One of a company’s greatest assets is its people. Kice Industries is very fortunate to have gifted, dedicated, and customer-focused employees. We would like you to learn a little bit more about our people of Kice, both professionally and personally.
Meet Andy Thomas
Kice Industries is the only job and workplace Andy Thomas has known. As a 19-year-old Andy started off working in the fabrication shop running saws, and continued with miscellaneous jobs during his winter, spring, and summer breaks from college.
He transitioned thru various roles including overseeing training and implementation of a new company-wide software program, scheduling, order processing, job planning to his current role as Production Manager.
“Kice is all I’ve ever been exposed to, I’ve never worked anywhere else nor would I want to,” Thomas said. “It’s really like having a second family with everyone I’ve known here. How could you not love coming to work where you have that family atmosphere and where everyone is so collaborative.”
As the Production Manager, Andy oversees the cutting, forming and welding departments for both 1st and 2nd shifts.
“I like that with this job every day is different, Thomas said. “The job entails finding different solutions to different problems. I also really enjoy the responsibility I have with making changes in the shop from a culture standpoint that hones in with the values of Kice.”
One of those changes was implementing a new welder classification program. The new program is very quantitative, with performance scoring based on meeting certain criteria.
“It just opens up a more constructive conversation with people,” Thomas said. “It matches up with the integrity of the company…you are speaking truthful about performance based issues where each welder decides their own fate. Long-term, I want Kice to be considered the best welding shop in Wichita.”
The new program has had a positive effect on employees, with 15 welders seeing score improvements in just a six-month period.
A Passion for the Fire Fighting Community
Not only does Andy stay busy with his day job, but he is also a Captain on the Sedgwick County Fire Department Reserves. With his father’s history as a Battalion Chief in the Fire Department, and his own interest in joining at one point in his life, the firefighting community has always been of interest to Andy.
In addition to firefighting support for the county, Andy also acts as a Wichita Fire Department photographer. It allows him to document the beauty and destructiveness of fires and the sacrifices, challenges and camaraderie of the men and women who protect our community.
“I started taking photos while in college then continued after with the fire department here in Wichita,” Thomas said.
Not only does it help show the public what these men and women encounter but the photos are tremendous assets for the fire department’s training sessions.
“The photos are used a lot in training manuals and classes,” Thomas said. “Also, there is a debriefing after each fire incident where the photos become a key component in the scene evaluation.”
The Kice Culture
The culture and environment at Kice is a big part of Andy’s longevity with the company. And it’s something he sees throughout the different areas of the company.
“That family type atmosphere I experience and I hear customers talk about, I see it transfer to our employees,” Thomas said. “We want to create an experience where you are excited when you pull in the parking lot and I see that with our employees.”
In Andy’s home, you will find numerous LEGO-built kits. It is not from either of his two kids. Rather, it’s from another interest that has been with him for a while, LEGO designing and building.
Through the LEGO Digital Designer software, Andy builds models using virtual LEGO bricks, in a computer-aided design like manner. His builds started off with simple designs, but quickly evolved to more elaborate designs such as: exact replica of the Wichita Fire Department trucks, Kice equipment/products and even an exact replica of Kansas State’s Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium.
“It’s easy to see the correlation with them, and people that work at Kice,” he said. “You have a lot of individual pieces, but when they all get put together, you can really build something great, something that you can be proud of. Every piece is equally important to the build.”