Meet the Man Whose Attention to Detail Keeps Your Project on Track

Ken Shipman was the unexpected answer to a problem JGM had encountered since its founding: staying organized. As the company's very first material handling specialist, Shipman, 37, takes inventory of all stock deliveries and makes labels for each steel beam before assigning it a spot in the yard.

His job is a small detail that makes a big difference.

"My goal is to alleviate stress from other people, so if I can help make the crew's job easier, that's a good day," Shipman says.

Shipman started out as a shop apprentice, learning how to weld and assisting with a variety of tasks around the shop. As he took on more and more inside material handling assignments, his supervisors approached him and asked him to take the lead on inventory and material handling out in the yard.

"I enjoy looking back at my work and seeing everything organized," Shipman says. "I don’t know why, but I love when things are put in their place, and it's easy for everyone to read--they don't have to sift through a pile of steel and figure out what's what. It's a much more fluid process now."

Before he came to JGM, Shipman worked as a corrections officer at Pennsylvania's Montgomery County Correctional Facility and later as a foreman for a tree service company. Although he’s new to the steel fabrication industry, he had a hunch from the beginning that it would be a good fit for him. He and his wife now both work at JGM.

"My wife and I were running a tree service company," Shipman says. "She caught wind of JGM and applied. She worked there for a few months and told me about how it was very team-driven and big into safety. I'm kind of a safety nerd myself, outside of work as well, so that caught my attention. I figured, why not give it a shot?"

This story is part of Visions in Steel: The People Who Bring Designs to Life, which shines a light on the fitters, welders, machine operators, and other professionals the steel industry relies on every day to bring designs from concept to reality. Want to see your fabrication shop featured? Reach out to Hope Hrabowy at