Don’t pass up an opportunity. Be honest. And keep an open mind.
These are three of the many principles that Steffes Production Lead Charles “Lee” Hatcher lives by. But that’s not all that his 22 years of service in the military taught him. Humility, attention to detail, commitment to safety, an appreciation for teamwork, respect, and integrity also top the list. You may recognize some of these characteristics as Steffes’ Core Values, which is part of what has made him an excellent fit for our team.
After retiring from the United States Air Force, discharging in 2015 as a Master Sargent, Lee decided it was time to settle into civilian life in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with his wife of 24 years and their two daughters.
Originally from Kentucky, Lee’s career in the Armed Forces has taken him all over the world. Though he spent most of his service overseas in Korea, Germany, and Italy, he has also been stationed in Alaska and California, ultimately landing at his final duty station – the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. At the time of his discharge, his daughters were in high school, and rather than relocate them again, they chose to stay put, and the rest is history!
With the help of a friendly Job Service North Dakota representative, Lee joined Steffes in 2019. Initially joining the team as an assembly technician at our Grand Forks West facility, he is now serving as a Production Lead, training new team members, reviewing work standards, maintaining procedures and inventory, and ensuring Steffes puts forth a quality product for its customers. He recently celebrated his three-year milestone at Steffes and is grateful for the organization’s family-like atmosphere and teamwork approach.
“One thing I really appreciate about the culture at Steffes is the mentality everyone has to help each other out,” said Lee. “The teamwork is great. I noticed, especially through the pandemic, that everyone is willing to pitch in and help. It’s definitely part of what has kept me here.”
Another thing that is extremely important for Lee is having the ability to continue pursuing his education while working full-time, something that Steffes is able to provide. Currently enrolled at the University of North Dakota, Lee has been taking classes in electrical engineering and is also interested in psychology and business.
“That is a game-changer,” said Lee. “When I was going back to school, Steffes was the only company willing to work around my school schedule. In addition to being family-oriented, Steffes is really willing to work with you. They have worked my shifts around my schooling, allowing me to make up my time. That flexibility is really something that matters to me.”
While working in the contract manufacturing division, Lee has enjoyed participating in the assembly of skid-steer attachment products for a major contract customer. In his leadership role, he now directly contributes to how duties and responsibilities are performed and how new procedures are implemented. “I appreciate the opportunities here to grow internally when one is willing to work for it,” he said. “And even the newest employees have a voice.”
These specific projects have helped him grow and understand the development of new products that are being brought on board within the company, allowing him to implement efficiencies and contribute directly to process improvement.
“A long time ago, I was told by my father, who retired from the military, that once it feels like a job, you need to move on. Anyone can have a job,” said Lee. “I don’t see this as a job. Here, I get up in the morning, trying to be here first thing, and I know at the end of the day we’ve accomplished something. There’s an accomplishment feeling for me in this job, something that compares to the satisfaction I felt in the military.”
When looking to the future, Lee is excited about working on new, innovative products as Steffes continues to explore new markets and opportunities.
Lee enjoys spending his free time with his family, working with animals as he trains horses and dogs, gardening, camping, hiking, and hunting in the great state of North Dakota.