COLUMN: Little town, big career for Janet Hinker
EDITOR'S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members' stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please ...
EDITOR'S NOTE: Palace City Profiles is an ongoing series of community members' stories, introducing us to our neighbors and the personalities that call Mitchell home. If you have suggestions for individuals or families with a great story, please contact Jacki Miskimins at 996-1140.
Growing up in Woonsocket, Janet Hinker never saw herself as a career-oriented person. After nearly 25 years with Toshiba, however, it's hard to deny that this small-town girl has made a name for herself in international circles. It's a story that, she says, "Was definitely not what I expected."
Growing up in Woonsocket, Hinker worked at Van Dykes for seven years before joining the team at Toshiba in 1990.
"I wasn't sure I had a chance, but I decided to try," she said. "Toshiba was a really well-known company and it was an honor to work for them. They were expanding and making a lot of hires, and I was one of them."
It was the start of a nearly quarter-century relationship, helped along by her dedicated work ethic and constant curiosity. Originally hired as a data entry clerk, Hinker was soon moved into inventory control and then again into purchasing.
"Even in the early days, I was always looking for something to do," she said. "I was never one to sit back. It was, OK, I'm done with this job, is there anything else I can do? I like to be busy, and it just took off from there."
As a senior buyer for Toshiba in Mitchell, she is responsible for the purchases of all raw materials; purchases that routinely exceed $10 million per year. She explained, "It's a lot like making a cake. You need a little of this, a little of that, and you need it on time to make the end product for our customers." For Hinker, this-and-that comes primarily from overseas, so she is constantly in tune with global issues and events to ensure materials arrive on time.
"I wake up in the morning, and if there's been an earthquake in Japan, or a port slowdown on the West Coast - that directly impacts what we can do here. If it rains too much in Brazil, we're affected."
The scope of her duties is a source of pride for Hinker.
"It's a very specialized product, so you can't just go buy these items off the shelf. I watch the world market, the exchange rate, keep an eye on oil prices. All of those supply and demand issues, they impact us right here in Mitchell," she said. "I'm from a little town, and this is a worldwide corporation - that's exciting."
Hinker is in touch with colleagues in Japan and China daily, and is recognized as a strong buyer and skilled negotiator around the globe. However, it is the relationships, regardless of national boundaries, that she prizes the most.
"You work with these people so long, so often, and they become your friends -- and then you become like family," she said.
Closer to home, Janet credits the Mitchell team with creating such a collaborative and supportive atmosphere.
"I work with management, warehouse, production - the whole team. It's definitely a company that is good to work for. I thought that when I was hired, and it's still true," she said.
From a hopeful hire in 1990 to a senior buyer, responsible for over $10 million in purchases annually, Hinker and Toshiba have grown together.
"I love my job. I never would have guessed that this would be my life, but I would not be who I am today without this company and the opportunities it's given me," Hinker said.
It's a relationship and a legacy that she values, but never anticipated -- and the story of an unexpected global career based right in Mitchell.