Today, Johnnie works as a customer service quality technician examining finished watches and making sure finished product is up to par. Catch the entire interview with him below.
Why did you choose to move to Detroit?
I relocated from Saginaw, Michigan. I was working as a substitute teacher for seven years for the tri-city area and I worked as a quality technician for Hemlock Semi-conductor, a sister company to Dow Corning.
It’s funny how things work. I came to a point in my life where I got laid off as a quality technician and substitution is part-time and seasonal. Life was moving pretty fast in a lot of different directions. I had prior experience as a truck driver, and I was at a fork in the road where either I had to go back on the road or try to finish up some things [his degree] that I wasn’t able to finish when I was younger.
Why did you apply to Shinola?
Finding Shinola was a golden opportunity that was brought forth to me by some friends from Detroit. They told me to look into the watch company downtown. I started researching and was able to find Shinola, and here I am.
Once I moved to Detroit, I also chose to pursue the opportunity to finish earning my degree. I got my associate’s in business administration at Henry Ford and from there I transferred to Eastern Michigan University. I’m now in my senior year of business management.
What is your role at Shinola?
I’ve been here just over two years, and I worked my way up to where I am today as the customer service quality technician. I started on the production line assembling watches. From production I had this opportunity to move up into the quality position, which is what I have experience in and flowed very well for me. The production line was incredible, the family unit that we had on our production team was second to none.
As quality technician, Johnnie has a trained eye able to spot even the smallest error.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve given to your children?
I want them to know that it’s your life and it’s never too late to better your life or better yourself. Everything you want to do in life you may not be able to accomplish at that particular time, sometimes in life it’s all about timing. I want them to know that anything you put your mind to do you can accomplish, and that was one of the things that motivated me when we moved to Detroit. I’m trying to be that example for them by finishing school.
What has it been like balancing school and work?
I take two classes every semester. I’ve been going year-round since I moved to Detroit and that’s been my social life—my kids and school. There is really no room for anything else when you’re on that kind of path.
Work has been my family — Shinola has been my family and my home, and it’s been very peaceful. It’s been a smooth ride with work and school and that’s hard to find. I feel like I’m in the right place and I’m just happy to be here. Shinola has given me a platform where I can have the piece of mind at work, while also going to school. That’s what Shinola provided for me and that’s why I smile.
What is something not many people know about you?
I played point guard in college basketball at Temple University and overseas as a semi-pro player.
This interview is part of a new series called JOBS that highlights the people that make Shinola tick. Find their stories here on The Journal or on our Jobs page.
Nearly all of Shinola Products are Built in the US with US or Imported Parts