Women in Fasteners: Christie Jones, SPIROL

Christie Jones, Director of Marketing & Vice President of SPIROL details her career milestones, her typical day working across several time zones and departments, and the importance of loving what you do...

How did you get into the industry?
I started working for SPIROL right after I graduated from College in 1994, I studied mechanical engineering and I wanted to work for a company that manufactured technical products. SPIROL was looking for engineers at the time, so I applied, and I was lucky enough to be hired by SPIROL and twenty‐seven years later I’m still here.

What does your day-to-day job involve?
I would say that there is no typical day, I have an agenda that I would like to complete but there are a lot of things that are interjected during the day. In my role as the Director of Marketing, my day could start off in the morning with my colleagues in Europe. I could spend the day working on new initiatives as we’re in the process of expanding our e‐commerce website and creating our new spriol.com corporate website. I could then end my night working with our Asia facility because of the time difference.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry and/or the company since you started?
So, when I first started working for SPIROL the internet wasn’t really used on a day‐to‐day basis. It was really difficult, and things took a lot longer than they needed to, so I would say that obviously the change in technology has been transformational. The internet being used for marketing our product, for finding suppliers, for people finding us, has been a dramatic change. We went through a phase where we thought that because of the internet, the relationship aspect of the business was going to go away and that is not true, which is good.

In terms of the industry, the proliferation of plastics in every single industry and changing from metal to plastics has been huge which has impacted our standard product offering and staying ahead of what the industry needs.

I would also say that the world seems to have gotten a lot smaller. Previously, you had a lot of local companies buying from local suppliers, now you’re seeing companies from all over the world buying from each individual SPIROL location. One of the things we talk about to our customers is that although we are a global company, we are a local supplier. For example, in Australia you would think companies would buy from Asia as this is closest to them, but we see them buying from Connecticut or even the UK.

Can you share some of your career highlights and milestones so far?
SPIROL is the only company I have ever worked for in my professional career. I love what we do, I love what the company stands for; we are truly about working and partnering with our customers to help them succeed and it’s not just about selling small parts. It really is about providing a solution, whether that’s a technical or architectural solution.

I have been able to have several different careers whilst being at SPIROL, I have worked in Engineering, I have worked in Operations Management, I worked in Technical Sales and Sales Management, and now I’m the Director of Marketing for a global company.

Technical Sales is still my passion, and I would say marketing is very similar to that. In Technical Sales I have been able to work with leading designers and manufacturers around the world in several different industries. I can say that if you have been in surgery before, I have probably influenced some of the surgical instruments that were used. If you have benefited from the use of the car, I have probably had some impact in these applications as well. It’s not just fun being involved in this kind of thing, but it’s super gratifying!

What is your favourite thing about the fastener industry?
One of my favourite things about the fastener industry is the diversity of the different products that involve fasteners. Being able to work with cosmetic companies, medical companies, automotive companies and more.

Another thing is that in the fastener industry, you’ll find that if you join some of the organisations that I have, it’s a very close nit industry so getting together annually in some of the things we do across the world is very cool.

What do you think needs to be done to encourage more women to get involved in the fastener industry?
So, there’s distribution and then there’s manufacturing but at the end of the day it’s still an industrial product. I think that perhaps some women tend to be intimidated by industrial products because it has typically been a male dominated industry. One of the things that we do at a local level and at the headquarters in Connecticut, United States, is that we will bring in high school kids or junior high kids and we give them a tour of our facility and we talk to them about different careers in manufacturing. Manufacturing gets a bad reputation as everyone thinks of it as a job that is oily and dirty, and it really isn’t like that.

It is also about getting people excited and showing them that they can have a future in this industry, not just manufacturing but in accounting, purchasing, marketing. In terms of the fastener part of it, if you like to learn, if you like to help people, if you have any type of technical interest – not even at a high level – I encourage you to check it out!

Anything else?
I think it is really important, no matter what industry that you choose something that you like to do. Ultimately, love what you do. I think that working with companies to solve problems and help them to succeed and to become more competitive in their marketplace, is super fun. If you really embrace that as a concept and embrace the spirit of what we do at SPIROL, you too will love your job.

Also, the fastener industry is growing, and we are seeing lots of new technologies that are developing over the next few years.


This article was first published in Torque Magazine. Don’t get the mag? You can apply for a free subscription online today. Or take a look at back issues in the Torque Magazine archive