James Elswick has lived in Marion since he was two years old. One interesting point about Elswick is his over 50 years of service to the community through Whirlpool. He is full of stories and memories of contributions to Marion.
“I was the quintessential kid,” Elswick says of his childhood, “but a few oddball things happened to me as I grew, early on.”
Clearly a scientist at a young age, Elswick recalls times he doctored up road flares to create small-scale rockets. Pairing the flares with dynamite he was able to snag from his father’s stash he had for his work on the railroad, Elswick was able to troubleshoot his prototypes to get the outcome he hoped for and then he stopped.
“I never worked on it again. I just thought I could make solid rocket fuel out of it. Then when I did, I was ready to move on to the next thing,” Elswick said of his experiment.
Elswick discussed his love for science and understanding of his intelligence from an early age. He recalls scoring the highest in the county on a standardized test for his age.
“I tell you the truth, I really didn’t know anything on there, it just made sense,” said Elswick.
An avid reader from his youth, Elswick remembers spending a lot of time at the library and collecting books. He describes himself as being educated from the 1800s.
“The blessing about being born in a family that doesn’t have a whole lot of money is you have the opportunity to get jobs everywhere. So, you meet a lot of people, and you do a lot of weird stuff, and I got this job at an auction house,” Elswick continued. “You could buy a box of books for a quarter, so my library started. Most of these books were printed before the turn of 1900.”
As he was older, Elswick remembers working two jobs when he was in high school while also playing football. He worked at the phone company, at Marion Iron and Metal, and at Mcdonald’s.
“My social life was nonexistent, but some of my buddies talked me into coming out here,” Elswick said of his start at Whirlpool.
“There is a demarcation point after my first 25 years,” Elswick says of his career. “I got married, we had children and I started a business to get them through college. We had a lot of wild stuff going on, I got my pilot’s license. But I was always a voracious reader.”
Additionally, Elswick has coached baseball, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and was the mayor of New Bloomington. Elswick conducted research for products for his former business and flew throughout the world on buying trips to wholesalers to purchase items at a reasonable price. He was able to find what different populations of the world were famous for and bring items that were in demand back to Marion.
Elswick and his wife had three children: one in New Bloomington, one in Cleveland in the military, and one in Texas. He and a group of friends purchased and renovated a plane, which led to his pilot’s license.
Elswick says of his current role as a finish system specialist, “We operate the largest clothes dryer manufacturing plant on earth. Our paint system is enormous and extraordinarily complex. If a problem arises, the finish system specialist is the person they call. Being a natural-born tinkerer, this is the perfect job for me.”
Elswick contributed immensely to the company when he created a cost improvement manual on complex systems and manufacturing paradigms. Within months of implementation, $2.5 million was saved.
Of his employer, Elswick says, “Decades ago the US economy collapsed. Many companies closed their doors. Some moved overseas. Whirlpool decided to stay and fight. Though they give back to the community in many ways, this decision has been Whirlpool’s greatest contribution to Marion, Ohio.”