Friday, March 20, 2015

AVL Interview: Aaron Johnson

Today we take a look inside AVL and meet a member of the team who make looms happen! Aaron Johnson has been with AVL for almost 1 year now and is part of the “next generation” of AVL employees. 

Name: Aaron
Title: Process engineer
University & Degree: Chico State / Mechanical Engineering
Favorite Movie: The Rocketeer

So Aaron, what does “Process Engineer” really mean?
I’m in charge of making sure the way we do things is the best way with respect to cost / time / quality.

Before working at AVL, did you know anything about looms?
Honestly, no. But… I know how to sew and have done a lot of projects so I have basic knowledge of fabrics.  I was a little overwhelmed when I first started because I didn’t know anything about weaving.  I’ve come so far!

Had you ever heard of AVL Looms?
Yes! We used to make parts for AVL in one of my classes at CSU, Chico and so I knew it was a small local company.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Having the freedom to work on projects my own way and to create tools to make things easier around the shops. Part of my job is to make things more efficient so if I can think of something that will make life easier on everyone, I just build it. For example, I built a much needed bench for Little Weaver production.

I have all these cool tools at my disposal so I also can come in on the weekends and build cool things like benches, chairs, tables, coat racks in my spare time. I built my family a couple of nice outdoor lounge chairs for Christmas!

So it seems like you’ve been doing a lot of traveling these days for work, and the rumor is you’d never been out of the country before working with AVL. Until a couple months ago I’d never traveled outside of the country and had just been around the U.S. My first Installation was in Manchester, England and it was my first time out of the country so I got to experience a lot of “firsts” on that trip. It was also my first time in a big city so it was a bit nerve-racking at but everything went pretty well. I’ve also been to Kansas and Dallas so far. I’m going to France this weekend and in a couple months I’m off to Scotland...all the way up into the Shetland Islands!

What’s been your favorite part about traveling so far? 
It’s been cool to get a different perspective on life. Like I said, I’d never been to a big city before so it was quite a culture shock. I’m looking forward to traveling to a country where they don’t speak English. Then I’ll totally be out of my element! When I was in Kansas I lived on a farm for a week with a family who collects their own eggs for breakfast and has a herd of alpacas. I even got to help shovel Alpaca peanuts. In Dallas I went out to a country BBQ (by myself) – had dinner at a bar for the first time and got to talk to the bartender. It was my first time having a steak at a restaurant. I asked for it medium and they brought it back pretty pink but after smothering in horseradish it was good.

How do you handle the pressure being the only guy on installs? What if something goes wrong? 
First of all, our customers have always been super nice and accommodating, so that helps tremendously. Then if I have questions or can’t get something to work I just cal Kim! (Kim Mitchell is AVL’s head engineer, and has been with the company for over 35 years). Kim has every loom drawing in his head so all I have to do is call him and he walks me through troubleshooting any issues. It’s really awesome to have such a knowledgeable resource!

Sounds like you’re having a fun time at AVL, but if you could do an install anywhere in the world where would it be?
New Zealand for sure! I know I’d have to take an extra week off of work so I could stay and explore.

All the photos are from Aaron's Instagram feed. You can follow along on Aaron's adventures by following him, @felinefinemeow and we often repost his photos on @avllooms. 


  1. Nice interview Aaron. Enjoy your travels and do try for New Zealand. Stop for the sheep!

  2. Hey Aaron, my Compudobby IV is coming to NZ in September InstalL??!!!
    Kidding, I am sure the manual is going to be super helpful, but do get in touch if you do make it to NZ