By Steve Yablonski
Chief operating officer, LeRoi Inc,
Julie Truell started with LeRoi Inc. in 1996 as a customer service representative while attending college for business administration.
“The company was about a year old at that time and all departments were in the initial stages of development,” she said. “Even though I was in customer service, I assisted in all areas and wore many hats.”
Over the years, she has worked her way up to overseeing all aspects of the Oswego-based body piercing jewelry company.
“I continue to learn and streamline the operations. My position is chief operating officer of LeRoi Inc,” she said. “I currently oversee all departments.”
LeRoi has 46 employees in nine different departments, she added.
The company started out with just five employees. And, as the company has grown Truell has methodically built up each department adding multiple levels of management to increase manufacturing, efficiency and productivity.
The departments are: customer service, assembly and packaging, purchasing and inventory, machine shop, laser welding, lost wax casting, gold-smithing, finishing and polishing, accounting-accounts receivable-accounts payable.
Some weren’t readily convinced a woman could handle the position, Truell said.
“I have had to prove myself many times to vendors and other business contacts that I have the knowledge and aptitude to run a manufacturing operation of this size,” she said. “Because of this, I have diligently implemented a gender diverse environment which I believe leads to different perspectives, better communication, staff retention and an overall positive environment to work in.”
Women hold a variety of jobs at LeRoi. They range from customer service, assembly, fabricating metal shapes, grinding, polishing, laser welding, lost wax casting, stone setting, gold smithing and machine operations, according to Truell.
All of LeRoi’s manufacturing operations are considered light manufacturing.
The concern for safety is primarily in eye protection and protection from airborne dust and debris, Truell said.
“You can get very dirty with the compounds we use for polishing, but we have implemented state-of-the-art air filtration systems and all of the most current safety protocol. There are minimal dangers and the company is very safe to work for,” she added.
“We are very conscious about preventing burnout. We do our best to cross-train employees so that there are a variety of tasks that each of them can perform,” she said. “This allows us to reduce monotony and help our artisans stay motivated and focused.”
Currently, women make up about 30% of the people employed in manufacturing industries. At LeRoi, it is closer to 45%.
LeRoi Inc. is a jewelry manufacturing company. It is an industry that is artistic in nature.
“Because of this, we attract a diverse culture of skilled artistic talent which currently includes 21 women,” Truell said. “Nearly 50% of the applicants we have had for the last 27 years have been women. The company is run by a woman. I believe this has created a work culture here that naturally attracts more and more women each year.”