OTTUMWA — Finding someone who's been with the same company more than 30 years is becoming increasingly rare. Bob Gomez has enjoyed making pop for nearly 50 years.
"I'm never bored," said Gomez, 67, the production manager at Dr Pepper Snapple Group located near the Ottumwa Regional Airport.
New flavors (they make 65 right now), new people, small improvements that he's helped implement all add to the adventure of turning out soft drinks over the past 49 years.
"There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes," Gomez said, "to get the product to the supermarket shelf."
Much of what goes on is overseen by Gomez.
"Bob has been instrumental to the corporation," said Jim Murray, plant manager. "I have leaned on Bob because of his experience."
It isn't just how long he's been doing the job: Gomez is made for management, Murray said, from being willing to work as long as it takes to get the job done to his attitude toward associates. Even if someone becomes confrontational, Gomez stays calm.
"He's very even keeled," said Murray. "People look at Bob as fair."
If there is a downside to his calm, Murray said, it's that he made the production manager job look easy. So as junior managers step into higher positions anticipating Gomez's impending retirement, they discover just how tense the work day can be for someone responsible for getting millions cans of product out the door.
Many of the supervisors have been trained by Gomez, who likes connecting with a first-time supervisor, coaching and teaching them so that years later, he can see them training a new employee. But there's something he just can't instill in a young supervisor or an equipment operator.