0

Dill ramps up expectations at MillerCoors plant

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY -- It would be easy to imagine Tim Dill as a head coach, stalking the sidelines of a football field or basketball court, exhorting his team to do the things he'd taught it.

Dill, the brewery vice president/plant manager at MillerCoors Albany since September, has the rugged athletic build of a jock. And when he talks about brewing beer, sports metaphors fit easily into his conversation.

"Sure, it's easy to draw on sports in the business world," Dill, a south-central Pennsylvania native, said. "Both are about teamwork, practice/planning and execution. There are a lot of similarities between sports and business, but I find that true of all things that involve people at the top of their chosen field.

"The best musicians, magicians, equestrians ... the best anything ... are where they are because they are the ones who work hardest to perfect their skills."

Dill brings his teamwork approach to MillerCoors Albany at a pivotal time in the plant's history: on the verge of its 30th anniversary in the city. And while he shows proper respect for the history of the facility, he makes no bones that his primary concern is for its future.

"One thing people learn about me right quick is that I want to win," Dill said. "And I want people around me who want to win. The way you win in business is to come to work every day and be accountable for the responsibilities that go with your job. You do the right things according to the guidelines that have been established, and you try to get better at your job every day.

"We have some smart and talented people working here at the Albany plant. They know how to make beer. My role is about leadership, about making sure we do the things together that allow us to continue to get better at what we do."

A DREAM JOB

While the MillerCoors position is Dill's first beer-related job, he's certainly put in his time in the food industry. A Penn State graduate with a degree in Food Service and Housing Administration and a master's in Public Service from the University of Rio Grande, Dill learned the concept of urgency in his very first job out of college.

A relief supervisor for Sky Chef, a Dallas subsidiary of American Airlines, Dill and his crew worked under the pressure of knowing that any flight delay they caused resulted in a $100-per-minute fine for domestic flights and a $1,000-a-minute penalty for international flights.

"I learned right out of the gate that you do whatever it takes to get a job done," he said.

After three years, Dill took a position with salad maker Mrs. Crockett's Kitchen, a gig he turned into a three-year contract in Australia. A number of positions with high-profile companies followed: managing shifts turning out Triscuits and Shredded Wheat in Niagara Falls, frozen pies in Seattle and Fleischmann's margarine in Denison, Texas, for Nabisco; overseeing the maufacture of Tostino's Pizza and Pizza Rolls for Pillsbury in Wellston, Ohio; and a brief stopover with Bay Valley Foods for General Mills after it bought Pillsbury.

Then came the call from SABMiller, only a short time after the company merged with Coors to become MillerCoors.

"The job with General Mills was close to where I grew up, but the chance to work for MillerCoors was a dream job," Dill said. "When I came here to interview -- I was sitting at this same table in the chair you're sitting in now -- they asked me why I wanted this job. That was an easy one.

"I told them, No. 1, I wanted to make a difference in the operations and productivity of this plant. And, No. 2, since it didn't look like I was going to realize my dream of being a professional athlete, managing a brewery is No. 2 on my all-time list of jobs I've always wanted."

CREATING SECURITY

At the Albany plant, Dill said his primary concern is increasing efficiency. The plant, which is operating on a five-day-a-week schedule, is budgeted to produce 9.2 billion barrels of beer next year, a significant increase in production.

"I would like to see our production numbers reach a point where we're back to running operations seven days a week," Dill said. "If we improve our performance at the plant, we're going to increase our volume. If we do it in conjunction with increased safety, quality and service standards, the end result is job security.

"In this area and this economy, that would be a tremendous stress reducer. Corporate has made it clear that they will increase our budgeted output to meet the production levels we're capable of reaching."

That, according to long-time employees like Tim Kretzer, who has 30 years in at the plant, should be the goal of all 600 of the MillerCoors workers.

"Our jobs should not be solely about money, but the bottom line is every case of beer that leaves this plant going over the hill is what determines everyone's paycheck," he said. "We're all in this together."

Which, at the end of the day, is music to Tim Dill's ears.

"Sure, it's a job, and there's a level of stress that goes with any job," he says. "But what I'm doing is also a whole lot of fun. I mean, we're making beer for goodness' sake. I take a great deal of pride in manufacturing products that are recognized the world over.

"How many hairdressers do you know who want to go home and cut anybody's hair after doing it at work all day long? How many CPAs want to do taxes around the house? Me ... when I get home, I'm happy to sit back and drink a Miller Lite with anyone who comes over."