Paige Harrold-Smith

IMSE Undergrad Class of 2015

MEI Total Elevator Solutions


What does the company do? MEI specializes in Manufacturing, Installation, Modernization, and Servicing of many different types of elevators. Our manufactured equipment is found in every U.S. state as well as several foreign countries. We have custom built elevators throughout the world. Each elevator produced by MEI is individually engineered. Additionally, some of the other things we manufacture consist of: doors, power units, pulley bulleys, oil coolers, and oil return pumps.
Current role: Operations Manager
How I got to my current role:

  • Industrial Engineer Intern – WVU Healthcare 06/2014 – 2015
  • Industrial Engineer Manager – WestPoint Home 06/2015 – 2016
  • Industrial/Manufacturing Engineer – MEI 07/2016 – 2017
  • Regional Operations Manager 02/2017 – Present


A day in life of an Operations Manager – Each day is extremely different, but the overall description is the same: solving all the daily operational tasks. In Operations and Manufacturing (even with many pokayokes) there is no such things as a perfect day. The busy schedule and day-to-day challenges is why I love my job. I am very confident that the day in the life of an Operations Manager is never boring, slow, or repetitive.


A broad description of a day in the life of an operations manager consists of planning, reviewing, and maintaining all goals for production and total operations. Each day contains Key Performance Indicator (KPI) updates with the VP of Operations (my boss), persistent monitoring of daily metrics to ensure all quality standards and customer demands are met, developing production schedules, monitoring daily workloads, and ensuring material and manpower is available for expedite requests.  Specifically, I oversee the entire Northeast facility and all of the employees. We maintain a small plant by continuously improving efficiency.


The Northeast facility is responsible for all power units, oil coolers, oil return pumps, and all elevator part sales. Additionally, I oversee all purchase orders, receiving, sales orders, shipping, inventory management, procurement, logistics, and all facility management needs for the plant. Facility management needs entail: all building and ground maintenance, all safety and quality standards, all tooling and equipment, and hosting all meetings and workshops to improve Lean Manufacturing and Teamwork.



Below is an example of a typical day:



4:45AM – I wake up around 5am, feed my cute kitten, enjoy some coffee, do some yoga, and get ready. In between these activities I will check my work phone, respond to messages from my staff (they get in around 5am), and answer emails.
6:15AM – I leave my house at 6:15AM if I want to be at work by 7am. We have a flex schedule, so I don’t have to be in that early – but there’s always a lot that needs done in the mornings. I live in Philadelphia, and although my plant is only 12 miles from home, it takes me about 40 minutes with traffic.

7:00AM – The first thing I do when I get to work is turn everything on in the offices. At this point everything is already started and work is being assembled in the shop. I drink some more coffee, grab some water, and jump on my computer. Over the next hour I will check all of our metrics, production schedules, units to be shipped and completed for the day, inventory levels, etc. I enter all of this information into an Excel spreadsheet that tracks our “Load vs Capacity” and send it off to all the VPs and the President.


8:00AM – After I complete all the metrics, I walk out to the shop and make sure everything physically aligns with our system. After a daily gemba walk, I facilitate a daily easel board meeting – going over SMART goals and daily kaizens.


9:00AM – On a typical day I will normally have meetings from 9:00-11:00 AM. These meetings range anywhere from a lean workshop, to one-on-ones with my employees, to business development meetings with our corporate office.


11:00AM – During this time I will also work on some lean manufacturing projects (I’m a member of MEI’s lean team board) or review current project status.


12:00PM – Everyday around lunch (especially MWF) I check in with our receiving area, close out POs, meet with vendors, and check on our pick-and-pack part sales.


1:30PM – Around 1:30PM, I try to take a break – it helps me reenergize. I believe this  is very important for everyone. I never use to take breaks, but I realize my quality of work and my productivity decreases if I don’t take a little me time. I either eat lunch, read a business book, or go on a walk.


2:00PM – Around 2:00PM, I will 90% of the time have another meeting, check on our daily production goals to make sure we’re on schedule, handle the current manufacturing meltdowns, and review the quality assurance processes the fabricators complete.


**Manufacturing meltdowns (v): Employee catastrophes involving daily problems/issues that pop up; normally these devastations can be solved in a short period of time and everyone lives happily ever after. J


3:00PM – By this time our daily receiving should be in and complete, and everything should be ready for shipping. Freight comes around 3:00pm and ground shipments continue to come as late as 5pm.  Around 3, I like to go over all the part sales emails, verify everything, and double check our scheduled shipments.


4:00PM – At 4pm thing’s start to slow down a little. Some of the staff has left, some are completing daily 5S housekeeping, and the rest are finishing shipping.


5:00PM – After shipping is completed and the dock doors are closed for the day, I will complete the daily logistics transactions for the Northeast operations, as well as finish any additional POs.


5:45PM – At this point I will start to clean up, walk through the shop, and prep everything for the next day. Twice a week I send a report to the VPs, the President, the CEO, the CFO, and the owner. This report covers all power unit production, all power unit shipments, all oil cooler transactions and assembly, all part sales, trucks, receiving, hours worked, and lean manufacturing projects.


….and then I’m normally sleeping by 9:00PM.



Why operations? My passion is manufacturing, especially lean manufacturing. My 5-year goal was to be an Operations Manager and help the company become more efficient daily. What I love most about operations is each day is different. Once you’re in operations – there’s a million different opportunities if you ever want to switch things up. At MEI the company strives off daily Continuous Improvements to eliminate muda (waste) and strive in production.


What’s the end goal? My end goal is to become a VP of Operations or a COO of a company.  Becoming a CEO of an entire company is also on my radar. However, I believe staying in Operation is a little more hands on. Nevertheless, right now I absolutely love the position I’m in and the company I work for.


Most surprising thing that I didn’t expect coming out of college – Age and time at a company don’t matter. I’ve been promoted 3 times, and I now run the entire plant. I’m 24 years old and haven’t even been out of college for 2 years, oh and I switched my job once already!


Least favorite thing about corporate – The wins are awesome, but even a small loss will place you on the radar (bring on the challenge).


Advice from an average gal – Don’t give up. The amount of times I thought I wasn’t going to graduate an engineer, or become an engineer is uncountable. Dr. Byrd helped me fight through my doubts, and I’m doing more today than I thought I would do in my entire life. Be confident, but be humble. Most importantly – don’t give up.

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