IMTS Rockstar  ASHLEY HARMS

Ashley Harms

Marketing & HR Manager of MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc.

Moving and starting a second manufacturing shop in Post Falls, Idaho, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Ashley Harms, marketing coordinator and human resource manager at MetalQuest Unlimited.

Once-in-a-lifetime Start-up Opportunity

Starting up a second manufacturing location 1,400 miles away is no small feat, even for a successful 25-year-old company, but MetalQuest Unlimited did just that. The company started in Hebron, Nebraska, and has about 60 employees there. Looking for geographic and market diversification, the company opened a second facility in Post Falls, Idaho, in January 2021.

Moving here and starting this location has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, says Nebraska-born Ashley Harms, the 22-year-old marketing coordinator for MetalQuest and human resources manager for the Post Falls facility. It's been a lot of hard work, discipline and time to grow this location, but I'm so glad to be a part of this journey.

New Location, Many Hats

Executing marketing strategy and managing human resources at the new location brings different challenges and rewards. While Harms had marketing experience, serving as the human resources manager is a new skillset.

The initial hiring process in Post Falls was pretty shocking in a good way, Harms says. We had 120 applicants when we arrived. We started advertising prior to moving out here, so we had an idea of who we wanted to interview. We wanted to hit the ground running.

The interviewing process was going to be a strong indicator of success, according to Harms. We knew that the first people we were bringing on would be instrumental to not only getting it up and running but also going forward, she says. Prospects had to be the right fit, have the right work ethic and initiative.

When someone asks me about culture, that's a green flag. If culture isn't important, that's a red flag for me,” Harms says. “We want someone who cares about culture and improving our culture. That's huge for us.”

Also huge is a willingness to learn and desire to be at MetalQuest, even more so than qualifications.

We can't afford to hire someone who just wants a job, because we don't have just a job to give someone. It's so much more than that. It's an opportunity to grow the company and help dictate mutual long-term success, says Harms.

To date, Harms' hiring process – and ability to see waving flags – has worked well.

As a result of strategic planning and thorough interviewing, Harms is thrilled to report that, Many of the individuals at the new location have really excelled.Based on the area's proximity to multiple manufacturing companies, we knew we would have access to individuals with manufacturing experience. Finding this talent has paid off for us so far.

Women in Manufacturing

Employees often wear many hats, and that includes Harms. She's prepared for frequent changes.
 
In the morning, I have to think about what I can wear that allows me to hop on a forklift to move a dumpster and then also conduct an interview later, Harms says. She has a new appreciation for how important it is to make women feel welcome in manufacturing, and that starts with disposing with old school attitudes.

Ashley Harms
Ashley Harms, Marketing & HR Manager of MetalQuest Unlimited, Inc.
The other day, I was moving a pallet with a pallet jack, and two of the guys – thinking they were doing the gentlemanly thing – wanted to do the job for me,” she says. There are 15 people at the Post Falls location, and they all know Harms is forklift certified. “It's important that guys understand that they shouldn't step in unless asked. I'm totally competent and capable on my own.”

Harms is thankful to work for a company that thinks and acts progressively, because she knows that this has not traditionally been the case in manufacturing.

I'm able to call attention to any negative experiences and move on with my day, she says. Attitudes and ideology in a workplace start at the top level, and MetalQuest leadership sets an excellent example of how every employee should be treated.

Men and women need to support each other, build one another up, maximize on each other's strengths and not tear each other down,” Harms says.

Marketing is a Journey

MetalQuest has a mission of keeping up with the latest technology, and by way of social media, Harms promotes the company's technology by engaging with as many people as possible on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. MetalQuest employs about 80 people between its Nebraska and Idaho locations, and the company's marketing activities surpass that of companies 10 times its size.

Executing the marketing has been incredibly rewarding. I try not to be biased, but it's the part of my job I enjoy most, she says. That's my passion. I love creating new content and seeing how it performs and analyzing the differences between how one post performs versus another.

She notes the company makes a big effort to ensure that everyone feels welcome. The social media channels have content for potential employees, for people who want to see what the company does and even for those in each community who are interested in seeing what the business is all about.

When it comes to IMTS, Harms is already in social media planning mode. The company usually brings a dozen or more people to IMTS.

We plan to video blog a lot of it and share quick snippets of our journey,” she says. “Attending IMTS is especially important because, as human beings, we often find ourselves trapped in our own little bubbles. IMTS gives you the big picture of technology. It's seeing what exists and what is possible in the world. I can't wait to share all the cool tech our crew finds at IMTS.”

Harms' journey to IMTS and beyond will no doubt break out of any bubbles.

I have no plans to halt my manufacturing journey, Harms says. I can't tell you where it will take me, but I know I have a path and I'm following it.

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