When John Ivans was growing up in Milwaukee, WI, he didn’t know what he wanted to do as a career. So he took life as it came and enjoyed the surprises along the way.
That laid-back attitude led John to Sentry Equipment nearly 15 years ago. A friend was applying for a job in the machine shop shortly after Sentry’s acquisition of ISOLOK® and used John as a personal reference. During the course of the discussion, it was suggested John apply for a job as a Machinist A at Sentry Equipment, too.
Since then, John’s been promoted to Team Lead in the shop, a role that challenges him to mentor new employees and motivate other machinists in the shop. Every morning starts out with a production meeting, where he identifies new orders coming in, notes the previous days outputs and distributes remaining and new jobs between everyone on the machining team. This includes making or repairing Sentry Safe-T-Vise STV components, Sentry ISOLOK components, bulk solids components, and R&D parts.
Machinist a/team lead
Three things he’d take on a deserted island: “A pocket knife, a satellite phone, and enough food to keep me going until someone could come rescue me.”
What does he do when he’s not working? “I love to do home remodeling and maintenance projects, and I really enjoy Sunday dinners with my family.”
If you could be or do anything else, what would it be? “A musician. I always loved singing in the choir, but I knew that wasn’t a practical life choice.”
15 years of change
When he first joined Sentry Equipment, John was surprised by the diversity of product lines and the number of engineered parts the shop made. Now, he appreciates the variety those product lines give his day-to-day work.
“With the variety of parts within a product line and the product lines available, I have the opportunity to work on many different components each day. It keeps the workday interesting,” he says.
In his time at Sentry Equipment, John has seen significant improvement in streamlined processes and products in the shop. For example, the ISOLOK product's machining variety went from seven variations to three, the team achieved a better flow throughout production, and they implemented better quality controls and new machinery, such as the J series machines.
Now, his biggest challenge is keeping up with a high-volume workflow – and ensuring every customer gets what they need on time.
“It’s important to maintain the production schedule and motivate my team,” he says. “We have a can-do attitude, and we’re always willing to try new things and work through tough situations. We don’t shy away from a challenge.”
This attitude is powered by the “we’re in this together” mentality of Sentry’s employee-ownership. “I appreciate our employee-ownership because everyone has a stake in the company, so everyone is invested in its success,” he says.
In the future, he’s looking forward to expanding his role by initiating cross-collaboration among shop areas and educating his colleagues on a range of processes, while taking on more scheduling responsibilities in the shop. Mentoring new employee-owners is central to this forward progression, and allows him to share the knowledge he’s gained throughout his career.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You won’t know everything right away and that’s ok,” he says to newer members of his team. “Be curious. Keep your eyes open and be open to learning new things.”
After nearly 15 years at Sentry Equipment, he’s looking forward to a few more years of success as an employee-owner.
“I plan to end my career with Sentry Equipment,” he says. “I enjoy working here and see no reason to leave.”
Employee-Owner Profiles is a regular feature that highlights members of our team. As an employee-owned company, Sentry Equipment believes that employee ownership makes a difference. Our employee-owners are dedicated to hard work, positive results and continual improvement and innovation to provide our customers the highest quality products and services.