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Spotlight on Converting Excellence Leader Jason Burgin

After recently being laid off from his job in the fiber optics industry in 2002, Jason Burgin noticed a new facility being built just minutes from his house. With the boldness only a 20-year-old has, he marched in and asked to speak with the plant manager. Without even knowing what the production lines being installed were for, Jason told the manager he was looking for a stable job to turn into a career. He made a promise: “If you’ll give me a chance for 90 days and you’re not satisfied with my performance, you tell me and I’ll leave on my own.”

Jason got the job, and he’s been with von Drehle ever since. In the last two decades, he graduated from the ranks of learning all the equipment in our converting facilities, running it and moving into leadership roles with supervisory responsibilities. He ran the night shift for nearly five years, then moved into continuous improvement before overseeing our Natchez and Las Vegas converting facilities. Now, he influences all our converting operations as our Converting Excellence Leader.

In that role, Jason develops management systems for training and developing our employees. Through the Converting Academy he created, small groups of employees are trained for three weeks both in the classroom and on the line. They leave with a sound knowledge of converting fundamentals and all the elements surrounding the process.

Jason also oversees dedicated resources in each facility who develop their own trainings based on his vision and guidance. Combining classroom instruction with practical applications helps our teams master new setups, and an auditing process ensures the sustainment of best practices going forward.

The Converting Excellence roadmap was born on a white board. After overseeing the Las Vegas facility from December 2019 to November 2020, Jason was approached by our Chief Operating Officer Jason Gscheidmeier, who asked him “What is your vision? What do you want to see us become?”

Jason stared at the empty white board thinking “I don’t have a clue what he’s asking. He just needs to tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.” Then he realized that Jason G. knew that he wouldn’t own the idea as much if it was handed to him, and he trusted Jason to create the plan of converting excellence for our facilities. Creativity started flowing, the white board was soon covered with ideas, and when he told Jason G. “I got it,” he smiled and said “I knew you’d get it.”

That story reflects one of von Drehle’s deepest-held values: Respect for All. We embrace our different viewpoints, opinions and backgrounds, and we trust our employees to develop the strategies we need to further our success and make a positive difference.

Respect is at the core of one of our other fundamental values, our commitment to our work family. “When I say ‘our work family,’ I really mean it,” says Jason. “The best part of working with von Drehle is the people. That goes for my peers to my leadership. There’s a lot of us that have the right heart. We want to see our business succeed and people led in the right direction.” He shares that one of the people in his office is getting ready to retire, and the loss will be felt heavily. “We’re close, we really are like family,” Jason says, adding “We look after one another.”

That close-knit work family sounds a lot like Jason’s own — he and his wife of 17 years see their families on a weekly basis. Jason, with a laugh, explains that maybe they are “abnormally tight,” but we agree that family, at von Drehle and otherwise, is everything.