Craft the Job You Really Want: Mike Calvert Goes from Shop Floor to Engineering

October 14, 2021

A Manufacturing Day profile from Thermo King, a division of Trane Technologies.

In honor of Manufacturing Day on October 1, we’re highlighting people and roles crucial to the success of Trane Technologies. Meet Mike Calvert, industrial engineer in Thermo King’s Minneapolis distribution center (DC).

After graduating from college with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, Mike Calvert had a problem on his hands. He wanted to remain in his hometown of Minneapolis but found aerospace engineering jobs in the Twin Cities hard to come by.

While he figured out his next move, Mike took on a role in Thermo King’s Minneapolis distribution center, on the shop floor, picking, packing, and shipping out orders. After five months of learning the ropes, the distribution center manager at the time encouraged Mike to apply for the role of second shift supervisor – and, of course, he landed it. That’s when Mike started crafting the job he really wanted.

Putting his degree to work

“It felt like a natural progression to become second shift supervisor,” Mike said. “That’s when I put my engineering degree to work and started taking on projects to improve some of the distribution center’s processes and metrics.”

Eventually, the dual role of day-to-day DC operations and improvement projects became too much for one person, so a new second shift supervisor was brought on board and Mike had a hand in creating his next position: industrial engineer, focusing solely on Operational Excellence improvement projects.

In this role, Mike developed new metrics tools and dashboards that give team members insights into their own performance for the first time. Using these new tools, the DC team achieved its highest on-time shipping percentage in 2020 and dramatically improved the on-time percentage of inventory moving from receipt to stock, among other wins.

What’s to love about a career in manufacturing?

“I really like that there’s always opportunity to improve when you work in manufacturing,” Mike said. “My job is to make things run better, and there are plenty of chances to do that in any manufacturing setting.

“There’s also the team aspect to this work: Everyone here is working toward the same goal. If you can clearly define the goal – and put a number to it – it’s actually fun and we’re more likely to achieve it.”

Mike notes that the team members at the Minneapolis DC are the last ones to touch these Thermo King products before they go out the door – mostly replacement parts and supplies. And DC team members make up the last line of defense in making sure our products are getting to customers on time and in good condition.

“We get a lot of urgent orders for trucks that are down for service,” Mike said. “People are waiting for parts in order to get their trucks back out on the road, so what we do is really important. For our customers’ success, it’s crucial that we do it well.”

That’s why we have Mike.

Striving for more

If someone had predicted Mike would be supervising a distribution center at night shortly after graduating from college, he says he wouldn’t have believed it – “not in a million years!” he said.

“When I graduated, it felt like the world opened up to me with all the different options I could take,” he added. “I feel really blessed to have found a job close to home and a manager who encouraged me to strive for more.”

Mike is now married, and he and his wife, Molly, have a baby girl, Lucy.

“Molly and I spend a lot of time with our families, so it’s more important than ever for us to stay in Minneapolis,” Mike said. “My career with Thermo King gives us the opportunity to do that.”

Mike is thinking about going back to school part-time to expand his options.

“I’m grateful for all the different experiences I’ve been able to have so far at Thermo King – from working on the shop floor to managing a team of people and developing new tools for that team as an engineer and process improvement person,” he added. “I can’t imagine a different choice I could have made that would lead me to more diverse career experiences in just a few short years.”

Explore careers at Trane Technologies.  

Get to Know Mike

Grew up in: Rochester, Minnesota

Call home:  Plymouth, Minnesota

Family includes Wife, Molly, dog, Murphy, and new baby Lucy Mae, born in April 2021.

Favorite hobbies: Playing guitar, drums, and piano; reading classic novels; running; chess; geography; and enjoying coffee, donuts, and cribbage on Saturday mornings.

First job: I was a paperboy for the Post Bulletin when I was in 5th grade.

Best advice you’ve ever received: Your success in life is largely dependent on how many uncomfortable conversations you're willing to have.

Would like to invent: Teleportation

Favorite place to be when you’re not at work: On the screen porch at the cabin, with a cup of coffee and a book.

Superhero you’d like to be: Spiderman

Least favorite chore: Folding laundry

Favorite band: Bon Iver

If you could High Five anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Robert Wadlow, the tallest person in recorded history. Did you know Mike is 7 feet tall?