Zach Fothergill is no stranger to the UCEC blog. For nearly a year, we’ve heard from this Operations Support Manager with his “Yak with Zach” blog on subjects such as the Steinhauer MC-80, his trip to Peru and the colorful range of UCEC panels.
Zach started out working in high school at another electrical control panel shop where his father was an electrical engineer. His aptitude for working with his hands was evident when he was a kid. In this blog post Zach told us:
“As a kid, I worked puzzles at a really young age. Then I graduated to taking the television remote apart (my parents loved that!). I just kept going from there, learning more and more about how things work and what it takes to put them back together.
After progressing to go-carts and tree houses, I started helping my grandfather when I was 14 with his hobby: motorcycle and car racing. I found there were a lot of mechanical rewards in building race cars: if you design and build it well, it goes fast and you can win. If you don’t design and build it well, the race doesn’t go your way.”
Post-graduation, Zach continued to work at the other panel shop. When he decided to strike out on his own in 2006, he interviewed at several shops and decided UCEC was the best fit for him.
At that time, UCEC still operated much like most panel shops: craftsmen built panels and then wired them, too. Now, UCEC operates with a two-sided shop approach that is pretty unique. Shop employees work and are trained in the mechanical area they gravitate to: the construction side or the wiring side.
Over the years, Zach was promoted, first to Production Supervisor and then to his current position, where he is responsible for the fabrication side of the shop. He schedules team members for various projects and keeps track that each panel project is moving ahead toward completion.
Currently, Zach is training his team to use the MC-80. “For the first six months, I ran the MC-80 and built out the CAD library with panel designs,” Zach says. Now, his emphasis is on training his team to operate the new machine. He speaks highly of his team’s dedication to craftsmanship. “My guys all share that respect for a quality final product,” Zach notes.
Some challenges of his position are also the ones that make Zach’s job rewarding, his says. When designing a panel, it has to be both “functional and look good,” Zach says. “You might have to spend three hours on the front side to save 10 hours on the backside. You can’t just throw it together.”
By the time this story is published, Zach will be in Costa Rica, scuba diving, hiking and exploring volcanoes with his fiance, Margarite. Back home, Zach enjoys building transmissions for race cars; car racing; and planning his next adventure: he’s taken scuba-diving trips to six countries in the past four years.