People find themselves in the heavy equipment industry for a number of reasons. Some people actively pursue careers in the industry and some end up working in it by chance. Others are born into it and grow to love everything about it. Bo Pratt, president of Rockland Manufacturing Company – a Bedford, Pennsylvania-based construction equipment manufacturer – is the latter type of person. As a family business, Rockland Manufacturing Company has been a big part of Pratt’s life for as long as he can remember. "
“When I was very young, my brother and I would spend the weekends in the engineering department and the factory while our father worked,” he said. “We’d make huge paper airplanes out of the E-size engineering drawings, play with the cranes in the factory – definitely not something we allow today – and play hide-and-seek around all the buckets and other products.”
Despite growing up in an equipment manufacturing family, Pratt said he felt no pressure to join the family business. He ultimately decided to do so because of his love of building things and working with customers.
“Growing up, we were never discouraged or encouraged to work for the company,” he said. “I think my father was very serious about making sure we made up our own mind about what our careers would be. Ultimately there were two things that made me decide to join the industry: When I started working in the factory, I loved working with the guys and building things; I enjoyed the metal, sparks, grease, noise and dirtiness of it all, as well as the quest to endlessly improve and work together so that everything would come out correctly. It’s very satisfying to work all day and then look at what’s been improved or created as a result. The other thing that made me decide to join the industry was meeting our customers. After that, I knew it was for me.”
Pratt took over the reins at Rockland Manufacturing four years ago. In his almost 20 years with the company, he’s worked in nearly every area and department – from doing odd jobs in the factory to marketing, sales, engineering, purchasing and operations. Still, he both does and does not consider himself someone who’s worked his way up from the bottom.
“Being the boss’s kid certainly can’t be called starting at the bottom, whatever your first job is,” Pratt said. “With that in mind, I would say my first job was at the bottom. I spent my first years cleaning and repainting lathes, changing cutting fluid reservoirs, performing shot blast maintenance, etc. Those were great days. I learned a tremendous amount doing that job by listening to the guys, asking them questions and watching how things came together in the plant.”
For people interested in working their way up through the heavy equipment industry, Pratt has this advice: Keep challenging yourself and saying yes to new opportunities – even if it means going outside your comfort zone.
Also, if you want to move up in the company, just ask. “It sounds silly, but ... a lot of the time I find managers don’t know people are interested in moving up or want to try their hand at something new,” Pratt said. “Tell them you’d like to do different things and you’ll take whatever training or advice they have to offer.”
Pratt also recommends that those hoping to advance in the industry make an effort to learn about the jobs of those around them, put themselves in a position to come up with great ideas and solve problems, and share their knowledge with others.
Work keeps Pratt busy, but he also enjoys spending time with his wife and young daughter, working on classic cars, reading, working out and playing the guitar. To learn more about Rockland Manufacturing Company, visit www.rocklandmfg.com