Employee Spotlight: John Kraeger

How long have you worked at Lisk and what is your current role?

I have worked at Lisk for 23 years. It’s easy to remember because I started in 2000 so whatever year it is that’s how long I have worked here! My current role is Lead Engineer for the Oil and Gas products.

What has your experience been as a member of the Lisk team?

It has been an interesting 23 years. Have had some great experiences and some not so good ones of course over that much time but overall it has been really good. I have learned a lot of new things, met some great people, and forged some solid friendships. Worked on a wide variety of projects that have kept it interesting so it has been a good experience.

Who have been some of your biggest inspirations within the company?

I’m going to have to say Drew Morris number 1. I was lucky enough to have worked with and knew Drew a little bit, not that well but I had a few good conversations with him and got to see firsthand his commitment the way he stuck to his beliefs and built this company on his own terms and then using that success to help the community.

Since I have been working on the oil and gas valves over the last few years I have also worked closely with the valve proto group and that team just impress me every day. I ask them to modify a feature on a part that you can’t even see and they machine it by hand with a magnifying glass. That’s craftsmanship! The same goes for, early in new product development sometimes we don’t have great tooling or are still experimenting with things and they find a way to get it to fit right or get it assembled. Really impressive.

What is your favorite memory at Lisk?

Early in my career here I worked almost exclusively on rotary solenoids. A customer came to us looking for a rotary solenoid to operate a shutter for the imaging and targeting system for a drone. On this drone there is this big round ball mounted up under the nose. That is the multi spectral imaging system, it takes video, infrared, all these different spectrums of light and puts them together to give the operator the best image possible of whatever they want to look at. I got to go visit where they were working on this system and it was really cool! They had one mounted on the roof and they were showing me things on the screen clear as can be that were far away. I remember looking at this water tower that was like 12 miles away, reading car license plates miles away. When I first walked in the lab they had me put my hand on the wall and then a half hour later they turned off the lights and used the infrared part of the system that they had in the lab and you could still see the heat signature of my hand print. It was really wild stuff especially back then.

How have you grown professionally while on the Lisk team?

When I was little my dad owned a garage, auto repair shop, It was called Burt’s Esso and I was always hanging around there when I could be. Then when I was 12 he sold that and bought a farm with a bunch of old equipment that was always breaking and that we were always working on. That went on through high school for me. I raced Motocross and always maintained my own bikes.  After that I went to engineering school and leaned the theory and science behind things. So that was a solid base for me mechanically. The design and mechanical aspect of things has always been easy for me. Where I have really grown I think is how to work together as a team, communicate, with the Lisk team and our customers, and to manage projects. I didn’t know anything about that when I got here and now that is my primary role on a lot of occasions.

What do you enjoy most about working at Lisk?

Being the mechanical guy that I am I enjoy seeing and working with the huge variety of processes and equipment we have at our disposal. Between all the machining centers, welders, grinders, EDM, I mean you name it pretty much we can do it and I think that is really cool. There are not many places you could work and be able to say that.