Wired for longevity

Three BH Electronics employees reach 45 years service

Photo by Jody Isaackson Deb Warnke, John DeCramer and Pat Braun all celebrated 45 years of service to BH Electronics at an awards breakfast May 16.

MARSHALL — Three BH Electronics employees have reached 45 years apiece working for the company.

At a May 16 awards ceremony, Human Resources Manager Deb Boulton presented Marshall Bucks to John DeCramer of Marshall, Pat Braun of Cottonwood and Deb Warnke of Marshall, for each having reached the highest career longevity with the company that Boulton can remember.

Employees with 35 and 25 years under their belts with BH Electronics were also recognized at this event.

“Owner/President Richard Jackson of Plymouth came out to the catered breakfast to make the presentations,” Boulton said. “This year, Bud Porter helped with handing out the awards.”

Earlier this week, the three awardees were able to sit down and visit about all the jobs they had enjoyed with BH Electronics over the years. Through the course of discussion, it was learned that Braun and Warnke have the same birthday, May 22. They got a chuckle out of sharing that Warnke would usually take off work on her birthday, where as Braun usually worked, but couldn’t figure out why Warnke wasn’t in on that date.

Warnke talked about her current job, which is in shipping.

“I do all the packaging and shipping for the various customers,” she said. “Our products go all over the world. I’ve never been to Paris, France, but our products have.”

Braun’s current position is in inventory control. No matter what department she helped in over the years, her main position has been in inventory control.

While there is only Warnke in her department, there are two others in Braun’s.

“Right now it’s just one besides me and we’re training another person in for when I leave,” Braun said.

It was quickly pointed out that Braun is in the middle of training her own replacement for when she retires at the end of May.

“I hope to travel more with my husband, Steve,” Braun said. “We plan to go to Arizona for the winter and spend time with our grandkids and great-grandkids.”

Braun and Warnke both started their careers in winding, they said. DeCramer got his start in running the test area.

“From there, I was the production supervisor for a number of years,” he said. “Then to engineering.”

“I also helped out as production supervisor,” Braun said. “Also in packaging, shipping and receiving products, and helped out with purchasing. I became a production planner and worked in accounts payable.”

All the while, Braun was in charge of inventory control.

During the peak of BH Electronics’ production, DeCramer also ran operations in Appleton as well as Marshall.

“I ran three shifts in each location at that time,” he said. “There were 375 employees back then.”

He also made trips to St. Kitts in the Caribbean, an island on which BH also had a partner. When the partner left St. Kitts, then BH connected with partners in Mexico and China.

“I wasn’t as involved in setting it up there, but helped keep it going,” DeCramer said. “I was in China when we were setting up production there.”

The three reminisced about the shift managers during the “midnight shift ‘days.'”

Warnke recalled having been six months pregnant when she worked the second shift, and that they put out two main parts, the 850s and the 851s, parts used in the telephone business by AT&T.

“We did millions of them,” Warnke said. “It was a big spool you sat on the mechanism and wound the wire around the core. I always liked what I did. The challenging part was trying to get everything out of the plant to meet schedules.”

Braun agreed.

“Even when it was challenging to get the parts out the door, I liked doing my job the whole time, even when I helped out in other areas,” Braun said. “You just never knew what was coming through the door.”

“Never a dull moment,” Warnke said in agreement.

DeCramer’s favorite part was working with the variety of customers their company supplied.

“And to find out where the parts are used,” he said. “The different businesses and parts of the country and the world. Hundreds of parts went on aircraft, like the space shuttle, or on ocean well-drilling equipment and at corn plants. Defibrillator parts, medication dispensers …” “We’re very diversified,” Braun said. “We even made video parts for the new video equipment at the state capital.”

DeCramer proceeded to name some of the countries BH Electronics shipped parts to over the years: Germany, Australia, Austria, Switzerland, Mexico, Norway, China, France, Israel and Hungary.

With the advent of the Internet, a lot of actual traveling was set aside, they said, saving money as well as time.