MT. PLEASANT — Rick Anderson’s 50-year journey with Continental — a hose manufacturer with a plant in Mt. Pleasant — has given him the opportunity to live in China, Mexico and all across the U.S., all while working to innovate and improve the workforce.
Today, Anderson works as the project manager at Continental in Mt. Pleasant and is celebrating his 50th year with the company.
“We’re always looking for the opportunity to do things better,” Anderson said. “We care about the people who work here, and we care about the business.”
While Anderson hasn’t worked at Continental in Mt. Pleasant for 50 years as the plant opened only 43 years ago, he has been employed by the same company for the entirety of his career.
Anderson actually began as an employee with Goodyear. When they sold their engineer product division in 2007, they became Vance Technologies, which Continental purchased in 2015, he said.
“For me, it’s like working for the same company,” Anderson said. “It’s all the same business.”
Anderson began his career in Wisconsin at what was at the time a Goodyear plant. He had many roles there including operator on the floor, supervisor, production manager and logistics manager before he was sent on a special assignment to China.
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Anderson expected to be in China for only a few weeks helping start up a new plant there, however, it wasn’t until 18 months later that he moved back to the U.S.
“I liked what I was doing. It was interesting and challenging. I got to meet a lot of different people,” Anderson said.
Anderson was only back in Wisconsin for three months before he was sent to help start another new plant — this time, in Mexico. He lived there for four years.
What Anderson enjoyed most about helping start the plant in Mexico was getting to hire all new people. Of course, that was challenging in and of itself as he trained new employees while living in an unfamiliar culture, he said.
“It’s a matter of getting to know the people I’m working with and understanding what I can do to help them and what they can do to help the company,” Anderson said.
Eventually, Anderson was transferred to a plant in Georgia where he worked as plant manager. When another plant opened in Georgia an hour away, he became plant manager there too.
Anderson transferred to Continental in Mt. Pleasant in 2012 to be plant manager. The move got him a little closer to his home state of Wisconsin, he said, and he already knew and enjoyed many of the people working in Mt. Pleasant.
Anderson’s role transitioned from plant manager to project manager in 2016 when he worked to expand manufacturing to an eighth line. The project gave Anderson the opportunity to do something from start to finish, he said.
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The eight line was especially significant to the Mt. Pleasant plant, which had been running at capacity for about five years, Anderson said. The expansion was an opportunity to better serve their current customers and gain new business.
Anderson was sent back to Wisconsin for a brief stint as interim plant manager from November 2018 until May 2019. He was happy to return home to Mt. Pleasant at the beginning of this summer.
“It feels good to be home,” he said.
Anderson said that every plant he’s worked with has functioned a little differently, the quality of people — whether in China, Mexico or the U.S. — has been “tremendous.”
“It’s easy to motivate employees when they see the company growing,” Anderson said.
Anderson said he is constantly seeking ways to make improvements to the workplace so it’s better and safer for employees. At some point, he expects to retire.
“I enjoy Mt. Pleasant a lot. I love the area and the people I work with here. My family and I have been pretty happy,” Anderson said.
Rich Reisdorf, plant manager at Continental in Mt. Pleasant, said Anderson comes to work every day excited about making the workforce better.
“It’s been an outstanding privilege to work with Rick,” Reisdorf said.