A Highland resident is the first industrial engineer hired at Strack & Van Til.
Chad Celestin, 38, of Highland, has been with the store since 1995, when he was 18 years old. Celestin started as a bagger. He always knew he was going to college, and initially majored in electrical engineering. After a couple of years, Celestin left college, but he continued climbing in his career at Strack & Van Til until he became manager of the Crown Point store.
When he made plans to go back to college, Celestin said he took his resume to an adviser at Purdue University Calumet in Hammond. She suggested he enroll in the industrial engineering program, something he has loved ever since.
Celestin said it took him eight years to earn his bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering technology and, during that time, he did a senior design project at the Strack & Van Til Distribution Center in Munster, while continuing to work as a store manager.
"The senior project that I did saved the store $140,000," Celestin said. "One of the supervisors came to me in my senior year. They were getting ready to hire an industrial engineer.
"He heard I was in the program and he interviewed me and asked me if I thought I could handle the job. That's when he gave me a one-shot deal to develop a plan to improve efficiency at the Distribution Center."
Celestin studied the store's warehouse system and, using the industrial technology tools he learned at Purdue Calumet, he conducted time studies and performance measurements and developed control charts. He developed standard work procedures for the distribution employees. He rewrote the job evaluation, wrote a training manual and developed a training video for employees.
Celestin was hired as the industrial engineer for the company. He went on to earn a master's degree at Purdue Calumet in May in industrial engineering. He works out of the main office in Highland. Strack & Van Til has 38 stores in Indiana and Illinois. Celestin also teaches some industrial engineering classes at Purdue Calumet.
If Celestin has any advice to offer others, he said he would tell them: "Time is going to pass, so you need to make the most of it. I'd rather know that at the end of that time, I've accomplished something to better myself and my family."