Brad’s way to thyssenkrupp: a teacher for a new generation of engineers

Career at thyssenkrupp | Engineering | People at thyssenkrupp | Many roads lead to Rome. And even more lead to a career at thyssenkrupp. Whether you are a trained engineer, a purposeful multi-talent or a motivated career changer – if you are passionate, there is always a place for you at #teamtk. To breathe life into this statement, some of our colleagues tell you about their way to thyssenkrupp. One of them: Brad Kent. For the Technical Trainer at our crankshaft plant in Danville, Illinois, sharing his knowledge about machining for 26 years now is a life dream that came true very unexpectedly.

I’ve always liked teaching as far back as I can remember. I’d even considered being a high school teacher early on. I served in the Army National Guard for 16 years, too, some time as certified instructor and supervisor of the battalion communications section. Today, I am a technical trainer.

When I came here, I didn’t have a career in mind at all. I just wanted to provide for my family. But after being here a short time, I realized: I wanted to do more than operating machines.

Nevertheless, in June 1992 I found myself working in a repair plant for railroad cars – unfortunately, one that was about to be shut down. Suddenly, I was unemployed and married with two children. My son Ray was four years old at that time and my daughter Amanda was born just a few months prior. I needed a job to support my family. Back then, KruppGerlach was just starting the machining plant here in Danville. I was lucky enough to be selected and after passing a two-week training class, I was hired as a machine operator.

When I came here, I didn’t have a career in mind at all. I just wanted to provide for my family. But after being here a short time, I realized: I wanted to do more than operating machines. Later, I was promoted to lead a production team, made my Six Sigma Blackbelt and became a quality engineer. It’s weird how time has moved me in a few directions and I eventually wound up doing something I love: teaching. Sometimes, I joke when people ask me what I do as technical trainer and say: “I’ve tricked the company into paying me to talk.”

From trained engineer to passionate technical trainer

I love teaching and sharing what I’ve learned. And learning from others ­– about anything, not just about crankshafts. For me as a technical trainer, it’s about being able to interact with others, to assist with questions, concerns and problems. And I’m also coordinating our apprenticeship program, as interacting with young people is extremely fun and rewarding. So my days are never the same, which is another thing I enjoy. I am involved in payroll and financial, uniform or quality issues, and when my colleagues don’t know how to go on, I always hear “Hey, go ask Brad – he’s been here forever.”

I love teaching and sharing what I’ve learned. And learning from others ­– about anything, not just about crankshafts.

Although I have been at thyssenkrupp for quite some time now, I still discover exciting things every day. Automation, for example, is something I as a technical trainer am getting more and more interested in, as it seems like we are using it more often lately. Another thing I really enjoy is working with data. So, Minitab software getting updated is always something special for me. However, one thing always remains the same: machining crankshafts is challenging. And in a quarter of a century I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in virtually all aspects of this component.

When colleagues become family

At thyssenkrupp in Danville, team spirit is no hollow phrase but the very ingredient that connects the local colleagues for decades. And over generation borders.
At thyssenkrupp in Danville, team spirit is no hollow phrase but the very ingredient that connects the local colleagues for decades. And over generation borders.

I guess the biggest highlight during my career at thyssenkrupp was when I had the opportunity to fulfill my dream of coaching high school wrestling. With the time commitment needed, the company could have easily stopped it from happening. Instead, we worked a mutually acceptable arrangement to allow me to pursue that dream for several years in different positions and shifts. Having been able to take this opportunity is something I really appreciate – and I will always be grateful and proud.

What I appreciate most are the people here at thyssenkrupp. It’s way beyond just working together and trying to make things better. I’ve built so many great relationships during my time. Seeing my children grow up with other employee’s children. People I’ve known before coming here have worked or are still working here. A few children and grandchildren of employees have been apprentices and now my own. Additionally, the people here have been there for me during several tough times as well. That’s also why I try to not give anyone a hard time. When people ask me how I’m doing – I often respond with “living the dream”.

Having the courage to close the gaps of knowledge

When young talents want to get into machining and crankshaft solutions, thyssenkrupp Danville is a great place to be.
When young talents want to get into machining and crankshaft solutions, thyssenkrupp Danville is a great place to be.

I think that my way of building on experience and opportunities is what has led to my successful yet unexpected career as a technical trainer at thyssenkrupp. As well as a good network of people that has always been willing to help me when I needed it – along with a little luck mixed in. My tip for everyone? Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something. At the same time, take the initiative to find out!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *