Painting and Assembly Supervisor Nate Stolz has an infectiously positive outlook on life and work…and it shows. From dancing to the music on the shop floor just to cheer everybody up to always lending a helping hand, this leader finds his strength in optimism and a glass-half-full attitude.
Yankton, South Dakota – There are certain folks in this world that just know exactly how to make someone’s day. At L&M Radiator’s Yankton, South Dakota facility, that person is Nate Stolz.
Stolz has worked at L&M Radiator for nine years, first as an assembler and a team leader prior to his current position as assembly and paint supervisor. Anyone on the shop floor will tell you that Stolz is an ever-positive spirit whose effortlessly happy energy creates an environment centered around joy and pride in one’s work.
“We are here to do good work, but there’s no reason why we can’t figure out how to keep a smile on our face at the same time,” said Stolz, nicknamed “Papa Bear” by his crew. “I really respect my crew. I feel like they really respect me and we just have a good time.”
In his role, Stolz is responsible for “keeping things moving.” Along with maintaining high morale, this means communicating effectively with his team, ensuring training goes smoothly, maintaining the company’s high standards of quality, working with vendors to discuss appropriate repairs, and problem-solving any challenges as they occur.
“I usually start my morning off by setting goals and a plan for the day with my team leaders,” said Stolz. “Most of my day is communicating with the crew members and ensuring we’re maintaining that positive attitude, even if that includes me dancing. I sing too. I can’t tell you how good that is, but my team gets a kick out of it. It is hard to be in a bad mood when the boss is dancing around and celebrating the small things.”
Bread and Butter; Books and Brakes
On any given day, Stolz oversees the production of heat exchangers for a vast array of machines for the mining and oil and gas industries. While Stolz notes that one of the “funnest” radiators that his team builds is for the Liebherr T264 Mining Truck (The radiator’s imposing size is so extreme that it must be taken out of the facility using a crane), Yankton’s “bread and butter” is undoubtedly the CAT 793F Mining Truck. On a weekly basis, anywhere from four to twelve radiators for the CAT 793F Mining Haul Truck run through the shop.
“I have a whole half of my shop that can be set up just for the CAT 793F machines,” said Stolz. “They are pretty cool to watch come together because they come to us completely apart and we have to bolt it all together in a big jig. We have a lot of fun building those. When you are building radiators for vehicles that are the size of most two-story houses, there is definitely that feeling of happiness and pride in the fact that we are able to get these huge projects through the shop.”
Stolz enjoys taking his mechanical skills and positive outlook outside of the shop floor, spending his free time repairing damaged vehicles with his stepfather. “I am happy to help people out however I can. If somebody has a problem with their vehicle, they bring it to me and my stepdad and we figure out how we can help them.”
In addition to his mechanical endeavors, Stolz boasts a wide variety of hobbies. Between extensive book reading, hunting, fishing, having dinners with his friends, and, most importantly, caring for his wife and four children, Stolz’s enthusiasm for life is not difficult to see.
“I just devour books. My wife gets mad at me because if she buys me a 400-page book, it will only last me two days,” said Stolz. “One of my favorite books I’ve read, FiSH! By Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, and John Christensen, completely changed how I go about leadership. It states that we can choose the attitude that we bring to work. Making sure that I don’t dwell on the negatives, celebrate the positives, and that my team always has strong communication is key.”
It is no secret that some days come easier than others. But, even if challenges come out of the woodwork, rest assured that Stolz’s positive spirit remains unwavering. You can always count on Nate Stolz to lead a team to success…and have fun doing it.
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