faces of the frontline: manufacturing’s all stars

Jessica Hernandez
Dot’s Pretzels

Seizing the opportunity to push her team — by pushing herself

Jessica first came to Dot’s Pretzels in Lenexa, Kansas as a temporary worker with a single goal: she wanted a job she’d stay at for years to come. Not always an easy task in an industry with rapidly changing systems, technological vulnerabilities, and employee turnover. Yet not only did Jessica know what she wanted, but she also knew how to work with the forces of nature to achieve her goals in the end. Today she’s Dot’s Pretzels’ training lead and deploys QAD Redzone’s Productivity Max modules.

Jessica’s unwavering perseverance and commitment to driving positive change throughout her organization led her winning the 2023 QAD Redzone Frontline MVP Award and being featured in QAD Redzone’s December Frontline MVP Spotlight.

Jessica Realized Things Would Stay the Same Unless She Took Immediate Action

It’s no exaggeration to say that Jessica had a big task ahead of her, right from her beginning at Dot’s Pretzels.

For starters, she’d taken a job at a manufacturing plant — despite not having any manufacturing experience. Not only that, but she also had minimal familiarity with technology. Determined to reach her goals, Jessica didn’t let these obstacles stop her from moving forward.

“I’d never seen a pallet jack before. I didn’t even know how to type on a computer. I never did anything with technology, so I kind of had to teach myself how to type. Then, immediately after that, I had to learn how to navigate an iPad,” Jessica admitted.

But Jessica knew the situation would not change unless she changed as well. To gain the trust of both her team and her superiors, she needed to establish herself as a competent leader who sought solutions.

So Jessica took it upon herself to get acquainted with the QAD Redzone technology the employees used. The learning curve wasn’t as steep as she feared it would be: in almost no time, Jessica could create multiple workflows. Jessica caught on fast to Redzone and soon became so good with the application that she was promoted to Training Lead in 2021, and taught more senior members of Dot’s how to optimize their Redzone usage.

Jessica’s Efforts Led to Real Change at Dot’s Pretzels

Concrete, diamonds, and the will of maintenance engineers — all unbreakable objects. Or, at least, until Jessica showed up.

She quickly formed bonds with those under her direct supervision, spending one-on-one time with individuals to get a better understanding of their concerns. She quickly learned how bottlenecks in the maintenance department had started to impact her direct reports.

Jessica sought to discover what process inefficiencies had caused the maintenance team to fall behind. A little digging revealed a major process inefficiency with maintenance requests. Requests would come in an email to the maintenance leader, who would then write it on a sticky note on their desk. The other mechanics grew frustrated with the disorganized method, as the lack of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) made it difficult for them to track their assignments.

Using her newfound knowledge of Redzone, Jessica created a maintenance forum where the maintenance manager can easily assign work to the other engineers, and used it to create 175 Preventative Maintenance tasks. The forum also provides company-wide visibility into what the maintenance department will work on next. Jessica’s colleagues are quick to offer credit where it’s due.

Jessica Saw an Opportunity to Push Her Team — by Pushing Herself

After overcoming her technological shortcomings and unifying other departments, Jessica still had one more item to check off her list: seeing her team achieve long-term success.

She knew the people under her supervision could crush the quarterly goals set by the company if they had a little encouragement. Having spent so much time working alongside her team on the floor, Jessica had an idea of where she could step in to remove as many obstacles from their plates as possible. 

That meant coming in early to get the floor staged and ready for those under her supervision. She would then spend as much of her day as she could working next to them. While her team was on break, Jessica would stay behind to dump barrels and mix oil.

“They saw I wasn’t just their lead telling them what to do. I was out there with them every single day. I worked side by side with them just like I was a part of that team. They loved that. They respected me more for that and worked even harder,” Jessica said.

As stress at work decreased, the teams’ productivity levels increased. When Jessica took over as Direct Supervisor for her mixing team, the company saw a 12-point increase in productivity.  The gains didn’t stop there. Jessica created 60 training documents in Redzone, taking the time to sit with each team member to find their strengths and identify growth opportunities. She also contributed 70% of the team’s standards and 120 plays that guide team members daily.

Proving that betting on yourself is a sure way to win.

Jessica overcame the odds, but she’s quick to mention all of the help she had along the way. She credits the people who trained her when she first arrived for creating such a welcoming environment. If it weren’t for their reassurance during the tough initial months, Jessica is unsure if she would have thrived in the end. Support can come in multiple forms. Not only did Jessica have the helping hands of her team, but she also had the backing of project management tools. By using Redzone, Jessica could quickly simplify processes across multiple departments, from training to the floor to maintenance.

However, these tools would have meant far less without Jessica’s determination, talent, and drive. She entered Dot’s with a set of goals and crushed them all, inspiring a wave of positive change throughout the organization.

Additional stories from Faces of the Frontline: Manufacturing’s All Stars.

Tales of Triumph from the Factory Floor, Vol.1

As part of our “Faces of the Frontline: Manufacturing’s All Stars” series, our eBook highlights some of the inspiring stories of frontline workers at BetterBody Foods, Gorilla Glue, Empire Bakery, Allied Wire & Cable, and ASR Group. Discover how they have not only transformed their company’s factories, but have also become true champions of innovation and all stars in manufacturing.