Meet the Team: An Interview with BSMW’s Longest-Tenured Employee, Andy Hyer

Employees shape the soul of a company. They create an organization’s culture, fueling its spirit and ultimately its success. As the old adage says, happy employees make happy customers, and Badger Sheet Metal Works prides itself on providing an engaging workplace. The company is privileged to have employed a smart and motivated team throughout its history, dating back nearly 100 years to its beginning as a provider of furnace and sheet metal supplies. Today, as a premier metal fabricator in the Midwest, Badger Sheet Metal Works still owes everything to the talented people who love coming to work.

As a nod to those people who deserve its gratitude, Badger Sheet Metal Works is launching a spotlight series to highlight employees, their vital roles, and the career growth possible under the company’s roof. The first employee spotlight is veteran Andy Hyer, who has nearly four decades of service under his belt at Badger Sheet Metal Works.

“When I came out of welding school, it was 1982, and no one was hiring,” explained Andy, who celebrated 38 years at the company in May.  “Everyone wanted me to join the union and sit on the apprenticeship bench, but I needed a paycheck right away and couldn’t wait for a job to open. So, Bernarr De Caster looked at my grade transcripts and welding certificates and said, ‘Well, we’ll give you a shot.’ And I’ve been here ever since.”

Over the decades, Andy has seen a striking evolution of capability and technology as Badger Sheet Metal Works experienced growth. His role, too, has expanded to include more responsibility and authority. Once a welder, Andy is now a team leader on bench fabrication. In years past, he’s also filled in as shop supervisor and served as a union steward.

Driven by a desire to understand and overcome all challenges, Andy enjoys the collaborative environment of Badger Sheet Metal Works, thriving when he can lead team members in tackling customers’ complex challenges.

Andy uses his unique gift for positivity and enthusiasm to put people at ease and encourage confidence that any problem can be overcome. This “aura of achievability” is present at all times, whether he’s mentoring a new employee or troubleshooting a project over the phone with a customer.

“My personal motto is, ‘Only worry about what you can control.’ or ‘It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,’” Andy said. “If things are going wrong, it could be worse. It could be a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”

 

 

Q: What do you believe differentiates Badger Sheet Metal Works from other metal fabrication shops?
A:
It’s family-oriented and driven by a desire to deliver for the customer.

Q: What words best describe Badger Sheet Metal Works?
A:
Caring. Flexible. They’re flexible with hours, helping employees work around their children’s school and activity schedules.

Q: How would you describe your job duties/what you do on a daily basis at Badger Sheet Metal Works?
A: I prioritize work to make sure it gets done on time. And I train new employees, emphasizing how it’s all about customer service and quality assurance. I make sure customers’ needs are met, if not exceeded.

Q: Are there any special metal fabrication processes you’re involved in at Badger Sheet Metal Works that are unique to the industry?
A:
I do some off-site measuring and complete custom jobs for certain customers. Badger Sheet Metal Works offers customization to meet the needs of many customers.

Q: What has kept you at Badger Sheet Metal Works? What do you like most about your job?
A:
I like what I’m doing—especially training new employees—and I like who I work for. To leave now would be like walking out before the end of a really good movie. I need to see how it’s going to end. I’ve only got like three or four years left.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered during your career at Badger Sheet Metal Works?
A:
The first ten years I worked at Badger Sheet Metal Works, I worked offsite at the paper mills, and that was always a challenge.

Another aspect, in my work training new employees, is the attitude I sometimes encounter. They don’t want to work and feel like the world owes them. It presents me with a real challenge because they just come and go as they please and think that it’s no big deal.

Q: What is a project you’ve found to be rewarding?
A: The most recent one would be a dough elevator project. It was so old there weren’t any prints. We traveled offsite, measured it, made our own drawings and duplicated everything. We had to go there on a Sunday—because that’s the only day they’re down—and we had to deal with people washing machinery and spraying hoses at us. However, after we successfully duplicated it, the customer was thrilled and asked that we make a second.

Q: Are there any other achievements, successes or milestones you’ve had at Badger Sheet Metal Works of which you are proud?
A:
I’ve been here the longest, outlasting 18 shop supervisors. I’ve come a long way. When I first came here, I knew how to weld, and that’s about it. Now there isn’t anything I can’t make out of metal. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve learned to customize a lot of stuff for a lot of customers.

Q: How do you see the metal fabrication industry evolving over the next decade?
A:
When I first started working at Badger, we laid everything out by hand and cut it by hand. Now we have lasers and programmers; so much of the process is now automated. They program it, send it to the laser, and the thing just cuts it out faster than we can lay it out. Technology will be the biggest change, as it gets better every year.

Q: What are your hobbies? What do you do during your time away from work?
A:
I hunt and fish. I do a lot of hunting in Michigan and fish anywhere in Wisconsin–mostly northeast Wisconsin. My most recent hobby is spending time with my grandkids. I have a 2-year-old, one-year-old, and the youngest is eight months.

Q: What is something interesting most people don’t know about you?
A: I’m always rooting for the underdog. I look forward to training new, inexperienced employees to see what they can do.

Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Why is it important?
A:
I got this from my grandfather when I was just a little, little boy: Do it right the first time, because you’re never going to have enough time to do it over. Take your time. Don’t cut corners. If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, you’re not going to have the time to do it over. I try to impart that wisdom to the young guys. Do it right the first time. Having to do it over is not a good option.

 


Interested in joining the Badger Sheet Metal Works team? Find a list of open positions here.

ABOUT BADGER SHEET METAL WORKS

Badger Sheet Metal Works is a custom and OEM metal fabrication partner for a wide range of industries including food and dairy, mining, petroleum, material handling, medical and pharmaceutical. The company employs approximately 100 people in a custom-designed plant in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The facility includes a 70 by 320-foot main assembly bay with four crane rails featuring a total lifting capacity of 30 tons and a 22-foot under-hook height.