Featured Employee: Michael Hopkins

Hopkins FamilySometimes it’s best to admit that you might not always have the answers to every problem. Inventory Control Manager Michael Hopkins has learned this lesson over the course of working his way up from temporary employee to a professional position with the help of former supervisors, co-workers and his family. At the Johnson City plant, Michael ensures stock is maintained and meets customer expectations all while having an open-door policy for his employees.  

Q: Where are you originally from?
I’m from a little town called Big Stone Gap. It’s your typical small town in the rural south west of Virginia. 

Q: What is your current role at A. O. Smith?
I’m an Inventory Control Manager.

Q: When did you start working for A. O. Smith?
I started as a temp in October of 2003 and then went full time. I’ve worked for a few companies and I usually stay with them for a while. When I saw the way A. O. Smith treated their people and the opportunities available, I wanted to work my way up from the assembly line. With eight years of supervisor experience, I decided to get my degree as well.  Luckily, I was able to do it online and that way I could schedule my school work around my job.

Q: What were some goals you had along the way?
I was starting to get a little older, so I wanted a job that would get me to be financially independent and not living paycheck to paycheck. I also wanted to learn the different areas and see how my background as a food service supervisor could help out. I had experience with inventory control with restaurants, so it has definitely helped me keep that mindset here. 

Q: How would you describe your managerial style?
Definitely not a micro-manager. I have an open door policy where anyone can come to me and I’ll help. I believe in team work and anything to help the company.

Q: What was your biggest motivator as you grew at the company?
I got married and we became foster parents. One little boy we fostered became available for adoption and we went for it. So when you have a family, it’s important to make sure your family is secure. 

Q: What do you like best about working at A. O. Smith?
I see the lengths the company goes through to take care of their employees. I understand the company does a lot that the employees don’t see, but I also appreciate the events for us they hold like safety goals and milestones.

Q: What has been the best event so far?
Even though it took a lot for our department to get together, having Jimmy Johnson come here twice meant a lot to my employees – even though I’m not a big NASCAR fan, I could see how much it meant to the workers. 

Q: What hobbies do you have outside of A. O. Smith?
Whatever my son likes to do. We visit his granddad’s farm, play outside and swim, and we love going to Dollywood and Disney World, too.

Q: What do you consider your keys to success? 
Knowing that I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes the people who work for you that do their jobs day in and day out often can come up with the solutions. I’m not afraid to take advice from people and try what they have. When I was a supervisor, I had knowledgeable assistant supervisors that worked for me. I would listen to them and get advice to help me grow and learn more about the job while I was in the receiving department. They would also listen to my ideas and give me pros and cons and then work from there.