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Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month- Jason Chen

Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month originated with Congress. In 1977 Reps. Frank Horton of New York introduced House Joint Resolution 540 to proclaim the first ten days in May as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week. In the same year, Senator Daniel Inouye introduced a similar resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 72. Neither of these resolutions passed, so in June 1978, Rep. Horton introduced House Joint Resolution 1007. This resolution proposed that the President should “proclaim a week, which is to include the seventh and tenth of the month, during the first ten days in May of 1979 as ‘Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.’” This joint resolution was passed by the House and then the Senate and was signed by President Jimmy Carter on October 5, 1978, to become Public Law 95-419. Then in 1992, Congress passed Public Law 102-450 which annually designated May as Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.

The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Our first spotlight is Jason Chen, a Quality Technician at our Louisville, KY location!

What drew you to work for O’Neal Manufacturing Services?

I started with a random job search and have been working here at O’Neal for about 18 years. What draws me to come to work every day is the people I work with. Asian culture values inter-relationship among people and I feel comfortable and relaxed working in such an environment.

What do you consider the most important cultural value for you and those close to you?

  1. Family comes first and respect others
  2. Be sincere and work hard

What misconception about your heritage or country of origin would you like to correct?

Some people may think Asian cultures are all same. They can be quite different depending on different areas or countries.

What does Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you? 

It’s a reminder for me to stop from the hustle and bustle. To look back where I came from and think about how I can make myself better and send positive energy to people around me.

What are you most proud of?

My wife and my daughter.

Women’s History Month – Shannon Koepke

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Cedar Falls

What drew you to work at O’Neal Manufacturing Services? 

What drew me to Iowa laser was how many people I knew that worked here. The environment felt welcoming and for being a girl who would be the only one on the shop floor that meant a lot.

What woman has most influenced you in your life and/or career? 

For women in my life I’ve had many, but I’ve also had many men in my life who were a huge influence in my life and the career path I’ve chosen. The woman who stood out the most and still to this day is my sister she passed away 13 years ago due to cancer. But I remember her and live by her smiling everyday and making it the best it can be no matter what. It’s gotten me through some pretty tough time in my life. 

What advice would you give to a woman wishing to start their career in the industry? 

My best advice is to decide what you truly want in life. I didn’t pick my career based on the pay, the fact it was a male dominated industry, or the opportunities. I picked it cause it’s truly what I love doing. If you can find that in your career the rest will fall into place. 

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud that I’ve gotten as far as I have in my career in such a short time. There were many times and people telling me I either shouldn’t or couldn’t be a welder for one reason or another. I went through college top of my class and I’m now thriving in my work place and learning more than I could of imagined with not only welding, but also the other departments in the shop.

Thank you Shannon for your hard work and dedication to OMS!

Women’s History Month – Amanda Wood

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Greensboro

What drew you to work at O’Neal Manufacturing Services? 

The challenge of something new. I was working in Supply Chain at O’Neal Steel and at one time, the purchasing team had certain people that bought for OMS. I remember hearing them talk about the material and the parts and it scared the heck out of me. I thought it was something I’d never understand. Thinking I couldn’t do it, made me want to do it even more. The opportunity later came open at OMS to be a part of their purchasing team, and I was excited to be a part of it.

What woman has most influenced you in your life and/or career?  

There isn’t just one. I have a big family of strong women. They’ve all influenced me and been a driving force to succeed. They rock.  I also had a manager when I worked at a bank that was a HECK of a woman. She really sparked a fire in me that is still there today. 

What advice would you give to a woman wishing to start their career in the industry? 

Don’t hesitate. I didn’t know the first thing about it when I started, and I’m still learning everyday. There is no better industry than Metal. Steel, specifically.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud of myself for taking chances on things I knew nothing about. The steel industry, manufacturing, all of it. I took a chance on things that were unknown and out of my comfort zone and it’s been the best decision. I’m super thankful for my first position at O’Neal Steel and the transition to OMS. I take great pride in my job and the company I work for and I wouldn’t be where I am if I always stuck with what was comfortable. 


Thank you Amanda for your hard work and dedication to OMS!

Women’s History Month – Amy Gartman

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Birmingham

What drew you to work at O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS)? 

I was referred by a colleague who was familiar with the O’Neal brand and family legacy which represented values like mine.  I’ve been with the company for just over three years and have seen those values demonstrated every day. 

What woman has most influenced you in your life and/or career? 

My mother. At the age of 19 she was involved in a car accident, sustaining a broken back and losing use of her legs.  However, as a paraplegic, she never lost faith.  She was strong and determined and lived life to the fullest.  She positively impacted many people with her attitude, independence and grace.  She passed away when I was 19 but instilled in me a strong work ethic and a desire to approach life with drive and appreciation.  

What advice would you give to a woman wishing to start their career in the industry? 

  • Be confident, yet humble
  • Seek advice from those who’ve gone before you
  • Learn as much as you can
  • Don’t be afraid to take risks
  • When you fall down, get up
  • Set goals-have something to work for
  • Embrace change
  • Be grateful
  • Care about people- make someone smile everyday
  • Enjoy the journey

What are you most proud of?

I’m actually more thankful than proud.  I had great role models in my parents who set the foundation for me and family and friends who continue to support me.  There have been several pivotable and defining moments, but all the life experiences and opportunities I’ve been afforded had have shaped me and helped me grow as a person. 


Thank you Amy for all that you do for OMS!

Women’s History Month – Jasmine Braxton

Women’s History Month started as just a day. Jimmy Carter declared March 2-8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  He stated “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contribution went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” It was decided after being petitioned by the national Women’s History Project in 1987 that it would be Women’s History Month in the month of March.  Women have made tremendous contributions to our society and here at O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS).  We celebrate the women in this organization and continue to value and respect their voice.

Our first spotlight is Jasmine Braxton at our Louisville Plant.

What drew you to work at OMS? 

The opportunity to work for a company that I can showcase my ability is what drew me in. At my previous workplace, it seemed as if I was only a number… Here at OMS there is always room for growth. There is always someone pushing and motivating you to learn more within the company. You can start off as a general operator and work your way up into other opportunities. The atmosphere here isn’t just about production, but also about growing friendships. People here take the time to learn from/about each other, and ensure the friendships grow outside the facility.

What woman has most influenced you in your life and/or career? 

My mother has the most influence in my life. She is my motivator, supporter, my biggest fan. Whether she knows it or not I have learned many skill sets from her. From her start on the little Philippine islands to the United States. She has shown me what independence really looks like. Losing both parents at an early age was a big motivator. Even through the many obstacles, she did it all with a smile on her face. Her capability of handling any bad situation and making it a positive is what I incorporate in my daily task. Salamat Nanay.  

What advice would you give to a woman wishing to start their career in the industry? 

Take the leap is the advice I would give to a woman wishing to start their career in the industry. There are plenty of young women looking up to you. I can attest, I have a daughter and nieces rooting for me. There is money to be made in an industry full of men. Women can strive and make their own path to provide for their family and themselves. Push yourself to pave that way for other young women that think this career is only allocated to men.

What are you most proud of?

I am most proud of being a mother. They both are what motivate me each day. Knowing that they both look up to me for confidence, support, and creativity is my biggest drive. I am proud that I can inspire them to be able to do and become what they set their minds to.

Black History Month – Wayne Pina

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Houston

Tell us about your current role?

I’m currently an angle line operator for OMS Houston. Previously, I worked as a Quality Assurance Technician and Maintenance Technician.

Tell us about a moment in Black History that influenced or shaped your career/life.

The inauguration of Barack Obama as our first black President, the inauguration of Kamala Harris as our first black, female Vice President and the advancement of blacks in professional coaching positions are just a few things that have influenced my perspective on life.

What motivates you to come to work each day?

 The opportunity for advancement motivates me to continuously show up for work.

What are you most proud of in your life/career?

My work ethic are personal qualities that I am proud of.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our team, Wayne!

Black History Month – Chauncey Calhoun

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Louisville

Tell us about your current role?

I am a welder here at O’Neal. I came intending to learn as much as possible and look to advance into bigger roles.

Tell us about a moment in Black History that influenced or shaped your career/life.

Stories of my grandfather, Oscar Calhoun, has always inspired me.  He was a Head Chef at several places here in Louisville such as L& N railroad chef, Embassy Supper Club, Louisville Country Club, and Kunz Hurstbourne to name a few at a time when many blacks didn’t get prominent jobs.  Also at establishments that catered mainly at the time to wealthy white people. So throughout my life, in the spirit of my granddad, I’ve always been one to want to break down barriers and do things that people say can’t be done.

What motivates you to come to work each day?

I’m motivated to come to work by my children, nieces, nephews and any others from younger generations that look up to me.  I look to be a role model to them like my father was to me. For them to see positive black men doing things right and showing them that hard work pays off at any level.  That role models are not just entertainers and athletes, but anyone they can gain positive knowledge from.

What are you most proud of in your life/career?

I’m most proud of my children, who are another thing that motivates me to come to work.  I am proud of the people they have become. The parents that they are to their children.  My daughter is a great mom and hard worker. My son for obtaining his degree, which in my family has been rare, but something we look forward to changing with every generation going forward.  The people they have become is a reward for the work that me and their mom put in.

Thank you for your hard work and for all that you bring to OMS, Chauncey!

Black History Month – Nyasanu Greene

O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Pittsburgh

Tell us about your current role?

My current role is as Production Supervisor. We are a man down in inventory so I help out there and I’m using this as a chance to learn that side of the business also.

Tell us about a moment in Black History that influenced or shaped your career/life.

Black history, for me, is watching movies and reading about the struggles African Americans have had to endure with the odds stacked against them at times. Seeing and reading about these struggles have taught me to take advantage of opportunities presented to me and to not take anything for granted

What motivates you to come to work each day?

My family is my motivation to strive and be the best I can be at work. I go by the old saying, “You want your kids to have it better off than you did”. 

What are you most proud of in your life/career?

Once again, I’m a family man and all of my children at one point or another have told me they are proud to call me their dad.

Thank you Nyasanu for all of your hard work and dedication to our team!

Black History Month – Terrena Kayondo

Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing their role in U.S. history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. It developed due to the lack of black history being taught. Woodson chose the second week in February, as it encompassed both Frederick Douglass’ birthday on February 14 and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on February 12 dates the Black community had, at that time, celebrated for decades.

O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS) is taking part in this year’s celebration by spotlighting members of our staff whose exemplary work assist the mission of OMS every day.

Our first spotlight is Terrena Kayondo, she is the HRBP in our Louisville, KY location. Listen to know about how black history has shaped her life.

Tell us about your current role?

In my current role I am the HRBP in Louisville, KY. I assist the plant leadership, employees, and organization with reaching our goals while ensuring the mission and values are embedded in my daily activities.  I also lead the Diversity and Inclusion Team with OMS.  In this role I am leading the initiative to ensure that OMS is a company that all people feel welcomed, respected, and included in all levels of the organization.

Tell us about a moment in Black History that influenced or shaped your career/life.

Every moment in Black History shaped my career in one way or another.  Without the sacrifices of many of my ancestors, I would not even be able to be asked this question now and in the role I hold today. Their selflessness to keep pushing and never give up was instilled in me by my aunt and gave me the drive I have today.

The moment in Black History that has affected and changed me the most is the killing of George Floyd.  Prior to his death, I was aware of my history and celebrated it in my own right.  With his death it was if the inner voice spoke out and began to correct and speak out to the injustices, and failures that we have long overlooked and accepted.  Prior to this I just listened and tried to be the person that worked 10x harder to dispel the myths and stereotypes. The reaction to his death finally gave me hope that we can come together to finally combat inequalities in the workplace and society.  It also helped me learn more about my black history beyond Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks. Now I proceed with purpose, passion, and persistence.

What motivates you to come to work each day?

My family really motivates me.  I want to be able to show my son that he can reach any goal he sets no matter his color or what his last name may be. I also find being able to try to help just one employee or make a difference in their life drives me to work hard each day.

What are you most proud of in your life/career?

I am most proud of being true to myself and not allowing obstacles get in the way of being successful.  I am also most proud of making the decision to step out on faith and put my family first.

Employee Spotlight – Michael Hankins

Congratulations to Michael Hankins for 14 years of service at O’Neal Manufacturing Services (OMS)!

We interviewed Michael and asked how about life at OMS, below is what he had to say:

How did you first learn about OMS?

Employee Referral – Barb Stevens.

What is your favorite part about working for OMS?

There is a lot of good, the schedule, benefits are great and good staff.

How long have you been with OMS?

14 years.

Do you have a favorite quote?

When all is equal, the stronger man will win.

How do you define success?

Being happy.

If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?

How to fly a plane.

What are 3 words you would use to describe OMS?

Skillful, competitive, and enjoyable.

What do you do in your spare time?

Ride horses in the summer and redo furniture.

What is your role at OMS?

Plasma Operator and Lead Man.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Always busy and every day is different.

Thank you for the value that you bring to OMS and for all of your hard work, Michael! #LetsBuildThings