A CONVERSATION WITH...
Tom Bryant, part of the pressing and edge folding team in Wixom, will soon be heading down to FRIMO Mexico on a three-year assignment. He is excited to embark on this new life journey with his wife and two young sons. Tom was happy to talk about it during an interview:
What is your job here at FRIMO Inc.?
My current position is in the pressing/edge folding department, which involves building and installing tooling and machines. Although I am not a full-time service technician, I do travel when necessary to repair and service pressing and edge folding equipment as well.
How many years have you been here?
I've been with FRIMO for 23 years now and I enjoy the interaction with the customers I've met during my travels. I’ll admit that sometimes the customers make me the focus of attention while in their facility, but I try to get the job finished as quickly as I can so they can get back to normal production. In the big picture, customer satisfaction must be our number one priority.
Have you had other positions in the past?
Before my current position, I cross-trained in many departments such as sheet metal fabrication, welding, rapid prototyping, which includes working with epoxy/fiberglass silicone rubber and urethane products, and thermoforming tooling and processing.
How did the idea of you moving to FRIMO Mexico come up?
My wife is from Hermosillo, Mexico and we have 2 young boys together. When I heard that Sascha [the previous plant manager] wasn't going to be able to stay in Mexico as planned, I started entertaining the idea that I may be able to help down there. I do a lot of travelling to Mexico already and really embrace and enjoy their culture and camaraderie.
How did your family react to the opportunity?
When I first talked with my wife about the possibility of moving to Mexico, she was a little hopeful that it would be to Hermosillo, where her mom lives, but she has really stuck by my side the whole way. I know that my kids won't have too big of an issue due to their age, but I am sure they will miss their "home" until they get used to their new surroundings and make new friends.
What will be your main focus/position at FRIMO Mexico?
We have a lot of tooling headed from Wixom to Puebla for Faurecia right now, so when I first get there, a lot of my time will be spent commissioning that tooling, which I have been a part of here at FRIMO Inc. However, the ultimate goal is to build strong tool build and service teams in Puebla. Everyone I have worked with so far at FRIMO Mexico has been really supportive of my transitioning process.
How good is your Spanish?
I always tell my wife that when I married her, I bought the most expensive Spanish classes that you can buy! Just joking of course! I am far from fluent in Spanish, but I'm getting there.
Are you nervous about trying to integrate into the Mexican culture and lifestyle?
No, I’m not nervous about integrating into the Mexican culture/lifestyle, as I feel I have already done that by being around my wife's family. As a matter of fact, my wife's family has really taken me in as a part of their family, and I already almost feel half Mexican! I guess we make a good team, because my wife has had the same experience with my family in the US.
Her grandmother lives less than an hour from the FRIMO facility and I look forwards to my kids being able to spend more time with that side of the family. I also think it's a great opportunity for both my kids and I to be immersed in the Spanish language for 3 years. The food is pretty good as well!
The only nervousness I have is about the international move and not knowing all the processes and intricacies of that.
When you aren’t working hard at FRIMO, what do you like to do in your free time?
When I'm not working at FRIMO or spending time with my family, flying is my passion. I have a Cessna 172 aircraft. My father was a corporate pilot, flight instructor, and aircraft mechanic. I decided at a young age that I didn't want to be a commercial pilot due to being away from home and my family all the time. I got my private pilot’s license about 7 years ago and found an older Cessna in Escanaba, Michigan that needed some TLC. I work closely with my mechanic to do whatever I am legally allowed to, and he handles the rest. Doing this teaches me more about the aircraft, and I believe this improves my mechanical abilities at FRIMO. In an aircraft, no matter what the duties are, be it mechanical or piloting skills, it is essential to pay attention to the details. I do my best to carry this over into my work at FRIMO. A long time ago one of my German associates gave me a nickname that has stuck with me ever since – Uhrmacher, or watchmaker. (Tom laughs) I hope he was acknowledging my attention to detail and not to how long it took me to finish the job!
Will you be able to continue your hobbies in Mexico?
I do plan on continuing my hobby in Mexico by staying current on flying instrument approaches with an instructor at the Puebla airport. I have also looked into the flight school in Puebla: Escuela cinco de mayo. The aircraft rental price there is higher than in the US, and at this time, I have no intention of flying my plane across the border into Mexico; the process of going through customs in an aircraft isn't something I have had to deal with yet. I decided to leave the plane with my brother in Texas, so in September I flew the plane to Texas from Michigan. It was a super fun trip which took about 12 hours, but it was broken up into several days due to weather – particularly hurricane weather. Safety is my number one priority, whether it's at FRIMO or flying an airplane.