Customer Interview with Milliken’s Production Safety and Training Leader, Sammy Davis

We recently had the privilege of sitting down with Sammy Davis, a Production Safety and Training Leader at Milliken and discussing his four-decade career leading to his upcoming retirement. From his beginnings on the production floor to pivotal roles in safety and training, Sammy's successful career trajectory mirrored the evolution of Milliken. More recently, Sammy has been an avid user and champion of Covalent, providing a unique perspective on how technology can be used to improve technical training programs. Join us as we delve into Sammy's contributions, industry insights, experience with Covalent, and future plans.

Tell us about your time at Milliken: 

I started at Milliken on August 3rd, 1978, making $3.15 an hour. I worked there for 9 years, left, then came back for my second stint of 36 years. 

My entire career was spent in production. I began in textiles and advanced to higher-pay positions over time. I was one of six chosen out of eighty-eight to start up operations at the Allen plant as a chemical operator. In 2011, I became a Safety and Training Facilitator for Allen where I stayed for the rest of my career.

What were some of your biggest accomplishments throughout your career at Milliken?  

At 18, I became a supervisor for the mini shift because the supervisor was out on medical leave. After that, I was chosen to come to the chemical plant, which was a huge win financially especially considering I had just gotten married and built a house. In 2016, I became a special government official for OSHA as an auditor for the VPP Federal Program. I even got to fly on the corporate jet to audit another company, which was super cool! 

In 2017, I was awarded the Safety Excellent Award and in 2018 I won the Manufacturing of the Year Award. 

How have you seen the industry change over time?

The textile industry took a hit when production moved overseas, but being the entrepreneur and industry leader that Milliken was, they switched gears to supply high-demand textiles. In the mid-70’s they built the first chemical plant and used the same strategy as they did in textile for Chemicals, which was a huge upswing for Milliken. 

Tell us more about Covalent’s integration and impact:

Before Covalent, we used Excel spreadsheets and paper skills checklists. In 2015, there was a push towards digital solutions and we found a software solution. It was not as fancy as Covalent, but it worked. When support for the software became unsustainable, we went back to Excel. We received a sales e-mail from Covalent and the rest is history. 

One of the things I learned to leverage with Covalent and still use is Analytics. I am able to get the data I need to present to corporate easily. Another plus is the automatic updates in Covalent when we make changes in other systems. This saves me a lot of time. 

Learning the system was challenging for me because I’m not very savvy on the computer. I bet I made some eyes roll while learning the system, but everyone at Covalent was always so helpful and patient. Jim built my first certification and I’ve been building ever since! 

What really set Covalent apart was the promptness. I have never had customer service anywhere that compares to Covalent. How easily accessible the team is to their clients is a breath of fresh air. Another area that made Covalent stand out compared to companies, is their innovation. Changing things quickly makes things better and better. There is a whole lot more that Covalent offers compared to other companies. 

What would you tell someone who's considering getting Covalent?

Jump in head first. Covalent is the Krispy Creme Hot and Ready Donuts; the other companies are Dunkin. No offense, Dunkin. 

What big plans do you have for retirement?

I plan to expand my barbecue hobby and work on my garden in retirement. I will add two more smoke pits, but I will still only cook for holidays and football. I want BBQ to be a hobby and never a job. 

I’ve had a spot for a garden since 2001, but I just planted it two years ago. I aim to grow enough corn on the cob to earn $500 dollars and I want to build a neighborhood produce stand. I’ll accept donations, or if you need it, get it, and if you pay, great! 

What do you hope to leave at Milliken? 

I hope that people will understand the personal engagement to safety. You need to stay on guard, look out for other people, and be diligent. Safety is so important. It just takes one accident to change someone's life. Take the steps to be safe and always be cautious. 

As Sammy heads into retirement, his professional legacy is clear: a leader in safety, an advocate for progress, and a devoted team player. We want to salute Sammy and celebrate his successes over the years at Milliken. We have enjoyed our time working together and we wish you the best in your retirement. 

Read More From Covalent