Edward "Flip" Krueger is a Saw Operator in the Fabrication Department of our manufacturing facility. As of January 18, he's worked at UNEX for 21 years.
Flip runs one of our proprietary extrusion saws. The saw cuts our aluminum components, including hangers and label holders, as well as cross members, stops, hanger bars, and other end treatments for our SpanTrack and gravity conveyor lines. Flip is a New Jersey native, who moved to Jackson, NJ when he was 13 years old. Flip is always seen with his cap and his trademark oversized coffee thermos. He drives a massive truck with ginourmous tires. Ever the jokester, at the saw he runs; you'll notice a tiny cup with the word "TIPS" written with a Sharpie.
Flip, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to be interviewed. What is a typical workday like for you at UNEX?
Lots of yelling, lots of screaming, lots of confusion…joking. First, you get your IR (Inventory Request), check it over, and find your raw materials. Then we cut the materials, check the work, and figure out if it's to be shipped today or next week (depending on the date on the IR). Repeat. Then you punch out and go home!
I don't have any problems with anyone in the shop. I think I get along with everyone, they respect me, we have a mutual understanding, and we get the job done.
What are some unique challenges that come with working in the manufacturing industry?
Deciphering whether the work requests (IRs) are correct. We sometimes get work requests with incorrect information. For example, a job this morning requested cuts for a 16-inch hanger. Everything else on the request said 9-inch hangers with seven and 5/8ths, which is a big difference. Maybe there was an incorrect transcription at some point in the process, or last-minute changes made. The challenge is interpreting the information on the IR, correcting misinformation or miscommunications, and ensuring accuracy at all points in the process, from sales to data entry, to manufacturing. We all need checks for accuracy and to follow protocols.
This year you're being honored at UNEX with a jacket and celebrating your 20-year work-a-versary. Can you share the key to longevity in this industry or at UNEX specifically?
In general, have compassion or understanding of someone else's perspective. And don't get worked up.
Thanks for your candid answers to some serious questions, now let's get to the fun stuff. What is your spirit animal?
Pork roll, egg, and cheese? Bacon, egg, and cheese? Or sausage, egg, and cheese? Bagel or hard roll?
Pork roll, egg, and cheese on a hard roll.
Do you collect anything? Why?
Everything. I collect all kinds of things, and my favorite things to collect change over time. I'm currently collecting motorcycles, cast iron, toys, certain pieces of pottery; I've been collecting Hull pottery lately.
What was the best concert you ever went to?
That's a tough question. Joe Walsh, I've seen some pretty gnarly metalhead concerts or maybe Pink Floyd. But Allman Brothers is probably one of the better shows I've seen.
How do you unwind after a long day at UNEX?
Usually, on Tuesday and Thursdays, I grab someone from the shop, we have a couple of beers, and I vent about whatever problems I had that day.
In the warmer months, I've noticed you sitting in a lawn chair out front during your break, tell us about that?
Why? To get away from the chaos. We used to have picnic tables at our old Jackson location within walking distance of the shop. Now the picnic tables are closer to the building and have a lot of people around. The lawn chairs are an oasis away from the noise of the shop, and the umbrella of trees above us creates a park-like atmosphere. My friend Bob and I have a chat and watch the exciting entertainment of the intersection. There's always an accident.
And finally...the big question. Everyone wants to know, how did you get the name "Flip?"
All of the men in my family are named Edward, and all go by their middle name. My name is Edward Philip, so the thought was to call me Philip, but when I was a baby, my family decided it would be cuter to call me "Flip." Most people think it's maybe an attitude thing, or I easily "Flip Out," or I want to fight people. I don't. Then some creepy character named Freddie Krueger came along. So I've been going by Flip for 50 something years. Funny thing or sad depending on how you look at it, most of my coworkers in the shop probably don't even know anything about my real name first or last. I think it's hilarious.
Well Flip, the secret origin of your name is out, thanks again for being open to our interview! We hope your big cup is always full and you're always able to find an oasis away from the chaos.