Meet our Plant Supervisor, Derek Upshaw, in Hamilton, Ontario.
I was kindly asked to share a bit about myself and my journey here. I’m from St. Catharine’s, Ontario, and was born and raised by a set of hard-working parents, my mother was a nurse, and my father was a pressure welder/welding supervisor. My education took me to both Welland and Thunder Bay, Ontario… a highlight in the years to follow was a four-month backpacking stint through the south pacific, leading to a tour through Australia before returning home.
My next committed stop was at Navistar International in Chatham, Ontario, where I worked in heavy truck assembly as a process planner. This turned out to be a long-term career within the automotive sector. Then my tenure commenced at the Ford St. Thomas assembly plant as a supervisor performing assembly-related troubleshooting roles. After a year, I found myself transferred out of vehicle operations and into the Powertrain Division.
The Windsor Essex engine plant was my next stop for the next decade until a plant closure resulted from a severe CAW labour strike. During those years, I carried roles as V6 Engine assembly supervisor and manufacturing advisor for V8 Crankshaft Machining on a steady nightshift, seven days a week, for two years straight. Next, I moved to the Ford Oakville assembly plant. It was also a better family move for my wife and I as we were finally living much closer to a least one of our families.
More years slipped by… Then the curtains closed as I was warned would happen when I was transferred out of Windsor. At this point, I made a promise to myself to introduce more versatility into my skill set, and the steel industry came knocking. Five more years at Fisher and Ludlow in Burlington, more roles, overtime hours, and experience were to be had. A recruited move to Slacan Industries saw me as a supervisor of forging & heat treatment, shipping supervisor, CWB weld supervisor, and promotion to shift superintendent.
The role of plant supervisor at Handling came to fruition with persistent efforts by a recruiter and a guy named Dave, and both would not take no for an answer. Both saw something in me that I did not.
Any leadership role is that of service. In my opinion, all leadership roles can be humbling. This new role is not about myself… it is about what path I can take to help great people succeed and to aid in the realization of those who do not know who they are yet. What I do witness daily is that we have each other’s back. As a team, we suffer together, succeed together, and celebrate our victories together…we are on this journey together.