Stories of the unsung heroes in maintenance who support and sustain our world.

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Ryan Still, Working Behind the Scenes to Keep it All Going

Ryan graduated from Western Oregon University with a degree in chemistry and physics, and started his working career in a group home for adults with disabilities. Although it was meaningful work, Ryan struggled to see a future in this position. 

Not knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life, and even considering going to the military, Ryan got a call from his friend at Pacific Foods saying that the company was hiring. Taking the opportunity, Ryan started working at Pacific Foods as a Quality Assurance (QA) Technician. Ryan shares, 

“This was kind of a weird place to start to end up in maintenance and engineering. But, I was a QA for a bit, and then moved into operations as a supervisor on the floor. As a supervisor, I worked on some projects and process engineering work. And, while doing the work, I really started getting into continuous improvement.” 

To Ryan, continuous improvement and maintenance are like one and the same. The best practices that you can do in one are best practices you can do in both. With this mindset, he started doing cross-functional projects with the maintenance team, which included learning about the facility’s processes and going on tours of other facilities all across Portland to learn about their best practices. 

After Pacific Foods, Ryan started working as a Maintenance Manager at Portland Bottling Company. Ryan shares, 

“For me, taking this job was a new challenge and a chance for me to grow and better myself. So, I jumped at the opportunity! And since then, I learned a ton about maintenance, best practices, and the right way to do things.”

An important lesson Ryan has learned working as a Maintenance Manager is that his responsibilities are not complicated nor flashy. But rather, it’s truly simple, behind-the-scenes work, consisting of creating preventative maintenance tasks around cleaning, lubricating, tightening, and inspecting. It’s checking inventory and making sure proper spare parts are on the shelf. Although this work may seem routine and mundane, it’s what keeps everything up and running!

Now as a Maintenance Manager at Brew Dr. Kombucha, Ryan shares, 

“During these uncertain times, the maintenance team and I are hyper-focused on dependability and reliability. We come into the office everyday, even on Friday when the plant is down. And, when people see this, it brings a semblance of normalcy. If a machine stopped working for a week, then production would be halted and we would send people home for a few days until we get the machine fixed. But, my team and I are making sure that doesn’t happen. People right now are really scared and uncertain about the entire world around us. So, for us to be able to provide consistent and reliable employment, where people can come in, do work, go home to their families, all while feeling they accomplished something, that’s really valuable.” 

Ryan and his team are truly making a positive impact in their communities, as well as in the world. Brew Dr. Kombucha has teamed up with Straightaway Cocktails to deliver thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines! During this pivotal moment in public health, we are so proud to see partnerships between local businesses to protect and support their local essential workers as they uphold their communities.

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