On this season of Working, we left the East Coast behind and flew to Detroit. We’re speaking with eight people who are drawing on the city’s complex history as they work to create its future.
For this episode, which you can listen to via the player above, we spoke with Jen Guarino, vice president of manufacturing for Shinola, a company that manufactures a wide range of products in Detroit. As she explains it, “My role is a potpourri of things. Which means that anything that is needed to support manufacturing I have my hands in.”
In particular, Guarino tells us that she focuses on new products that the company is introducing to its product line. Accordingly, she doesn’t spend much time these days with items such as watches, which Shinola has been assembling in Detroit for years. But things that are relatively new on the factory floor—turntables and headphones, for example—demand much more of her attention.
“Manufacturing in the United States is incredibly challenging,” Guarino tells us. “We usually bring in experts in a field to help us develop and engineer products here. Whether they’ve done it before or not, most of them have not done it in the United States. I’m there to help navigate through all the challenges that exist no matter what you’re trying to make in the United States.”
In this episode, Guarino talks about how she works to overcome those difficulties. Along the way, she shares how she came to Shinola, leads us through a typical day, and discusses hiring and training a workforce. Then, in a Slate Plus extra, Guarino gives us an audio tour of the factory floor. If you’re a member, enjoy bonus segments and interview transcripts from Working, plus other great podcast exclusives. Start your two-week free trial at slate.com/workingplus.