What I learned in my year at The C.A. Lawton Co.

By Hannah Cantrell

I’m currently a senior in college with one semester of school left until I graduate with my bachelor’s in business administration with a marketing concentration and a minor in communication. I’ve been a marketing intern at The C.A. Lawton Co. for a year now, and I can honestly say that this is the best job I’ve ever had.

What makes working at Lawton so great is the people. I love to learn, and they have taught me so much. I have also learned a lot about myself working here, which has played a valuable part in my growth as a young professional. To commemorate my first year here, I’d like to share what I’ve learned in hopes that I might inspire others to grow with me.

The first thing I learned working at Lawton came from our company’s CEO, Alex Lawton. Alex is a great leader. In fact, he has given me a whole new perspective on what it means to be a great leader through the way he cares about his employees and makes them feel important.

He always remembers what I tell him when we talk, even if I don’t see him for a couple of weeks. If I tell him I have a huge exam coming up, he’ll ask how the exam went the next time I see him, and how my family is doing. It makes me feel valued and has taught me that the difference between a good leader and a great leader is the simple act of caring about your employee’s lives and well-being, not just as it pertains to work, but in all aspects of their lives.

After working with my boss, Andy Mastalir, who is the manager of sales, customer service, and marketing at Lawton, for the past year, he has given me quite a bit of valuable knowledge. The thing that stands out the most to me, however, is something he didn’t specifically tell me but instead showed me.

When dealing with a problem, Andy waits to react emotionally and instead jumps straight to gathering information and asking questions. By doing this, problems are solved more professionally and easily. Since witnessing this, I have begun trying to follow his example because I know it will be beneficial in both professional and social settings.  

So many other people and the wonderful things they have taught me come to mind as I write:

  • Our Lean consultant, Cathlin Stuntz, who has taught me so much about A3’s, kaizen events, and the impact Lean can really have on an organization.
  • Customer service representative Dawn Bek and machine shop supervisor Keith Heimann, who have shown me so much kindness, and taught me how important it is to joke around a little bit, and
  • Lawton’s president, Barry Adamski, who has helped to mold my business mindset by challenging me and holding high expectations of me.

These are just a few of the wonderful people I work with who have impacted my time here. I appreciate each and every one of them mentioned and unmentioned equally.

My experience as a whole at Lawton has taught me the value of sharing ideas, making small improvements and teamwork. Additionally, I have learned so much about the casting process, Lean, and the history of this amazing company. This opportunity has also taught me a great deal about myself.

I have always been the type of person who is well-rounded and likes to wear many hats. I thought there may not be other people like that or a job that would allow me to satisfy that within myself. However, at Lawton, most everyone here is like that, and people like that are extremely valuable here. Now I know that I fit in best in a small company for this reason. Lawton has also shown me how much community means to me. Before working here, I didn’t know how much of a difference it would make.

Furthermore, I have discovered how much I enjoy long-term projects as opposed to fast-paced, on-the-spot work. I like to take my time and move from piece to piece. It also feels more rewarding when you get to the finished product. Moreover, I used to think I was a very autonomous person, but working at Lawton has shown me how much I appreciate a balance between autonomy and a team environment.

Finally, I have uncovered some of my weaknesses and began working to overcome them. I have never had a problem following directions, but when it comes to taking initiative, speaking out, or going against the grain, it is challenging for me. At Lawton, continuous improvement is central to our organization. In order to enact real change, it’s imperative to go against the grain and speak out with new ideas. Lawton has been a great place to foster growth for me in this area.

Having this opportunity at Lawton has opened my eyes in many ways, helping me to develop into the person I want to be in my professional career and life in general. I am so thankful for the kindness of all the people I work with, and for how hard I’ve had to work. Both the work and the people have shaped my time here and will continue to shape me. I look forward to continued learning and growth and everything the future has to offer.

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