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Román Delgado: Latino manager hire at Lorain Co. Ford Plant promotes Diversity

 

By La Prensa Staff

 

Román Delgado is trying to learn as much as he can, as fast as he can—as the newly hired process coach at the Ford Motor Co. plant in Avon Lake, one of Lorain County’s largest employers. More than that, he stands tall and proud with what his hire represents: a renewed commitment to diversity among management and the workforce at the assembly plant.

 

“I’m one of the first (Hispanics) hired into a management position,” said Mr. Delgado. “I’m one of the few to be in this position.”

 

While the term “process coach” in another era may have been called a foreman or supervisor, Delgado simply calls it a good fit as he tries to help make the workforce more productive to assist Ford in turning out more pick-up trucks in the hope of gaining more market share.

 

“My whole life I’ve been a job coach, a life coach, an employment coach. I’m also a registered and certified recovery coach,” said Mr. Delgado, who oversees five sections of the plant and supervises roughly 80 workers. “As long as I’m not coaching athletics, I’m a great coach. It’s really rewarding to be part of the process and help Ford.”

 

While the troubling situation at the General Motors plant in Lordstown has drawn the attention of politicians and supporters hoping to save jobs, the Ford plant where many of the automaker’s pickup trucks are made is thriving in a county where nearly one-third of the population is Latino.

 

“It motivates me to keep these people working at their best, keep putting out the best quality to ensure job security,” said Delgado. “Once people start not liking the quality we’re putting out on the line, that’s the end of us, you know. That’s number one.”

 

While the plant shut down over the holidays, production resumed Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Delgado resolved in the New Year to do what he could to ensure a safe and productive manufacturing operation ensured job security for his 1,700 Ford colleagues on the assembly lines. Part of that mission is teaching younger members of the workforce that nothing is guaranteed for them.

 

“The ones that have been there a while, they get it. The newer generation, I’m trying to instill in them, because sometimes you get the young people whose dream has always been to work at Ford,” he said. “Once they get in, these young guys take it for granted—‘my grand-dad was here, my dad was here, it’s going to be here forever.’ I let them know that if the quality isn’t good and we’re not doing our best, ain’t nothing forever.”

 

In a fast-paced, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately global economy, 30 years at the same job and a guaranteed pension are long-gone business practices. That’s why Delgado plans to take Latino assembly workers under his wing in addition to the employees he directly supervises.

 

“My number one goal there is to manage, oversee, help, guide, and lead,” he said. “Because the most important thing is keep that line running.”

 

Delgado, of Mexican descent, stated he learned an ethic of hard work at a young age by watching the examples set by his grandfather, who raised him as a child, and great-grandfather. He even admitted he pretends his grandfather is his boss when he goes into work to ensure he does his best and “work as I know he would work.”

 

Delgado stated his grandfather was the only one of his siblings to leave Texas “during the wave of employment” in northern Ohio at auto factories, steel mills, and railroad facilities. He is now married with a family of his own—children and stepchildren between the ages of 9 and 16.

 

“They recently allowed me to go in as a manager into the training classes with the temporary new hires,” he said. “It made me really, really proud to see such a diverse mix and to see a fair share of Latino faces. It made me happy. They are diverse and inclusive. It is a very important goal and priority for them.”

 

The Lorain County assembly plant produces the Ford F-series pick-up truck, in particular, the heavy duty and super-duty models. The plant also does some assembly work on Econoline vans.

 

Delgado’s management job at Ford completes a comeback story of sorts. He is proud to point out he is now more than 24 years sober, a journey that led him to be a recovery coach during his career. He is now a relentless work-out warrior himself, an important part of his own recovery from addiction.

 

He counts the presidents of Lorain City Council and Lorain County Board of Commissioners as contacts who served as positive job references in his effort to get hired at Ford after getting to know much of the plant’s workforce over the past two or three decades by attending many of Ford’s events, including health fairs, festivals, and hiring events. He essentially networked his way into a new career direction using his self-proclaimed “gift of gab.”

 

“Honored, humbled. There are lot of people who stamped their name on me and I feel like I have to go in there and do a good job, a great job,” he said. “There’s no other way about it. It’s a blessing to be there. A lot of people in the county are supporting me. It means a lot to be here. I want to do everybody proud.”

 

Copyright © 1989 to 2019 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/02/19 19:47:03 -0800.

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