As a senior engineer for automation at Seiberling, a Haskell Company, Lon Reilly creates intricate electrical design and software development for the food and pharmaceutical companies that are his clients.
Reilly’s interest in electrical design sparked when he realized he could work in an office designing and programming but would have the ability to go out in the field to see his work come to fruition.
“It sounded like a good mix of real-world, out-in-the-field engineering and some programming in an office environment,” he said. Indeed, since joining Seiberling in 2007, Reilly has traveled to a variety of job sites across the country.
For the past decade, Reilly has worked with Fage, a Greek yogurt-maker, on its expansions and sites in Johnstown, New York, where the company runs a complex operation because of the sterilization process and electrical design its sites require.
“I like seeing stuff in the real world — stuff you know you’ve spent time on and struggled over and solved problems,” he said. “You get to see it in the field and get to see products being made and know you had something to do with it. And that’s pretty satisfying.”
Because of his work in food, beverage and pharmaceuticals, Reilly needs to be skilled and up to date in various areas in milk and culture product processing, including pasteurization, incubation and hot-water sterilization. Expertise like this is why clients like Fage keep returning to Seiberling for their next facility’s design.
Last year, Reilly worked in Napa, California, with Constellation Brand Wines to develop a bottling center for the brand – a switch from yogurt but another challenge because of the complex bottling system the client required.
Since his time at Seiberling, he’s seen innovations in the field, particularly in controlled devices — minimizing hazards and creating sharper designs.
“Everything has gotten smarter,” Reilly said. “Everything has become a little bit more complex but also more powerful.”
For example, the internet now allows Reilly and Seiberling the ability to troubleshoot and address problems off-site, rather than requiring a physical presence on-site.
This technology has helped him work with a wide variety of clients, such as Impossible Foods to create an Impossible Burger plant in Oakland, California; an expansion of Grande Cheese’s mozzarella cheese processing plant in Friendship, Wisconsin; and a sour cream and yogurt expansion for Safeway in Clackamas, Oregon.
Since Haskell acquired Seiberling in 2012, Reilly has found that greater scale has created additional opportunities, such as the Constellation Brands project.
“Having a parent company that is much bigger than you wanting to integrate our services has been a positive,” he said, “because it has given us a lot of potential customers and deals. We would not necessarily have (had) those opportunities before.”
In his spare time, Reilly hits the slopes. Skiing is a favorite pastime of his.