Veterans have a large and valuable presence in the lead battery manufacturing and recycling industry. And we couldn’t be more grateful. Veteran’s bring tremendous experience, dedication and leadership to their civilian jobs throughout our sector.
That’s why around Veterans Day, November 11, we like to share their stories. This is the first in our two-part blog series featuring industry workers who have served, or are still currently serving, in the U.S. military.
Jordan Geist, Senior Director of Metals Division, East Penn Manufacturing
For Jordan Geist with East Penn Manufacturing (EPM), he’s proud to be the third generation of his family to serve the U.S. military. Both of his grandfathers served in World War II – one in the Navy, and the other flew B-25s, one of the most famous airplanes of that war. Jordan’s dad has served, too.
“He was in the Navy, so one could say it’s almost a family tradition,” adds Geist, who has served for 10 years and is currently an active member of the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of Captain.
At East Penn, Geist is responsible for the recycling center, lead recycling, oxide and transload operations, as well as the procurement of all lead, sulfuric acid and polypropylene. As senior director of the Metals Division, Geist finds the essential materials needed to make new batteries at EPM, the world’s largest single-site lead battery manufacturing facility.
He finds that the military’s leadership opportunities and training have built the foundation for his work in the civilian world. “I go back to those [military] experiences when I’m faced with either challenges or opportunities that lie ahead for us as a company.”
East Penn Supports the Balancing Act of Military Employees
Geist explained that military members are constantly faced with how to balance their civilian careers with their military careers. Having an employer who understands that is “a blessing, and quite frankly, something special.”
“East Penn has a long and rich history with the armed forces, dating back to its founder DeLight [Breidegam], promoting, embracing and supporting those past and present members that have served or continue to serve this great nation.”
EPM has received multiple awards in recognition of being a top-notch civilian employer to military members. Geist isn’t surprised.
“If you’re called to duty, whether it’s your annual training or you’re doing other training throughout the year, they [EPM] say ‘Jordan, just go.’ You know everything else will be taken care of, you know you’re going to continue to receive all your benefits from East Penn so that you can focus on your military training,” Geist explained. “For me, that’s mind-blowing.”
Serving is a Big Commitment
According to Geist, being a member in today’s reserve forces is very much a second full-time position, especially when you’re in a leadership role, like he is.
Past generations would do their one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year, without the instantaneous connectivity of today’s world. Today, with cell phones and email, those in leadership are constantly in touch with their soldiers.
Geist’s most recent position as a company commander was a major leadership role responsible for 80 soldiers. “It is definitely a major time commitment; you’re coming home from work and then you jump on conference calls or try to knock out emails, all while maintaining constant contact with your soldiers. That’s a two-to-three-hours a night game on top of everything else.”
Supporting the Nation’s Top Leaders and Building Better Military Forces
Geist points to two military-related accomplishments in recent years that he’s particularly proud of.
“We led a mission from Georgia to Florida as part of our annual training, where we transported petroleum to refuel Air Force 2, which was pretty awesome. It was a unique experience; you don’t get to say too often that you’re refueling the plane of a sitting Vice President.” Geist noted that there was a very rigid protocol in refueling operations and that all the truck drivers in his unit have security clearances.
Another career highlight was taking over command of a company ranked one of the lowest in the brigade. Over three years of leadership and patience, Geist and his Soldiers earned the prestigious Readiness Excellence Award for becoming the best company in the brigade. Geist points out he owes most of the credit to his Soldiers, “leaders are there to help guide, Soldiers do the heavy lifting.”
Military Skills Transfer to Private Industry
Geist firmly believes that members of the military, whether in the reserve or active forces have a unique set of attributes to offer companies, and especially in the battery industry, whether it’s related to technology or production.
“I think it’s very easy to transition from the military into our industry, because there are a lot of people who think the same, and there are a lot of things that are the same.”
“In a production environment, you’re leading people and you’re working with your hands. Soldiers love doing their job and driving towards a common objective whether that’s a mission or manufacturing a product.”
He said there’s also going to be more opportunities to transfer military skills.
“From an electronic standpoint, you’re going to see a massive push over the next five years into automation. The military has seen a big push into robotics and other automation, so there’s places for those people within our industry to get a good wage, good benefits and a good work life balance.”
Geist is Behind EPM’s Mission
Geist feels his values align with EPM’s greater mission around sustainability.
“[Our work] is supporting a circular economy. We play a critical role in the sustainability efforts that are becoming so [important] today, including [renewable] energy.
He’s also drawn to EPM’s mindset around giving back. “Volunteering is a big word, and there are many facets to it, but serving others is at the core of East Penn. That’s one aspect I aligned with specifically.”
Thank you, Jordan!
Jordan’s experiences vividly illustrate why battery manufacturers like East Penn are eager to recruit employees from the military and support them. As an industry, we are committed to help veterans serve our country and their civilian employers, simultaneously.
East Penn Manufacturing. Headquartered in Lyon Station, Penn., East Penn is a private, family-owned company operating the largest single-site lead battery manufacturing facility in the world.