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MICHELLE TICZKUS

“Understanding how other departments work has made us aware of how we impact each other”

I’ve been working at VISCOSITY since I graduated high school 31 years ago. I started in the finance
department when I was 18, so this has been my big-girl job my whole life. I was an accounting clerk for two
years and then I moved up to Accounts Payable. In 1997, I transferred to the Operations Department,
which was around the same time my daughter was born, and I’ve been there ever since. In my current role
is as Planner, Operations and Lead Auditor. It’s a long title, and it has many different responsibilities

I work with my friend Eileen, with whom I split up the responsibilities of the toll blenders. We work
closely with them to ensure we have the inventory to cover the customer’s orders, so they can be fulfilled
and shipped without delay. For the most part, I handle those in Minnesota, and she has contact with the
ones in Pennsylvania and Texas; sometimes they are intermixed together. We are very cross-functional;
we have been working at the company for many years, so we can support each other and help other
departments if they need it. As a Lead Auditor, a role I was promoted to on July 2021, I’m in charge of
physical inventory to make sure everything is in order, as we own some products at the toll blenders.

Working from home due to the pandemic has been an adjustment at a professional level since most
of my work is office-based. It’s been a bit difficult sometimes, of course; everyone is a little backed up, and
our lead times are somewhat longer. We know this is happening around the world, but it is hard when a toll
blender tells me they have a shortage of materials because that means it will impact our customers . We
have to find a way to make it work. Fortunately, we have a great relationship with our customers and toll
blenders, so we have been able to adjust and keep the orders flowing, serving our customers as best as
possible without significant bumps in the road. I go to the office twice a month to do some administrative
tasks, but all of us at VISCOSITY keep in touch regardless, not just as coworkers but as friends.

Everything I know about the job I’ve learned thanks to the great managers I’ve had through the
years, who’ve been really supportive and open, even though there were many things I was just starting to
pick up. As I left the Accounting Department under the great guidance of my manager (she still guides me
to this day!), I moved to Operations. I had a manager who was a very hands-on type of person. He wanted
us to think for ourselves, so we wouldn’t need to go to him every time we had a question or something had
to be done. He was constantly challenging us, giving us tests to see if we understood what we were doing.
At the time, we wondered why he was doing that but, looking back, we realized just how important and
helpful that guidance was. Understanding how other departments work has made us aware of how we
impact each other, especially since we are a relatively small company. My current manager keeps the
team on track. His guidance and leadership are helping the team move in the right direction.

Working at VISCOSITY has been a joy to me. The company is family-oriented; I have two kids,
Christina– who is a 24-year-old medical assistant, wife and mom of one–, and Joe— now 21 and a senior
at Illinois State University–, who literally grew up here. If they were sick or had a half-day from school, they
simply came to work with me. I see friends who don’t have that where they work, and I compare them to
my situation, where my kids were always accommodated. The company has always been very flexible with
family situations, and I’ve always been thankful for that. Many of the people I’ve worked with are still very
much like family to me and we know we have each other’s back and we can count on one another.

The mentality here is “everything within these four walls is your job”, so we help each other out, no
matter if it’s a simple question or a big task. That fosters learning, trust, and the strong relationships we
keep today. Regardless of the many changes that have occurred during these past few years, the
VISCOSITY team has always been able to pull through.

Even though her initial plan after graduation was to become a preschool teacher, Michelle decided
to give VISCOSITY a try and stayed at the company full-time. After 31 years, she is still a valuable part of
the VISCOSITY family and has developed her career through training and experience. Michelle spends
time at home with her husband and two dogs. She loves when her son is home from school and her
daughter visits, especially because she gets to see her soon-to-be two-year-old granddaughter Valentina.
Alongside her sister Kim—who is also part of the VISCOSITY Oil Family! –, she also enjoys taking care of
her senior family members — aka “the seniors” –, fostering strong, lasting bonds not only with her relatives
and friends, but with her VISCOSITY family as well.

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