Shannon Littledave did not set out to be an expert in coils. Before coming to RAE Corpo., she had been working as a cook in a restaurant with her sister. She says she has always enjoyed working with her hands and keeping busy, but she needed a change. So, when a cousin introduced her to RAE, she accepted an interview and was hired in 2009. Littledave started her career in a soldering position with no experience in the industry and did all her training on the job. RAE Corp. has a great training program and encourages cross departmental training as well. It is not surprising that Littledave flourished in an environment that called for constant problem solving and critical thinking in combination with physical work.
Littledave worked hard every day and earned respect from both upper management and her peers. In 2012, her hard work was rewarded when she was offered a position as a sales account manager for RAE Coils, where she thrived for two years. It was here that she gained insight into a part of the business she had never been exposed to before. She came to understand both the manufacturing side of the business and the side that works closely with customers. These two views can be very different and do not often come together in one person. This unique experience allowed Littledave to see the big picture of RAE Corp. and gain insight on how to better serve customers.
Today, Littledave has achieved the position of coil shop supervisor, making her the first female at RAE Corp. to hold this title, with manufacturing being a traditionally male-dominated industry. She brought her sales knowledge back to the production department and utilized it to optimize operations. In less than 10 years, Littledave has climbed from soldering coils to supervising approximately 100 employees that build the coils for all the divisions of the company. More employees report to Littledave than to any other supervisor in the company. She keeps the new employees focused and keeps track of all the equipment that comes through the shop. Since becoming coil shop supervisor, Littledave has managed to maintain an easy working relationship with her friends and former coworkers in the soldering shop. These relationships, along with her production skill and product knowledge, earn Littledave the respect of employees, peers, and executive management.
Littledave agreed to this Q&A about her experience and insight into the industry:
- What was the hardest struggle of your career?
- The hardest struggle was challenging my friends to know the difference between me as a boss and me as a friend. I’ve always told them that we’re friends, but whenever I have to be a boss, I have to be a boss. They’ve come to understand that, but, first, starting to climb up the ladder was the hardest part for me.
- What was the most rewarding moment of your career?
- The most rewarding moment was when the leaders of the company offered me a position in sales as an account manager in our RAE Coils division. There are many people who are in production positions that don’t think of a career outside their current job. So, when someone came down from the office and offered me a new opportunity, it was a big “wow,” and it helped a lot of the people see that they can move and cross-train in different parts of this company.
- Do you have a product that you would call your favorite?
- My favorite thing to work on is our direct expansion coils (DX). They are so detailed, and you can get very fancy with the distributors. They run all the way from 3/16-inch tubing to 5/16-inch tubing, and there’s a lot of thought process and engineering that goes into a DX coil. That makes them fun.
- How have you seen the industry change since you joined RAE Corp., and where do you see it going in the future?
- There are so many different designs now. Coils, units, everything is changing so much. Our company specializes in customizing a product to fit the needs of the customer and application. There are many different designs that come through our shop. It’s not just a standard product; the customized products are very different. In the future, I see the industry and our company doing even bigger and better things. Better designs, better processes, and bigger and better machinery that can streamline more of the manufacturing processes. All this will keep more jobs in the U.S. and provide more opportunities for people like me.
Q. What do you like to do when you are not at RAE?
A. I love being a mom and spending time with my two amazing children. But, aside from being a mom, I like to practice Muay Thai martial arts. It takes a lot of physical and mental discipline, and I enjoy the challenge.
Publication date: 6/5/2017