Chris W

Chris is a workflow assistant within our Laboratory division. He has been employed by Great Lakes since 2006.

Read about his journey from being a cook with no laboratory or dental experience to how he turned his artistic talents into a fulfilling career.

On his start at Great Lakes:

I ended up here by accident. I moved to the area in 2006 and I was looking for work for about a month.  Before I came to Great Lakes I was a cook.  Cooking; it’s difficult, there’s not a lot of opportunity for growth, and there really isn’t an end game as far as retirement. I have a BFA in visual arts and I saw an advertisement for Great Lakes and essentially it said, “Are you creative? Do you like to work with your hands? Then this is the place for you.” I thought that sounded good.

I walked in the front door and asked for an application. I filled it out in my car, brought it back in, and got a call a few days later. After the interview process I was hired to be a wire bender. My job was to bend the wires that go in appliances like retainers. I figured I’ll have a job to hold me over until I can find something I want to do.

On his career path so far:

I had been doing wire bending for about three years or so. We started a new product line called smart moves® that straightens teeth with a clear aligner. Initially there were four of us that did all this work. Within a couple of years, we became our own department and there were 20-25 employees in this area.

Soon after there was a job posting to be a team leader for the smart moves® department. The supervisor of the department recommended that I apply for the position. I took her advice and I got the position.

My current title is Laboratory Production Flow Assistant. I help monitor and optimize the flow of work through the laboratory. I learned systems at Great Lakes like “Theory of Constraints” and “Drum Buffer Rope” to make sure we meet customer due dates in the most optimized fashion.

On company culture:

It’s very laid-back. There is pressure to meet deadlines but that’s more of a division-wide effort. As an individual, as long as you’re doing your part in meeting that deadline, it’s very laid-back. While I work I like to listen to audio books, podcasts, music…you name it.

The hours are very flexible in the laboratory. It’s also the only job I’ve ever had where I get weekends off.

On our employee stock ownership program (ESOP):

A few years ago I started to think about what I’m going to do as far as an end game – my retirement. That’s when I started to look at my ESOP shares and take it pretty seriously. It’s like having a pension – you don’t get those from anywhere anymore. You watch your money grow and it’s a 100% company contribution. As long as I am here, I am accumulating it.