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Behind the Scenes: An Interview with our Blentech Shop Foreman

DuWayne Geigle, Shop Foreman – Blentech employee 1986 to today

What was your title when you first started?

I started as a welder in 1978 at Custom Stainless. Then in 1981, Custom Stainless became CSE. In 1986, Darrell Horn (current Chairman and Owner) started Blentech and things really took off from there.

What did you do in that role?

I welded hoppers and conveyors.

How many employees were there back then?

Back then, there were 3 welders, 1 grinder and Nancy’s mother worked in the office (Nancy Corriveau, our current Director of Operations). And, there was an uncle who would come in to get equipment ready to ship when needed.  Then, I became a Welder Foreman in 1979 when the current foreman was let go. In 1984, I then became a Foreman.

Back when Darrell started Blentech in 1986, there were 12-15 employees, mostly in the factory. At that time, we only had 2 drafters and 1 engineer, John Lennox.  Now, I’m the Shop Foreman working directly under Jon Valez, the Director of Manufacturing. Currently, Blentech has over 70 employees.

What type of machines were made back then?

We used to build one machine at a time – mainly hoppers and conveyors. Now we build more systems.

Most memorable project?

Double twin agitator rice cooking systems. So huge, like nothing we’ve built before. We made five of those types of machines for a company that produced 11,000 pounds of cooked rice per hour. Also, I remember the first bacon bit machines. They were huge and took so long to build. You couldn’t do much without using a crane.   

What would the you in year one not believe you in year nearly 40 would be doing?

My first year self would be very surprised at how many lead men I have working to help carry the load. My first year self would also be surprised I’m still here! I did not intend to stay this long! After I worked here a few years, I took classes at Santa Rosa Junior College to go to the business side of manufacturing. Then, we had two children and that changed everything, as often is the case. I decided to stay at Blentech. A great place to stay 30 years. 30 years that went fast – too fast.

What advice would you give to the you that was just starting here back in those early days?

Try not to do it all yourself for so long. It wasn’t until Jon Valez came on board 3 years ago that I stopped working 7 days a week. Jon forced me to get other lead men to help carry the load of the work.  Now I can rely on Doug, Adam, Mark, Ruben and Ray to take care of details I no longer have to manage.

Do you look for our products made on our machines when you are shopping or out eating?

Yes, I’m very aware of foods made on Blentech machines when I am out shopping. I always buy a certain brand of chicken and soup. And, I’m always telling people our machines make that soup! Same with certain types of hummus sold at very popular stores. I’m very proud of that. Proud that Blentech equipment makes a lot of very successful products we all see and use every day.

What do you like to do when you’re not at Blentech?

I like to go camping, play golf, work in the yard or visit with my grand-kids who live nearby.

What is something that your coworkers might be surprised to learn about you?

Probably nothing. I’m a pretty open book. I’m always out talking to my guys about their families. I listen to their problems and offer advice. Sometimes I don’t know the right advice, but I talk to them about everything.

What makes Blentech products different?

Quality craftsmanship and how safe our machines are. They also cook the products really well for what our customers want. Just this week at our Innovation Center, a customer came for a two-day trial. After just one day, they were so happy with the results, they canceled the test for the second day.

What makes you proud to work at Blentech?

I’m really proud of the first rice system that Darrell and John spent years perfecting. The Japanese said we couldn’t create a rice cooker that made rice as well as their systems. Chef’s from Japan came to see how ours worked and they were quite surprised how great it was. So much so, the Japanese government gave Blentech a certificate honoring us in rice cooking. That’s pretty amazing.

DuWayne Geigle, Blentech thinks you’re pretty amazing and we thank you for your lifetime commitment to our company.  

Read more about why Blentech is the right choice when looking for peace of mind through proof of concept at our Innovation Center or contact us today to discuss a Blentech solution for your challenge. 

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