Taylor Zumbrun grew up in Chattanooga. He attended college at Chattanooga State University, where he graduated with a math degree. After that, he decided to join the Kloeckner Metals family when he started working at American Fabricators Inc. (AFI) as a project analyst.
“I had heard that they wanted to make a lot of digital upgrades and they needed someone who is techno-savvy, so I thought I’d be a good fit,” Zumbrun said. “What made me decide to go this route is that I heard they were just now starting their digital journey. I decided it would be best to get in with a company now as they build their software, as opposed to a company who had been on the software side for a long time.”
With all these digital upgrades that Kloeckner Metals is pursuing, young technology experts like Zumbrun are in high demand. Working for a metals company provides unique opportunities that differ from a software company setting. At the same time, it can be a new experience for someone who has never worked in the industry. There is a lot of hands-on work, brainstorming ideas, and process flow mapping involved when taking things to a new digital level.
“I hadn’t done a lot with machines beforehand, so I have gotten to learn a lot about different types of machine, various uses, and how lean organization guides the flow of material in a warehouse,” Zumbrun said. “You have to measure employee efficiency while noting their habits when you are dealing with this kind of work, as opposed to software companies who solely focus on machine performance.”
Being part of the development process has been an interesting experience for Zumbrun. Many of the digital tools that Kloeckner uses are new and developed in-house, and so are the processes that go with them. Zumbrun utilizes his software expertise and understanding of computers to help create software tools that will be both efficient and user-friendly.
“There is a lot of brainstorming, probably more than you would expect at first,” Zumbrun said. “Once I get some ideas in place and start working on them, it’s actually cool to watch them in use by others. The process is pretty exciting. I look forward to seeing where things will go. It will be good to know in the future when things have taken off, that I have gotten to be a part of the growth within the company.”
In his spare time, Zumbrun does American-Ninja-Warrior-style obstacle courses. His athleticism also comes in handy on the golf course, where he has gotten to play with clients and coworkers alike. He has participated in some fundraiser tournaments with the AFI team, such as the Volunteer Welding Tournament.
“The friendly competition is a lot of fun,” Zumbrun said. “You hear a lot of familiar company names when you are at those events.”