The Problem Solver: Mike's Journey

His curiosity is never satisfied, and he’s always looking for ways to improve the way things work.

Those characteristics made Mike a perfect fit for his role as Operator A at Tessenderlo Kerley’s plant in East Dubuque, Illinois.

“The thing I like most about my job is solving problems,” Mike said. “There are always ways you can tweak something and make it better. I like coming in with fresh eyes and seeing what other people are working with, and how to make that better in the future.”

Before coming to Tessenderlo Kerley in 2017, Mike was an ammunition specialist in the National Guard, and a chemical compounder at a medical technology company.

“You think that wouldn’t translate to this job, but it does,” Mike said. “You’ve got to know your numbers.”

Tessenderlo Kerley’s East Dubuque plant produces Thio-Sul, one of the most trusted crop nutrition brands among farmers across the country.

“A day in a life here is pretty exciting,” Mike said. “We’re taking readings for the product we’ve got coming in, what we’ve got coming out, doing calculations on the things that we’re making. It is sometimes very technical – dealing with lab work, getting inside tanks. Most days, you’re putting pen to paper, making sure everything is where it needs to be, when it needs to be.”

From 2021-22, Mike and his team worked to expand Thio-Sul production by installing six new vessels at the plant.

“I’m thrilled that we were able to do that as a team and get those tanks full,” Mike said. “I’m really proud we were able to get that done so we can make more product and send more product out.”

Mike also serves on Tessenderlo Kerley’s wellness committee, whose mission is to provide employees across the country with the tools they need to boost their physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being.

“I really do enjoy it because it shows that the company is making moves to help people understand what’s going on inside their bodies so we can be better employees and better people for our families,” Mike said. “I’m glad Tessenderlo Kerley is taking the steps to show they care about me as an employee, and the wellness of my family.”

The knowledge he’s gained, the support of his coworkers and his own drive to simply make things better has positioned Mike to continue to succeed in his role.

“I was able to begin at an entry-level position, and now I’m a Operator A, and that’s because I was able to work with people and gain knowledge,” he said. “I’m still learning every single day because you’re dealing with so many different things. You’re dealing with the physical plant and you’re dealing with the chemistry of the plant. It never gets old. There’s so much room for improvement all the time. That’s what I enjoy about it.”