Our heart is our talent, and we do everything possible to inspire the people that drive our company. This employee spotlight series will offer an inside look into the culture and community that make up PJ. Learn more, firsthand, from the people who have found a home here. Today we will learn more about Mike Herms, who recently celebrated his 30 year anniversary at PJ.
A few words from Brad Borchers (General Manager, Trident)
I’ve only been with PJ for 12 years so I can’t begin to imagine what Mike was up to those 17+ years before I arrived, but I bet it was both Epic and extremely valuable for he and PJ, because when I started, Mike was my go-to for information. From day one, I could tell he was a wealth of knowledge. More importantly, he was always willing to share what he knew. During our early days in the support center, I’m sure he got tired of seeing my face pop-up from around corner, but he never showed it. Things have come full-circle with Mike. He is now reporting to me as our Technical Support & Fabrication Supervisor for Team Trident. When he first mentioned that he was interested in hearing more about how he might fit into our team, Josh and I knew we had to convince him to join. He clearly brings the vast array of technical product knowledge, but more importantly he brings an awesome attitude. He loves challenges and with next to no proding jumps in and finds solutions.
During his time at PJ, Mike has encountered just about every difficult situation. One of the things I have enjoyed about working at PJ is the fact that no two days are the same - maybe because my memory taps out at about 5 years. Mike’s mind doesn't seem to work that way. He remembers everything. He can tell you every detail about everything he's ever seen. While we are still finding our way through the many unknowns of starting a new business, I’m glad he is on our team to help us steer clear of the land mines he already knows exist in our space.
I think that all of our customers and all of mike’s co-workers, past present and future will join me in giving Mike a big “thank you” because we couldn't do our jobs without him. We are lucky to have him, just as his family is. Thanks for letting us steal so much of his time the past 30 years. Congratulations on 30 years, and here's to 30 (or at least a few) more!
A little about Mike:
What three words would you use to describe PJ?
Family, Opportunities, Growth
If you could only drink one beer for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coors Light... Bottles!
What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
In 2003 my wife and I attended her cousins wedding in Hawaii. Besides the sheer beauty of the big island and the diverse climate there it was the most relaxing week I had ever spent in my life. The wedding was great, but the time spent exploring the island, and relaxing on the beach watching the whales go by was unreal!!! I would love to go back some day!
What is your least favorite food?
Anything with Coconut in it!
What advice would you give to someone who just started at PJ?
PJ has a lot of very talented and knowledgeable employees working here, ask questions, listen, and learn from the vast knowledge base of our employees. We are all more than willing to help teach you about our huge product and service offering. Take advantage of all the opportunities that PJ has to offer, your growth potential is endless.
People would be surprised if they knew:
That I tend to be very shy and quiet.
What is your proudest moment at PJ?
I do not recall the year, but I was sent on a service call to the Byron nuclear power plant in Byron Illinois. The nuclear reactors have three separate cooling systems, and the third backup system is a 12V 71 Detroit diesel engine with a Twin Disc IBF318 PTO running the water pump for system cooling. During testing of the system they had failed the PTO and Palmer Johnson was called out to assist in installing a replacement PTO.
When I arrived on site I was greeted by one of the plant engineers, one of his first questions was “did you pack a bag (some extra clothes) and get a hotel room”? my reply was I am here to install a PTO? Correct? I should be done in a few hours! His reply with a laugh was “welcome to nukeland”. Well after getting checked in and my radiation level checked we were well into the afternoon, once I finally got to the actual site of the PTO installation and made all of the necessary engine checks I determined that they had the wrong pilot bearing for the Detroit Diesel engine.
After several long meetings it was decided that they would send a chartered jet plane from Rockford to Houston to get the correct pilot bearing from Stewart & Stevenson. (Stewart & Stevenson had supplied the engine packages for the three sister nuclear power plants). After explaining that I only lived an hour and a half away I was told that I could go home but to be ready to return as soon as the plane landed back in Rockford. Early the next morning I was back at Byron and low and behold they had sent the wrong pilot bearing! After a couple of calls back to Joe Schwarz in Windsor he called back and said that we had the correct pilot bearing in our Itasca warehouse. After more meetings explaining this to the engineers at the power plant they arranged to purchase the pilot bearing from PJ, Paul Phillips put the bearing in a Taxi cab and a few hours later I had the correct bearing installed on the PTO.
Well after three days of messing around I was finally ready to install the PTO onto the engine. I had the PTO adjusted and ready to slide into the driving ring, at this point there was 20 or 30 people gathered around and watching me install the PTO. One of the engineers stops me and said that I could not allow the PTO housing to contact the engine flywheel housing as they had to “witness” the contact of the two parts from both sides. With a two piece pilot bearing and the clutch plates properly lined up once it is level and square with the engine the PTO will slide right up to the engine. I had all I could do to stop the PTO from slamming right up against the engine flywheel housing, everyone was watching as I held it away for a few seconds and once they were happy they allowed me to seat the PTO against the engine. The whole place erupted into cheers and clapping, I could not believe what I was seeing, I had installed countless numbers of PTO’s and never had an audience like this!!! What should have taken 4 or 5 hours ended up taking 3 days and it ended up being one of those service calls that I will never forget!. Side note, my radiation level was checked again when I left the plant that night, for three or four years I would get a yearly “radiation” report from Commonwealth Edison