While the 737 MAX production lines sat idle for more than five months during a temporary suspension, employees who build the airplane weren’t.
In fact, as MAX production resumes and many of the loaned MAX teammates return to their Renton, Washington, and Boeing Fabrication sites, they leave behind a record of accomplishment that helped stabilize production systems at widebody sites, while leaving lasting changes on quality and safety improvements.
Many say they take with them a renewed One Boeing sense of purpose from their work with teammates elsewhere -- and gratitude that runs both ways.
“We 737 loan-in employees are proud to say that we were invited to Everett to actually make a difference for the Everett-based employees.” said Eric Sellers, a 737 manager. He was among those loaned into the Everett Facilities team who helped protect colleagues against COVID-19 by cleaning and refreshing site projects. “We appreciate the ‘thank yous’ in the hallways and offices” as they departed, he said.
The signs of appreciation only begin to tell the story. “We recognize that for some the transition was a challenge and want to make sure they know that their work was a tremendous benefit to the company and literally exemplified One Boeing,” said Lance Ball, director of Everett Site Operations. “737 MAX employees helped other programs find the time to improve quality and workflow, reduce backlog, reorganize areas and improve safety, to name a few. Some teams played a critical role in the One Boeing Production System.”
MAX employees also helped fight COVID-19 by deep cleaning 1.5 million square feet of space and helped put together cleaning “care packages” for employees to use.
Protecting their Everett colleagues held special significance for Sellers and his team.
“Making them feel safe when they would see our 'blue-vest (cleaning) crew' marching up and down aisle ways, towers and tunnels disinfecting touch points” is particularly satisfying, Sellers recalled. “I feel like Everett was the safest place on Earth with all the disinfecting happening.”
The meaning of One Boeing struck home in very human ways for some. Recalling the cold winter day when MAX employees arrived in Everett, Hayden Jones, a 737 Fabrication employee, said any trepidation he and others had was dissipated by the warmth and professionalism of their Everett colleagues.
“This quickly became a moment in our careers where we felt the most vulnerable and maybe even a little lost; thankfully our perception of what our loan experience would be dramatically changed,” Jones said.
“We were greeted with open arms and … we all felt welcome,” he said. “I couldn’t adequately explain how grateful we are to each and every one of them.”
By Michael Barber