Joey J. Arnold
Joey J. Arnold
Vice President, Continuous Improvement and Quality
I feel fortunate to have grown up in a family that valued work ethic, honesty, integrity, and treating people right. I think that foundation is what made Swagelok feel like home for me from the first day.
When I took a job as a machine operator at a small Swagelok facility, I assumed it would be a temporary position. After all, I was finishing up my degree in education for the multiple handicapped. But I had just completed my student teaching, and the experience was not what I had envisioned. In fact, I was a little disillusioned and was thinking about changing to a different education discipline. So while I was running a chucker machine making hose ends, I was also thinking about my future.
About two months into the job at Swagelok, I was approached by a manager who knew I was planning to go back to school. He told me that Swagelok would pay for my education if I switched majors. So I kept my full-time job as a machine operator, went to school full-time at night, obtained a degree in business/finance, and began my career at Swagelok.
Swagelok’s commitment to education, training, and development has taught me the importance of being a life-long learner. There are so many opportunities available, but you have to be willing to grow and try new things—and I’ve done just that throughout my career.
I moved into supervision early on and was later asked to take on the role of building superintendent. I loved being so connected to our products. In fact, one of things I like most about Swagelok is that we make things that are tangible. Years after we are personally gone, our products will still be here, and there is a certain sense of pride or accomplishment when it comes to watching product flow out the door.
I was then asked to lead a project to realign Swagelok’s manufacturing footprint. It was a fabulous opportunity to learn about every part of Swagelok as we conducted assessments to understand how we could optimize product flow or footprint. This work was a precursor to building our order fulfillment center and developing our Highland campus, and I was fortunate to be a member of those project teams as a result.
This experience led to my first big promotion, which was becoming manager of corporate facilities and risk management. I knew it would be a challenging transition from the operations side of the business to a more esoteric area, but it was a chance for me to show how quickly I could learn. The risk component was really interesting and fun to learn about, and corporate facilities work fit into my passion for building things. Once again, I ended up loving what I was doing and was later promoted to director.
Around this same time, I was asked to lead an initiative to assess a company we acquired on the Isle of Man; we needed to determine which products should continue to be manufactured there and which products should be moved to Solon. This project was probably one of the toughest for me because it was very emotional for the people involved, but it gave me a healthy respect for the role of corporate communications. For the project to be successful, it was critical for associates to understand that the restructuring was not only important to Swagelok, but also to the associates on the Isle of Man. We wanted to make sure we were putting them in the best possible position to succeed while integrating them into our culture and our policies. I’m proud of the work I did to articulate that vision to associates, get alignment, and move the initiative forward.
I then moved into my first customer-facing role as a director in customer service. Once again, I knew I had an opportunity to learn more, and I did. Everything that is right with Swagelok can be found in that department: the enthusiasm, the commitment to the customer, the desire to do what’s right. Our associates’ passion is infectious, and I have to admit I get a lot of energy from that kind of lively environment.
The next step in my journey came as a bit of surprise: I was named treasurer. The opportunity dovetailed nicely with finishing the executive MBA program at Case Western Reserve University. Still, the responsibilities seemed a bit overwhelming at first. There was a lot to learn and do, including establishing relationships and credibility with our vendors and money managers, plus a fair amount of academic learning. But then I stopped to think about where I was. Every time I had transitioned, I was surrounded by people who helped me succeed. The people at Swagelok are committed to one another, and in this environment, you are almost destined to succeed.
I viewed my role as vice president, corporate communications as a great opportunity to a bring a strong business and operational perspective to the department. For example, I tried to create an operational cadence to our work—making sure we were engaged in the discussions and being an integral part of the business, rather than just reporting the news.
Now, as vice president of continuous improvement and quality, I am fortunate to be building on Swagelok’s already impeccable quality. The team continues to look at how to enable associates to become more efficient and effective as we drive toward our goal of zero customer disappointments. I’m also interested in supporting Swagelok’s innovative approach to leveraging our talent, equipment, and processes.
At the same time, I’m also leading the organization’s global headquarters project. My primary goal is to ensure that we create a space that represents who we are as a company for our associates, and at the same time allows our customers and the community to see and learn more about Swagelok. It’s important to me that our values, as well as our commitment to our people, our quality, and our customers shine through in this new facility.
Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my wife and two daughters, as well as giving back to the community. I think it’s important that we remind ourselves that we are a part of something bigger, and serving on non-profit boards is one way to make an impact. As a member of the MetroHealth Foundation Board, I’m passionate about their work with the underserved community, as well as their Level 1 Trauma Center and burn unit that provide key services to badly injured people.