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AirBoss Production Supervisor Shazu Rafique says at first he never saw himself being with the company for over 20 years. Now? He can’t imagine himself working anywhere else. To him, AirBoss is home. It’s family. He says, “I want to know everything about this place and keep it like my home.”

It makes sense that AirBoss would feel like home to Shazu. After all, at 19 years of age, he became the youngest employee to be hired by the company. Shazu was straight out of high school when his father found out he could no longer work. “As the oldest son,” Shazu says, “he handed the family over to me.” Shazu’s uncle was already a No. 9 employee with AirBoss, so it was he who brought Shazu into the company.

Shazu Rafique

In 2002, Shazu started as a union press operator. At that time, he was in charge of operating just one press. But it didn’t take him long to start moving up the ladder. In 2010, after the recession, AirBoss decided to open another plant and chose Shazu and two others to get it up and running. “It was just us. No supervisors. Just me and two other guys.” Shazu says that’s when they promoted him to Line Operator and put him in charge of several presses. But his climb didn’t stop there.

“We lost one of our supervisors, and management asked me, ‘What will it take to bring you over to our side?’ I told them, ‘The right person.’” As it turned out, it was the right person who asked. As Shazu says, “They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” and he was promoted to his current Production Supervisor role where he’s now in charge of multiple departments. “Now,” he says, “my biggest job is getting parts out to the customers. I’m the one making the decisions on which parts go to the customer. If I mess up? The customers don’t get their parts. I’ve got to make sure I make the right decisions.”

But Shazu never forgot where he came from and what was most important.

“When I became a supervisor, I said to my team, ‘Nothing’s going to change. I’ve been a union person for 19 years. My biggest goal right now is to create a team where we all succeed. Not only me. You guys are doing all the work. I just want to build as strong a team as possible and get the parts out to our customers.’”

To Shazu, it’s all about his work ethic.

“If I can help this company in one way, it’s keeping the doors open,” he says. “That’s my goal, to help this company. I have a job so I can support my family.” And family is very important to Shazu, which is one of the reasons he loves working with AirBoss. They treat their employees like family and help in any way they can.

Shazu says he enjoys his work every day. He’s still learning. He says that technology moves and evolves. Today, robotics are coming in, and he’s currently being trained on those new systems. “We have to move and evolve with that technology.”

And AirBoss helps him do that. According to Shazu, upper management is more than happy to help employees in any way they can. “They’ll send us to class or for more training. They want us to succeed.”

When asked what he loves most about AirBoss, Shazu reiterates, “That family feeling.” This makes sense to Shazu because he still lives in his Detroit neighborhood surrounded by his own family. “My whole family lives within one block—all the cousins, etc. We all stick together.” To him, it’s a lot like his AirBoss family.

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