Copper and Brass Sales is celebrating Black History Month by shining a spotlight on some exceptional employees and sharing their inspiring journeys. Through these engaging interviews, three acclaimed employees narrate the ups and downs throughout their lives as well as how thyssenkrupp Materials NA became a fundamental part of their life journeys.
Today, I would like to spotlight Howard S, one of our Shipping Supervisors. Howard has been with Copper and Brass Sales for about nineteen years and was brought into the business as a packer straight out of college.
Prior to coming to Copper and Brass Sales, Howard worked multiple jobs to support his family. Although he was unsure of the career he wanted to pursue at the time, he considers his entry to our company as his first real job. It was the beginning of a fulfilling career that helped support his personal life and drive his professional journey. When asked about what he enjoyed the most during the early stages of his career, Howard found the work to come easy, the labor to be manageable and that his colleagues felt like a small family. More importantly, they had a good time doing what was required of them while meeting the safety standards allowing them to get home safe at the end of each day.
From the beginning of his time at the company, Howard worked diligently and was a great problem solver. He was like a chameleon, able to fill in any role and stepping in to cover employee gaps as needed. The job often required quickly learning how to use the machines and other skills, yet it never phased him. While he may not have enjoyed every role he was in, Howard always fulfilled his job responsibly.
He takes pride in his work ethics and values. Treating people with respect, continuing to sharpen his skills, doing what it takes regardless of how he feels about the job, and carrying himself with integrity were just a few of the principles that he displayed which aligned with the mission and values of thyssenkrupp Materials NA. Howard’s exemplary work was recognized, earning him several promotions within the company – from Night Shift Supervisor to Inventory Control / Receiving Supervisor and Quality Manager to his role of Shipping Supervisor today.
From my conversation with Howard, it’s clear he’s someone who leads by example and is humble about the rise of his career. His colleagues and direct reports respect the fact that he’s working with them on the floor, and that he wouldn’t ask anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself. Howard jokes that the new staff doesn’t know he carries a management title because he works right alongside the team. As I spoke to Howard it was clear that his attitude brings unity, respect, and success. “I don’t need to act like I’m a boss,” he says. He fosters a working environment with open and straightforward communication where proper training is provided and rules are strictly implemented without micromanagement. Exemplary employees like Howard, who have created a welcoming work culture and hold a customer service mindset, are what helps Copper and Brass Sales become the customer’s first choice.
One of Howard’s most challenging experiences was during his time on the night shift. With a wife and three children at home, he had to work to adjust to the changing priorities of his family. He thought then that he may have to come to a point of making a choice between his family and career path. Although he was ready to give up opportunities at Copper and Brass Sales for the sake of his family, Howard managed to change course by taking action and committing to his goals. A few conversations and phone calls between Howard and management resulted in a new first-shift role that was created to retain him as a valuable employee and to meet his family needs. Since then, he has been content in his career progression and thriving as new opportunities presented themselves. Howard is thrilled to say he never felt like he’s been treated differently because of his race during his 19 years here.
As Howard and I discussed his career, he shared stories about his personal life and his upbringing in a Christian private school. He felt the values that he was taught during his childhood shaped him and aided him throughout his career. For the same reason, he has been committed to bringing the same values to his children and spent many years leading by example in his community as well. He recalls ending his late-night shift on Fridays and quickly transitioning to his kids’ extracurricular activities early Saturday mornings. As if life wasn’t busy enough for him, Howard extended his leadership skills and took a group of his sons’ peers under his wing as their basketball coach.
Howard’s professional and personal journey highlights a man with integrity who works hard, takes care of his family, and contributes to the community. Copper and Brass Sales is fortunate to have Howard with us throughout these 19 years. We’re honored to have the opportunity to get to know him and share his encouraging story with you through our celebration of Black History Month.