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Kyle Varble, the Tenth Family Member to Work at GE, Is Still Calling His Father (the Fifth) for Advice

June 15, 2023 | by GE Reports
Although he hesitated to admit it, Kyle Varble was confused. Fresh out of college, he was working in procurement at a manufacturing company, where every day brought some new bit of unfamiliar jargon. One day a supplier told him that the parts Kyle needed wouldn’t arrive for two weeks, because they had to sit on the CMM machine. His mind raced. What does a CMM machine do, and why does it take that long? What does “CMM” even stand for?

“I was new but prideful,” admits Kyle, who had been an honors student in supply chain management, “so I turned to someone I could trust to answer my questions: my dad.” Dale Varble, then in his 30th year on the factory floor at GE, had always loved to talk shop. At the dinner table, he would describe, “in painstaking detail, the operations of running water flow, the laser machines, or EDM current processes,” Kyle remembers. Back in high school, Kyle’s eyes would glaze over after a minute or two. But now he realized he had a personal hotline for manufacturing wisdom. When Kyle called, Dale explained that CMM stands for “coordinate-measuring machine,” a tool that examines 3D components to make sure they meet design specs.

Easter 2002: Kyle and his sister Kara (seated) with Bernard Paulin, Lynn Varble, Dale Varble, and Bo Paulin. Top: Kyle and his dad, Dale, celebrate Dale's retirement after 35 years. All photos courtesy of Kyle Varble. 

Dale was thrilled to pass along his knowledge to his son. “Suddenly Kyle was interested in laser inspection and shot peen,” he says. And although it wasn’t always his plan, Kyle was gradually finding his place in a long and proud lineage. When he accepted a job at GE Aerospace last year, Kyle became the tenth member of his family to work at GE. Over four generations, they’ve put in 152 years of service with the company.

It started with Dale’s grandmother, Virginia Varble, who commuted from Hatfield, Indiana, to work in GE’s vacuum tube plant just across the Ohio River in Owensboro, Kentucky, in the 1950s. Dale grew up next door to Virginia in Hatfield, a town he says had “two stop signs, zero traffic lights, one grocery store, and three churches.” Although his father was also employed by GE, Dale didn’t think about joining the company until 1987, when his fiancée’s mother, Bo Paulin, recommended him for a job. Over a 38-year career, Bo worked her way from a payroll administrator at GE’s appliance factory in Tell City, Indiana, to be the plant manager’s secretary. Her husband, Bernard, had recently retired from the same facility after 42 years in the production and quality control departments.

Kyle’s grandfather Bernard Paulin (fourth from left) at GE’s Tell City appliance factory during a 1950s visit from actor Ronald Reagan, host of ‘General Electric Theater’ at the time.

Six years out of high school, Dale began working as an electrician, but Virginia and Bernard spoke so highly of GE that he agreed to an interview. He was hired on the spot. At the Tell City plant, he manned the rotor room with his dad and his soon-to-be sister-in-law. During breaks, he’d play euchre with his own sister or catch up with Bo or his fiancée’s brother-in-law, all of whom worked at the plant.

The job called for the sort of technical, hands-on labor — finish machining of shafts, quenching materials for heat treat, and fashioning components out of raw materials — that Dale excelled at. Craftsmanship is a prized trait among the Varbles. For example, when Dale married his high school sweetheart, Bo and Bernard’s daughter Lynn, in 1988, the couple moved into a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house they’d built from scratch. Dale had bought five acres in nearby Rockport, Indiana, immediately after graduating from high school and set about building his dream home with help from his family and future in-laws. Dale handled the electrical work and his dad the plumbing; other relatives pitched in with construction. Another of Bo and Bernard's grandkids is Ryan Oberhausen, Kyle's oldest cousin, who worked at GE’s National Sales Center in Indianapolis, supporting General Motors across three states.

Dale Varble at his retirement party, March 2023.

Once they settled in, Dale and Lynn looked forward to raising children in the community where they’d both grown up. But in 2000, after 13 years at the Tell City pant, Dale transferred to GE Aerospace’s factory in Madisonville, Kentucky, to keep his seniority. He toyed with relocating the family, but they were so rooted — Lynn was a public health nurse in the county, Kyle was in elementary school, and they had built-in babysitters on each side of the family for their three-year-old daughter — that he decided to commute from Indiana. The hourlong drive each way was “the worst,” Dale recalls, but watching Kyle and his sister grow up among relatives made it worthwhile.

“GE was a godsend for our family,” Dale says. “GE, which stands for Generous Electric in our family, provided a good life with only having a high school education.”

Thanks to their help and support, Kyle became the first person on his father’s side of the family to get a college degree. He had always expected to follow his mother into the medical field, but at Indiana State University, which he attended on a full scholarship, he gravitated toward business. Inspired by a summer internship in procurement, he studied supply chain management “before it was cool; before COVID, before anybody knew what it was.”

Kyle Varble with a GE90 engine, just after starting at the Evendale, Ohio, plant in 2022.


Kyle started at GE last September, after five years at another aerospace company. As the supplier readiness leader, he is working with Honeywell to prepare for a post-COVID production ramp-up. He regularly visits its facilities to help identify bottlenecks and assemble the manpower, equipment, and raw material they’ll need for what’s ahead. “It’s vital to go where the work actually happens,” he says. “You can’t solve these problems just by reviewing charts on a computer. We need to hear directly from the source where the challenges are.”

Although Kyle now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, he still calls his dad for advice. Dale, who retired this past March after 35 years with GE, is always happy to give him a leg up. “Kyle has had more opportunities than I did, and I’m proud of that,” he says. “He’s got a good life and stable work. It’s the American dream.”


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