We're kicking off our new blog series “Welcome to LW” by interviewing our VP of Operations, Troy Ponto, who has been with us since May 2019. Troy has an extensive list of both professional and personal achievements and has already proven to be a very valuable member to our team. With all of our new investments in our capabilities, we felt it was important to set ourselves up for success by improving our processes along with it. In that regard, Troy is a great asset with his knowledge and experience in implementing standard work procedures. So, let’s get to know Troy.
Troy is no stranger to extremely demanding work environments. After serving 20 years in the United States Marine Corps, he retired and transitioned from the military to a civilian career working for Tier 1 automotive companies. In that industry, the price of failure is so high that the company would do or pay almost anything to avoid the consequences due to failure. For example, the contract penalties for shutting down an engine plant or automobile production line were so prohibitively high that almost anything would be cheaper. He described this experience as a key part of his professional growth in understanding the importance of customer service. Before coming to LW, Troy held a leadership position at Amazon. He explained that the average life expectancy at Amazon is just over a year, but he boasts lasting nearly four years despite the high turnover rate. The biggest takeaway from his time at Amazon coming to work at LW is the importance of being process and standard work driven. That was a huge part of his success at Amazon and he plans to implement the same idea here at LW.
With your first 60 days under your belt, how do you feel like things have gone so far?
I spent the first 30 days in the Operations department learning the processes from each team member. Next, I spent 30 days on the plant floor learning the ins and outs of our capabilities. This was my first time with the opportunity to learn the business before creating a plan and implementing processes. Now, I’m entering the defining and improving phase. My top two current priorities are:
- Making sure the entire Operations team is really delivering our value proposition to our customers in all aspects of what they do.
- Preparing LW for the upcoming automation in our plant. I’m looking for leading indicators such as, catching mistakes and potential issues before they hit the plant floor. It’s defect elimination mode - tracking our mistakes and driving improvements.
What does your role look like day-to-day?
My biggest focus is on developing standard work processes, making us consistent and efficient. I’m looking a week out at open orders to stay on top of any potential issues in fulfilling on time. Then, I check day-to-day for last minute updates with the orders going out. Another big priority of mine is emphasizing the importance of living out our core values. We have really great individuals working here at LW, but I want to make sure I’m spending time driving the culture we want. Sometimes we get too caught up in the day-to-day that the culture isn’t always a priority. It just needs fresh life breathed into it.
What kind of value do you plan to bring to LW?
“Attack the problem, engage the people.” The idea is all about problem solving in a way that avoids making people feel the need to get defensive. This also leads to ownership in our actions because we stop playing the blame game and saying, “it’s not my fault,” every time there is an issue. I want to focus on the problem as a team, find the root cause and then put a mechanism in place to prevent the problem from happening again.
What does it look like to you to live out our mission?
I think it starts with leading by example. By modeling the correct behavior in serving our customers and really delivering our value proposition, I can communicate the expectations to my team with actions rather than words. The goal is that my team will focus on the things that I’m focusing on.
Do you have any values that motivate and drive you?
First of all, I live a purpose driven life. Every time I hit my goal, or purpose, I set a new goal to continue to pull me forward. Along those same lines, the concept of “autonomy, mastery and purpose” as explained by Daniel Pink. Autonomy is our desire to be self-directed. Mastery is what happens when we have the tools and training to improve at something. And purpose is the sense that what we do has meaning. Those three things are the main intrinsic motivators that are key in making a successful team.
How do you spend your free time?
Family time. My wife, Susie, and I have two kids at home, ages 12 and 11. We have a camper, so we spend a lot of time together camping, hiking, anything outdoors.
Do you feel like your past experience has helped prepare you for your current role at LW?
Absolutely. I feel like I’m extremely well rounded from both my time in the military and my time at Amazon. Nothing here is foreign to me, other than working in the woodworking industry.
Anyone interacting with LW and the Operations department can be rest assured that their needs are taken seriously and are met with a high level of customer service and professionalism. We are glad to have Troy on our team and are looking forward to the future. Be on the lookout to meet more of our team members!
We're growing and looking for individuals to join our team!
If you think you'd be a good fit, visit our Careers page to learn more.