Father and Son Duo at CSP - The Ogrodowskis

A gallon of gas cost $1.13, I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston) was the top song, and The Chicago Bulls (featuring Michael Jordan) were the NBA Champions and Chicago Stamping Plant made parts for the Topaz, Tempo, Mystique, Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, Taurus, Sable, Windstar,  and Aerostar, the year was 1992 and it was when John  Ogrodowski started his career with Ford Motor Company.

After 30 years at Chicago Stamping Plant, John has seen just about everything.  From 8 different CEOs, 6 plant managers, and the construction of 3 Shuler Presses in the pressroom there is a great amount of history.

“When I hired in, Kevin Brown was my first supervisor and I worked on Line 191, which was called the horse collar,” Ogrodowski (it just so happens that the two share the same birthday and were recently reunited when the saw one another at a local restaurant while celebrating with their wives). “That was my first job over in low bay (sub assembly), but I also worked with Kevin a few other times while I was in production.”

About 4 years later Ogrodowski put in a bid to become a floor inspector in the Quality Department and got it.  As an inspector, he worked on Line 5 inspecting Taurus/Sable Hoods and Bodysides. The plant manager wanted new inspectors to attend a 3-week  Quality Training Course held in Buffalo Stamping Plant. Through the training he was able to interact and learn from inspectors from the other stamping plants.

In 2001, Ogrodowski entered the apprenticeship program and became a welder but by 2005 due a decrease in volume many employees were placed in the “gen pool.” While in gen, they were asked to learn other jobs.  In John’s case, he was asked to do the placarding for the plant.  Although he did not initially want to, he was encouraged to do so by Sean Coughlin.  Soon afterward he learned Train the Trainer for Lifting, Rigging, and Working at Heights, and then became an alternate trainer. “ I was like 5th in line,” Ogrodowski shared. “ People began to retire, and eventually It was just me left.”  He obtained additional certifications and was appointed UAW/Ford Health and Safety Trainer.

One of the things John is proud of is seeing the reduction of serious injuries and improvements the plant has made in safety.  Even with the accomplishments the team has made, he does not want people to have a false sense of security.  There have been advances in technology throughout the years, and sometimes they can make people feel “safe.”  It is important that no steps are skipped, thinking that a safety net will protect.

When asked what stands out during his time at Chicago Stamping Plant, John reflected and said, “ I think about when my son, Nick was born.”  I was working for Mark Butkus, who was a new supervisor, on 3 Line. Now,  he will be twenty-eight in November and works on the floor pan line in sub assembly.  “ When he was little, I’d take him to union meetings with me, and he’d sit with me.  Today, being a trustee, he sits at the front table during the union meetings.

Nick Ogrodowski has worked for Chicago Stamping Plant for eight years and is one of the elected trustees for UAW Local 588.  “ I started out as a guide when I was 19 or 20. Even though I didn’t think I would be popular enough to win, I was encouraged to run,  “ When I was younger, it was hard to see me living on my own, handling responsibilities, or even owning a home,” Nick shared, “ I never saw myself in the position I am currently in.  Ford has given me stability.” There was a time when it was common to see generations of Ford employees, Nick would like to see that, again.

“I love what I do,” Ogrodowski commented, “ I’m happy to be able to be in a better position than some people with college degrees.”

With almost 40 years of experience between the two Ogrodowski’ s, they each had advise to share, “ You’ve got to come to work every day and on time.  Go home when you’re supposed to and follow the rules, John shared. Nick adds,” Treat your job seriously and take it seriously.”