Women of Zekelman: Teresa Johnson
Teresa Johnson is proud to buy American.
In fact, it’s even part of her job. As a veteran buyer for Atlas Tube, a Zekelman Industries company, Johnson focuses on sourcing domestically made products for the company’s Alabama and Arkansas factories.
“American products are better,” says Johnson, who joined the company in 2006. “It’s patriotic. We take pride in what we make.”
That pride runs deep for Johnson, who has spent much of her career working in domestic manufacturing. It started when she discovered Zekelman through a friend who had recently taken a job with the company. Johnson was searching for a new role herself, looking to advance her career and her education. So she took a leap of faith.
“It’s always hard when you first start a new job,” says Johnson, who was grateful to join a supportive and collaborative team at Atlas. “When I first started working here, I was in inventory control in the storeroom,” she says. “Everyone on the team we were working with had room for advancement, so I knew maybe I could [advance], too.”
Seventeen years later, Johnson hasn’t looked back: “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be here for a long time,” she says.
A Supportive Work Environment
Part of what inspired Johnson to grow her career at Zekelman is seeing how teammates support one another. Her past employers lacked that kind of collaborative work environment. “Nobody I’ve worked with seemed to have the teamwork that we have here,” Johnson says.
She credits the company’s supervisors, managers and senior leadership, including Zekelman’s Chairman and CEO, Barry Zekelman, who she calls “an awesome employer” who takes care of his people.
“They listen to us,” Johnson says of her relationship with her company’s leaders. “We take their leadership very seriously and we do what we need to, but they listen to us. So we have a very good rapport with them.”
As a result, she has seen many Zekelman employees start in entry-level positions and take on increased responsibility and leadership roles. “We have young people on the floor who have become team leaders and supervisors,” she says. “You don’t see that very often in a lot of facilities.”
A Fulfilling Career
For Johnson, the payoff isn’t just a long-term career in the manufacturing industry. “The most rewarding part is the friendships I’ve made here,” she says. “The trust I have in the company. The financial stability … We’re always learning. We’re always growing.”
It all comes back to pride for Johnson: pride in the product. Pride in the company. Pride in her peers. And pride in working in domestic manufacturing. “We keep our country going, period,” she says.