Q&A with Kenneth Upshaw: Upshaw heads up New Era plant in Demopolis

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Q: How long have you worked with New Era Cap Company?

A: I’ve been here for two years as the assistant plant manager.

Q: What kind of work did you do prior to coming to Demopolis?

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A: I’ve been in manufacturing since I graduated college (from Ohio State University) in 1981. Before New Era I was in automobile manufacturing in Mexico. My family was living in Montgomery and I was working two weeks down there and one week at home, so I was looking to get back to Alabama.

Q: Did you have to change your managing style when you switched from the automobile industry to the textile industry?

A: When the recruiter called me, and I was looking forward to getting back to Alabama, I was really envisioning being called by Hyundai or one of the other (automobile) manufacturing companies. When they told me it was a cap manufacturing company, I was shocked. But then they flew me to Buffalo; they told me it (the job) was dealing with people. Manufacturing is manufacturing. Basically after I learned the ins and outs of the process, then manufacturing is manufacturing. The product is different, but once you learn the process it’s the same.

Q: What do you enjoy about being in this industry?

A: The people. It involves more people contact and it is more hands on. I love being in the South, too.

Q: Are you originally from the South?

A: I’m originally from Cleveland, Ohio. My wife (Patricia) is from Montgomery and my parents are from Union Springs, Ala. so I spent a lot of summers in the South.

Q: What do you hope to do during your tenure as plant manager of New Era Demopolis?

A: I would like to continue the legacy that Alvin (Williams) started of putting the people first. That&8217;s what I would like to do. I’d also like to dissipate the fears of change. A lot of people are apprehensive right now about the changes, but it’s not going to change a lot it will still basically be the same.