Spotlight on Darrin Brown, KMM’s Director of Training

Thanks to our team, we achieve groundbreaking feats every day. In our Employee Spotlight series, we aim to highlight these individuals who primarily work behind the scenes, making invaluable contributions to our company and industry.

Today, we are pleased to feature Darrin Brown, who will become KMM’s Director of Training in 2024. Having joined our team in 2002, Darrin brings more than two decades of industry and leadership experience to his new role, and we’re proud to have him lead this essential department.

We recently connected with Darrin to learn more about him and his plans for the Training Department. Catch our conversation below: 

Q: Describe your upcoming role as Director of Training at KMM.

DB: As the incoming Director of Training at KMM, my primary objective will be developing a comprehensive training system tailored to our company’s needs. One of the inherent challenges in any organization is implementing an effective training program that aligns with ongoing productivity demands. My journey at KMM has equipped me with unique insights for this role. Starting as an OD/ID operator, I advanced to supervising that area before taking on the role of Production Manager on the shop floor. This progression allowed me to immerse myself in our grinding operations. My hands-on experience, combined with my understanding of the intricate balance between training and productivity, will be pivotal in identifying the strengths and areas for improvement in our training approach. Ultimately, I aim to create a system that enhances our team’s skills while contributing to operational efficiency.

Q: What inspired you to choose a career in manufacturing?

DB: My decision to enter the manufacturing field was influenced significantly by my family’s business background. Growing up as the youngest of four siblings in a family-run business, I was constantly surrounded by the challenges and dynamics of working in such an environment. My father, the founder of our family business, was known for his rigorous work ethic, which sometimes made the workplace quite demanding. Observing my older brothers, who worked closely with him, I received consistent advice to explore opportunities outside the family business.

With my father’s support, I decided to pursue a different path. I enrolled in a technical school’s machine shop program, balancing it with my high school studies. This unique blend of academic and technical education, spread over three years, enabled me to graduate with dual diplomas. Since then, I’ve been immersed in the machining and grinding trade, building a career that started right after high school.

In a way, I have my brothers to thank for steering me towards this field. Their guidance helped shape my decision, leading me to a fulfilling career in manufacturing. Although my father passed away about ten years ago, the family business continues under my brothers’ leadership.

Q: How would you describe yourself, and how do these traits contribute to your work?  

DB: I would describe myself as highly determined and inherently innovative. My natural inclination is to continually seek new challenges and explore fresh ideas. I thrive on diversity in my professional environment and am not one to be content with being confined to a single role or task for an extended period. This restlessness for innovation and variety is crucial to my work because it keeps me engaged and motivated. It drives me to constantly look for better ways to do things, whether it’s streamlining processes, adopting new technologies, or developing more effective training methods.

Q: What are your most memorable achievements in your 20+ years at KMM?

DB: Over my more than two decades with the company, one of my standout achievements has been playing a pivotal role in developing the OD/ID department to its present standard of excellence. This specific goal drove my initial hiring.

Among the projects I’ve been involved with, the one I hold in the highest regard is my work on bearing races for the space station. These components were a crucial part of a compressor system designed to generate drinking water for astronauts. The significance of contributing to such a critical and groundbreaking project, one that directly impacts the well-being of space explorers, is a professional highlight I am particularly proud of.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most in your new role?

DB: In my new role, I am most excited about creating a comprehensive training system for KMM. My goal is to design a program that elevates our employees’ skills and knowledge and aligns with the company’s objectives. I envision this training system as a key tool in helping the company and our team achieve their respective goals. Investing in our workforce’s development builds a stronger foundation for KMM’s future success.

Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

DB: The most significant lesson I’ve learned throughout my career is the importance of doing things correctly, regardless of the project’s size or scope. I firmly believe in ‘doing it right the first time.’ This approach saves time by eliminating the need for rework and upholds the highest quality standards. This commitment to excellence has been central to the success and reputation of the three companies that eventually merged to form KMM Group. Our consistent focus on high-quality output has been a key factor in our journey to where we are today.

Q: What are your interests outside of work?

DB: Outside of work, my primary interest is boating. My wife and I keep a boat in Maryland and spend considerable time cruising the Chesapeake Bay during the boating season. It’s a wonderful way for us to relax and enjoy nature. Besides boating, we also have a passion for travel and skiing. Exploring new destinations and hitting the slopes during the winter months are activities we greatly enjoy. These hobbies balance my professional life and allow me to recharge and gain new perspectives.

Q: What are your goals for the future of the Training Department?

DB: My vision for the Training Department involves modernizing our approach while retaining valuable traditional methodologies. I aim to evolve our training programs to incorporate contemporary skills and technologies yet still hold onto our trade’s fundamental, time-tested principles. I hope to develop a training model that serves our needs and sets a benchmark that other companies want to emulate in their facilities.

For the immediate future, a key goal is to establish our operations in the new facility that John and Eric have thoughtfully designed. This space includes a dedicated training room, a significant step forward. I am eager to utilize this new environment to its fullest potential, laying the groundwork for a robust and impactful training program.

We want to thank Darrin for sharing his professional experience as a visionary leader, his deep passion for the manufacturing industry, and his contributions to the professional growth of our team. His forward-thinking approach to training, combined with a rich background in various aspects of the business, positions him perfectly to lead our Training Department into a new era. Darrin’s commitment to innovation, quality, and team development is inspiring. His influence will significantly shape the future of KMM’s training programs and continue the legacy of excellence we’re known for.

For more, check out the other employee spotlight articles in this blog series, including profiles of Director of Quality Ryan Johnson, Accounting Administrator Tammy Parker, Technical Sales Engineer Erin Cunningham, Precision Grinding Floor Supervisor Doug Bloemker, and Manufacturing Engineer & Turning Dept. Supervisor Sean Kennedy.

Are you seeking a career where your continuing professional development is valued and guided by leaders like Darrin? Join our team for a rewarding and meaningful journey! Explore the diverse opportunities on our careers page or contact us directly to learn how a career at KMM can enhance your professional path and inspire personal growth.