At HY-C, we manufacture a lot of metal products: chimney caps, roof vent guards, wood burning furnaces, stove boards, and more. We began manufacturing chimney caps in 1947, and our product selection has only grown over the decades.
Because 85% of our products are made in the USA (in St. Louis, Missouri), our production employees are the heart and soul of everything we do. Without their years of expertise and hours of hard work, our company wouldn’t exist.
If you’re reading this, you probably have some interest in a production job at HY-C. Maybe you’re thinking of applying, or maybe you’ve already begun speaking with our Human Resources team. No matter where you are in the process, you probably have some questions, like:
- What is this job, anyway?
- What are the hours like?
- What are the people and the company like?
We want to help answer those questions for you so you can better understand the job and whether or not it’s a good fit for you. So we’re going to take you through what it’s like to be a HY-C production employee, and we’ll even provide some insights from our current staff.
By the time you’re done here, you’ll have a good sense of what it’s like to work in the HY-C factory. From there, you’ll be equipped to decide if the job is right for you.
A typical day in the HY-C factory starts at 6 a.m. At that time, the machines turn on, and the production lines start getting to work. The team takes a 15-minute break at 9 a.m., and then they finish up their morning tasks.
The group likes to take lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. After lunch, everybody works into the early afternoon until 2:20 p.m. At that time, the team starts cleaning up their stations for the evening. The work day ends at 2:30 p.m.
The Production Lines
Our factory has a few different manufacturing lines that make our selection of products. One of the most important lines is where we produce our chimney caps. HY-C makes about 85% of the country’s chimney caps, so we have a lot of stations focused on them, including:
- The press room, where the hoods of the chimney caps are molded and pressed
- The weld line, where the base, mesh, and hoods of the caps are welded together
- The paint line, where chimney caps are painted with a black powder coating
- The custom line, where custom-made chimney caps are assembled
We also have a furnace line where we manufacture our Fire Chief wood burning furnaces, and a stove board line where we manufacture our stove boards. Finally, the packaging line boxes up finished goods, making sure to include any instructions or hardware that go with each product.
What is the Day-to-Day Like?
To give you the best sense of what it’s like to work on the HY-C production line, we spoke with three HY-C employees:
- Lupe, who works on the packaging line
- Mark, who runs the paint line
- John, who runs the weld line (and other chimney cap processes)
Lupe has been with HY-C for 16 years now. She explained that to work on the packaging line, you need to know the ins and outs of every product that we make. You have to learn how things get packaged, what they get packaged with, and how to stack packaged products properly.
Lupe’s done a lot here during her time at HY-C. She started on the paint line, then worked in the press room, then tried the welding line for a bit. She finally ended up in packaging where she’s been a vital member for years. She told us that her story is pretty typical of a HY-C plant employee:
“You do a little of everything here. People get shuffled around a lot, so you get to try a lot of things. They make sure there’s always something for you to do.”
The Paint Line
Finished caps that need to be painted make their way from the weld line to the paint line. Mark (who has run the paint line for 12 years now) told us that his main priority is to make sure his people have everything they need. He said that, on a normal day, the team expects to paint about 2,500 chimney caps.
Mark’s group consists of about seven people:
- Someone who hangs the caps
- Someone who paints them
- Two people who take painted caps off the line
- Someone who stacks the finished caps
- Someone who labels them
- Someone who packages them
He says that the pace on the paint line is “comfortably fast,” but that it’s also relentless. The paint line sets the pace, and it doesn’t slow down.
“You’ll be a little overwhelmed at first. You’ve got to be ready. And what you do affects everyone around you. But once you get into it and start to build muscle memory, you’ll do great.”
The Weld Line
The weld line is the heart of the HY-C factory, and John oversees it all. John is HY-C’s longest-tenured employee — he’s been here for over 40 years. Some of his people on the weld line have been here for as long as 15 years.
Workers on the weld line bend the base of each chimney cap and weld the corners in place. Next, they weld the wire mesh to the base. Finally, they attach the hood to the mesh to finish the chimney cap.
When it comes to hiring new people for the weld line, John likes to ease people into the job. He likes to assign various tasks to see where people excel. Once he finds out what someone does well, he makes sure they get to keep doing it.
“You get a basic training and then go from there,” John told us. “If you show me you can do it, you’ll have a job.”
What is the HY-C Culture Like?
The culture in the HY-C factory is characterized by a few unique aspects. We’re a fourth-generation, family-owned company, and you can feel that sense of family in the factory. The plant floor has strong Hispanic roots, too: most factory employees speak Spanish, and a few speak both Spanish and English.
“It’s just like a family back here,” Lupe told us. “You feel like you’re coming home every day.”
Mark felt similarly.
“HY-C is a great company to work for because it has a family atmosphere. We look out for one another. And once you’re in, you’re in.”
We asked Mark about the work culture in the factory.
“I’ve worked at other companies, and the mentality there is to see how little you can do without getting fired. HY-C is not like that at all. We have a lot of really good, hard-working people here who care about family and care about each other.”
We also asked Mark if there was anything he wanted prospective employees to know about HY-C.
“If you’re new, you’re about to meet some really good people who are willing to help you learn your job.”
Do You See Yourself at HY-C?
Hopefully at this point, you have some sense of what it’s like to work in production at HY-C. Our people work hard, they know their craft, and they care deeply for each other. We’ve been fortunate to have many people call HY-C home for 20, 30, and even 40 years.
The environment can be demanding at times, but you’ll get to learn plenty. You’ll get to find what you’re good at and do it as well as you can, and make a few great friends while you’re at it.
If you’re interested in a production job at HY-C and you think you’d be a good fit based on what you’ve read here, be sure to visit our careers page. There’s a lot of work to do, and we need your help to get it done.