Mike Gonzalez of Moses Lake Industries (MLI) is what you would call an industrial success story. The production supervisor started with the chemical solution manufacturer a decade ago and like MLI, Mike has grown with the company. Born and raised in Moses Lake, Mike wanted to remain localized and found work as an HVAC installer prior to his new beginnings with MLI. But, a waning workload during the cold months compromised Mike’s financial stability, prompting him to waver in his commitment to a career in refrigeration.
“Prior to employment at MLI, I spent 10 years installing HVAC systems in homes throughout central Washington. This meant with the cold weather work usually slowed down. When I married, I realized the slow time caused a negative financial impact on my family. While installing HVAC systems at MLI, I heard they were hiring and applied. I was interviewed and hired shortly after applying,” Mike told the Grant County Industrial Alliance.
Mike’s storied tenure with MLI began at the ‘bottom rung’ as a production floor operator in 2010. It would only take two years for MLI and Mike, himself, to realize his potential. After applying, Mike was hired to take a shift lead role in 2012, but the opportunities afforded to Mike didn’t stop there.
“After being selected for the position I spent the next 2 years learning, improving and becoming the subject matter expert on the container prep area. I was also, with the help of my supervisor and management team, honing the leadership qualities they saw in me before I saw them in myself. In 2014, I applied for an assistant supervisor position overseeing the clean room areas of my department I had little experience in. In 2018, I was promoted to my current position overseeing all 3 of the areas of my production department.”
“Stability.” That was the word Mike used to describe why he’s doing what he’s doing for MLI today and why he’s there to stay for the foreseeable future. Through that stability, Mike says he and his wife now own and operate a daycare center in Moses Lake; a service that proved to be pivotal during the pandemic.
“We have gone through a lot to stay open through these hard times and provide a service to so many that still need it. Financially, it has been hard we know that for our community to make it through this pandemic we need to be able to provide this service as safe as possible regardless of the expense of doing so. Safe reliable childcare means our community members can go to work and keep essential businesses open and operating to keep the local economy going.”
Giving back to the community in more ways than one, Mike donates a chunk of his spare time to his role as the president of the Freedom Wrestling Academy. Mike was one of the founders of the academy when it was inaugurated in 2018.
“Wrestling can be an expensive sport to participate in; we pride ourselves on providing the opportunity to wrestle for all kids regardless of their ability to pay. The ‘family feeling’ I felt when I walked into MLI is the family feeling we want all our Freedom Family to feel. We fundraise to make sure that any child who would like the opportunity to participate, can.”
Mike dedicates three nights per week transporting kids who don’t have rides to practice. Mike spends his time coaching them as well. In addition, Mike provides transportation to children participating in wrestling tournaments when their families can’t take them. “If not for my employment at MLI, I may not have the time or finances to contribute to the club as much as I do. We have been able to provide free participation and gear for the kids through donations and fundraising. MLI has also made providing these opportunities easier as a sponsor for the club! MLI had no hesitation in supporting the children of our Freedom Family even though they already donate, sponsor and contribute to numerous other community services in our area.”