LP 20-Year Employee Spotlight: John Teal of Tomahawk, Wisconsin
by Amy Lindholm, August 24, 2017
2017 marks a major milestone for LP as it celebrates its twentieth year of LP® SmartSide® as a major building industry brand. This success is due to the efforts of the many talented, dedicated people at our mills – people like John Teal, who has been with LP since SmartSide began.
A Rewarding Place to Work
John Teal works as a Green End Operator at the LP mill located in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. As logs come into the plant, John keeps the wood flow consistent as the logs are debarked and flaked. He maintains the flaker, gets equipment up and running again if it goes down, changes knives and ensures the wood flakes are the correct length for use in LP’s engineered wood siding products. “If you don’t maintain those parts, the flakes come out the wrong size and Quality Control doesn’t like that,” John explains. When everything is running smoothly, he and his fellow operators work to keep their section of the plant clean for tours.
John has done other jobs during his career at LP. He started as a Debarker Operator, then moved to a Knife Grinder position. In 1998, he was transitioned to Green End Operator when the company started using disposable knives in the flaking machines. “I enjoy being a Green End Operator because it allows me to move around and work with all the equipment,” says John. “I also like the four days on, four days off rotating schedule that we have at the mill. You can go somewhere on your weekends, or start a project and get it finished in four days.”
‘Like a Family’
But it’s not just the work and the schedule that John enjoys. “The people I work with at LP make my job,” he says. “We’re together 48 hours, four days a week, and we’re a family. I enjoy getting to know them and hearing what they’re going through. We know each other’s spouses and children. We have get-togethers in the summer and it’s like a family reunion,” he laughs. “To me, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
John also notes that LP’s management works to keep a great relationship with mill workers. “I can walk right into the plant manager or production manager’s office,” he says. “Our management doesn’t try to keep you separated. They want to hear about your problems. They are honest and will tell you what’s going on and what’s going to happen ahead of time. I’ve worked other jobs where the relationship wasn’t like that.”
Changing for the Better
Over the past 20 years, John has seen a lot of changes at LP, but there’s one that stands out to him – safety. LP is one of the best when it comes to safety. We have a safety committee that comes up with better, safer ways to do our jobs. They want everyone going home safe, for sure.”
John also notes the big expansion that happened at the Tomahawk plant in 2014 as another major improvement that he’s seen. “They put $25 million into this place, added new equipment and a new forming line so we can run better and faster. There were new finishing lines so we can put out more siding materials, and new controls so we put less emissions out of our stack. Now there’s almost nothing coming out.”
Looking to the Future
In the coming years, John sees himself right where he’s at. “I want to maintain my relationships with management and the people I work with,” he says. “I’ll retire from LP in about 10 years, but I hope to see the company continue to grow and invest in the plants and the people. We’ve got a good thing going here.”
LP gratefully acknowledges John Teal and all of the hardworking employees that make our company exceptional. Happy 20th birthday, LP SmartSide Trim & Siding! The future is looking bright.