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Meet Andrew Luer: A Breiner Success Story

Ask Andrew Luer what he does for Breiner Non-Metallics and he’ll answer it simply: lots of things!

“I do a little bit of everything,” Andrew said about his role. “It’s kind of hard to nail it down exactly. But, I’m known around here as Quality Lead.”

As Quality Lead, Andrew is in charge of double-checking our work and making sure all the parts and pieces we send to our customers are done correctly and match their unique specifications.

But, Andrew also spends a lot of his time on the shop floor operating machines and helping out different departments wherever he can. Andrew is a “see a need, fill a need” kind of guy.

“Basically, I don’t have a typical day,” he said. “Every morning I check in with the foreman to see what needs to be done that day and we get it done.”

Not bad for a guy who started out at Breiner as a temp.

A Purdue graduate, Andrew left West Lafayette with aims of beginning a career as an electrical engineering tech, with goals of working in computer repair.

Andrew spent time right out of school at several positions at different companies, but never quite felt like he was in the right place – until he came to Breiner. And 15 years later, Andrew has found his calling at a company he can call home.

“Breiner is run like a good, family-oriented organization,” he said. “They go out of their way to accommodate their employees, treat us fairly and are open to change and new ideas. It’s a great atmosphere.”

In fact, it was Andrew’s innovative mind and Breiner’s openness that helped him solidify his position within the organization.

Andrew started out as a temp in the clicker department working on head straps. But, after figuring out a different method that could be used to double production, without compromising the product or increasing expenses.

They were impressed. So much so they offered him a full-time position.

Andrew is a Batesville native and returns often to spend time with his family. Outside of work, Andrew has several hobbies including a passion for board games.

There are plenty of other amazing people doing extraordinary things here at Breiner Non-Metallics, and we would love for you to meet them all. If you have a special rubber, sponge rubber, silicone or foam-cutting project that requires a special touch, give Breiner a call!

Meet Kathy Cavasos: Breiner’s Last Line

When you are in the business of creating vital parts and pieces for the industries that Breiner Non-Metallics services, precision is crucial.

That’s where Kathy Cavasos comes in.

Kathy works in the cleaning department. Aside from cleaning out the slugs from different finished parts, Kathy is also largely in charge of quality assurance. The cleaning department gets last looks on all parts before they get prepared to ship.

You could say it’s a pretty important job.

However, Kathy is multi-talented and has made her way around the shop floor. She started at the Breiner Company back in June of 1996. In her 20+ years, Kathy has gone from working the punch press, to the clicker before ending up in the cleaning department.

In her current position, Kathy says she has found her sweet spot.

“I love the cleaning department,” she said. “It is my favorite position I’ve worked here. It’s fast-paced and I get to be on my feet.”

She also worked for Maplehurst for 18 years before joining Breiner, so she was well prepared and used to the fast-paced factory setting.

Kathy has been very much involved in many of the changes happening to Breiner over the past few years. Lead by Joe Lucas, Kathy says the company is in a much better place and she feels a part of something great.

“With the new machinery, our focuses on being lean, being better organized and having better time management, I love the direction we are going,” she said.

On top of that, she says she feels that the already tight-knit family, made up with the folks at Breiner, has only grown stronger.

“The Lucas family has been so great to all of us for so long,” Kathy said. “They are extremely caring and understanding. You never feel like a number.”

One of Kathy’s favorite things about working at Breiner is the annual Christmas dinner. Kathy is, of course, in charge of her famous homemade baked beans! She also takes great pleasure in training any newbies that come through the door and loves meeting new people and showing them the ropes.

A lot of Kathy’s investment in Breiner comes from the fact that she’s a Danville gal. She grew up just down the road in Danville, graduating from Danville High School, and has family in Avon.

When she isn’t working, Kathy likes to stay busy. She enjoys the outdoors and hiking around city and state parks. She also loves to read and learn new things, especially anything tech related. She also loves going to church and rooting on the Broncos and Colts.

Kathy is also a well-traveled lady and particularly enjoys trips out to San Francisco to see family. Of course, she always makes time to go visit the Redwoods, the wharf or take a road trip to Lake Tahoe.

Are you looking for a partner whose employees are just as invested in you as they are their own company? Let Breiner Non-Metallics help. Give us a call today!

Breiner’s StratPlan Journey

From left: Joe Lucas, Jake Lucas, Sean Hartman and Chris LoCurto at StratPlan 2017.

Over the past couple of years, we have found ourselves in a state of continuous learning at Breiner Non-Metallics through the direction of Joe Lucas. Joe is the eternal theoretician, constantly reading, learning, growing. Since taking the helm in 2015, he has consistently sought improvement for the company.

At the end of August, Joe, Jake Lucas and Sean Hartman spent four intense days and evenings at an event called StratPlan. On the surface, StratPlan is similar to any other corporate off-site strategy session. Jake and Sean assumed we would go off-site for a few days with Joe to focus our efforts and energy at what we can do to improve the company and keep the momentum moving forward. Simple enough.

For this “retreat,” the plan was to work as a small group with business guru Chris LoCurto and his team in Franklin, TN, and hopefully come back to Indiana better off than when we left.

Our goal was to help develop us as a leadership team to discover improved ways of operating and organizing the company. How can we become a better company – better to our customers and better to our team members? The process seemed simple enough: drive to Tennessee, spend four days with Chris and his team, and learn some tricks of the trade. If that’s all it had been, we would have happily declared mission success.

But it was much more.

As a leadership team, we went through frustration, confusion, excitement, rejuvenation, growth and relief. They ran us through the grinder to sharpen our skills, enhance our focus, and develop us as leaders. We learned about communicating on an entirely new level. We each discovered some uncomfortable things about ourselves in an effort to learn, grow, and improve.

When we left, we left understanding ourselves better, individually and as a team. And we left with a plan. A direction. A vision.

We returned to Indy with a renewed sense of where we want to go as a company. It’s not simply about growing in terms of revenues and profits. Our Stratplan journey helped us discover where we have holes in our processes, or as Joe likes to say, “opportunities for improvement.”

We discovered that we do a lot of things right, but we have so much more that we can achieve. It has been very exciting to realize that, though we have 70 years under our belt as a company, we were still learning. Still changing.

We are really just getting started.

It’s all about growing with our team members. We are blessed to have a dedicated crew averaging 23 years on the job experience. The team spends as much or more time with us than they do with their families. Improving the workplace improves their quality of life. It helps us grow as a company, as an extended family.

As we grow, we are able to add new team members to the mix. We are able to hire someone who needs a job or needs a better place to work. And, if we do things right, we are honored to contribute to improving their lives and the lives of their families.

It’s about growing with our customers. Like us, every one of our customers is in business to be profitable. And, like us, every one of our customers have experienced poor customer service from vendors.

Although it may sound cliché, we provide very good customer service. We expect to get even better.  Life is too short to not enjoy it. If, through our efforts and systems, we can make the day a little bit better for our customer by providing extreme customer service and, at a minimum, eliminate the stresses caused by late shipments, quality rejections, and mistakes on paperwork, then we are happy to be a part of that.

Ultimately, we went to Tennessee with the hopes of seeing how we can grow a company. We left creating a vision dedicated to improving the lives of our fellow team members and our customers. If our company happens to grow in the process (which it will), that’s just a bonus!

Interested in working with a company invested in mutual growth and success? Give Breiner Non-Metallics a call today.

Meet Susie Sutton: A Member of the Breiner Family

For the last 23 years, if you’ve come into the Breiner Non-Metallics’ shop floor and gone over to the clicker (the press used for a variety of small and large die cuts) you will have been greeted by one person: Susie Sutton.

Looking for a new line of work, Susie answered an ad in the paper for an open position at Breiner. She was hired on the spot by Jan Parker – without having to even go inside the shop. She’s been at Breiner ever since.

But, this wasn’t the first time she worked in a factory type setting.

Before working at Breiner, Susie used to work for Kroger (literally) making the donuts. And while her previous workplace may have definitely smelled better than the Breiner shop – she says the closeness and fun she has with her coworkers all but makes up for it.

“Everybody is so close here,” Susie said. “We have Christmas dinners together and even grill out when the weather is nice. It’s like a little family.”

Susie’s famous cornbread stuffing at Christmas dinner and spaghetti salad at BBQs have become a delicious Breiner staple. She always has to make extra!

She also helped with “chef duties” when the office made a fake chocolate birthday cake from sponge rubber for resident chocoholic Jan as a prank. Susie says that watching Jan try and try to cut through that “cake” was one of her fondest memories during her 23 years.

Jan trying to figure out exactly how in the world she is supposed to cut this “cake!”

The work Susie does has also kept her job fresh and exciting, she said. Over her time with Breiner she has helped create parts for a variety of interesting products – from medical head straps, to parts for buoys used by the military and even parts crucial to the Tower of Terror at King’s Island.

Over that time working with the clicker, she has also seen changes in the way Breiner operates, especially some of the machinery.

“Machines like the flashcutter have taken away some of the work that I was once responsible for,” she said. “But it’s kind of nice because it opens up chances elsewhere in the shop for me to learn and work with other machines and try new opportunities.”

Currently, Susie is trying to work her way into working on the shipping side of Breiner. She says she likes the idea of staying more active and on her feet while she works and shipping would allow her to be more social around the shop as well.

A hometown girl from Avon, when she’s not working Susie can usually be found spending time with family. She has a bunch of nieces and nephews and loves spending time with her mother, whom she always watches the Colts with on Sundays over family dinner.

Susie is also very active with her church, attending regularly and even helping out with fish fries. On weekends, she loves working in her garden where she grows plenty of green beans and okra. On Saturdays, she roots on her favorite college football team, Alabama.

Susie is just one of special folks working hard at Breiner Non-Metallics, helping our customer find the solutions to their needs. Stop by, and let’s talk.

Meet Teresa Molen: 34 Years and Counting

If you take a look around Breiner Non-Metallics, you’ll notice a common theme with many of our employees: longevity.

We have been in business for over 50 years and many of our employees have been with us for more than 25 years.

Take Teresa Molen for example. It all started with a friend who worked at Breiner recommending she interview for a job. Jump to 34 years later, Teresa is a mainstay of the company.

For the majority of her 34 years, Teresa has been a press operator, working with a variety of materials to make a variety of products for customers over the years.

Over the years Teresa’s job hasn’t changed much – she even says the machines she works with haven’t even changed that much – but the biggest change has been with Breiner.

She says Breiner’s ability to continually grow and innovate has opened up the chance to take on a new volume of work, work with new materials and take on new jobs and opportunities.

While some things have changed, over her 34 years Teresa’s passion and enjoyment for working at the Breiner company has not. She still loves her job, although sometimes she needs a little help getting the machine set up, and enjoys the people she gets to work with each day.

Teresa is a Hoosier through and through. Born and raised in Lebanon, Teresa is the happy mother of a son and a daughter and the even happier grandmother to 4 granddaughters and 1 grandson.

When she isn’t working, Teresa keeps her time occupied by her hobbies. She enjoys working with stained glass, crocheting and gardening. This year she’s grown zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans, red potatoes and peppers.

Are you looking for a partner whose employees are just as invested in you as they are their own company? Let Breiner Non-Metallics help. Give us a call today!

Breiner Non-Metallics Has G.R.I.T.

At Breiner Non-Metallics, we have always felt like we work with a certain amount of grit. Not just in the work we do, getting down and dirty with the machines, but also in the way in which we conduct our business.

A few years back, a customer referred to us as junkyard dogs. Funny enough, they actually meant it as a compliment – indicating that we would do whatever it took to get the job done.

This phrase has internally stuck with us as a badge of honor over the years. We like to think that we will do whatever it takes to make sure the job gets done the right way and our customers get exactly what they want.

We have been a family business for over 50 years.

When you take the time to meet our employees, you’ll find more than half of them have been with us for a quarter century or longer. The continuity of our employees hasn’t just created consistency. They have also created a culture – a certain feeling that has been interwoven into our company and is a large part of who we are, what we do and how we do it.

But what happens when we add new employees? How do we retain that culture? How do we make our values their values? Can we make sure that we continue to be seen by our customers as the “junkyard dogs” we claim to be?

We needed to find a way to describe our culture.

As a group, all of our employees recently sat down and listed 30 words that represented the core values that they thought Breiner meant to them. Values such as Family, Teamwork, Loyalty and Growth were all presented.

A few weeks later, again as a group, we listed 24 words that represented the core values important to our customers. Words like Quality, Honesty, Service and Integrity all came to mind. We then ranked the listed core values to determine what was most near and dear to our heart and to our culture.

After all was said and done we came to one realization: Breiner has G.R.I.T.

Golden Rule – We treat customers, both internally and externally, the same way we would like to be treated.

Innovation – We have the resources and talent to adapt and stay ahead of our competition through innovation and efficiency in our systems and processes.

Teamwork – We work together with our community – co-workers, customers, vendors, neighbors – to create a climate of success.

We do what it takes to get the job done, but only in a manner that we feel is right and fair. While we are innovative, we aren’t fancy. We look for ways to create success for everyone from our customers, vendors and employees.

What can we say – we have G.R.I.T!

If you have been looking for a gritty partner that wants to help you succeed, give Breiner Non-Metallics a call. Let us help.

Meet Carlos Rigney: The Man in the Shop

Shop foreman Carlos Rigney started working for Breiner Non-Metallics in 1984, but he says it felt more like the 60’s than the 80’s.

Carlos remembers a time when there wasn’t paint on the walls of the shop (he never thought he’d ever see them painted). He remembers a time when the shop didn’t have air conditioning and when it got over 90 degrees outside, they had to shut down the machines.

He also remembers having to cut many complex orders by hand, from tracing to cutting. Now-a-days, the machines used can be programed with AutoCAD and cut more precise parts than could ever be done by hand.

“It’s amazing how far technology and machines have come in such a short time,” Carlos said.

Yeah, you could say there have been a lot of changes in the 33 years since Carlos walked through our door.

As the shop foreman, Carlos is charged with coordinating and assisting the entire shop. He monitors orders, assigns them to the appropriate department – “starting the journey” is what he calls it – and then works with each department to make sure they have the right equipment and personnel. In addition, he does most of the shipping and receiving, machine maintenance, die maintenance and does some die making. He’s a pretty busy guy!

Because of the high amount of cross-training at Breiner, Carlos is able to move folks around and allocate resources to ensure orders are filled promptly for customers.

“It helps make the job as well as our customer service even better,” he said.

For being in the midst of a 33-year career with Breiner, it’s funny to think that it almost never started at all!

Hailing from coal mine country in Cumberland, Kentucky, Carlos had never worked in a factory before. After he graduated high school, the job market was so poor he left town seeking opportunity. He figured he would come to Indiana – after all, he had met, fallen in love and begun exchanging letter with a girl who lived there!

“This was back in the day where you drove around, knocked on doors and left your resume,” Carlos said.

Carlos found his way to Breiner where he met and interviewed with Jan Parker (a 43-year Breiner vet) and was told that a position was opening soon in the shear department. But, the job originally went to someone else.

However, two days later he got a call. The new guy had cut his finger and quit, now intimidated to work around the equipment. Carlos was offered the job. Within 2 years, he was running the department and eventually worked his way to shop foreman.

For someone who had never worked in a factory or had any familiarity with the product before he started, what kept Carlos around for 33 years? He learned to love the work as well as the people around him.

He learned to love the work as well as the people around him.

“The diversity of everything we work on keeps things fresh,” Carlos said. “People warned me when I started that working in a factory is tedious and boring. But every day is something different; whether it’s the parts we are making, the machines we’re using, the customers we are working with or even what it is I’m going to be doing that day.

“When I started, Jan asked me if I had ever run a shear machine? I said I didn’t know what a shear was.” “But, Joe’s dad and grandpa are good people. They bring out the best in you. They were willing to train and teach me, but they also weren’t afraid to challenge me. I really liked that kind of environment, especially as I was coming along. It’s good for me.”

Like many of the folks that work here, Breiner has become a second family for Carlos. In fact, he says his fondest memory about Breiner isn’t about the job at all. The day he and his wife adopted their son, Carlos said the entire office was jubilant and celebrating right along with him – almost as if Breiner was getting another member of the family also, he said.

That reception has stuck with him.

Oh yeah, and that beautiful girl Carlos exchanged love notes with? They just so happen to have gotten married (still are 34 years later) and, in addition to their son, have adopted a daughter as well as taken care of a total of 9 foster children together.

Carlos also has trade school experience in welding and HVAC, both of which skills he’s been able to apply in some capacity at Breiner. When he isn’t working, he enjoys watching the Colts, NASCAR, fishing and going with his son to watch dirt track racing – a tradition started with his father.

Carlos is also very an active in ministry and has volunteered at the same nursing home for 20 years.

Want to meet Carlos or the other amazing and hard-working folks at Breiner Non-Metallics? Stop by, say hello and let’s see if Breiner be the solution you’ve been searching for.

What Are Your Needs?

Companies may require changes in inventory procedure or philosophy for many reasons. Reducing your inventory may be necessary to help you free up cash. Maybe you just flat out need more floor space?

Regardless of the reason, these changes can throw you for a loop and derail an organization. Unless, of course, you have a partner who understands and appreciates your specific needs and is willing to help you meet them.

Many die cutters are in a perpetual cycle of trying to nab that grand slam, big-money order – the one that makes their whole year. They often get so focused on that big order that they lose track of the most important thing: what does the customer want?

Not Breiner Non-Metallics. We don’t care about the size of the order. We just care about getting our customers exactly what they want and need.

The Situation

A long-time customer previously bought parts in the traditional way of large lot sizes of 1,000 or 2,500 at a time, giving them a 3-4-month supply. This kept their shelves stocked well so they could meet their customers’ demands.

This wasn’t a problem for us, as we successfully kept their inventory levels at a constant high. For die cutters, this is easy: one set-up, run a bunch of parts, ship one large box.

The Shake-up

However, internal demands soon changed after our customer was acquired by a much larger company with a different philosophy on inventory. The new owner’s philosophy required a massive reduction in inventory. The smaller inventory levels allow for more production floor space.

Our customer was now tasked with managing much smaller inventories while still being able to meet their customers’ demands of 1 to 3-day shipments. Now they needed a die cutter which would run smaller orders with more frequent shipments, on shorter lead times. Luckily, they already had one!

The Result

Many suppliers would have balked at the thought, but Breiner was happy to make the adjustment.

Now, we only run parts and supply them when needed and exactly however many they need – no more, no less. Our customer was thrilled to not only be able to meet their new directives of opening up floor space, but also help reduce their company’s inventory by thousands of dollars.

On a regular basis, we are talking to more and more customers and prospects who want to reduce their inventory volume.

Flexibility and understanding are the keys to a successful business relationship. If inventory reduction is on your mind (or was put on your task list), talk to us. At Breiner Non-Metallics, we are here to support you the way you need to be supported!

Meet Jan Parker: Breiner’s Rock

Through all the years and all the changes around Breiner Non-Metallics, there has been one constant: Jan Parker.

Jan has been a part of the Breiner family for 42 years. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute!

She joined us in 1975 on shop floor working in the clicker department cutting gaskets. Within eight years Jan had become the group leader and started taking on more administrative duties.

30+ years later, Jan is still a constant and beloved presence. Today she works with payroll, human resources, accounts payable, accounts receivable and proofs work orders. If she has extra time, she even still makes it out to the shop to help out and run machines.

Not bad for a woman nearing 68.

“My family calls Breiner my ‘Home Away from Home’,” Jan said. “They even tease me that I have a ‘Gravy Job’! It is such a relaxed environment and I love my schedule.”

But how is a relaxed environment, favorable schedule and work you enjoy enough to keep a person from exploring options or trying something different?

For Jan, there is no place she said she would rather be. Over the years, the bond she has formed with Breiner and the people that work here, she said, are stronger than any other force.

“Breiner is like my family,” she said. “They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin.”

The thin for Jan was a 5-year period where Jan underwent several serious health issues including an open lung biopsy and mastectomy, all during a pregnancy.

“They were helpful, accommodating and understanding during hard times. They would all come visit me in the hospital to cheer me up and made sure I had everything I needed. My bosses and people I’ve worked with over the years aren’t bosses and coworkers – they’re friends.”

Besides, over the course of 42 years, the changes in technology, machinery and the way Breiner does business has been exciting enough!

Jan says the machines used today are far, far beyond anything she worked with when she started in the 70’s. New machines are far faster and efficient.

Paperwork has also come a long way, very much for the better, Jan said.

“When I started doing accounting everything was hand-written on pen and paper,” she said. “You would walk through the office with 10-15-foot-long rolls of invoices and every calculation you had to do yourself. Now everything is done on a computer. I like that much better!”

Jan was born in Illinois, not too far from St. Louis. She may not be a Hoosier by birth, but you’d never know it. Her family moved to Indianapolis in 1970 after her father, a truck driver, was transferred.

She married her husband in 1979 and went on to have three children, two boys and a girl, and will soon welcome her first grandchild into the world. All three children have recently moved into new homes, so when she’s not at Breiner she is probably helping them with renovations.

Jan is also without a doubt the biggest Indiana Fever you will ever meet. For the past several years, she has been a season ticket holder, attending every home game and even making road trips to watch the ladies play in Chicago.

Her sister is her companion at every game, whom she converted to a fellow fanatic following the Fever’s championship run in 2012.

As for Jan at Breiner, don’t count on her retiring anytime soon, she said. She’s having way too much fun.

There are plenty of other amazing people doing extraordinary things here at Breiner Non-Metallics, and we would love for you to meet them all. If you have a special die-cutting project that requires a special touch, give Breiner a call!

Meet Jake Lucas: The Man Behind the Scenes

Jake Lucas doesn’t work in the spotlight, and that’s the way he likes it.

“I prefer being behind the scenes,” Jake said. “I don’t need the glory or the spotlight, I just want to make sure I do the job and do it well.”

In his role as Operations Manager at Breiner Non-Metallics, Jake has his hand in just about everything around the office and shop. From handling purchasing, managing daily operations, and working directly with the foreman and shop workers to make sure every job goes smoothly.

Around Breiner, he is known as the “Executioner”. Not because if you screw up heads will roll, but because if something needs done, he’s the man to take care of it.

In a lot of ways, Jake is a reflection of Breiner’s work and products themselves. They may not get much attention, but you better believe they are there making things happen.

“The things we do here may be small and behind the scenes, but they are crucial,” Jake said. “We make the things that make things go… that you don’t even know about.

“We are keeping our Navy and our country safe with our products and services. It’s stuff like that we are proud of and love to tell people about.”

The younger brother of Breiner president Joe Lucas, Jake has also been an instrumental part of changing the culture of the company along with Joe.

The goal of the Lucas brothers is to make the importance of every employee equal across the board, break down barriers, and encourage collaboration and discussion. This, Jake says, is the key to taking Breiner to new heights.

“We want to encourage people to speak up,” Jake said. “Promoting a culture of openness and communication brings in new ideas and lets us try new things. Even if they don’t work out, every shortcoming is an opportunity to learn and grow.”

Breiner has begun a reward system for employees reaching daily goals and assisting others reach theirs. Everybody lends a hand around the shop.

Although Jake shares the same vision of Breiner as Joe, their path to Breiner was very different.

They both helped with Breiner during the summers, but neither were ever forced or corralled into following into the family business. Jake instead followed his passion and love for farming and agriculture after high school. For more than 10 years, Jake worked on farms and for a farmer’s Co-Op.

Jake claims that many of the leadership traits that he uses as the Operations Manager he learned on the farm.

However, after several years, Jake returned to Breiner as a Sales Manager, seeking to find some better stability as he started his own family, a place to apply his unique skills, and learn new ones as he reentered the family business.

Since then, Jake has helped take Breiner to new heights.

“Having seen where things were and the way we are headed now is really rewarding,” Jake said. “Even just 5 years ago things were completely different.”

Outside of Breiner, Jake still enjoys the great outdoors. Married to his wife, Sabrina, since 2003, Jake has two children who he spends a great deal of time with. The family loves to camp, raising their new chickens (they soon plan on buying a couple cows), and he has even been their baseball and soccer coaches. The family has also been working on remodeling and landscaping their new home in Danville.

As for Jake, he is a pretty typical Hoosier. He loves the Colts, supporting them through thick and thin, watches Purdue football and basketball and volunteers at his church weekly, walking alongside pople who need someone to listen too.

Jake is just one of the many people around Breiner, working to do incredible things. If you have a unique problem, Breiner can be your solution. Stop by, meet the folks behind the scenes and learn what Breiner can create for you.