There are people who make an impact on the lives of others, through their character, morals and ethics. Johnie West, who has been with Ronk Electrical Industries, Inc. in Nokomis for more than 50 years, is one of those people who not only defines hard work, but has built substantial relationships with co-workers and vendors during his time with the company.
West started at Ronk Electrical Industries, Inc. on Jan. 6, 1969. "I was raising hogs at the time. I came in Jan. 3, and filled out an application. I remember there was a building on fire south of Mohawks Hardware Store, and when I came in to fill out the application, there was hardly anyone in the office because they were on the roof hosing the fire. Then, I got the call for the interview. I was asked when I could start and I told them Monday," West said.
His job today is to purchase the material for the production line out in the plant, plus office supplies.
He has learned the ins and outs of Ronk Electrical Industries, Inc. over the years. "I have been doing this job full-time since 1999," West said. "I've moved around to different departments, and was able to get a feel for what Ronk does."
He started working in the plant for six months, and then transferred to work in product design with the engineers in the office at Ronk.
"I coordinated the Meter-Rite department, when it was next door to the office for years, which is now out at the plant. I also did a lot of switch service calls because I was so involved in switches," he said.
West always looks on the bright side of things when it comes to his job. "I truly love what I do. There are many challenges, but we need to grasp those moments and enjoy them," he said.
There have been a lot of things that have changed at Ronk in the last 50 years, including the way they do business. "We now email purchase orders instead of sending them through the mail. It was really hard to rely on mail, especially if we needed something or if we wanted to know if someone got their order," West said.
His favorite part of the job is the contact with the people, including the vendors he deals with.
"You never know the impact you can make in their lives. Sometimes vendors will call me for advice on things other than work," he said.
West gives it his all at his job, so much so that he has no plans at this point to retire. "It doesn't seem like it's been 50 years. I just want to keep working. We keep getting new products and new things. We're growing and it's good for Ronk."
He went on to say that his co-workers brought in food one day to celebrate his years of service. "Someone asked me when I planned on retiring, and I asked them what food they were going to bring in 50 years from now," West said.
West and his wife, Cheryl, combined have six children and 17 grandchildren.