ANNA — A father and son associate team at Honda of America’s Anna Engine Plant share a bond when they see a Honda vehicle on the road. They know they’ve had a part in the production of the finished product.
Mike Foulkes, of Wapakoneta, and his son, Kevin Foulkes, of Lima, work different shifts at the plant, but they both know they have found a home at the plant.
Mike has been with the company for 24 years. Kevin recently celebrated his first anniversary with Honda.
“I worked somewhere else before I started here,” said Mike. “I knew Honda built a good product. The first time I applied at Honda, it was right after college, but at the time I wasn’t living in their hiring area.”
Foulkes didn’t let deter him as he kept putting his application in the job pool.
“There’s a stability in the work environment,” said Mike.
He works in the machining department where he drills and taps holes in the engine block, which gets it ready for assembly.
He has worked in other departments, including assembly, when he was first hired by the company.
“When you transfer to a different department, you get on-the-job training,” he said.
Mike said since he’s joined Honda, “there’s five times as many robots here. There’s a lot more automation. You have to keep up with the technology.”
Mike said the best thing — beside his son joining the company — is the stability Honda has provided his family.
“I see myself retiring from here,” he said. Son Kevin was 4 1/2 when his dad started at Honda.
“There was an open house two months after I started and I pushed Kevin and his brother around the plant in a stroller,” recalled Mike. “I think he slept through it. But it was his first experience of the plant.”
Mike said he was excited when Kevin told him he had gotten a job at Honda.
“I encouraged him to apply here,” said Mike.”The economy is always changing, and it seems like Honda has always kept up with that. Now, we’re building several products on one line.”
Mike said there’s a family atmosphere at Honda, and that’s something he really likes.
Kevin, who graduated from Lima Bath in 2009, said working at Honda was always an option he had in the back of his mind.
“It was because of him that I was into cars,” said Kevin. “I played with Hot Wheels when I was little.”
After high school, Kevin attended UNOH in Lima and studied automotive technology.
“I was a mechanic for a while,” he said. “But the job security is not at the same level as at a company like Honda.”
Kevin said he hadn’t thought about working at Honda for a while as he liked being a mechanic.
“I had taken tours of the plant,” he said, but wasn’t ready to apply for a job with the company. With the round of retirements hitting the company in 2018, Kevin decided the time was right to apply at Honda. He now works in the ferrous manufacturing department.
“It’s a big department,” he said. “It’s half the plant.”
He’s responsible for casting the engine block, which means he’s melting, pouring and spinning the materials.
“It’s exciting and exhilarating work,” said Kevin. “The day goes by fast. “
When he was a mechanic, Kevin worked on all types of Honda vehicles.
“They were easy to work on and you could get spare parts in Troy,” he said. “Honda owners are loyal customers. I used to work on cars with more than 300,000 miles and I’d tell them I can’t make any money as I an’t find anything wrong with it. A Honda will last forever.”
And that’s a fact that Kevin knows to be true. When he was 16, his dad bought him a new 1998 Honda Civic.
“I’m 28 and I’m still driving it,” said Kevin. “It has almost 300,000 miles on it.
“It’s interesting that I used to work on old cars,” said Kevin. “Now I’m helping to build brand new ones. I work int he first, initial stage of building an engine.”
“I’m happy he’s working here,” said Mike. “I’ve always planted a bug in his ear that with his education and work history, he’d have his foot in the door. He’s got a good work history that can qualify him for other jobs.”
The father and son shared a memory of when Mike would leave for work every day.
“He was four or five and I’d be leaving to work third shift,” said Mike. “He’s say, ‘bye dad, build some good mufflers today.’ I’d tell him ‘OK’ and I’d leave. Of course I wasn’t building mufflers, but that’s the part of the car he could see.”
Today the father and son are making good “mufflers” together.