Jameson Grout is an Account Manager at Hubbard-Hall, where he provides technical support and other services to customers in the Northeast region of the United States.

Jameson GroutGrout joined Hubbard-Hall in 2022 as a Technical Support Specialist. He has a bachelor of science degree in biology and plans to get married this summer. He is also a huge fan of the game Uno and discovering new pizza restaurants while traveling.

How did you get your start in the finishing and coating industry? I was working at an environmental lab fresh out of college, looking at a winter leave, when a family friend heard about the lab job opening at Heatbath Corporation and sent it my way. They hoped to hire someone with experience but called me nine months after my interview to say they could not find anyone and offered me the role. 

What does your job entail? My job is split between trying to grow the Hubbard-Hall business in my own territory and technical support for the other northeastern Hubbard-Hall representatives. I work with business development on growing opportunities but most of my focus is on solving problems tank side. 

Jameson Grout, center, with the Hubbard-Hall team of, from left, Mike Valenti, Jason Potts, Mark Miller, and Scott Papst.Can you describe a typical day for you? Most days start early with a run and then lots of stretching. I’m on the taller side, and most of my joints started betraying me when I turned 30. I check emails quickly while I eat breakfast, and then I’m usually driving onsite somewhere in the Northeast. I average four days a week at customers and catch up on office days at home or in Waterbury. 

What do you like best about working in the finishing and coating industry? First, you see how many cool things are made at captive shops. The science behind metal finishing is cool enough on its own, but I love the peek behind the curtain we get on the manufacturing of daily goods. Secondly, I love the metal finishing industry because it has not been solved yet. I can walk into five shops doing the same process differently. You see completely different — sometimes opposite — approaches to troubleshooting, process control, and design.

"I love the metal finishing industry because it has not been solved yet. I can walk into five shops doing the same process differently."

What preconceived notions about the finishing and coating industry have changed since you started working in it? I had no knowledge of it before stepping in, but I had concerns about its safety early on. You hear buzzwords like cyanide and hexavalent chrome, and you can find dozens of stories online about plating shops receiving EPA fines and bad injuries. Safety is at the top of most applicators’ minds, and you see great investment into environmental stewardship and employee safety all over. 

Grout is a pizza fanatic, especially when taking in a game of his beloved Boston Bruins.Grout is a pizza fanatic, especially when taking in a game of his beloved Boston Bruins.Can you describe a project you have been involved in that made you most proud? I had a big win at an aerospace shop on an issue that had plagued them for almost a decade. It was one of those rare days when you had the exact piece of knowledge you needed to solve the lynchpin issue at a customer who already happened to have the tools you needed on the line. They forecasted tens of thousands of dollars in saved scrap costs, but the look of relief on the operator’s and engineer’s faces was priceless. 

Why would you recommend a career in the finishing and coating industry to a friend? Absolutely. I always hear that plating is a dying industry, but our customers are thriving and growing all over. The work is so interesting and rewarding. I am constantly trying to steer friends towards manufacturing in general. Now is a great time to join the industry and be part of the next wave of technological implementations. 

What is the toughest part of your job? The toughest part for me is the time away from home. I love meeting new people and seeing new process lines, but I do not like spending too many nights away from my family. I do as much service over the phone/email as possible, schedule day trips early in the morning, and space out the scheduled overnights. 

How do you describe what you do in your job to family and friends and its importance? I try to point out different coatings that I see in public, but people outside of manufacturing do not readily understand how my service representative role fits into the factory puzzle. In my experience, most friends do not care much about the scientific details, so I tell them that I am a soldier in a secret war against corrosion and that I am protecting their lives from oxidation.

Jameson with co-workers Robin Deal, left, and Connor Callais.Jameson with co-workers Robin Deal, left, and Connor Callais.Are you involved in any industry associations or trade groups? I am currently the secretary for the Connecticut Chapter of NASF and serve on the board of directors of the Smaller Manufacturers Association of CT. I am also jumping feet first into the METAL group here in CT. 

What was the first job you had in your career? I worked as a lab tech for an environmental lab doing GC/MS prep right out of college, but my first job in metal finishing was as a Technical Service Rep for Heatbath in Indian Orchard, MA. They started me on the lab bench for a full year of learning solution analysis. I started doing parts projects on the pilot line, and then they brought me out into the field to go along on customer visits while I started answering phone calls and emails. It was a great progression that taught me the processes from different angles. 

What type of college, school, or training have you had? I have a BS in Biology from Norwich University because my original plan was to be a park ranger. I picked up my CEF at SUR/FIN a few years back. 

"Math was always my favorite subject. I liked the fact that there was an answer that you could find and verify. Unfortunately, real life is not that tidy."

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? I am getting married this summer, and we are currently house shopping. Other than that small change in scenery and lifestyle, I see myself doing exactly what I am doing now but faster and better. I am planning to finish my MSF and grow more involved with NASF. I have historically focused on conversion coatings and aerospace plating accounts, but I am branching out into our solvent lines now and planning to focus on decorative applications next. 

What is your most humorous day/event in the finishing and coating industry? I have a dozen stories of things going hilariously wrong in the field, but “Work Together Wednesdays” at Hubbard Hall have been a highlight of the last year. I discovered some latent talents when we did “Minute to Win It” games, and I ate my weight in cookies at the December holiday luncheon this past winter. Everyone who knows me is aware of my crippling weakness in baked goods.  

Jameson joined Hubbard-Hall in 2022 and has become a subject matter expert in finishing chemisty,Jameson joined Hubbard-Hall in 2022 and has become a subject matter expert in finishing chemisty,What was your favorite subject in high school or college? Science was cool, but math was always my favorite subject. I liked the fact that there was an answer that you could find and verify. Unfortunately, real life is not that tidy. 

What motivates you to work hard at your job? Both shops I ran were on the smaller side, and I know the frustration of not receiving help/support from your vendor. One of my main drivers is ensuring none of my accounts feel that way. 

Tell us about your outside hobbies and interests: Is pizza a hobby? I used to play drums and ultimate frisbee, but now I spend most of my free time working around the house. Yard work is relaxing and something inside always needs repair. We are also a puzzle and cards house, and I must have 12 different UNO variations kicking around. I do not follow sports as much as I used to but I can always find time for the Boston Bruins. 

What three things do you think of the most each workday?

  • Did I finish all my follow-ups from yesterday?
  • How do I finally convince everyone that rinsing is important? 
  • Who invented the neutral salt spray test, and why do they hate me? 

Who has been the biggest mentor in your career? I have two, and they are both operations guys I worked alongside. I shared an office with Peter Tardiff at Litron/HSG, and he gave me my lean manufacturing base while encouraging me to embrace my ambition. Stan Smith was my boss at EaglePicher, and he knew exactly how to delegate responsibilities to increase my confidence slowly. They both had tremendous impacts on my skills and attitude both in and out of work, and while it was painful to leave them, they have been extremely encouraging for my next chapter. 

What is your favorite book? I listen to a lot of high fantasy since the books are lengthy, and that is the most economical use of my audiobook credits on long car rides, but Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist is my favorite book.