Jason Mercier, Zildjian Cymbal

by | Nov 20, 2018 | Products & People

Zildjian Cymbal, an American company tracing its roots back to a 17th century Armenian alchemist who made cymbals for the Ottoman army in Turkey, still uses a lot of its ancient secrets to make cymbals today, in Norwell.

But lathe operator Jason Mercier says the equipment and processes have changed.
“Obviously, they modernized some of the things … just to keep consistency,” Mercier said.

First manufacturer gig

He describes the process as a mix between machine automation and a hand-crafted artisan touch.
Mercier, who plays drums and guitar, took the job at Zildjian after finding an online posting. He’d previously worked restaurant jobs.

This is his first manufacturing job, and Mercier, who grew up with music, says it’s a good fit for him.

Prior to operating the lathes, Mercier worked in the rolling mill, which thins the metal. After the metal is heated it in ovens, it’s put through rollers multiple times to get it to the right size.

Then it’s cut, hammered and pressed, Mercier said.

“When it comes to the lathe, you shave it off with a chisel by hand, break off the oxidized metal,” he said.

Jason Mercier, 26

Lathe operator

Company: Zildjian Cymbal
Company location: Norwell
Lives: Abington
Education level: High school diploma
Salary: $17/hour

The point is to smooth out the metal and get rid of the grit and other imperfections.

Since starting his job at Zildjian, Mercier said he’s grown to really like it. He learns a lot and there are many ways to move up in the company, operating different tools and learning new techniques.

“People don’t really think about manufacturing. People don’t think it’s as available as it is,” Mercier said.

The work can be repetitive, but people don’t mind that, he said. Conversely, it’s a consistent job that never seems to slow down. Some employees have been at the company for 50 years, Mercier said.

“They treat us really well,” he said.

For example, Zildjian hosts free golf and dinner outings, as well as an annual boat cruise, Mercier said.

And Mercier still has his music. The job has given him a greater appreciation for what goes into it.