When you’re talking with Bo Thomas, Superintendent of Engineering and Maintenance, two words come to mind: challenge and creativity. It seems like the challenges in life bring out Bo’s creativity…and he’s had the chance for plenty of both right here, where he just celebrated his 20th year at Bob’s Red Mill.
“When the fire burned down Bob’s mill I was working right across the street. Bob was renting some of our warehouse for his supplies. He hired me in 1990 to do maintenance and keep his machines running. I was out of my element. It was a challenge,” he confided.
“Bob and I worked together a lot in the early days. We didn’t have the money to spend on new equipment, so we had to be very resourceful. We made a machine to pre-label empty bags which had parts we removed from an old broken photo copy machine. Another time we were co-packing a product for a customer who required us to put a bag into a carton, glue seal the carton, and put on a date code. We came up with a crazy contraption that automatically folded and glued the carton, and stamped a date on the top. It had a distinctive bang sound every time it stamped a date, so we named it the Bo Bo Banger.”
Every piece of machinery in our mill has Bo’s fingerprints on it. His has the creative genius to think in whole systems, then design and build each piece of the intricate factory lines. “If I come to a point where I’m stuck I have to dream about it for awhile. An inspiration comes and I write it down quick before I forget it.” He continues talking about creativity, “Everybody has a different thing they are good at. Nobody knows it all. We have so many people here now. Each one brings some new talent to the company. It’s fun!”
When Bo talks about fun you can be sure it’s creative. We thought we’d share with you some of his sculptures, made from ordinary corrugated cardboard, which combine an amazing attention to detail with a humorous sense of scale. It is easy to see his eye as an inventor as he explores the properties of a medium most people would overlook entirely.
Challenge…creativity, that’s Bo at his best!
Written by Christie Coykendall