Dont’a Berry, lead process coach in the trim department at Dearborn Truck Plant, believes the sky is the limit when it comes to his journey with Ford. He started as a temporary full-time employee in 2018 before becoming a lead process coach.
“Process coach is not my ceiling,” said Berry. “The company is growing, we’re getting into the electric vehicle space, and I think I’m in a good spot to grow with it.”
Berry graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in political science, then hired into Ford, starting off installing shocks as a TFT. A proud native of Flint, he had previously worked at General Motors, so he knew what to expect in manufacturing. He came to Ford intending to become a supervisor and said he has had a great time and a ton of support in his journey.
“I will say my team was really good, really friendly, really helpful,” said Berry. “Nobody treated me differently because I was new. Everyone was really focused on the team.”
Initially working in chassis one, Berry kept an eye on opportunities at the company. As soon as a process coach position opened, he started investigating how to apply.
“I reached out to David Freeman and Brian Watkins, who were process coaches at the time,” he said. “I asked them how the process worked and for some intel to get prepared to apply.”
Now, as a lead process coach, Berry said the challenges and rewards of the job all come down to managing people. “You have to know your people, and who can help cover when others aren’t here,” he said. “Getting other people to train on the job is critical. When people understand and respect you, it means everything. I come in, give my team a high-five, chat with them, get to know them. I’m a people person, and it’s important for me to get to know them beyond a work relationship.”
Berry applauds Ford for promoting from within, and he knows that the employee experience is priceless. “It’s really a great thing that Ford offers the ability for folks to come from the line to management, because we do have a lot of talent on the floor,” he said. “You can do it better when you’ve done it. The hurdles, the mindset of the people – you know how to get them to work together.”
Berry said it is incredible to look back and see how far he’s come. He encourages employees who are interested in moving up the ranks to connect with colleagues and mentors as he did. “It’s been an awesome journey and it’s not over yet,” he said.