Meet Chris McKenna
Why am I Proud?
Poland Spring Bottling is the original Poland Spring factory in the state of Maine. I've been with the company 18 years, and I've been the Factory Manager here for just over two. Working for Poland Spring is only the second job I've ever had.
I worked in manufacturing for a short stint right out of high school, in a business that ended up closing. At 23 years old I was out of work and I had a young son at home. I came across an ad for forklift drivers for Poland Spring, so I went to apply. I didn't have the qualifications for that job, but I knew then that I wanted to be part of that business.
As luck would have it another opening at the site came up, and it was around leadership. I really enjoyed working with people and helping them make a new day easier. I thought, “this might be my way in.” Lo and behold, I got hired at Poland Spring as a supervisor on the second shift. That was 1998.
Since then I have held a different role in this company every 18 to 24 months. I've got to do everything: I've worked in manufacturing, I've worked in logistics, I've worked in the warehouse, and on tankers and transportation. It's been a process of continuous learning and improvement. Then, two and a half years ago, my dream opportunity came along. Factory Manager at Poland Spring is the job I've always wanted, and I got to do that.
The only thing they've ever known is: dad works for Poland Spring.
My friends and peers in other industries have bounced around, relocating from job to job. It's rare that I run into somebody that has been with a single company for decades. In this building, and in this company, it is common. In my opinion, a big part of the reason is that the people who work here appreciate the level of skill and knowledge they gain, and the responsibility they carry in being part of this business.
My two boys are 19 and 17. The only thing they've ever known is: dad works for Poland Spring. They know that there's always Poland Spring in the fridge. When their little league teams need water, they know to call dad. And everybody knows that their dad works for the water company. It's kind of cool.
I feel that I'm setting a good example to the boys, about being proud of what you do and being loyal. Working hard and getting where you want to get to, that is possible. I tell them all the time: dad's got his dream job. They're both getting ready for their college experience and all I want them to have is what I have, which is to get up in the morning and look forward to what I'm going to do today. Whatever your career is to be, you've got to enjoy it. I think about what I am going to do next week, and I get excited. I always have.
In 2018 we're going to have 100 employees that have been here more than 20 years.
When I first started here I felt I was in over my head. But once I got my feet under me I began to see what the brand was becoming. We were a small business, now we're a powerhouse in the beverage industry: Poland Spring is the only regional brand on the top 10 beverages list in the United States; the number one Universal Product Code scanned in New York City and the flagship brand for Nestlé Waters North America.
You're originally asked: why am I proud? I'm proud of what we have accomplished as a company. I'm most proud of our employees. I'm proud that in 2018 we're going to have 100 employees here that have been here more than 20 years. There's two employees in the building who worked in the original bottling plant - that is now a museum. We have people here who have been part of our evolution from a basic mechanical process to a state of the art facility. They've seen this brand explode. They've lived it, and they're here. And I know they feel the same way I do.
I've been here almost twenty years now and I feel I can do another twenty, easy. I can't imagine working anywhere else but Poland Spring.