David Smith

Operations Manager (Business Administration, BBA)

David Smith, ORO Design & Manufacturing Ltd.

If you are in the market for a Honda Civic, where would you turn? Perhaps the local Honda dealership? Or how about a nearby used car dealership? Maybe even an online classified website? What if you were in the market for a Flex36 Stellar Hooklift System? Where would you turn if your organization needed a Stellar 28000 OTR Service Truck? In this case, your Kijiji search would yield much fewer results. Enter: ORO Design & Manufacturing Ltd. and David Smith.

ORO Design & Manufacturing Ltd. is a manufacturer of custom-designed service trucks located in Hawkestone, Ontario. David, a 2010 graduate of the Honours BBA program at Laurier, is an operations manager at the firm. Founded in 1998, ORO’s product line consists of a wide range of custom service trucks from mobile lubrication systems to tire service trucks. David works in an operations management role at ORO – a job he truly loves. He believes the opportunity to see the inner workings of the company, combined with the daily problem solving demands and tangibility of the finished product are just a few of the things that make his job so exciting.

David’s experience at Laurier was as diverse as his employer’s product offerings. He was heavily involved in extracurricular activities during his tenure as a student. His contributions included event planning for the “Partners in Parks” program run by the City of Waterloo, an external contributor to the Lazaridis School’s Atrium Magazine, an ESL tutor for the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre and a marking assistant for the fourth year Advanced Corporate Finance (BU463) course at the Lazaridis School.

David has held many job titles in his short career. He began working in ORO’s assembly shop in the summer following his first year in university. Over the next few summers, he designed the company’s first website, wrote technical descriptions for its product line and led the implementation of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system (which he admits was a learning experience). Following a stint with a supply chain consulting firm after graduation, David returned to ORO to work in a variety of operations and non-operations roles, leading to his current position as operations manager. In his current capacity, David touches finance, accounting and human resources, but his focus lies in operations management. His duties include facility layout, product design, process improvement, project management and production planning. This variety of tasks is not uncommon in a small business, but equally so when considering jobs in the operations profession.

A typical day for David is an atypical day for most. His diverse skill set combined with a small business setting makes every day as exciting as the last. The majority of his time is spent planning operations activities, reviewing future production orders and analyzing plant performance. The rest of his week is split up between project management duties, improving or redesigning existing processes, and helping other departments during spikes in their workload. But all this variety is David’s favourite part of the job. He explains that, “to be able to envision a product or process improvement, implement it, and see the improvements such a short time later really gives you a sense of pride”. The fast pace of operations management and the tangibility of creating massive machines only makes David love the job more!

If you are interested in working in operations management, David offers some advice. Applicable in any role, but especially operations, time management is vital! David also found that a good mentor will go a long way in helping you focus your career path and learn the skills you need to be successful. Operations is both very broad and often a very technical field so focus and on-the-job learning are critical if you want to succeed. Also, keep in mind the level of job security. David describes it as “medium-high”, but it is an extremely competitive industry where the location of a manufacturing plant can change at any time. Your job at Location X today could be someone else’s at Location Y, half way around the world tomorrow. His biggest tip for future employees of operations management? Research the different avenues in the field and understand where you would like to focus. Whether it is transportation, manufacturing, service management, or inventory policy, starting in one area of operations will build specialized skills that can be a real asset in helping you garner more responsibility at work early in your career.

Without realizing it, you have already taken the first step to a successful career in the operations management industry by reading this profile. David credits his Laurier business education for laying the foundation to his exciting operations career!