From Shop Floor to Corner Office: Paul’s Story
From Shop Floor to Corner Office: Paul’s Story
With focus, hard work, and serious drive, Paul Karez is proof you can take your career wherever you want to take it here at Wilson Manufacturing.
Like many success stories, Paul’s begins with some struggle and challenge. Born in Czechoslovakia, he came with his parents to the United States when he was 8 years old. Years later, he set out on his own, working in a machine shop and taking engineering courses in college. His great mechanical aptitude has set him up for success.
In 1989 at the age of 20, Paul joined the Wilson Manufacturing team; our total number of employees at that time was 25! Paul was hired on as a lathe operator, but he often found himself learning many other jobs on the shop floor to help out when needed.
“I realized his potential,” says Matt Wilson, co-founder of Wilson Manufacturing. “It didn’t take my father and I long to conclude that Paul would build his career with our company”.
John Wilson, Matt’s father and co-founder of WMC, was equally impressed with Paul’s “drive and energy to take charge.” It did not take long for Paul to advance to plant manager. His step into leadership brought insight to our vision of where we were headed: to develop into a full-scale machine shop that provides our customers with a one-stop-shop for all their tooling needs. Paul learned how to run each machine in every department, so when his employees come to him with an obstacle, he was (and still is) able to assist with a solution.
“Matt Wilson saw potential in me,” says Paul. “He told me once when I was new to the organization that I’d eventually be running the place. I was just a kid…I don’t know what he saw in me, but along the way, he gave me opportunities to succeed, and allowed me to fail—he allowed me to grow.”
Paul is more of a “behind-the-scenes” kind of guy. He and his brother, Tom, created the custom order entry and tracking system we used for years in sales and operations in the plant. Many of our advancements in innovation start with an idea of how to make things better, more efficient, and fail proof. And many of these ideas start with Paul Karez. Paul has introduced “crazy” ideas like allowing the customer to order custom tools online, or building a machine to produce a die from start to finish. Paul, along with our computer experts and the controls experts at Fanuc derived the WHIM, an all-encompassing rotary die machine. These ideas and others have allowed our team to succeed.
In 1998, Paul took on a new role as VP of Manufacturing. “My job didn’t change a whole lot,” Paul explains. “What we really did was expand the team, and my job became a combination of overseeing manufacturing, administering sales, and supervising R&D projects.”
Today, Paul sits as the President of Wilson Manufacturing, but he still stays involved in the production part of the business. He attends daily production meetings in addition to helping the sales group solve problems, and he also coordinates and strategizes with the legal and financial arms of the business.
Three things, he says, are what have kept him with Wilson all these years—the environment, the challenges, and the people. “It’s not boring here,” he jokes. But Wilson Manufacturing, he says, is always about continuous improvement. “We’re always investing in the company. If we identify a new capability that can bring value to our customers, we make the investment in time and money to make it a reality.”
Paul feels the organization’s real strength is its people. He points to the core staff who have been with Wilson Manufacturing from the beginning. “These individuals are as passionate as he is about serving its customers. We have built a great team and continue to thrive.”
In addition to the resources and trust he’s been given over the years, Paul attributes his success to one thing: dedication. “You don’t let problems stop you. You keep working at it until you find solutions. Don’t quit.”
Dedication defines his time at home as well. His family is near and dear to his heart, especially his son, Gavin. Paul and Gavin enjoy their man cave in the basement; playing video games, watching movies and YouTube on the big screen.
Given where he began at Wilson Manufacturing, he also feels it is important to mentor and look to the people within the organization for solutions and ideas to take the company to the next level. “There are talented people here at Wilson who you can learn from. The people here have an incredible range of skills from all aspects of the business—and I’ve learned from everyone I could.”
To sum it up, Paul offers this to all his employees: “If anyone here has an issue with manufacturing—or any other question—my door is always open. There’s no such thing as a stupid question, and I encourage people to always feel free to approach me with any concerns or questions they have.”
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