from planes to frames, the story of a Target engineer

March 6, 2013 - Article reads in
A frame and a model plane sit on Target team member Reid Plumbo's desk

Building the perfect picture frames for Target’s Threshold home décor line: It’s not rocket science, right? As a matter of fact, we do have an aerospace engineer on the job. Reid Plumbo used to design small, camera carrying, unmanned aircraft for an aerospace technology company. Now, he’s the senior product engineer who helps design Threshold picture frames for our Product Design & Development team in Minneapolis.

When he first joined Target in 2011, Reid spent weeks studying the quality of photo frames in our stores—and, just as important, in our competitors’ stores. “Research says that when guests shop for a frame, they’re looking to fill a particular space, so we offer a lot different sizes and styles.” Besides frames, Reid and his team (including two other engineers) also work on designing lighting, art, clocks and mirrors.

“Behind every owned brand at Target is a team of engineers and designers who make sure that products are both made right and priced right,” Reid explains. “I work really closely with my design partner, who analyzes trends and decides what a frame should look like. I’ll turn her 2-D sketch into a 3-D model using computer aided software, then figure out how the parts will fit together and what materials and manufacturing techniques we might use.”

Finding the perfect materials to build the frame is key. “If a frame doesn’t have the right heft, it’ll read as cheap,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether the lighter material actually costs more—heavier is perceived as more valuable.”

When he’s not working on the latest new Threshold product, Reid sometimes takes part in activities through the Engineering & Technical Coalition, a network of team members at Target headquarters with engineering or technical backgrounds representing a range of jobs across the company. The group estimates that there are more than 1,000 team members with engineering and technical backgrounds at Target, currently innovating on thousands of projects, from product and packaging design to distribution and quality assurance. The possibilities are endless.

“How cool of Target to take the chance on hiring an aerospace engineer,” says Reid. “When I was studying multivariable calculus, whoever would have thought that this was where I would end up?”

Reid’s job, like many others at Target, offers the opportunity to use advanced technology on the job, grow within a talented team and make the shopping experience even better for guests. Want to learn more? Explore career opportunities at Target.

For updates on Reid and his daily life on the job, follow his feed at The Pulse, Target’s careers blog.

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