On the Rise: Wade Eaves
Engineer | Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. | Age: 36
What was your first job in the industry?
My career in the tire industry began at Cooper. I started as an engineering intern between my junior and senior years of college and was hired full-time following graduation. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work in most areas of the plant from mixing to finishing and everywhere in between. Today, my role involves very detailed new equipment installations and replacements of older equipment.
What attracted you to the industry?
The variety of work and the need to exercise precision, calculation and detail orientation to complete a job correctly. These are things I enjoy and areas where I feel I excel.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I have found that moving to new areas of the plant is always challenging, yet rewarding. There are new problems to solve and improvements to make that will create better processes and products for Cooper.
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
My biggest influencers are the Cooper people I work with every day. They are always teaching me something new.
What is your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
Working on new equipment installations. My biggest accomplishment was the completion of a system install that helped automate the sorting and palletizing of tires. This was very challenging work integrating many areas of the process, but the result of gained efficiencies made it well worth the effort.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I am currently a senior project engineer in the tire assembly/material prep area of the Texarkana Plant. I spend most of my day overseeing large installation projects.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
Enjoying life to the fullest.
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Finding a skilled workforce interested in the manufacturing industry.
What’s the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you entered the industry?
My father actually worked at Cooper Tire for 30 years so I had a fairly good expectation of what was to come.
What class(es) do you wish you had paid more attention to in high school?
History. As I’ve grown older I have realized I wish I knew more about the history of our country.
Tell us about your family.
I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful girls, ages 3 and 9. I am outvoted often!
What’s your favorite weekend activity?
I enjoy spending my time outdoors camping at the lake, wakeboarding, surfing and hunting.
What keeps you up at night?
Very little. I sleep well after going all day.
How do you encourage others to enter the industry?
I have been involved in Cooper Tire’s Dream Team the last two years. The Dream Team is a group of 40 employees from across Cooper who works with students and others all year long to educate and improve the image of careers in manufacturing to help strengthen the future workforce pipeline.
As part of this group, I have enjoyed showing local eighth graders everything the manufacturing industry has to offer at Cooper Manufacturing Experience events each October. The Cooper Manufacturing Experience is held in conjunction with National Manufacturing Day/Month, and the Dream Teams helps plan the events for students in Cooper’s plant communities.
Tell us something about yourself others might not know.
After Cooper hours, my father and I own and operate Archery Outfitters Pro Shop. We have two locations, one here in Texarkana, Ark., and another in Searcy, Ark., that specialize in the archery and outdoors industry. We have been in business for 12 years now and continue to grow.
Name a talent you wish you had.
Playing an instrument.
What’s your favorite food?
I’m a fan of all foods and like to keep variety.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Family dinners. It doesn’t seem we get as many as we should due to our hectic lifestyle.
If we took your cell phone away and said it would cost you $1,000 to get it back, how long would you survive until you paid the ransom?
I actually have two phones, so I could manage!