Tanisha Hyman Draws From An Eclectic Mix Of Skills To Build Quality Parts For A Worldwide Manufacturer’s Trimmer Assembly Line
By Angela Blue
Tanisha Hyman picks up an engine pan and inserts it with liquid gasket. She oils a camshaft and checks to make sure that the cam wheel is aligned. Then she places the engine pan into a machine that inserts screws into a specific port and attaches it to a carrier. The machine performs a leak test, and if the product passes, she approves it, stamps it, then sends it along to the next operator on the line.
Then she completes the same process over and over—1,056 times a day—to meet her quota. “That’s 1,056 units I have to make sure that the parts are right, make sure they go on the belt properly,” she explains.
Hyman works on the 4180 trimmer assembly line with 40 or so other employees at STIHL Incorporated, the German manufacturer of chainsaws and other power equipment, with its American branch based in Virginia Beach. “We’re on the hardest-working line,” she says. “We probably make 80 percent of the products in here on this line.” They make trimmer heads, attachments used for removing branches and attachments used for edging, to name a few. “With the different units we do, we have to keep track of which parts to use. We have to look at the parts to make sure there’s no damage to it.”
Hyman been at STIHL for nearly 12 years. She started on chainsaws and then moved to backpack blowers, then handheld blowers. “I’ve been all over the plant,” she says.
We hear more and more these days about women rotating pistons and aligning cam wheels as gender and job roles blur, but this is nothing new for Hyman who has been working with her hands since she was a young girl.
Growing up, Hyman spent a lot of time with her uncles, who taught her a variety of skills, from putting up drywall at age 8 to taking apart and reassembling carburetors at age 13. “I’ve got a lot of uncles,” she notes.
She’s also got a lot of talents. Before coming to STIHL, she was a glassblower. And in her spare time, she makes dresses. This talent came about from a fashion design class that she took in high school “for an easy credit,” she says. “Come to find out I was actually good at it.” She made her own prom dress and her friend’s dress, too. “I thought it was so much fun, and I realized that you can make your clothes cheaper than you can buy them,” she laughs.
She still makes dresses for proms today. “I just got through prom season, and I did four dresses,” she explains, noting that one of the dresses was a donation. “I always try to do one dress for a girl who can’t afford it.”
“When I make dresses, I want the person to come back because they know they got something of quality from me,” she explains in a video that STIHL produced as part of their “Real People. STIHL People.” effort. She carries that same mindset when she builds products for STIHL, noting that the most important principle she has learned while working there is the value of quality, taking your time when you do something and doing it right the first time. “We make a good product, and we get recognized for it,” she says. “It’s a great company to work for.”