A Conversation with Jim Romine, Moen

Jim Romine, MSF, was a senior manufacturing engineer at faucet maker Moen before retiring in January after 36 years in the finishing industry. We caught up with Jim as he was preparing for another afternoon out on the golf course, still seeking his first hole-in-one.

PF: How did you get your start in the finishing industry?

JR: I was hired as the plating lab technician at Sterling Faucet in 1983. When I left in 1992, I was the plating manager.

PF: What have been the biggest changes in the past four decades?

JR: I’ve worked my whole career in the plumbing fixture industry. When I started, it was a chrome, chrome, chrome business. Now we produce a multitude of finishes. Faucets have changed from an appliance to a decorating accent piece.

PF: What are your retirement plans?

JR: Travel, more golf, more time with family, restoring an old car, more exercise and less stress. Sounds great to me.

PF: What’s the best piece of advice you were given?

JR: My grandmother always said “You can only make a first impression once.”

PF: What was your first job, and what did you learn from it?

JR: I was the substitute paperboy in my hometown for three different routes. When they needed you, they needed you; and it paid better than the everyday paperboy rate. You had to remember the routes, and the papers had to go on the right porch. I learned that the details really do matter.

PF: If you had $100,000 to give to a charity, which one would it be?

JR: Habitat for Humanity (HFH) does incredible things with and for people. They get them into homes, which they earn and learn how to pay for themselves. HFH teaches folks how to thrive, not just survive.

PF: What was your first car, and what is your dream car?

JR: My first car was a $30 1964 Dodge four door with a nice coat of Dutch Boy Latex paint brushed on. It looked great from 30 feet. My dream car would have to be a 1930s Duesenberg roadster. It will stay a dream.

PF: What leadership traits have helped you along the way?

JR: Learning how to really listen. I’m still trying to master that one. Not assuming anything. I’ve had some micromanagers along the way that taught me that’s no way to lead, and I thank them for that.

PF: When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

JR: A veterinarian.

PF: Night owl or early bird?

JR: Definitely early bird. I’m awake when the alarm goes off.

PF: Favorite place you’ve ever lived?

JR: Where I’m at right now, here in Sanford, North Carolina. A great town, good folks, nice climate, geographically handy to most of the eastern U.S. We’re staying here.

PF: What organization do you most admire?

JR: The Lions Club. It’s the largest service organization in the world, and they help people globally.

PF: If you could trade jobs with anyone for a day, who would it be?

JR: Starter at Augusta National Golf Course or Pebble Beach.

A Conversation with Jim Romine, Moen

PF: Where would we find you on a typical Saturday?

JR: Working in the yard, flea marketing or cruising in my old car, a 1959 Olds.

PF: Best way to keep competitive edge?

JR: Networking, continuing education and read everything you can get your hands on.

PF: Personal heroes?

JR: My Dad. He grew up in a dirt-floor house in West Virginia, became a captain in the Marines and later a senior R&D chemist. I learned a lot about how to live my life from him.

PF: How do you motivate people?

JR: Through them seeing my actions. That says more than words ever can.

PF: How do you motivate yourself?

JR: Never thought about it. I guess I’m just wired to not sit still very much.

PF: Three greatest passions?

JR: Family, friends and new experiences.

PF: Most unique office décor?

JR: My “Future Hole- in-One” award my mother cross-stitched for me about 30 years ago. Haven’t gotten one yet, so it’s still on the wall.

PF: Best business decision?

JR: I had two job offers in 1992, and I went with Moen. Never regretted it.

PF: Worst business decision?

JR: Buying a barrel plating line as is, where is. It was so corroded it was almost unusable.

PF: Biggest management myth?

JR: You don’t have to be technically fluent to run a technical operation, like a plating shop.

PF: What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?

JR: Spend more time with family and friends. Work will be there when you return to it.

PF: Word that best describes you:

JR: Hopefully, honest.

About Jim

Family: Wife Karen, son Ben and his wife, Christa, and their daughter, Isabel.

Favorite hobby: Being outdoors.

Favorite movie: “Outlaw Josie Wales.”

Favorite book: “The Third Bullet,” a JFK conspiracy novel.

What’s playing in your car CD/radio: Sirius Underground Garage.