In October 1990, Shelley Lewis was your typical 18-year-old kid right out of high school, skipping from job to job. When her mother told her about the plastics factory hiring in Albion, Shelley applied with Team 1 Plastics and landed the job as a Production Assistant (PA) after two interviews. Having no clue what injection molding was and believing this was “just something to do at the time,” Shelley had no idea what this position would bring to her. Over the course of the next 30 years, Team 1 Plastics would become a place of growth, friendship, and a sense of family. When reminiscing of this time passed, Shelley was happy to share, “I went through all my life changes. I got married, had a baby, and lots of life changes here.”
Throughout her many years with Team 1, Shelley has held a plethora of positions. Starting out as a PA, she remembers there being only six molding machines on the Production floor: a big difference from the now 28 molding machines. The only robot in Production, called a “sprue picker,” was very simplistic. The PAs would sit at the molding machines, clip, inspect, then pack the parts all by hand. In addition to her original position in the Production Department, Shelley has worked in Quality, Materials, Assembly, and Warehouse Departments: holding a position in each department at least twice. She remembers in 2008 during the recession, “you bounced around a lot. It changed by day; you did a variety of things. Back then, you were limited manpower, so you had to be a ‘jack of all trades.’” Shelley is currently Team 1’s Lead Assembly Captain and has been since July 2014, her longest-held position to date.
One of Shelley’s fondest memories would come only a couple of months after she began. For Christmas that year, Team 1 held a staff party at the local bowling alley. With about 20 team members in total, this night allowed them to bond outside of work; forming a close-knit group that felt like family. Not only did this party help them to bond, but it was the first of many team member bowling outings; a tradition they continued every weekend for six months.
Shelley agrees that this sense of family she felt from the beginning continues today. “We have a good team with good communication. It makes everyone’s workday a lot better. The people make it easy to want to go to work, stay after, come in early, or work extra shifts. The connection with others is great. You get to know everyone and their family; when they have major life events, and you get to know them personally. You really get to understand one another to the point where you know what they are thinking.”
When asked what has kept her around all these years, the answer was easy for Shelley: the owners. “Craig and Gary have made it easy to stay for 30 years.” Remembering her first day on the production floor; “Craig was walking around sparking up conversation and connecting with the team members, asking if everything was going okay and if we needed anything.” She expressed her gratitude for their approachability and easy-going nature through the years; including their open-door policy that “if you cannot get a problem handled, come to us.” Additionally, Shelley is happy for the quality of managers that Craig and Gary have in place now. They are cooperative and listen well when someone has new ideas.
Team 1 Plastics owners Craig Carrell and Gary Grigowski are confident to say that “Shelley has been the best example of a solid team member. She has held so many positions and is a huge supporter that has helped contribute to where we are after 30 years.” Here you see Gary and Craig presenting Shelley with her 20 Years’ Service Award in 2010.
Every December, Team 1 recognizes service anniversaries of its team members during an Annual Open Book Meeting. Shelley’s 30-year anniversary should have been recognized last year, but due to the COVID pandemic, they were unable to hold those meetings for 2020 and 2021. On December 14, Team 1 was able to officially recognize Shelley’s time with the company, presenting her with a plaque during a small luncheon with her Assembly Team. Overall, Shelley is grateful for her time with Team 1, and the feeling is mutual. She has been a huge part of the company’s success and her time and hard work have been invaluable.