Braulio Castillo vividly remembers traveling to the Platte County Fair with his father as a child and always being curious about what went on behind the closed doors of 1751 12th Ave.
The business sign read Columbus Hydraulics, and to a young Castillo, the operation sounded pretty impressive from its exterior billboard.
“We’d always drive up and down this street heading to Ag Park for the fair, and we would always see the big old Columbus Hydraulics sign, and I’d always think, ‘What do they do there?'” Castillo said. “And now I’m here.”
Castillo, a 2010 graduate of Lakeview High School, started working for Columbus Hydraulics in September 2016 after toiling away on construction sites for two years and graduating from Hastings College in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, with an emphasis in business management.
Starting on the low end of the totem pole, Castillo began working as an oil tester on the hydraulic cylinders the company makes and distributes all over the United States and world. Three months into his job, he learned of an opportunity to robot weld within the plant and fervently mastered the craft in a short period of time.
“I had never even seen an automated welder before and I took it on headfirst,” he said. “We needed help and I stepped up to the plate and started training on days (day shift) for about a week and then I was left by myself to run that thing. I learned the ins-and-outs of it and just kept working.”
This dedication eventually moved Castillo into a leadership role in July, when he was hired by Human Resources Director Jay Edwards to serve as his second in command in the capacity of human resources assistant.
“He was going to be a good fit for the plant regardless of where he was at,” Edwards said of Castillo. “It’s his willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. He really did start at the very base of where you could start and he did that having a degree, and he did whatever it took to get ahead, and that showed his leadership."
Castillo said that career advancement opportunities separate Columbus Hydraulics from other employers. Established in 1952, Columbus Hydraulics employs approximately 165 employees, many of whom have worked through the ranks to better positions and salaries from when they initially joined the company.
“Basically, what we can do here is we can take someone that is entry level skill and just turn them into something great, you know what I’m saying?” he asked. “That is what we have to offer here. Taking those entry-level positions and turning them into highly desirable employees.”
The company, Castillo said, relies on a top-tier workforce to produce hydraulic cylinders of all shapes and sizes for its assortment of customers. Most cylinders range in price from around $100 to $1,000, he said.
Many cylinders are tailor-made to meet customer needs.
“These cylinders go into $15,000 to $250,000 machines,” Castillo said. “We are making the product that our customers need to put into these very expensive machines. We make them here from scratch, from raw material; we make sure that they perform to expectations before they leave our assembly line. We check them and really do baby them because they need to meet our clients' expectations."
Business productivity headed the decision to build a new Columbus Hydraulics facility on the northeast side of town.
By 2019, the goal is to have a new, 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility erected with groundbreaking taking place within the next couple of months, Edwards said.
“Right now our space is very limited; it (current facility) has been in place since the (19)50s and it has continued to grow organically and the new space will give us the chance to lay out our manufacturing in a much more methodical way," he said. "It will increase our manufacturing efficiencies, which will be good for the company overall.”
With expansion comes the possibility of heightened business and the need for more quality employees, much like Castillo. Employees who will come in with the “work hard” attitude and perform, excel and continually grow.
“He’s really the face of what we are looking for in terms of people to come in and help with this business,” Edwards said. “This business will keep growing and eventually we will go from a two-shift operation to a three-shift operation and we need people like Braulio to make it happen. This town is great, and one of the reasons we are here is because we know we can find more people like Braulio.”
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.