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Meet Shannon Conaway

We continue our "Meet the Team" blog series with Shannon, Purchasing Coordinator at AHT and an employee since 1998. Learn about the growth she's seen at AHT over the years, her battle with cancer and more.

posted On Wednesday, October 5, 2022 in Blog

Meet Shannon at AHT

Q&As with Shannon C.

You started at Advanced Heat Treat Corp. (AHT) in 1998 - over 24 years ago! Can you tell us about your career path at AHT? Also, what makes you stay?

I started out at AHT as the Accounts Payable Clerk in 1998. Over the years, I added many hats including purchasing for the Midport location in Waterloo, Iowa and an internal quality auditor. Now I am purchasing coordinator for all four of our AHT locations and supervise the accounts payable department.

The reason I stay…. I love the family atmosphere and the family-first mentality. My work schedule and hours have always been flexible, so I could make it to every game or school event my kids have had.

Over the years, you’ve seen a lot of changes at AHT. What are some big changes that stand out to you?

When I first started here in 1998, the corporate office was at the Burton location and my desk was a counter top facing a wall. We moved into the new corporate building in 1999 and my new office had windows. I was pregnant with my first child and I was so afraid my water would break on the new carpet. (This didn’t happen, phew.) The corporate building was huge and it only had 2 units to start. The remainder of the nitriding units came over from the Burton location over time. Then our processes grew and we needed to expand.

Since I have been here, I have seen our Michigan location expand its nitriding capabilities, the Burton location in Waterloo, Iowa expand and bring on conventional heat treating, and a brand new building built in Cullman, Alabama that does ion & gas nitriding and now induction hardening.

It amazes me as I continue to watch this company grow and I feel like I have also grown with it as I started working here when I was 21. (Please don’t do the math.)

In August 2021, you were diagnosed with breast cancer. I know you’ve expressed how appreciative you were/are of AHT during that difficult time in your life. Can you elaborate on that?

No one ever wants to hear that they have cancer. The emotions, the thoughts, the what if can take you so many places. The day I had my confirmed diagnoses, I walked through the door trying to pull myself together. It was weird because I walk up front to talk and within 2 minutes, everyone in the office area was there waiting to hear what was going on. We stood there hugged and cried together. To be honest, I’m not sure that they know how much I needed that at that moment. I am usually the giver - not the receiver. Being on the receiving end of this was hard, but needed. We planned our weeks one week at a time. I was able to do whatever I needed to do for me. No questioned asked.

One day I walked out into the shop for the #ShannonStrong photo. It was for everyone that had purchased a T-shirt. I swear everyone had one. It brought me to tears. This right here, all of this, this is family.ShannonStrong

Now for my PSA announcement:

“Do monthly self-breast exams, get your yearly mammograms, and if your doctors says you need an MRI, do it! Do not hesitate because it increases the chance of finding it by a lot. It’s a no brainer.”

Shannon with her family in HawaiiRecently, you went on a big vacation. Can you tell us about that and what a few of your favorite sites/activities were?

We went on a family trip to Hawaii!! We visited 3 islands and they all have different vibes, so I can’t pick which one I like best. We did a lot of things but also had time to relax and enjoy. It was great seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces after they got done trying something new. This is what made the entire trip for me such a joy. One of my favorite things was snorkeling with the manta rays. They would come right up to you while swimming and their fins would actually touch you. Of course I can’t leave out when my daughter and my dad reeled in a 565# Blue Marlin.

As Purchasing Coordinator, what does a typical day look like for you?

I love being a bargain shopper and the rush you get when you find a good deal. Weird I know but it is like I’m spending my own money! So in a typical day I will order products for all our locations looking for the best price and/or lead time. I enjoy the great relationships I have with most of our vendors and even though email is the biggest form of communication, I still like to call every once in a while just to check in. I make sure the products we ordered are what we actually received and take care of any discrepancies. Since I wear so many hats, my days are always filled with lots to do, not enough time to do it, and are never boring.

Name an accomplishment you are proud of.

Aside from being a single mom and raising my girls, I would have to say that the accomplishment I am most proud of is kicking cancer’s rear!!!

I accepted the diagnosis, embraced the challenge, and concurred it with faith, humor, and hope. I didn’t set out for this, but I have been called an inspiration. Now if we can inspire people during our hardest days, just think of what we can do on the easy days.

I am proud to say that I am a cancer warrior, cancer survivor, and that I have been in remission since February 2022.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?

Aside from raising/spending time with my 3 beautiful daughters, I spend time volunteering. I do a lot with Girl Scouts and the 4th of July celebration in Independence, Iowa. I also help out at the school for sporting events, when possible, and for other events in town. Sometimes I think I do too much, but I have met so many wonderful people on all these adventures that I wouldn’t change any of it.

What is something people may not know about AHT?

We have a lot of fun events throughout year. One of my favorites is tailgating. We do that around the time college football starts. We all get to wear our favorite sports team shirts and have a cornhole tournament.

If you ask ‘Are we Hawkeyes or State?’, I would have to say we are a company divided. LOL

What is something people may not know about you?

When I was younger, my grandfather used to always get out his accordion when we would have family gatherings. He would always play this one song that no one knew the name of. I ended up teaching myself the song on the piano. When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother gave me his accordion. So to keep the memory alive, I took accordion lessons and learned how to play that thing. Even my teacher didn’t know the song my grandfather played. So at a family reunion one year, we did 'America’s Got Talent' and I whipped out that accordion and played some tunes and last but not least, I played the song he played all those years ago.

So… my hidden talent is that I can play the accordion.

Now, a list of random questions for you:

  • First Job: CNA
  • Favorite Food: Pizza
  • Least Favorite Food: Veggies
  • Most Recent Concert: Kane Brown
  • Bucketlist Destination: Greece
  • Favorite Sport: Soccer
  • Sports Team: Vikings, Cubs
  • Favorite Quote: “It is what it is”
  • Where did you go to college? North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) & Upper Iowa University.

Have a Question for Shannon? Contact her at 319-232-5221. 

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