Meet Plantd’s Production Manager: Anthony Frances

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 min read
Dan Webb
 min read
October 19, 2023
A Plantd R&D Technician welds a part to a machine on the production line

From building napkin sketch prototypes to fabricating a full-scale automated production line, the Production Team at Plantd works hard to bring Plantd's factory of the future to life. At the team's helm is Anthony Frances, Plantd’s critical communicator between the hardware and the hardware designers.

Anthony at his desk on the production floor

Meet Anthony Frances

Anthony brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the team from his time leading maintenance crews aboard U.S. Navy nuclear submarines. He joined Plantd in August 2022 as one of the first eight employees and has since seen the team grow nearly 10 times in size in just over a year.

Anthony's educational background includes a year and a half of college at Vance Granville and courses in mechanics, technical skills, leadership, quality assurance, and workplace safety in the U.S. Navy. As Production Manager, Anthony's primary responsibility is to collaborate closely with the engineering team to translate their designs into reality and make continuous improvements along the way.

Anthony works with a team of R&D technicians to solve a variety of complex mechanical and electrical problems

Bridging the Gap Between Engineering and Production

When Anthony first arrived, the production team was wrestling with how to turn engineering drawings into a new prototype machine that would vastly accelerate the production of strands, e.g. thin slices, of perennial grass required for panel production. Through his guidance, the team identified the issues and found a way to make the machine operational.

At Plantd, engineers design machines and parts that follow a first principles approach. These components appear and function differently than those that conventional manufacturers typically design,  which can create confusion if technicians work off of assumptions alone.

Anthony leads Plantd’s technicians in this first principles approach; communicating the engineering behind each component to the R&D technicians so that they understand the function and purpose of their builds.

Leading the Team Building Plantd’s Production Technology

Anthony is most proud of the team's ability to work as a tight unit and overcome challenges, which includes rallying technicians to solve problems that take long hours.

One of the core values that Plantd takes pride in is grit, which we view as the ability to work through challenges and overcome setbacks without giving up. Anthony succeeds by leading by example and gaining the respect of his fellow technicians.

“I’ve always wanted to be more of a leader than a boss. If you have the respect of your team, all you have to do is tell them what has to get done and it gets done.”

During his time in the Navy, Anthony observed that his best commanding officers gave respect to every single recruit: a management methodology that he continues to apply to this day.

Applying First Principles in the Shop and on the Water

Outside of Plantd, Anthony's hobbies include bass fishing, which he considers the most mentally challenging sport. In competitive bass fishing, he and a fishing partner have limited time and resources to catch the biggest and heaviest fish in the lake.

While many bass fishermen follow the same game plan every time, Anthony has succeeded in competitive bass fishing by testing the assumptions discovered on the fly–– making quick adjustments, course corrections, and outright pivots to reel in the big ones.

“In competitive bass fishing, you and a partner need to work together and think outside the box to win. You set up, and do everything by the books, and sometimes it doesn’t come close to working. It’s the same story out on the production floor.”

The same first principles methodology that allows Plantd to bring advanced production technology to market is what Anthony swears by on the water to win fishing competitions against competitors with far more resources and expertise.

A rendering of Plantd's fully automated and 100% factory of the future

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If you're passionate about building a sustainable future and want to be part of a dynamic team on a mission to solve climate change, check out our open positions on our Careers page.

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