A Day in the Life of Work: Stick Figure

Remember the excitement you felt when you got a new box of crayons? Try 12 million sticks a day, five days a week.

Warren Corr, 34, Manager of Crayon Manufacturing
Binney & Smith's Crayola factory, Easton, Pennsylvania

"We've been making crayons for 100 years. We've gone from having local farmers help out with labeling by hand to running automated labeling machines and high-speed rotary mold machines. But the fundamental ingredients have stayed the same: paraffin wax, color pigment, and a strengthening agent.

"Starting in February and March, we start ramping up to build inventory for the back-to-school shipments in June through early August. It's anywhere from one-half to three-quarters of our business. If Wal-Mart says they're going to mark down our 24-count box, Target might counter by marking down our 48 or 64 boxes, and that triggers overtime and weekends for us. Normally, we operate five days a week and make about 12 million sticks a day. Sticks — that's what we call crayons.

"As with any job, there's stress. Sometimes you feel as though the wheels are going to fall off. But when you look around the plant and you're surrounded by crayons, how can you not smile? It brings a sense of levity and gives your spirit a boost. I remember driving home after my first day at work, and I was just laughing to myself in the car. When I got home, my wife asked, 'So how was it? What did you do today?' And I said, 'I colored, and I broke crayons. It was great.' "

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