Strom’s Setup Guy Rose Through the Ranks

Joel Gonzalez couldn’t have disliked his first job much more.

In his first full-time position after high school, Joel worked for a carpet cleaner. But while he hated the role for many reasons, it led him to a job he loves at Strom Manufacturing.

Now nine years into his tenure, Joel Gonzalez has been named the Compass Precision Employee of the Month for April 2023.

Joel is the 37th employee, including second at Strom, to be named the Compass Precision Employee of the Month. Strom Manufacturing machinist Cesar Macias-Banuelos also received the honor in September 2022.

During his time as a carpet cleaner, Joel drove all around the Pacific Northwest. Because of that experience, his brother-in-law’s brother, who worked at Strom at the time, recommended Joel for a delivery job at Strom Manufacturing.

In addition to delivering parts, Joel also served in an assembly role when he began working at Strom in 2014. Eventually, he started running machines, and today, he’s the company’s primary setup guy.

Joel sets up all the machines, but he particularly loves Strom’s NH 4000 horizontal mill.

“That’s my baby.” said Joel. “Every machine is different, but that one was the one that when I started learning how to do it, it was like, ‘Oh, ok. That makes sense. That makes sense.’ It’s just the one I caught onto the fastest.”

Joel took a wood shop class in middle school and then a metal shop class in high school. But most of what he applies to his day-to-day tasks came from on-the-job training.

As is the case with a lot of Compass employees, Joel “really likes” working with his hands. He also enjoys putting things together such as Legos and puzzles, making him ideal for the machine setup role at Strom.

“As a kid, I would always be building stuff, and I also used to skateboard,” said Joel. “So I was always building ramps and building rails, and I loved Legos. I also liked puzzles. I like challenging my mind, so I look at machining as just a giant puzzle.”

Joel Gonzalez says his favorite thing about working at Strom is the people. He particularly enjoys working for his bosses.

“Since I’ve been at Strom, it’s been nothing but positive reinforcement,” said Joel. “They always encourage me. They always tell me that I can do better.

“Everyone is super, super nice and understanding, willing to help and teach me. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work for and work with.”

Originally from Hillsboro, OR, Joel went to high school about 10 minutes from Strom. He lives with his girlfriend and four step kids.

Joel explores a plethora of interests in his free time. He continues to enjoy puzzles and also likes to play video games, listen to all kinds of music, try new food and watch MMA. Currently, his favorite video game is Apex Legends on PlayStation 5.