For this issue of the McElroy Minute, we caught up with Mike Collis, a 33-year Winchester, VA employee who currently fills the role of Maintenance Technician. When not working, Mike has several hobbies, including showing is 1994 Ford truck.
What does a typical day look like for you? I’m responsible for ordering parts and keeping all the machines running. Every day varies in maintenance. A typical day might find me dealing with mechanical, hydraulic, electrical, and even operator errors in some cases. You really never know what the day is going to bring. I like that because it makes every day different and keeps me on my toes. I also help Marc Scammerhorn, Corporate Manufacturing Manager, out with maintenance needs at other plants since not every plant has a maintenance position.
What do you like about your job? I really enjoy the responsibility of my job and appreciate the leeway I get in making decisions. There are some parts of my job that are repetitive, but at least a couple of times a week, I get to deal with something new. I really enjoy learning new things, so that suits me well.
For example, I enjoyed the opportunity to work at the Adelanto and Bossier plants to help change our Bradbury lines over to the ASC CNC500 controller system. I’ve also been to most of the other plants to help out in one capacity or another over the years. I’ve really appreciated the chances to see how our different facilities operate and meet the folks there.
What previous positions at McElroy have you held? I started as a bander on a panel line on the second shift. Then I moved into truck loading. In 1992-1993 I went to the purlin line as a catcher. Then, when Mike Sabers left Winchester and transferred to Adelanto to become a Plant Manager, I became the purlin operator. After that, I moved to the Maintenance Technician position.
Who has been your biggest mentor at McElroy? I know several of the guys already featured in the McElroy Minute have said the same thing, but I have to agree with them. I can’t say enough good things about both Alan Shaffer and Mike Scybert. I think they are both some of the best assets that this company has, even to this day. I think their legacies continue to live on through guys like me that had the opportunity to work side by side with them over the years and learn so much from them.
They have totally different approaches, though. Mike is very verbal and to the point. Alan is more meticulous about how he does and says things. But the outcome is the same. They put their heart and soul into this company, and I believe it’s one of the reasons the company is still doing so well.
I’m still really good friends with them both. When I was at Bossier, Alan & his wife even took me to Mardi Gras. They literally treated me like family.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career? When I took over the maintenance role, I had a lot of challenges. One of the biggest was that I didn’t have any experience with electrical or hydraulics. But that didn’t stop McElroy from giving me the chance. They paid for me to take classes at a vocational tech college locally to learn what I needed to know to succeed in my new role. It’s pretty cool that I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot of different skills without personally paying for the education.
Where can we find you when you’re not at work? You can find me in one of about three places: hunting, at a truck show, or at the gym.
I like to hunt deer and squirrels with either a bow or rifle. I definitely eat the game I catch. I’ve even started a tradition of bringing 15 bags or so of deer jerky for Tem & Ian to the McAttacks. One year I switched it up and gave them bear jerky, but they weren’t as big of fans of it.
I also really enjoy cars and trucks. I have a show truck that my wife and I take to shows. It’s a 1994 Ford, and I bought it brand new, so I’ve been showing it for over 25 years. I don’t drive it very often because, well, quite honestly, I don’t want to get it dirty.
But my biggest passion right now is the gym. I set my alarm for 3:30 am and work out from 4-5:30 am six or seven days a week. It makes for a long day and requires me to go to bed at about 8:30 pm, but it’s a huge part of my day.
It all started two or three years ago when I had a life change. I have had pretty big knee issues over the years and even dislocated my left knee three times. Then in 2019, I tore my right meniscus and started going to an orthopedic for most of the summer. The pain was bad enough that it was really hard to do my job, so I was certainly open to surgery; however, the doctors told me that at my current weight of 441 lbs, I wasn’t a candidate for surgery.
Faced with constant pain and an inability to continue to do my job, I got really frustrated. I started eating a little better, but you still don’t really know what you’re eating. Then my son told me about a calorie app that they used with his football team, and I started using it. It worked great for me. After about six months of using the app, I finally tried going to the gym. It just clicked with me.
I lost the first 122 pounds in six months. By the time a year rolled around, I was down 200 lbs. In March 2021, I was finally able to get my left knee replaced. It takes about a year to get 100% from what my doctor said, so I’m not there yet, but I’m gaining every day. I’m really proud that I was only out of the gym for three weeks and off work for seven weeks.
A lot of folks at the plant ask me questions about working out and weight loss. I’m happy to help out anyone that I can. I’m living proof. If you change your mind, you can do anything.
What’s your favorite movie? I am a Rocky fan. I think there are eight different movies in the series now. The plot tells such a good inspirational story. He was just an ordinary guy with a dream. He’s as low in life as he can get, but he has a goal that he just works towards until he gets it done. Stalone’s life story is pretty inspirational in itself. He’s 72-73 years old now, and he’s still constantly working out in the gym every day.
If you had to eat one food every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? I like steak, and it’s a great protein source. Back in the day, I would have eaten it with a loaded baked potato. Now I’m a medium rare kind of guy with steamed broccoli and carrots for sides.
Name one item you can’t live without. It would definitely be my wife. We met in high school and will celebrate our 33-year wedding anniversary this August.
We have two kids: My daughter is 32 and works at the VA facility. Her husband is a canine officer, and they’ve blessed us with a 2 ½ year old granddaughter. Since they live about three hours away, we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, but we facetime at least once or twice a week. And we’ve just started keeping her for a week once or twice a year.
My son is 23 and a mechanical engineer and lives about 1 ½ hour from us.
Left image: Son, Dylan with his girlfriend, Dana
Right image: Daughter, Kristen with Dylan
Have you ever considered leaving McElroy, and if so, why did you stay? I think over the years, we all get the itch or we’re aggravated about something, but as far as really going through with it, I’ve never come close. I’ve always had the mindset that every job has its good and bad points.
I like it here. I really enjoy the people we work with, and you don’t find that everywhere. I’ve also had some great bosses that I’ve really liked and enjoyed working with. I also like that it’s a family-owned business, and we have that family feel. Overall, it’s just a good fit for me.
McElroy Metal’s success over the years is largely attributed to the talented and dedicated employees across the country. McElroy Metal’s extensive footprint of locations and distinct business units offer employment candidates a wide variety of fulfilling options such as manufacturing, customer service, retail and corporate positions.