H&T Batteries | Meet the Team- Melvin Ireland

Meet the Team- Melvin Ireland

We sat down with H&T Waterbury’s newest member of the management team, Melvin Ireland, who has joined the company as their Lean Manager. In an interesting conversation, we talked to Melvin about his past work experience, why he joined H&T Waterbury and his vision for the next 12 months at the company.

 

Hello Melvin and welcome to H&T Waterbury, although this isn’t your first time at the company is it?

Yes that is right. I first joined H&T Waterbury in 2005 as an apprentice toolmaker. I completed my 8000 hour apprenticeship and joined the tool service department as a carbide toolmaker.

 

After your apprenticeship at H&T Waterbury where did your career take you?

I decided in 2012 to make a career change, and left to begin a career as a physical therapist assistant. A very different occupation to being a toolmaker I must admit. In 2015 I began to study for a degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Connecticut. As part of that I elected to take a number of courses in manufacturing management which rekindled my interest in manufacturing. I am glad to say I have now completed my degree and I graduated this year.

 

Why did you decide to re-join H&T Waterbury?

Whilst I was undertaking my degree it reignited my passion for business, and manufacturing in particular. I enjoyed my time at H&T Waterbury as an apprentice and toolmaker. What I really liked about H&T Waterbury is the pride everyone took in the company, their roles, and most importantly ensuring their customers received a quality product and service. It seemed the natural place to rekindle my career.

I contacted the company speculatively and was lucky enough to be offered a temporary position as a toolmaker. Whilst I was working as a toolmaker an opportunity to apply for the Lean Managers position came up. I really enjoyed the elements of lean manufacturing I undertook for my degree, so I applied for the role and I was successful in my application and got the job.

 

Melvin stood next to one of the new CNC grinding machines at H&T Waterbury.
Melvin stood next to one of the new CNC grinding machines at H&T Waterbury.

 

Has H&T Waterbury changed much since you last worked at the company?

The company has changed considerable since I left in 2012 with the growth of the business being one of the biggest changes, both in terms of customer base as well as the number of employees. As someone who went through the apprentice scheme, I am also pleased to see that the number of apprentices has increased.

The investment that has gone in to the site also impressed me, particularly with the new manufacturing equipment that includes new presses and cupping machines. As a time served toolmaker I was particularly happy to see there has been a large investment in new CNC machines in the grinding area.

The other major change I have seen is the introduction of the H&T Excellence program which focuses on reducing 10 areas of potential waste across the business. The H&T Excellence Kaizen events are held regularly so we can identify and eliminate these wastes through continuous improvement.

 

You’ve joined H&T Waterbury as our new Lean Manager. What are you looking forward to most about the role?

I am really looking forward to the challenge of the role, and seeing how we can continue to improve as a business. Internally we visualise H&T Excellence as a bus as the program is a journey. I am hoping to inspire my colleagues to get on the bus and join me on this journey!

 

What are you hoping to achieve in the next 12 months with the company?

We can’t improve as a business without the full support of everyone within the company. In the first 12 months I want to reinvigorate and educate my colleagues about H&T Excellence and its importance through training and Kaizen events.

H&T Excellence is driven by actions which can be measured by KPI’s. I am looking forward to seeing how we have managed to improve our performance as a company over the next 12 months through our H&T Excellence initiatives and Kaizen events.

 

Finally Melvin, the last six months have been extremely tough for everyone. What is the one thing you would say you have learnt about yourself?

The USA has been particularly affected by COVID-19. I certainly appreciate my health a lot more and how important it is to take the appropriate measures to protect not only my health but my friends, family and colleague’s health.

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