Faces of the Industry


Faces of the Industry

Name: Steve Baker
Company: Plum Building Systems, LLC
Position: Plant Manager (Waukee, IA)
Years in the industry: 17

•|• How did you get started in the components industry? I started with Plum Building Systems in December 1995 as a truck driver. We do a lot of hiring from within and you learn as you go. As plant manager, I’m involved with the Operation Safety and In-Plant WTCA QC included in SBCA’s SCORE program.

•|• What effect has SCORE had in your plant? We’ve participated in SCORE for about three years, but we were using the safety and QC programs prior to that. On the safety side, awareness is a big thing—making sure everything gets done and the checklists are completed. Operation Safety has helped us with our documentation.

For QC, our quality and the appearance of our product has jumped way up. The lumber going into our trusses is much better, and everything is documented too. For example, if you start having problems with quality, you can go back and determine if it was due to a person or a piece of equipment. The ability to have data to help manage items like this is very helpful.

•|• How does the training included in SCORE compare to the training you used previously? Before Operation Safety, we used to cover one safety topic a month. From the late ‘90s to the mid 2000s, our safety record wasn’t very good and we had a number of injuries. We implemented Operation Safety and now have a safety committee. The program has improved our day-to-day processes because everyone is accountable. It really increased awareness and got people talking about safety.

Before we had the In-Plant WTCA QC program, shop errors weren’t uncommon. We definitely had some quality issues and would get calls about once a month. Today, I don’t think we’ve had more than four or five quality calls all year. The program has saved us a ton on warranty work.

•|• What feedback have you gotten on SCORE from employees? Our guys average about two to three years of truss experience. The programs have made them very aware that they could get inspected, and that’s made them more picky. Employees now have the attitude that, “If it’s not good enough to go in my house, it’s not good enough for anyone’s house.”

I also get a lot of feedback from customers. They want our trusses because our quality is high.

•|• Which training program have you found to be the most valuable? Operation Safety has definitely helped with staff orientations. We’ve doubled our staff in the plant over the last year, so we’ve been doing a lot of training. All new hires, whether they’re from a temp agency or full time, watch our safety program. I used to spend about four hours going over safety with each new employee. Now, I set them up with the online training that takes them about an hour and 20 minutes, it’s documented, and they sign off that they completed the training. That saves me at least two and a half hours for every employee I hire. Plus, the safety training gets them thinking in the right direction from the start.

•|• What do you do in your free time? I like to spend time with my family and I coach high school football.