Women in Woodworking Series: Shop Floor Manager Jaime Lancaster
In our “Women in Woodworking” blog series, we are highlighting the women of Bakes & Kropp, bringing you insight from those keeping the books and purchasing hardware to those walking home with sawdust on their boots.
This post highlights Jaime Lancaster, our Michigan-born-and-raised Shop Floor Manager who came to Bakes & Kropp from a career in retail. In this conversation, Jaime talks about how her upbringing drew her to the woodworking factory, and what keeps her coming back to work everyday.
Tell us about your journey to working with Bakes and Kropp.
Jaime: I started out my career in retail management. After about 20 years in retail, I realized that the industry was very different from when I started, and I began looking for jobs online. It was almost fate that I discovered Bakes & Kropp. I saw that the team was looking for a woodworking apprentice, so I tossed my application in the ring, and it worked out. A lot of my retail skills have translated well into Bakes & Kropp.
What is your history with woodworking?
Jaime: I grew up in Southeast Michigan in a small, rural town about an hour north of Detroit. My dad was a “do-it-yourself” kind of guy. He used to say, “that guy’s just a guy…if he can do it, so can you!” We would do all of the work in our own house from roofing additions to siding. We even did our own kitchen together! The high school I went to had a woodshop program, which I chose to be in for all four years, so that was the starting point for me.
Jaime and her father; her inspiration in the woodworking field
How is your current role different from the role you started in?
Jaime: I actually didn’t end up joining as a woodworking apprentice. I started out running our shipping department and our CNC machine, which makes all the plywood parts of the cabinets. I’ve done a little bit of everything here, but I’ve been in my current role for about a year and a half. When the Shop Floor Manager position was created, I took that on.
What is a typical day like for a Shop Floor Manager?
Jaime: I’m responsible for setting goals for each department every day, and making sure everyone is hitting their marks on schedule. I also quality check every part that goes through the shop, and sign off on every piece before we wrap it up for shipping. Typically, my job involves organizing both the shop and truck schedules, and I get to work with every department.
Jaime hard at work on the factory floor
What do you like most about your job?
Jaime: In retail, employees are a revolving door. The best part about working here is that I get to interact with a group of people who stick around and who genuinely like what they do. Not to mention we make really cool stuff! In the end, we create a product that is custom made to a customer’s exact desires, and is something that people will enjoy for years to come. Bakes & Kropp is also a growing company, willing to listen and learn, so there’s a lot of opportunity to be more efficient in what we do. When I first joined the team, I saw some areas where we could adjust, and a lot of my suggestions were implemented. Knowing that your bosses are interested in what you bring to the table makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.
What would you say to the next generation of young women looking to find their career?
Jaime: There has to be some point in a girl’s life where they’re told they can do it. That’s what I would say to the next generation: “You can do it, too.” Typically, woodworking is not a female dominated field, but I think it is important to teach younger females that they have this option and that anyone can do what they want to do. It’s important to have different representations because everyone brings something unique to the table.
How does Bakes & Kropp create an inclusive working environment?
Jaime: I have never felt like I wasn’t taken seriously or that I couldn’t do something because I’m a female. It’s great to know the people in charge here will take a serious, holistic look at the people who apply to work here.