CoorsTek Employee Stories
Our goal is to create a talented and diverse workforce—employing steadfast individuals from all walks of life. Over the past 100+ years, thousands have found their career home at CoorsTek, learning new trades and achieving personal success in unexpected ways. Here are a few of their stories:
50 years goes fast
After being laid off by a watch manufacturer in Lincoln, Nebraska, Phyllis Walter moved to Golden, Colorado where she started working at Coors Porcelain, now known as CoorsTek.
Phyllis began working in Final Inspection at the original 600 9th St. facility (the only facility in existence at the time). There was only one inspection department then, where all parts were 100% inspected visually and dimensionally in a small room where ten inspectors worked side by side. She then progressed through roles in Grinding, Inspection, Metallizing, and Metallizing Inspection. Then she bid on a job in the Iso‐Forming department, where she immediately beat established manufacturing rates, and where she continued to work at high speed for over 35 years. Phyllis worked all shifts – day, swing (which she enjoyed), and graveyard. She was one of the first women in the company promoted to setup and to operate three manual lathes.
Phyllis retired from CoorsTek after 50 years of service.
From opportunity to calling
After graduating from high school, John applied for work at the Coors brewery. When he learned instead the ceramics plant needed help, he took a job loading 100 pound sacks in the ceramic material preparation (CMP) department. Soon he was awarded a kiln-loader position, where he began learning the manufacturing process. Thanks to the CoorsTek tuition reimbursement program, John started taking mechanical engineering classes.
As CoorsTek expanded and opened new facilities, John became a plant/facilities engineer — using his recent education and training to help grow the business. Nine years later, he was promoted to his first leadership role as a production supervisor, leading 20 people on swing-shift.
Over the next years, John used his skills to take advantage of several opportunities — serving in other roles including Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Administrator and engineering team lead at multiple CoorsTek plants.
In his latest role, John shared financial responsibility with the sales group for several product categories and began traveling with the sales team to various customers. Here he learned his true calling — sales. John used the variety of experience he gained in different roles to excel, becoming Product Manager, then Director of Sales, and eventually retiring as Vice President, leading CoorsTek Armor Solutions.
EUN SUK CHA
My “American Dream” started during my two tours of duty in Vietnam as one of over 300,000 troops South Korea sent to Vietnam in appreciation of the assistance the US provided in the Korean War. As an officer in the Korean Army, I fought alongside American soldiers and taught Tae Kwon Do to the American and ally-Vietnamese forces. I knew then that moving my family from Korea to the United States would be a path for success.
In the fall of 1976, I took the first step as a Korean-American immigrant and moved our family to Westminster, Colorado. Finding work was tough for all Americans, let alone a non-English speaking immigrant. After working in whatever manual labor jobs were available, opportunity struck. Thinking of my two boys, then 3 and 8, I jumped at a chance to work with the Coors brewery. The first milestone of my American Dream was met — working in a steady job, with good pay and opportunities to advance.
The management team — carrying on the philosophy of identifying, investing in, and promoting high achievers — recognized my military training and leadership. They provided me with the opportunity to improve my English and to participate in the management training program. Through this, I was able to reach my second American Dream milestone — US citizenship. Now I was also able to invest in the education of my children. My oldest, John, valedictorian of Westminster High School, was able to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his dream school. My youngest, Paul, also followed as valedictorian and MIT (and later Harvard).
If my American Dream were to stop there, I would have no regrets. But through the generosity of the Coors family, I was able to take my American Dream a little further. Now I was called upon to help CoorsTek become the first US-owned business in South Korea — meeting the needs of CoorsTek customers with Asian operations, and opening a gateway to grow our business worldwide.
I owe, in large part, the fulfillment of my American Dream to the Coors family and CoorsTek. They have touched the lives of my family in countless ways – including things as personal as providing the means to give my sons top-notch educations, an opportunity for my youngest son Paul to spend time with me in Korea (where he later he met his bride), and for me to explore my own potential.
On a personal level, it helped me to continue to provide for my family and to help put my two sons through professional school. John is now a doctor in Florida, an assistant professor of surgery, and also a Lt. Colonel in the Army reserves after serving two tours. Paul is an attorney, former partner at Holme Roberts & Owen, and past president of the Asian Bar Association after serving as a high school teacher and coach.
Paul joined CoorsTek in 2011, providing counsel on all kinds of legal matters including intellectual property and property. He now serves as Global IP Counsel while continuing to support the CoorsTek Korea operation. Paul, through his work, hopes to give back to CoorsTek and the Coors family that has given him opportunity through me. CoorsTek will continue to be a part of the legacy and success of the future generations of the Cha family.