Featuring Mueller & Kristie Beachy
What’s your name?
My name is Kristie Beachy.
What is your position at Mueller?
I am a Technical Machine Operator II at Mueller.
How long have you been in this role?
I’ve operated machines for about 10 years, but I have been in this role for 3 years.
Did you start in this role at Mueller or did you do a different job within the company prior to this?
I started out in Assembly and was able to develop new skills to continue progressing. I am thankful that Mueller has given me the opportunity to continue to grow and move into different positions within the company. I have been at Mueller for about 16 years, and being able to work my way up within the company makes me feel appreciated and valued as an employee.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Each day, I conduct quality checks to ensure my parts are meeting Mueller standard. I work with my machine, which is a CNC machine. This machine is automated and runs off programs. Some days, I have to do change overs on my machine.
How would you describe your career to someone unfamiliar with it?
I help create the meters that are out in everyone’s yard. I build all the components that are inside that pipe, which are ball valves and stems. Because it is automated, I make sure the machine is running properly and all stations are clean to keep it free of debris. If something is not in spec; I may have to go into the offset screen or open the door to make some adjustments.
What do you enjoy about your career?
I like the control of running the machines. Often times, I run more than one machine at a time. I enjoy knowing that I am feeding it raw material and a completed component is made in the end. Some may think running machines aren’t very exciting, but at the end of the day it is so rewarding. The feeling when you see the final result and know you helped create it gives you so much satisfaction.
What kind of education or training opportunities did you do to become successful?
At first it was just on-the-job training. Then, Mueller began CNC classes at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Athens, Tennessee. I spent weeks learning the fundamentals of running a manual machine at TCAT. Students were provided blueprints and then we got the raw material it required. We used a manual lathe or manual mills to make a finished product. Along with instructor lead and course work, this continued my development of operating the CNC machines. Mueller helped give me the opportunity to take these classes, and I know so much more about my job because of them.
This interview is for Your Skills, Your Future, a workforce development initiative that connects job seekers to skilled careers that do not require a traditional four-year degree. Did you pursue a traditional four-year degree? If so, where?
I did not pursue a traditional four-year degree; I went straight into the workforce after high school. I did go through medical training Phlebotomy and EMT courses before changing career directions. I believe that going straight into the workforce was the best decision for me, although I am so thankful I got to further my education with hands-on learning at Mueller and TCAT and transition into a career I enjoy and am prideful of.
If not, what workforce or on-the-job training have you had?
I received a CNC certification from Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Athens, Tennessee. I am so thankful I had the opportunity to receive this certification, and it really helped excel my career at Mueller.
What would you tell a high school student or adult considering a career similar to yours?
I would tell a high school student to learn as much as they can about the machines. Not all machines are the same. I can go from one machine to another and they will have completely different manuals. In this career, you need to understand and know your machines. I would also recommend going to trade school to learn more about the job. Basic education in machines and coding will to get your foot in the door and to help build upon your career.
What training do you feel is most valuable to someone considering a career similar to yours?
Getting to know your machine is critical. In this career, learning how to read the programs and knowing all the codes is what will help the most. If there is an issue, and the machine just stops you can go back into the program and make an edit to fix the issue. This training can be achieved by hands-on-learning, or getting some basic knowledge from a trade school.
Is there anything else you’d like to add about working at Mueller or your career?
I have been at Mueller for 16 years. I have made so many great friends and I’ve learned how to do almost every job on our campus. It is important to cross train; it can make you more valuable by being able to be utilized in so many different areas. If I am needed in a different department, I am thankful I have the knowledge to assist others. Never stop learning and never stop educating yourself. In this field, having an understanding of many different machines and jobs could be the difference in getting a job change or promotion you’re hoping for.