In his own words: Matt Atchley, Quality Engineer, Plastikos, Inc

What or who fueled your interest in manufacturing?

From an early age I liked to take things apart to try and understand how they worked. My father encouraged this, often saying, “If you know how it works, you can fix it”.

What is your current role in manufacturing?

I am currently a Quality Engineer with experience in Injection Molding. I assist in the planning, development, implementation, communication, and maintenance of our company’s quality management systems, polices, documentation, data, and customer-specific requirements. Ultimately, all those items translate to high-quality products received by our customers.

Describe your path to get to where you are today.

As a young adult after high school, without any additional formal education, I found myself working 2 jobs to try to get ahead. In 2007, both companies I worked for closed for business within a 6-month period. This was very discouraging, especially considering my first child was on the way. That said, I decided I needed to find some employment stability through furthering my education. I then enrolled in trade school and graduated with an Associate Degree in Mechanical Computer-Aided Drafting & Design in 2010. Unfortunately, at that time the job market hadn’t improved much and there weren’t many companies in the area willing to hire a Mechanical Drafter without experience. However, with that degree I learned how to interpret product prints. This got my foot in the door at Plastikos for a position that was called back then, “Quality Setup Inspector”. Within weeks, I stepped into the Quality Lead Inspector role when it became available. After 9 months, there was an opportunity to step up into a Quality Supervisor position. Having leadership experience from previous employment, I easily made the transition. From there, I led the night shift Quality team for 4 years until there was an announcement that Plastikos had decided to build onto its existing building with a medical molding wing. Since I had involvement in our medical component growth up to that point, I saw this as an opportunity to grow with the company. I approached our Manufacturing Manager, asking if he would consider giving me the opportunity to supervise the new medical molding area (an ISO-7 clean room). At this point, since this area was in the early stages, I agreed to wear many hats. As a result, I learned an exceptional amount about manufacturing over the next few years. i.e., mold setup, decoupled injection molding, materials, etc., but I always had quality in the forefront of my mind. In 2018, I was asked to participate in the risk analysis of a process. During that meeting, my input was well received and one of my colleagues made a comment that I should consider applying for the open Quality Engineer position. Being familiar with many different aspects of the company gave me the confidence to take that advice. I applied, was granted the promotion and here I am years later. More recently, I completed my ASQ CQE (Certified Quality Engineer) certification.

What is your Superpower?

I am very observant, which helps with a wide variety of items. Specific to my job, this skill helps me pinpoint problems/issues and find solutions early on.

Why is your role important to others – like to customers or end users?

I work with the Plastikos team to ensure that the final products that are shipped out our doors are safe, reliable, and meet customer expectations while keeping the manufacturing process as effective and cost-efficient as possible. A strong reputation for quality can be an important differentiator in markets that are very competitive. We manufacture components that are part of life-saving medical devices where quality of product is absolutely vital!

What do you think the future holds for your career or others you inspire?

I hope to see my career continue to grow with Plastikos, as it has thus far, and I look forward to having additional opportunities to learn. As far as inspiration goes, I would say take every opportunity to learn that comes your way. You never know when that information or experience will be beneficial in the future. It may just become the factor that sets you ahead of the pack!