Michael Walton is the CEO of Jamestown Coating Technologies, a company that specializes in protective and decorative coatings used in the industrial process. He works to ensure that the day-to-day operations run smoothly, along with leading their executive team in managing both of the company’s locations.
Getting there for him was a journey. After graduating high school in Greenville, Pennsylvania, he attended Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Originally, he studied architecture, but he quickly realized that it wasn’t the right career choice for him and left after one semester, transferring to John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he stayed until he graduated college in 1998.
From there, he moved to the Pittsburgh area to start a career in business, becoming a sales representative for Jamestown Coating Technologies. In 2000, he married his wife and moved back to his hometown of Greenville where they stayed until 2005; then they moved again to Hermitage, Pennsylvania, where he has been since.
Initially, he returned to the area and with his position in the company, he has plenty of flexibility in where he can live. “My wife and I looked at homes in Ohio, as well as Pennsylvania,” he said. “A few things that drew us back to the area here…there are a lot of things.” He talked about how the area he lives in is known for being a good place to raise children, the low crime rate, the low cost of living and for being a good location for natural recreation with a number of lakes, rivers and parks.
In addition to the area being a good place to live and a safe place to raise children, Walton also said he enjoys the location of his town and because of its relative location to Cleveland and Pittsburgh. “We can be in either city in an hour, to an hour and 15 minutes,” he remarked. “Our commute to either city wouldn’t be much different than someone who lived in the far-reaching suburbs. If you’re looking at someone who lived in Monroeville, we’d be getting to downtown Pittsburgh in the same time they could.”
He also enjoys the area from a professional standpoint. The workforce at the company has a low turnover rate, or the percentage of workers leaving a company in a specific period of time. It’s a situation that the company is fortunate to be in. “A lot of it comes down to people,” he said, with many people sharing the values he does, including working hard and being active in the lives of their children.
On the topic of whether or not he was happy he returned to the area, he said “absolutely.” On encouraging those who moved away to return, he tackled the misconception about the area’s jobs in manufacturing. “Specifically in manufacturing, I think the perception is that there are not good opportunities and the opportunities that exist don’t pay well. That really can’t be further from the truth.”
He went on to say that the opportunities for jobs in manufacturing are growing and that western Pennsylvania companies are offering new benefits and life sustaining wages that give people a comfortable income. That’s the message they’ve been trying to get out for some time.
Walton had a long journey to get to the position he has now. But his story is just one of many in the region. With manufacturing making a comeback, he’s just one person who is taking advantage. He went from graduating high school, to a major that wasn’t a good fit for him, to being an owner of the company that he started working at as a sales representative.