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Employee Spotlight: Manuel Grajeda

Man and a cat

An attitude of wanting to be successful.

That’s all it took for Manuel Grajeda, HEVI-Shot, to work his way toward what he has today: two daughters, a wife of 26 years, a relationship with God and a steady job loading ammo at HEVI-Shot where he’s an inspiration to his co-workers.

Prior to HEVI-Shot, Manuel had a job working at Dairy Farmers of America – the company that makes Starbucks Frappuccino drinks. But after leaving that job, he and his wife decided to embark on what he now refers to as one of his life’s greatest adventures: leaving where he grew up (Oxnard, CA, a city just north of Los Angeles) to live near his mother-in-law in Sweet Home, Oregon.

“Growing up near a big city, I never thought I’d move to this small of a town, but it has been pleasant. It’s woodsy out here! There are still some areas locally I haven’t even explored. My wife loves the ginormous trees and the changing of leaves. We also appreciate the water… the lakes and rivers,” he said.

Manuel started in shipping and receiving at HEVI-Shot 11 years ago but looked for any opportunity to help beyond his job description. From cleaning floors and restrooms to helping loaders grab material, he was a team player looking to be more and do more from day one.

About 7 years ago, he moved to loading, where he works to load 12-guage shells. In his time at HEVI-Shot, Manuel has created a ripple effect, training many employees, advocating for his peers and motivating others to do their best.

“One of the things I’ve learned is that as long as you’re willing to learn and try, you can’t go wrong – I still make mistakes, but I have an overall attitude of wanting to be successful. That has gone a long way,” he said.

Manuel used an example of a “Top 10 Ammunition Priorities” poster at the plant in Sweet Home, reminding employees of Ammunition’s focus areas.

“I read it often, but I’ve made each listing on that poster a priority for the past 11 years,” he said. “It’s my hope to get all of us working together on those priorities, so as a company we do better. It’s best when everyone works together at it – not rely on just one or two people to do it. That just causes friction.”

Perhaps this is where Manuel’s leadership style really separates him. He shared servanthood is what he feels is the best way to lead.

“When you choose to be a servant, you take your eyes off yourself and help other people come along,” he said. He shared a story of an employee who recently told Manuel he “was to blame” for a recent new challenge she accepted. That employee let Manuel know his positive ideas, thoughts, and encouragement inspired her when she was presented with an opportunity.

“She thought it would be a good thing to step up and not only grow in the company but help other people grow as well. She let me know I inspired her to do so,” he said.

Manuel listed several of his life’s accomplishments, which included holding a successful job at HEVI-Shot for over 10 years, celebrating 26 years of marriage to his wife and choosing sobriety for nearly 22 years. He attributes much of this success to God – a relationship that has helped him in his marriage, directed him to sobriety, and – perhaps most importantly – led him in a different direction than other family members.

“A person can’t help what you’re born into. I thank God that my immediate family has not been exposed to some of the things other members of my family were involved in,” he said, grateful for choosing a different path.

Thankfully for those who work with him, that path is blazed for others who need a mentor and wish to do better, too.

Last read:
My last read was in the1990s – probably either the “Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz or “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. I am a Christian, so most of the time, if I do reading, it’s scripture.

Tell us about a secret talent you have.
I’m good at keeping secrets.

Most likely to buy in bulk?
Nah. Not for me. The store is close, and I go get what we need, when we need it.

What would a day off with no obligations look like?
I would relax, watch some old movies. I like the Star Wars episodes.

Favorite Holiday?
Christmas with my family. We do the whole shebang with lights, trees, the whole thing. We have two girls, and we’re sure to emphasize the real meaning.

Best concert you’ve been to?
I’m not a concert person, but when my wife and I were dating, we attended Kenny G in concert.

What does a person need to be happy in your opinion?
I believe that it’s really understanding God’s love. That has really helped me to be there for my family and also my co-workers. NOT to say there haven’t been days that I lose it…

Tell us about an interesting learning point in your life.
In the last 5 years, I’ve been more involved with local community’s city council and school board. I’ve begun to understand how much control we let our government have over us and how important it is to have people who care about individual rights.

Most interesting job you’ve had?
I was a private investigator for six months. I look back at that, it was neat. I was able to get information, find a line to draw some conclusions. It was exciting to find things out.

You work loading ammunition. Do you get out to hunt or shoot?
By trade, I fish… but I am not a hunter or shooter. But since working with HEVI-Shot, my wife and I target shoot recreationally. I never thought that I would want to support the Second Amendment right but now I realize how important it is.