Rudy Hudson, a department supervisor at 3M, has worked for the Brownwood 3M plant for more than 50 years and credits his ability to continuously learn and adapt for his longevity.
Walking through a maze of corridors to his office, passersby wave or have a brief conversations with Hudson as he travels through building after building - most having rows of rollers and strippers producing reflecting material used in street signs, license plates, safety uniforms and more around the world.
“When I came out here, everybody knew everybody,” said Hudson, passing a trike used by some employees for long trips. “Now, the plant is so big a person could work at one end and you would never see them.”
Hudson was 21 when he began working for 3M in 1966; when it had an all-male workforce of 100, paid less than $2 an hour and production was housed primarily in one building.
“My very first job was as a helper in the maker,” Hudson said. “My salary then was $1.81 an hour. That was a pretty good job, a really good job actually ... When I came to work out here it was an all male workforce. The only women that worked here were in the office area.”
Having worked for every plant manager that has come to Brownwood, Hudson said he oversaw many changes and not just social changes to the workforce. As time progressed, so did the facility, women joined the factory floor, the wages steadily increased to meet the needs of the employees and production dramatically increased with technological innovations.
Hudson said with each change that came, he adapted, which included writing Brownwood 3M’s first International Standard Operation manual for a piece of 3M machinery. With his only experience writing being a typing class at Brownwood High School, Hudson knew he had a difficult task.
“The concept was to have someone who had never ran the machine read it and be able to run it. It took six months to write up to 400 pages,” Hudson said.
Hudson said overcoming challenges is one of the things that’s kept him with 3M for so long and the philosophy of continuously improving every day convinces him the plant will be in Brownwood for a long time.
“The future looks bright for this plant,” Hudson said. “I’m proud of that. A lot of places you go, you don’t know if it’s going to be there in 20 years. This plant will be here.”