters) and take care of the launch,” he said.

As a tooling engineer, Cody Boerger has a background in mechanical engineering and has worked with ConMet for five years. He reviews part designs and runs simulations with software to predict how the plastic will flow into the tool that forms the component.

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