When she started her job as an administrative assistant at Fiberlite Technologies in 1985, Pat Grubb never thought she’d stay there for the next 33 years.
“I was only supposed to fill in for eight weeks while the president’s secretary recovered from a surgery,” Grubb said. “That employee decided she didn’t want to come back, so I just stayed on.”
What started as a temporary position turned into a permanent one, and 33 years later, Grubb has ascended to general manager, overseeing all operations of the Joplin plant at 3605 E. 25th St. The company was founded in 1974 and manufactures cellulose insulation.
Grubb has taken on many roles and responsibilities in her three-decade tenure, from administrative assistant to accounts payable to traffic manager. There isn’t a job she hasn’t been willing to do with the company.
“I always told (the former president) Lowell, ‘Give me more to do,’” Grubb said. “Over the years, as we were able to grow the cellulose business, we all had more and more to do.”
The dedication and hard work paid off, as Grubb kept getting promoted. Prior to general manger, she served as vice president of sales and administration, where she oversaw many of the daily operations on the administrative side of the business.
“I was shocked when they told me,” Grubb said.
This new position comes with new responsibilities but nothing Grubb can’t handle. As general manager, she’ll oversee both the administrative division and the actual manufacturing operations.
“There’s going to be a learning curve, for sure,” Grubb said. “There are a lot of moving pieces of equipment on the floor, new equipment we need to purchase, things like that which I’ll need to get familiar with, but I’m confident I can perform this job well.”
If there’s ever a time that Grubb needs advice or support, she can turn to her two sons who also work at the company. They’ve both been there for 15 years or more, one working in the office and the other works on the plant floor.
“They both do a lot and do a job of keeping me informed about what’s going on in the plant,” Grubb said. “In a way, even though we don’t own the company, it’s been a family business for us.”
Had she not accepted that eight-week position 33 years ago, Grubb isn’t sure how her life trajectory would have changed.
“I have no clue what I would have ended up choosing as a career,” Grubb said. “I originally went to college thinking about becoming a teacher but switched and got into accounting. I possibly could have been a CPA or something, but I really don’t know.”
Looking ahead, Grubb is excited about the expansion the company is planning for next year. From its inception in 1974, the company has continued to grow and evolve, acquiring and selling different divisions, including cement.
“We started off with zero customers and have hundreds now,” Grubb said. “We’re excited about the prospect of adding onto our building and getting new equipment.”
As for her personally, Grubb said plans to keep working as long as she’s healthy. When retirement comes, she isn’t quire sure what she’ll do.
“I’m not one to just sit, and I want to work for another 10-plus years,” Grubb said. “We’re like family, and it’s always been that way. I love all the people here.”