The Next Generation:
Whether it's a new grad just starting out, a dedicated mid-career-er changing paths or leaders looking to advance, we are committed to helping the next generation of talent reach their goals. Many of our team members have created unique career paths at Jonathan Louis, and in this series, we celebrate their stories and growth. Interested in a similar opportunity? We always have our door open for future talent—check out our Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor for availabilities.
This week, we talk to David Mercado, Sr. Manager of Scheduling and Planning, who started working with us at Jonathan Louis in 1995. He came to us from Chili’s, where he he started as a busboy and was promoted to a waiter. His grandmother entered the picture and told him, “This is not a real job,” and pushed him out of his comfort zone.
This is his experience so far:
What did you want to do when you grew up?
Architecture! I’ve always had an interest in shapes and layouts–I’m not sure why, but it’s always caught my attention. Most people overlook those little details like all the lines coming together into 90-degree angles, seeing how it all comes together. It was always something that caught my attention, and I noticed [when I lived in Mexico City] that it was a great career. I took a couple classes.
How did you come to work in JL?
My Grandma. As mentioned before, she didn’t approve of my waiter’s job, and one Thursday told me to come pick her up, and when I did, she said, “we’re going to Johnny’s, I’m going to get you a real job.” And I said, “Ok.”
We drove around for a while–she didn’t even know where [the office] was. This was before smartphones. She’s like, “it’s in El Segundo,” and we drove around on Aviation until we hit Figueroa and then she knew where it was.
I was 22 at the time, and after I met Johnny [Valle, COO], the only thing he said was, “Come Monday, at 7, come look for me right here.”
Ceci (a former secretary) used to make fun of me for that–”Ah your grandma brought you to work,” and so on.
We're all ears!
What did you expect when you first came to work at JL in the first year? In 5 years?
I was convinced I could lead a department as soon as I had enough experience with this new industry. For the first 3 months I learned most of the fabrics, and the next three months I was focusing on processes in the Cutting department, and shortly after that the opportunity of creating the Scheduling department became available.
The Scheduling position was created for me by Bob Quintana, then a Plant Manager. He put the structure in, and scheduling at that time wasn’t handled by one person.
I started learning in May and by July I was scheduling. Was this fast? If you ask anyone, they would tell you I was screwing up production from the beginning.
It started off all manual, by hand. We didn’t get computers until August.
When I started, I would work 1.5 shifts, the 7 am to 3:30 pm one and then from 4 pm to 8 pm. Seven am to 3:30 pm was fabric inventory, and from 4 pm to 8 pm I was working with Javier [Sanchez, CEO] on receiving fabrics inside the system.
Can you repeat that again?
Describe your current role and what you like most about it. What do you think is an opportunity?
As head of the Scheduling and Planning departments our main goal is to review every single order coming in the system, and then make the decision of when to schedule while keeping in mind all conditions by the customer and the order. The close interaction with departments (Customer Service, Purchasing, Logistics in Gardena, and Cutting, Supply Chain, Production and some others in Mexico) is something that I like and enjoy.
I think we have an opportunity to work more closely with Mexico; we’re an integral part of production, and it makes sense for us to be integrated with those teams. We’re already working more closely now than we were before and we can see the difference. Having more efficient and continuous communication has relieved some of the stress we frequently had in the past.
Did you have a mentor (at JL or elsewhere)?
If I need to choose one, I feel that Johnny has been a very big influence on me, but there've been other important people helping me through my career in Jonathan Louis like Javier and Bob Q. Bob took the time to teach me to do this or not do this.
Also very early in life I had this person helping me focus on school, rather than being on the streets just having fun. His name was Severiano Martinez; he was my best friend’s grandpa back in Mexico City.
If you were a sea animal, which one would you be and why?
If you had a time machine, which part of history would you revisit and why?
7/20/1969 first man on the moon.
What song can you listen to on repeat?
If you could be fluent in any other language which would it be?
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life what would it be?
Taquitos with guacamole!
Favorite time of the year?
What’s something people take seriously but shouldn’t?
Who’s your role model?
What have you accomplished here that you’re most proud of?
AUTO RELEASE and AUTO NOTE hahaha! Being part of this organization after 27 years is an accomplishment. I'm very proud of the way that I connect with many other departments in a positive way.
How has JL supported you in career development?
I don’t know how to put this in words, but JL has been there for me many times, helping me grow as a person and professionally, giving me the opportunity to accomplish personal and professional goals in my life.
For example, early in my career here, we were supported with training. We had people come in from a local college to help us be better leaders. In the early 2000s, before it was commonplace, we were sent to be more familiar with Excel and Word. These types of classes helped me see in a different perspective–they opened our mind to be curious and to try and understand more.
How would you describe the company culture? How does management support the employees (benefits, events, training, etc.)?
The culture of this company has evolved slowly over the years, but recently I’ve noticed the change has been faster than ever before. The technology that the company is putting in place has helped us interact with each other faster and more efficiently. We’ve also had events to create a stronger culture within the company.
I see the culture of the company evolving to be more open. It was almost 100% Hispanics back then, but now we’re more open to diversity. It gives us the opportunity to take advantage of new ideas and different ways of thinking.
What are your next career steps—in the next year? In 3 years (rather than where do you see yourself in 3 years)?
Immediate goals pertaining to my current role: participate and support in areas of opportunity, create a stronger bond between our companies here in Gardena and in Mexico, and understand our different cultures to interact more efficiently as one company.
My future at the company in three years? Still at JL, scheduling and planning likely. Processes are going to get more automated, and I don’t know if they’ll still need to supervise all these processes, so I might be able to grow to cover other areas.
What have you learned at JL?
There are many things to point out, but the values are the most remarkable of them: determination, integrity, compassion, etc.
Concentration is the name of the game