CSS 75th Spotlight: See What Our Employees Have to Say

75 Year Logo
Written by: CSS Marketing Team

As Consolidated Sterilizer Systems celebrates its 75th year, we want to take a moment to recognize the fact that this company could not have come as far as it has without the support of its people. Every single one of our employees are an important part of the fabric and journey of this company, and each plays an integral role in creating the simple, reliable, and high-quality autoclaves for which we’re known.

Join us as we share the stories of just a few of the people who make CSS great.

Ries Collier, Machinist — 1+ Year

Ries is what you would call a jack of all trades. From baking to carpentry, he’s tried his hand at quite a few different professions over the years but seems to have finally found his calling as a machinist.

“I started [at CSS] as a painter, painting and wrapping units,” says Ries. “When they needed help in the machine shop, I offered, and took to it like a fish to water.”

That was roughly a year ago. These days, you find Ries running the CNC mill or lathe, making parts that go into just about anything and everything CSS produces, including doors, generators, cart carriages and more. Ries also lends a helping hand in the plumbing area, assembling steam generators and plumbing units.

Even though he hasn’t been with the company long, Ries can already see that there’s a lot to like about CSS.

“Everybody here is fantastic; they’re all so nice,” he says. “I’ve learned so much, so quickly because everybody is willing to answer any questions you might have. And if you ask someone a question and they can’t answer it, they point you to someone who can. It’s a great culture for a machine shop.”

According to Ries, that positive culture extends all the way to the management team.

“Management trusts you to do your own thing, which I really enjoy,” he says. “This is also the type of environment where if you show initiative, management takes notice and rewards you with more responsibilities. They’ve given me a lot of responsibility in a short amount of time, which is great.”

In addition to the people, he’s also motivated by the important work that the company does, citing CSS’s support for medical research in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the culture to the mission to the work itself, Ries feels as though he’s truly found the right fit.

“I hope that I can stay with this company for a very long time.”

Monica Johnstone, Accounts Receivable — 3 Years

In 2018, if you had told Monica that in just three years’ time she’d be working for an autoclave manufacturing company, she would’ve been completely surprised. At the time, Monica — who holds a degree in finance — was working in the compliance office of a stock broker company in the Financial District in Boston. She had never heard of steam sterilization before, let alone an autoclave. But when the time came to look for a new position, her search led her to CSS — and it was a perfect fit, right from the start.

“I really appreciated how welcoming Arthur [Trapotsis, CEO] and Lissa [Davidson, HR Manager] were during my interviews, and how proud they are of what they’re doing,” says Monica. “You can see every time you talk to Arthur — his enthusiasm for the product that he makes and for the company. I wanted to be part of that.”

Monica originally took a role in accounts payable, but eventually became the head of accounts receivable, where she handles billing and collections on incoming orders. That’s another quality she likes about Consolidated:

“I think the opportunity to move into accounts receivable shows how [management] wants people to grow within the company,” she says. “It’s nice that you never feel like you’re stuck in one position.”

Her role has also given her the chance to show off her skills. A native of Colombia, Monica speaks fluent Spanish, which comes in handy when talking to international clients. In fact, she sometimes finds herself playing translator for different departments, which gives her the opportunity to learn about new areas of expertise. According to Monica, that’s really her favorite part of working for CSS: learning.

“That’s one thing I really love about the culture,” she says. “We’re all from different backgrounds and all have different roles, but we all want to learn. There are so many knowledgeable people at CSS that it makes you want to be better. Any time the service team comes in to teach about a new project, I want to be in that room, because every time that I am, I learn something new. That’s something that’s really unique.”

It’s this company-wide emphasis on continuous learning and improvement — plus regular encouragement from the management team — that keeps Monica coming back for more.

She even saw this reflected in the company’s approach to the pandemic: In a year that proved challenging for everyone, CSS remained committed to finding new opportunities for revenue growth, all while making sure that its employees were well taken care of. It gives Monica high hopes for the future.

“We have really professional and intelligent people who are always looking for ways to make things better.”

Nick Mannella, Fabrication Supervisor — 6 Years

You could say that Nick’s journey to the world of manufacturing was unconventional. According to the six-year CSS veteran, he started working second shift at a manufacturing company to help pay his way through school — where he was pursuing a degree in criminal justice — and took an immediate interest in CNC machines. The experience proved to be an awakening for Nick.

“I honestly haven’t looked back,” he says of his decision to change careers. “I love the atmosphere, I love working with my hands, I love working with people in that type of environment. I suddenly couldn’t picture myself sitting at a desk for 40 hours a week for the rest of my life.”

After three years with that manufacturing company, Nick decided he wanted to branch out and explore different opportunities in the field, and CSS caught his eye. Demonstrating real initiative, he contacted Bob Young, Vice President of Operations, to inquire about the job — and the rest is history.

His current position — Fabrication Supervisor — has him wearing a lot of hats. Although his primary responsibility is running the production schedule through the shop, on any given day, Nick might also find himself doing CNC programming on water jets and press breaks, sourcing parts that CSS doesn’t make in-house to maintain inventory levels, identifying opportunities for process improvements, and even filling in on the shop floor any time an extra set of hands is needed.

It might seem like a lot but, according to him, it’s what keeps things interesting — well, that, and the people.

“I wouldn’t want to spend my 50 hours a week anywhere else,” says Nick. “Everybody here definitely works hard and goes above and beyond to exceed production demands, but there’s also such a friendly atmosphere and relaxed feeling. You feel accepted for who you are and comfortable in your own skin, which enables you to shine a bit. [That atmosphere] has been great for employee retention, and for company growth.”

In fact, that atmosphere has been pivotal to his own personal growth. When he started with the company, Nick didn’t always feel confident in his decision-making abilities, but says that the support he’s received has helped him become more self-assured. On the rare occasion that he makes a judgment call and things don’t turn out as expected, it doesn’t feel demoralizing — instead, it becomes a learning experience.

And at CSS, those learning opportunities abound. According to Nick, leadership will often hire people for entry-level positions, though they rarely stay in those positions for long. That’s because the company provides so much high-quality, on-the-job training that even within just six month, newer employees find themselves with a far more advanced skill set than when they first walked in the door.

“There’s a great deal of incentive for people to cross-train using company equipment and acquire new skills,” says Nick. “CSS gives people the tools to evolve from what would be a shop hand position into a skilled technician. That says a lot about the company — that it puts a lot of time and effort into growing people, even if they eventually decide to leave.”

As part of the management team, offering that kind of support to employees has been really rewarding for Nick.

“I personally find value in instilling skills in someone that give them the means to have a stable and lucrative career in a growing field,” he says. “I actually never saw myself in a supervisory role but being able to help other people or to point them in the right direction so that they can get the help they need is something that I enjoy on a personal level.”

Having the humility to admit when he doesn’t know the answer to something is an important takeaway from Nick’s experience at CSS. It’s just one of many lessons he’s learned, which he credits to the “positive influence” of Bob Young, VP of Operations, the support of his fellow manufacturing leads, and the humility shown by company leadership.

Amanda Cunningham, Customer Service Manager — 9 Years

When Amanda first came in to interview at CSS back in 2012, she was immediately taken in by the unusual charm that the company’s warehouse (then located in Allston) possessed.

“I’ll never forget when I showed up to the Allston office — it was a very old building with no clear entrance,” says Amanda. “One of the welders who’s been with the company for a very long time was standing outside said, ‘Are you here for Consolidated?’ and directed me to a door with the number 76 painted on it. […] I immediately thought, Wow, this place has character; I don’t know what’s going on here, but I like it.”

Even though she didn’t have any accounting experience at the time, she recalls that her interviewers were impressed by her intelligence and drive. They offered her a position in CSS’s accounting department with the assurance that the company would provide the training she needed to get up to speed. That initial encounter — and the trust that CSS’s management team demonstrated in her abilities — has set the tone for Amanda’s entire experience with the company.

These days, Amanda’s no longer in accounting. A testament to her own initiative, she’s moved organically through multiple different roles and departments, including purchasing and sales. Noting the company’s consistent growth, Amanda says that any time a need has arisen, she’s been happy to step up to the plate. She was even recently promoted from Parts Sales Lead to Customer Service Manager and is now responsible for managing all parts and service requests. Her day-to-day work is always varied and entails everything from overseeing quoting and processing orders to providing customer service and working with outside service representatives.

The diversity of work is one of Amanda’s favorite things about the job — that, and the parts/service department’s unique way of seeing things.

“Being in the parts/service department […] we sort of have to go back in time,” she says. “We aren’t just focused on what’s currently happening because we have to provide care for customers throughout time — even those who bought an autoclave 20 or 30 years ago. I think that’s also what makes Consolidated special; we’re always willing to customize things and help our customers out.”

That’s not the only thing that makes Consolidated special, though: Amanda also appreciates how much trust the management team places in her, and how they encourage her to pursue her goals.

“There’s a level of independence that you earn from being trusted to get the job done — I never feel micromanaged,” she says. “And I’ve never felt stagnant, either. Any time I’ve had an idea or wanted to go after an opportunity, management has supported it, even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as I envisioned!”

According to Amanda, it’s that trust and encouragement that has enabled her to hone her skills, request new responsibilities and share different ideas to support company growth. At the end of the day, though, she says that the best thing about working for CSS is the people.

“Consolidated has a great sense of community,” says Amanda. “I know that there’s always a team to support me if I need help with something. I get to laugh and have fun with my coworkers, but also feel like we’re making real progress. Having that balance is really exciting. There are so many people who have been with the company a lot longer than me, which keeps momentum going and speaks volumes about the type of environment that Consolidated has created.”

James Shimkus, Welder — 15 Years

For some employees, working for CSS is so nice that they decide to do it twice — at least, that was James’s story. A member of the inaugural Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School graduating class and a lifelong welder, he first applied to CSS after hearing an ad from the company’s original owner, William A. Barnstead, on the radio. By that point in his life, he had worked in a few different shops and had seen the good, the bad and the ugly. It was clear from the start that CSS was the right fit, and he stayed with the company for five years.

Fast forward over 30 years. The second time James applied for CSS, he had been doing repair work for the company as an independent contractor through his own welding company. After completing a job, he inquired whether there were any full-time openings available. As if destined, one of the company’s welders was due to retire in six months — and just like that, James was back in the CSS family.

“I got here, and ever since, I’ve been seeing this place improve, improve, improve,” says James. “A load came off my shoulders. The stress of life — all that craziness [that comes] when you don’t like what you do every day — fell away.”

Over 10 years in — technically, 15, if we’re really counting — James is just as happy at CSS as the first day he applied. In his own words, it’s unlike any other place he’s ever worked due to one simple fact: that CSS is the kind of company that cares about its people. From providing proper safety equipment and offering competitive benefits to just making sure that people feel seen and valued, he believes that it’s this level of consideration that sets CSS apart.

“It’s more like a family than anything else,” he says.

That family-like mentality extends to the management team, too.

“He’s like a brother to me,” says James when asked about CSS CEO and President, Arthur Trapotsis. “Even in my personal life, if I run into trouble, Arthur’s the guy I consult. I mean, any subject, whatever it might be, he’ll talk with me. You need that, you know? This is just a different company than anything I’ve ever been in.”

That’s high praise coming from someone who’s been in the business for over 50 years. While the sense of camaraderie is definitely a highlight of working for the company, James emphasizes that CSS’ reputation for innovation is a selling point, too, citing Arthur’s forward-thinking perspective and goal-oriented approach. That he’s able to contribute to the company’s growth and continuous improvement efforts with insights and hard-earned expertise makes James’s experience at CSS all the better.

All in all, 15 years in, and James plans on being at CSS for as long as he possibly can.

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