Meet the Makers: Gene Chumley

Through this blog series we will introduce you to local manufacturing workers and explore their career paths and how manufacturing has positively impacted their lives. We want to show the community how manufacturing allows individuals to have a career they are proud of and enjoy.


We would like to introduce you to Gene Chumley, Engineering Services Manager at Strongwell in Bristol, Virginia. Manufacturing has provided Gene with a rewarding and beneficial career for 32 years. We sat down with Gene to talk about the progression of his career and why he has stayed in manufacturing for such a long time.

What led you to pursue a career in manufacturing?

Actually, I stumbled upon manufacturing. I was right out of college and looking for a job and once I started it I fell in love with manufacturing, and I’ve been in it ever since.

Tell us about your start in manufacturing

I started in 1986 at Electrolux in Piney Flats, Tennessee. I was working at a brand new electric motor plant.

What education and training did you have before you started your job?

I had a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee.

Tell us about your continued education and training throughout your career.

Through tuition reimbursement through the company I was able to pursue a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management through the University of Tennessee through an extension program. I also earned Green Belt in Lean Sigma.

Tell us about the progression of your career.

I started out as an entry level engineer at Electrolux and I worked my way up to Senior Development Engineer and I was there for 12 years. Then I moved onto West Tennessee for about two years as a Senior Project Engineer with Maytag. I had to get back to this area, so I moved back. I worked at Bristol Compressors for 18 years. I started there as a Senior Design Engineer and worked my way up to Manager of Engineering Services. Now I work for Strongwell Corporation in Bristol, VA.

Looking back, can you tell us about some highlights of your career?

From here looking back at my career it’s got to be working with other people, helping people, mentoring them, and seeing other people grow in their careers. That shows a lot of satisfaction for me. I really love seeing other people succeed in their manufacturing careers.

What has it been about manufacturing that has made you want to stay in it as long as you have?

I’ve wanted to stay in manufacturing this long because of the great people I work with. I also enjoy the fact that everything is always different. I cannot remember ever having two days that were exactly the same. I also enjoy facing challenges and being able to solve problems. I like the fact that manufacturing is the bedrock of our economy. You’re able to take raw materials and through processes turn it into a finished good that somebody is willing to pay for, and it serves a need for someone else.

What has this career meant to you?

My career has been a huge part of my life. I enjoy working in the manufacturing industry. Meeting dates and completing projects successfully gives a great feeling of job satisfaction. My career has also allowed me to afford the time to do the hobbies I enjoy and spend time with my family. It has given my family a very good life. I feel truly blessed.

Watch the video below to find out more about why Gene has built his career in manufacturing.

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