Getting to Know Our PHOENIX Phamily, Kevin Bentley & Craig Lakins, Engineering Team, Newport, TN

Getting to Know Our PHOENIX Phamily, Kevin Bentley & Craig Lakins, Engineering Team, Newport, TN

Our Newport Tennessee facility’s engineering team is made up of two fantastic employees, Kevin Bentley and Craig Lakins. Together they work to ensure that our production lines are always running efficiently. As the Engineering Manager, Kevin creates the timeline and scope for new projects and existing products, including the purchasing of new equipment. Craig’s role as Plant Engineer is the glue between the project plan and getting it implemented between the many departments through troubleshooting issues and supporting other teams in production. Both Kevin and Craig are constantly looking for ways to continually improve the process of making closures and have the intimate and expert knowledge of our equipment and manufacturing processes. As a team, they collaborate seamlessly to keep everyone safe and productive. Here’s what Kevin and Craig had to say about working as a team at PHOENIX.

PHX: Tell us about your careers at PHOENIX – how did each of you come into your current positions?

KB: I was hired in as Plant Engineer in January 2014 and became Engineering Manager in August 2018.

CL: I have been with the company almost 5 years and have been at the Newport Plant Engineer the entire time.

PHX: How would you describe the core focus of each of your roles

KB: My primary focus is to complete projects on time and under budget. I also support the plant where needed when it comes to product launches, continuous improvement, safety, quality concerns, and engineering projects.  

CL: The core focus for me is to successfully carry out opportunities for continuous improvement throughout the plant and manage projects to completion and deliver on the expectations for those projects.

PHX: How do you complement and collaborate with each other?

KB: We have worked together in the past in an automotive plant. I was a Manufacturing Engineer and Craig was a Maintenance Tech. Craig is good at electrical and mechanical projects and working though a problem to figure it out. I am more analytical and look at what the data is showing me. I do more of the plant layouts and determine the items needed, so we complement each other. We both can be hands on (turn wrenches), if needed.

CL: I feel that Kevin and I have built a great team together that has been able to have success for the company with both plant level projects and challenges that have been given to us from the corporate level as well.

PHX: What’s a project you’ve worked on together that you’re really proud of,

KB: In late 2021, we introduced the first Hamson Auto Box Erector to PHOENIX; it came in with a few issues. We worked with the supplier and worked through each issue one at a time. After a few weeks it was up and running and has run very well since.

CL: I am most proud of the installation of our Hamson Auto Box Erector. When it first went into production, we had a lot of trouble running our corrugated product. We were able to identify and correct several issues with the process of the machine. We have now run over 2,000,000 cartons with very few issues and minimal downtime.

PHX: In your opinion, what is the most challenging thing about Engineering at PHOENIX?

KB: Learning the way PHOENIX does things and learning their processes. Also, being able to change course quickly.

CL: For me, it’s the effort of completing projects amid the physical constraints we have in place. It’s hard to sometimes make a process better within the limits of space, time, and money, and that’s the challenge.

PHX: In your opinion, what is the best thing about PHOENIX, as a company?

KB: PHOENIX doesn’t expect you to live at work like other places I have worked.

CL: The people, by far, are the most valuable asset.

PHX: Outside of work, how do you most enjoy spending your time?

KB: I ride motorcycles, kayak, hike, enjoy anything outdoors, and watch the Kentucky Wildcats play.

CL: Right now, that would be the journey I am on for weight loss and better overall health.

PHX: What is your favorite product that has a PHOENIX cap?

KB: JIF Natural Peanut Butter

CL: JIF Peanut Butter

PHOENIX employees in every department, across several plants, perform multiple functions every day to make this company run efficiently. Getting to Know Our PHOENIX Phamily was created so employees, customers and suppliers could get to know the amazing and diverse group of people that make up the PHOENIX phamily.

The employees chosen for these articles are nominated by fellow coworkers and randomly selected from a compiled list. If you would like to submit a PHOENIX employee’s name, please fill out the form below and ask to have their name added to the list. Our goal is to get to know every one of our employees with this initiative.


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