Forging Success: Hunter Praus

What makes a leader successful? At Steffes, we believe that education and experience are the tools one uses to lead. More than that, we believe that it takes an understanding of how to use those tools effectively to forge success. A successful leader encourages their team members to learn new skills, to solve problems, and to help one another along the way. One such leader is Hunter Praus, Steffes’ night shift production lead in Dickinson.

Hunter enrolled at Bismarck State College (BSC) to learn to weld, where he connected with Jeremy Jahner, director of manufacturing at Steffes. Hunter was encouraged to apply for a seasonal welding position in Dickinson to hone his skills.

Hunter’s first few months of employment with Steffes saw him welding small parts. He built on his college education with hands-on experience, contributing to major contract manufacturing projects within a year of his hiring. He moved into a full-time position after graduating from BSC in 2016 with an associate degree in applied sciences.

At the time, Steffes’ production goals were beginning to climb rapidly. Hunter and his team learned to operate welding robots and incorporated them into their strategy to meet this demand. Their increased knowledge and project capacity allowed his team to explore new opportunities, collaborating with Steffes’ engineers and contract manufacturing customers to build prototypes – to which Hunter directly contributed.

After four years as part of #TeamSteffes, Hunter was promoted to production lead on the night shift. “The team on night shift is great, whether you start with welding experience or not,” said Hunter.

“I make sure to help new team members feel welcomed, understand what is expected of them and gain valuable experience.”

Each night, Hunter delegates projects to his team members, checks that they have the equipment and materials they need to complete those projects, and helps them to work through issues as they arise. He also jumps in to weld alongside his team members whenever possible. This December, Hunter will celebrate seven years of employment at Steffes.

Hunter is grateful for the guidance he has received since coming into his leadership role, which he attributes to his success. “Dallas Taylor, the production lead for the day shift, really helped me get used to running night shift and made sure I was ready for the challenge,” said Hunter. “Also, Production Supervisor Ray Hurt helped me navigate the odds and ends that come up during the shift and helped me learn policies and procedures.”

Image: Hunter and his wife, Alexis, on their honeymoon in Italy in the summer of 2022.