Keith Ward, F3 Manufacturing

by | Sep 30, 2019 | Products & People

At age 21, Keith Ward already has a thriving career at F3 Manufacturing in Waterville.

F3 Manufacturing: Valuable Skills

“When I started, I didn’t know how to weld or work on a vehicle,” says Justyce St. Clair, 20, a technician at F3 Manufacturing in Waterville, maker of aluminum bodies and accessories for trucks and vans. “I didn’t know how to wire anything. I didn’t know anything.”

St. Clair joined F3 at age 17, starting at the bottom in the finish department and building his skills from there. He learned from co-workers and practiced constantly, picking up skills like fabrication, welding and installations. Pay raises followed.

“I really like how fast-paced it is and how much they expect of you,” he says. “I enjoy working hard. The people I work with and my bosses are awesome. They’ll answer any questions you’ve got.”

For Keith Ward, 21, previous experience growing up on a dairy farm gave him skills that proved valuable.

When looking for work away from the farm, “I said, ‘I’ll never go into manufacturing,’” Ward recalls. “But I went to an interview. It was the best decision of my life. I was just out of high school, owing people money to keep myself afloat. Within the first nine months of being here, I have my first house. It’s been a blessing.”

Ward started in February 2018 in the finish department. But due to his farm work, he was experienced with mechanics, so he moved up as forklift operator.

“I killed it there,” he says enthusiastically, adding that he appreciates the chance to rack up the hours. “I’m always the man they call.”

He particularly likes the company culture.

“Everybody there is a big family,” he says. “Everyone’s got an open mindset. You do the job and they don’t just pay you, they look at you as, ‘This man does a good job.’ If you have initiative, you’ll go far.”

The job opened his own mind: He plans to return to school to study engineering, starting with online and night classes — goals the company supports.