Robert Garcia directs technical services at MillerCoors
This “force multiplier” heads up technical, engineering, capital and maintenance project activities, always with
a watchful eye on diversity and the environment
Robert Garcia at MillerCoors (Chicago, IL) says that his responsibilities “stop just short of making the beer and putting it in the can.”
Garcia is manager of technical services at the company’s Milwaukee, WI brewery. His direct reports cover all aspects of the operation. “My direct reports are responsible for all engineering, capital execution and extraordinary maintenance projects. I drive the asset-care steering committee that sets the strategy for this function across the entire brewery.
“My direct reports oversee environmental engineering including compliance and emission control reports. We also have a utilities department that is unique in the brewing industry,” he continues. “We handle the power through-put from We Energies, our supplier. We generate steam and purified processed water. The CO2 is collected off our fermenters, purified and delivered for use in the brewery packaging department. Because of the close tie to utilities, I’m also responsible for driving the resource sustainability initiatives at the brewery, including water and energy conservation, and solid waste reduction.
“Moreover, we have a responsibility to care for the exterior and interior infrastructure of this historic brewery, and the facilities manager reports to me as well,” Garcia adds.
“My job is to be a force multiplier,” he explains. “We take the skills of a few and apply them in a way that gives us more strength as a group through diversity of thought and education.”
Garcia joined MillerCoors in 2011 after thirteen years guiding environmental operations at Leprino Foods (Denver, CO), a producer of premium cheese.
He was born in Silver City, NM. His father was a mining engineer with Kennecott Utah Copper (South Jordan, UT) and later an engineer with Exxon Mining and Minerals. Engineering dominates his family’s background, and his father’s work had a strong influence on Garcia. By high school, he knew that he would be an engineer. Between his junior and senior years, Garcia took part in a pre-engineering workshop at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
He attended Texas A&M University (College Station, TX), graduating in 1986 with a BS in petroleum engineering. Prior to his senior year, Garcia worked on an offshore drilling platform for a major international energy company. “It was dangerous work but fun, and a great learning experience.”
After he graduated, he began work in Bakersfield, CA as a field engineer for a petroleum exploration services company based in Duncan, OK. “The exploration and drilling of new wells was where the high technology was,” explains Garcia, “and that’s where I started. Then I moved to the production side, working with engineers trying to increase production from existing wells.”
Now married, he moved to St. Louis, MO in 1992, taking a new direction in engineering as a senior field engineer responsible for the application of specialty chemicals in automobile assembly complexes and steelmaking operations. That experience solidified his interest in manufacturing-related engineering.
Next, Garcia went to engineering and project delivery company O’Brien & Gere (OBG, Syracuse, NY). “By now, I wanted to work in the engineering design consulting side of the business and pursue my professional engineers (PE) license. It was a good opportunity to build on my diversified experience as an engineer. At OBG I was working with lots of PEs, and they supported that pursuit. I joined the company in 1996 and within a year I passed the PE exam.”
A colleague at O’Brien & Gere told him about the opportunity at Leprino Foods. “When I joined in 1999, I quickly became an influential member of the company leadership team. I was able to set environmental policy for the company and build high-technology facilities supporting our production plants, and work with expert engineering and construction resources.”
Garcia’s ability to shape policy had an indelible effect on him. He explains, “Growing up around the mining industry, I have a strong appreciation for caring for the environment. Working at Leprino Foods was a big opportunity to do something that most people who want to make an environmental impact on companies can only dream about. I was there to influence the company and they were very receptive to that.”
Guided by family and principle
After thirteen years at Leprino, he joined MillerCoors, largely because his family wanted to return to the Midwest. The company’s reputation was another plus. “I had been working with the Food Industry Environmental Council (McLean, VA) and I knew MillerCoors was, and is, a very environmentally conscious company.”
Garcia characterizes his job as 30 percent technical and 70 percent managerial, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that the ratio could reverse in time. “It could happen,” he believes, “depending on the needs of the company.
“Eventually I will be able to move toward operations management, or perhaps direct a group at the corporate office. The great thing about MillerCoors is that there is an expectation that we will move around and develop.”
Garcia is a member of the National Society of Professional Engineers (Alexandria, VA), the Air & Waste Management Association (Pittsburgh, PA), the Water Environment Federation (Alexandria, VA), and the American Water Works Association (Denver, CO).
Within MillerCoors, he supports the Hispanic Organization for Leadership Advancement (HOLA) and speaks enthusiastically of the company’s commitment to community organizations in Milwaukee like the United Way and those that support veterans. “We seek out veterans to work here, and they come with strong technical skills and experience,” Garcia says. “We support them and we have benefitted tremendously.”
Garcia values his diverse staff. “They each add to the diversity of thought that we have as a group. It’s important for people of diverse backgrounds to understand that they have these kinds of opportunities,” Garcia emphasizes.
“I was fortunate to get this opportunity because of the hard work that my father and grandfather did. It is my responsibility to be a steward of the environment and a steward of diversity. I want to see my son and daughter succeed and I want to see people from other backgrounds succeed.”
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