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

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Jim Starker, His 25-Year Long Journey in Maintenance

25 Years in a Nutshell 

Growing up, Jim loved working on cars with his dad and attending shop classes. He always enjoyed building, repairing, and working with his hands. Instead of going to college, Jim thought it would be better for him to join the army reserves, where he gained the skills to become a certified interior electrician. 

Shortly after his service in the army, Jim took a maintenance apprenticeship and started developing a strong passion for fixing equipment and learning different systems and processes. He shared,

“As an apprentice I was able to learn and also teach others. This is what kick-started my career.”  

Once his apprenticeship came to an end, he started working at a Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) group at Chrysler, where he started getting into reliability and doing infrared and ultrasound inspections on electrical equipment. Chrysler offered employees resources to pursue further education; and so, Jim decided to go back to school to learn more about infrared and thermal dynamics.

When the plant closed at Chrysler, Jim transferred to Miller Brewing. There, he was responsible for industrial electric/electronic and instrumentation maintenance, as well as troubleshooting high speed manufacturing equipment, utilities and brewing equipment in the food and beverage industry.

Little over a year later, Jim found himself at UW Health Clinics where he was asked to design, implement, and maintain an infrared and ultrasound inspection program for hospitals and clinics. Jim also oversaw the inspection database, software, and reporting. This was a huge deal because the new system improved efficiency and inspection accuracy, and ultimately ensured safer facilities. 

After his time in UW, Jim started dabbling in power utility by joining We Energies. He started working as an electrician and handled all things regarding ultrasound and thermography. 

Now, Jim resides in Madison, Wisconsin and has continuously been working his way up in the maintenance and reliability industry. Currently, Jim works as maintenance manager at Tekni-Plex, demonstrating all the knowledge he has accumulated over the past 25 years!

More Years to Come 

“As a maintenance guy, your body can only hold up for so many years. I was thinking about other ways to continue my time in this industry without putting my physical health at risk, and came across infrared and ultrasound.” 

Jim loves working in maintenance because the industry holds such a wide range of opportunities. People can choose to go into the more physical side of maintenance, or they can go into the more managerial side. For Jim, choosing a route that would help him stay in the industry for as long as possible was crucial. Thus, he decided to take the chance to work in management and have a seat at the table to empower individuals and teams in maintenance.

Empowering the Younger and Older Generations

In his new role at Tekni-Plex, he gets to help train and mentor both young and older people. Being in the industry right out of high school, Jim was only 21 years old when he started having apprentices of his own who were much older than him, ranging from 30 to 50 years old. It is important to Jim to equip the upcoming generations of maintenance leaders, while also building up those who have been in the industry for years already. 

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