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2020 Women of Excellence in Metal Forming & Fabricating

December 3, 2020

MetalForming recognizes the 38 winners and 30 honorable-mention recipients in this year's class.

While women comprise nearly half of the U.S. labor force, they account for only 29 percent of the nation’s 13 million manufacturing jobs. This fact, from Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, speaks to two points.

One is the growing representation of women in manufacturing, where only a couple of decades ago, the idea of such a significant percentage would have been unthinkable. The second is the need to continue pushing. The aging of the manufacturing workforce and the shortage of skilled labor demand action if we expect this vital segment of the economy to remain viable and exceptional.

Toward this end, MetalForming magazine, in conjunction with the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and with the support of the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), presents its Fifth Annual Women of Excellence Awards, honoring the accomplishments and commitments of women in metal forming and fabricating. In 2020, we formally recognize 38 winners and 30 honorable-mention recipients―women in leadership positions or on the shop floor, those who represent dedication to their company and the industry, and demonstrate excellence in meeting their workplace responsibilities.
The staggering amount of entries is testament to the abundance of talent in the female manufacturing workforce, and made selection a most difficult process. We thank all who were nominated, and those who nominated them.

“As a provider of information highlighting metal forming technology and productivity, MetalForming proudly recognizes achievement through our Women of Excellence awards program,” says Brad Kuvin, MetalForming editorial director. “The 2020 class, like those of the previous four years, represents the best of the best, and provides excellent examples and inspiration for those who may follow in their footsteps.”

Efforts to increase manufacturing opportunities for women while recognizing their skills is an important function of PMA, MetalForming’s parent organization, and WiM, an organization that grew out of PMA’s commitment to these efforts.

MetalForming’s Women of Excellence winners are examples of talent and perseverance,” says Allison Grealis, WiM president and founder. “I can’t help but be encouraged by their stories and accomplishments. I hope that these women encourage other young women, and men, to pursue careers in this industry.” 

Read on for the list of honorees along with their biographies and quotes that explain why manufacturing was the ideal career for them, and why others should consider this path.

The Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), with more than 5000 members, is the only national association dedicated year-round to supporting, promoting and inspiring women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry. The group encourages the engagement of women who want to share perspectives, gain cutting-edge manufacturing information, improve leadership and communication skills, participate in sponsoring programs, and network with peers. WiM encompasses manufacturers of all types and welcomes individuals from every job function—from production to the C-suite—and is inclusive to men. Members benefit from exclusive access to regional and national programming, networking opportunities, formal leadership development certificate programs, professional-development webinars, a customized employment tool called WiMWorks, virtual career fairs, the monthly IMPACT e-newsletter, and a robust searchable directory.

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JoAnn Agee

Chief Financial Officer, GK Machine, Donald, OR

JoAnn AgeeIn her 17 years at GK Machine, JoAnn has grown to exhibit outstanding organizational, communication and leadership skills, which have served her well. As chief financial officer, she manages the company’s purchasing and procurement, human resources, financial accounting, and customer service departments, demonstrating leadership on a daily basis to achieve maximum productivity and profitability for GK Machine, and provide solid direction to others.  

“JoAnn provides outstanding leadership to subordinate managers and employees,” writes her nominator. “She demonstrates excellent communication between the departments she manages as well as within other key areas of responsibilities within the company. When people are working closely together, problems or confusion can and will come up. JoAnn’s goal is to always prevent miscommunication from ever festering, and turn these situations into positive interactions with understanding from all parties involved.

“Providing leadership, oversight and support is an expectation of all of our upper management,” her nominator continues. “However, some managers are standouts and tenacious when it comes to streamlining, cost control and efficiency within the company. JoAnn Agee is that leader here at GK Machine.”

“There has never been a better time for women to consider a career in manufacturing. I would encourage women to join the manufacturing industry for many reasons. It is growing and there is a large need for a skilled labor force to support that growth. It’s an untapped potential for women interested in state-of-the-art computerized machinery and building quality products.”

Natalia Artemieva

Vice President of Communications, Fives’ Steel & Glass, Fives, Moscow, Russia

Natalia ArtemievaNatalia’s leadership and successful track record promotes the idea that opportunities in our industry are limitless when one seeks to find them. Fives, with a core company belief that industry is the answer to today’s world challenges, demands embracing groups that possess unique insights for developing new solutions and the ability to bring their ideas forward.  Much of Fives’ success has relied on recognizing young professionals and women like Natalia as essential talent, bringing diverse perspectives and knowledge to the equation.

Natalia has been instrumental in the level of success the Steel & Glass Division of Fives has achieved, leading the charge with numerous ground-breaking initiatives, including launching new-product campaigns in China and the United States, and more recently in winning global recognition from Fastmarkets Global Awards for Steel Excellence.  

In addition to her many ventures in manufacturing, Natalia also serves on the political front, conducting industry interviews, client testimonials and meeting with country ambassadors up to the presidential level.

“Natalia’s passion for the business is insatiable and is truly an inspiration for women interested in pursuing roles in the industry,” writes her nominator. “As a Russian woman, Natalia has overcome many adversities both personally and professionally. From breaking the glass ceiling, earning a higher-education degree and being a working mother, to leading a professional team of women across the globe, Natalia is very humble, unwilling to settle and always seeking to better herself.”

“I’m very honored to receive this award and have been fascinated by industry since I was young. As a child, my father, a helicopter-design engineer, taught me how to create 3D models from potatoes.  I chose a different path leading me to industry, becoming a journalist and later a communications manager, always connected to manufacturing, an area where solutions are created that didn’t exist before and a true inspiration for creativity.”

Marie Bickford

Shared Services Operational Excellence Coordinator, North American Stamping Group, Paulding, OH

Marie BickfordMarie has managed and coached at all levels of the organization, specifically the CNC wire-bending department and team, which has resulted in more than a half-million dollars in tangible cost savings to date. This only makes up part of almost 5 million dollars of cost savings she has impacted working with the teams at each of the seating divisions of North American Stamping Group (NASG) during the last two years.

As a member of the Shared Services (corporate) team, she assisted in deployment of workshops to develop team members into effective problem solvers and future leaders within NASG. Marie has applied her skills as a Villanova University Black Belt to eliminate waste and stabilize processes throughout NASG Seating. This is especially evident with the Paulding, OH, team, encompassing the management of CNC-machine program optimizations, level loading production capacity, and recognizing and capturing cost savings with bottom-line impact at all locations. Marie has helped her home plant achieve not only external supplier awards, but also internal recognition as the most-improved plant within a best-in-class company. 

“Her peers recognize her for her dedication not only to the job at hand, but to all of the people she works with, from the newest hire on the shop floor to our seasoned management-team members.” Writes her nominator. “Marie stands out in her role with the mentality of ‘servant leadership’ focusing on our value-add workforce. She never steps down from an opportunity to learn something new, and accepts every new challenge, from production scheduling to helping to sanitize the bathrooms during COVID-19.”

“The manufacturing industry offers women the opportunity to showcase their talents for multi-tasking and problem solving. Through their drive and determination, women can offer their own unique insights and ideas for improving and sustaining processes. Being the traditional ‘caregivers’ allows women in manufacturing the unique ability to generate creative and innovative ways to challenge and motivate a workforce.”

Jessica Bloor

Inside Sales Manager, Trans-Matic Mfg., Holland, MI

WiM logoJessica BloorIn her five years at Trans-Matic Mfg., Jessica has shown her leadership skills and the drive to make a difference throughout the organization. Key is her ability to challenge the status quo—not settling for ‘it’s the way we’ve always done it.’ Her determination was on full display when she championed implementation of the company’s new customer-relationship-management platform, rolled out to Trans-Matic’s global teams earlier in 2020.

“Jessica has proven in short order at Trans-Matic what it means to be a leader,” offers her nominator. “She is adept at working with and for all levels of the organization, and is seen as a go-to person for getting things done.  She quickly differentiated herself as a driven, efficient problem solver, which has resulted in her being nominated to champion multiple initiatives over the last several years. (She) continually drives herself, her team and our organization to reach new levels.  

An active member of Women in Manufacturing, Jessica also participates in the local Chamber of Commerce Leadership program.

“Manufacturing can be a more rewarding, challenging atmosphere than other workplaces. Day-to-day life is different and even in sales it's nice to have some exposure to the shop floor. There are many growing opportunities for women and a great support system with organizations like Women in Manufacturing to support you in your career.”

Barbara Borkowski

Production Supervisor, Secondary Power Press, Connecticut Spring & Stamping, Farmington, CT

Barbara BorkowskiBarbara has been in the Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) family for 31 years, with her career spanning multiple areas and her impact positively felt in those areas. She began at CSS as a welding machine operator and was very quickly identified as a potential leader. Barbara has moved through the leadership ranks, earning promotions throughout her tenure. She has served as a team leader in assembly, a supervisor in assembly, and now is a supervisor of the secondary power press department. 

Barbara also has served CSS by working with the engineering department and the company’s lean group as a process analyst. Her ability to understand all of the interrelated metal forming processes has led to several improvements in efficiency, productivity, safety and quality. She is a group coordinator overseeing and guiding her own department as a supervisor and working with supervisors in both automatic power press and general factory departments. Barbara also oversees the technical lead in her department and the tool and die makers’ fabricating tools and servicing production equipment.  She has an excellent grasp on the company’s ERP system and has trained in employee relations, ergonomics, certified operator, lean and safety.

Considered the Vince Lombardi of production-floor leadership by her nominator, Barbara has coached, trained and mentored several department supervisors, team leaders and co-team leaders. These individuals have moved on to managing their own successful teams and departments. She was the lead trainer/coach of a past Women of Excellence in Metalforming and Fabricating recipient.  And, she is currently training/coaching two additional future CSS leaders. 

“Barbara has the skill to focus on training and mentoring while still maintaining production requirements on the shop floor,” her nominator writes. “She can move people to the work (a solid lean concept), eliminating bottlenecks and maintaining staffing levels that support organization profitability.  Her can-do personality is contagious, and she sets the pace for all shop-floor leaders, hourly operatives and senior managers. Barbara trains, shares, drives and delivers day in and day out and is a shining example of metal forming leadership and accomplishment.”

Debbie Carboni

Global Products Line Manager-EAC, Kyzen, Nashville, TN

Debbie CarboniDebbie has worked tirelessly with major industrial companies to assist them in solving production problems to enhance their quality and cost of operations, as well as in meeting environmental compliance. She makes it a point to be accessible for technical support for the small to very large corporations, working with everyone from those on the shop floor to upper-level managers. Kyzen regularly receives compliments related to her actions and commitment to help.

Debbie’s experience and knowledge is freely provided to any who ask, her nominator reports. She regularly visits a variety of manufacturing sites to learn about new processes, how to improve reliability and how to resolve issues.  

“Debbie exemplifies a strong, knowledgeable woman in today's industrial world,” writes her nominator. “She highly values education in the industry and works to help others grow their knowledge. She is a great role model for young females, and has been regularly promoted at Kyzen over the years.”

“Manufacturing is no longer dominated by men.  In manufacturing you actually learn how things work, and sometimes even design them yourself. It is both interesting and rewarding, while offering lots of opportunities to challenge the 'norm.' There is a wide variety of career paths inside of manufacturing. Women today set the example for women of tomorrow.   Become a role model for the next generation of women leaders.”  

“I would like to thank CSS for the opportunity and the support that it has shown through the years. Working in manufacturing as a woman can be challenging at times but we overcome it and prosper from it.  There is always a chance for you to grow and learn new skills.  You can start as a machine operator and become a supervisor, like I did!”

Lynnette Cowger

Manager of Marketing and Estimating, ArtiFlex Mfg., Wooster, OH

Lynnette CowgerLynnette has been an invaluable, yet unassuming leader in the industry for 20 years, having developed a diverse metal forming career in a unique automotive niche.  Starting out as a Kettering University intern at The Gerstenslager Co. in Wooster, OH, she gained valuable experience and insight into Class A sheet metal stamping and assembly.  Her 5-yr. internship allowed exposure to operations, sales, maintenance and quality.  Her capstone position as a student was as an important member of the launch team for a green-field plant expansion in Clyde, OH.  Her involvement in ramp-up of operational systems of the plant was pivotal to its success.  

Upon graduation, Lynnette was placed in the forefront of new-business development.  Working closely with major customers Nissan and General Motors, she addressed challenging projects and stamping problem solving for niche, low-volume, past-model service programs.  She also led the sales and estimating team on non-automotive opportunities in the solar, agriculture and construction industries.

Currently, Lynnette is manager of marketing and estimating for ArtiFlex Manufacturing, a supplier of niche automotive stampings, assemblies, die tooling and automation.  Her background, experience and strategic vision are crucial to leading creative solutions in a changing automotive landscape. Most recently, Lynnette drove the implementation and development team for the company-wide roll out of the company’s Salesforce CRM system. Lynnette participates in the ArtiFlex employee-engagement team, driving employee-recognition events and community events such as the ArtiFlex Car show, which raised $4000 for our local Habitat for Humanity.

“Lynnette is an unassuming and disciplined leader and mentor,” her nominator writes. “She leads by example and is generous in her sharing of knowledge and best practices. In her personal life, Lynnette is a proud mother of three girls to whom she serves as an exemplarily role model. She projects a warm and kind attitude towards our customers and employees and goes out of her way to donate her time to those in need by coaching the Field of Dreams softball team in coordination with the Special Olympics, among other things.” 

“Manufacturing provides an opportunity to work in many facets of business.  I have been able to learn about many different areas of business and choose which direction in which I want my career to go.  Women bring a much-needed perspective to the world of manufacturing and, in the right environment, are valued, respected and appreciated for their work and effort.”

Esther Danque

Accounting Manager, Irmco, Evanston, IL

Esther DanqueA 25-yr. industry veteran, Esther serves as Irmco’s accounting manager, managing all general accounting functions including completing ledger accounts and financial statements.  She has taken it upon herself to learn more about manufacturing and has taken over the functions of scheduling production and managing inventory.  Also skilled in information technology (IT), Esther helps Irmco employees with computer issues and updates, and works closely with Irmco’s outside IT company, most recently on a server upgrade and on moving all of the company’s email to Office 365.

Esther recently sourced, learned and implemented a new accounting-software program that increased productivity at Irmco, by changing the software into process manufacturing, and allowing associates to work with modules that tie in formula development, inventory, chemical manufacturing and accounting.
“She was promoted last year to auditor for ISO certification, and works closely with our lab and plant to streamline production,” offers her nominator. “She is well respected and liked by her co-workers, customers and vendors.”

“I always assumed that manufacturing jobs were mainly for men, but there are so many opportunities for women. When I first started at Irmco, I was an accounting manager. Now, in addition to that role, I also schedule production, work with IT, and am the auditor for our ISO certification. I enjoy working with various people throughout the company.”

Linh Duong

Human Resources Manager, Jireh Metal Products, Inc., Grandville, MI

Linh DuongLinh has spent her 7 yr. at Jireh Metal Products moving up the ladder into the role of human resources manager. Her commitment and dedication have proven to be extremely valuable as she has navigated many changes both in the industry as well as those related to a transition of ownership in 2016.  She has been a pillar for the people and company since day one of the COVID-19 pandemic, guiding through the ever-changing practices related to the pandemic.

In her role, she:

  • Leads the companies HR-related activities across two sites and is a critical resource for team members and leaders throughout the organization 
  • Oversees the training and apprenticeship programs and works with several state and local agencies for training and workforce-development opportunities
  • Is responsible for healthcare and benefits programs and payroll functions 
  • Promotes fairness and consistency across all departments and facilities to create a healthy work environment 
  • Coordinates the company’s employee-engagement committee, focusing on culture and giving back to the community with various projects throughout the year.

“Linh has consistently supported our organization throughout different challenges and periods of growth,” offers her nominator. “Her steadfast approach and reliability have been key in guiding our leadership team and ensuring that large-scale projects are executed in a way that is beneficial to both our company and our team members. She continues to seek best practices in human resources and supports improvement for all areas of the business as we continue our path of growth.  Her deep commitment to the people shows in her long hours and strong work ethic, focused on doing the right thing at the right time.”

“I am very proud to be a part of the Jireh Metal family. My career in the manufacturing industry has been both very challenging and rewarding. I find that if we seek opportunities and work hard, the opportunities are truly endless in this industry. And although this is predominately a male-dominated industry, I do believe women have a voice here. Our opinions count and we definitely are valued.”

Cristie Eddy

Journeymen Pipefitter and Certified Welder, Decco, Inc., Brookline, NH

Cristie EddyCristie Eddy has been with Decco for more than 15 years, having joined the company as an apprentice pipefitter in June 2005. Through hard work and commitment to the craft she immediately stood out above her classmates. In her third year of the program she competed in, and won, the Associated Builders & Contractors Massachusetts Craft Competition, competing against more-experienced apprentices from across the state. As a state champion she qualified to compete nationally in San Diego, where she won the National Silver Medal. Her performance was lauded by the judges as “…the most complete displays of craft excellence they’d seen in the event,” and only narrowly missing the Gold Medal to a certified pipe welder from the Midwest who had years of experience in the trade. Cristie then tested for her state journeyman license and passed on the first try. 

With an infectious work ethic, she immediately became requested by every Decco site leader to work on their projects.  Cristie worked tirelessly after-hours in the Decco welding school to obtain several welding certifications and thus became one of our most accomplished welders.

Her skillset, work ethic, and attitude made her a perfect candidate for site leadership, and she quickly was promoted into a leadership role where she oversaw crews responsible for some of our most demanding projects. In 2015 Cristie became an ASNT certified weld inspector and served as a Project Quality Assurance Manager where she was wholly responsible for the company’s compliance to our stringent Standard Operating Procedures for Validated Piping Systems. During this time, she also started a family and as a mother of two young children she has continued to excel in several roles, but with experience and her home situation she has made the conscience decision to return to her first love, pipe welding. 

Always a rising star, Cristie is admired by all of her coworkers for her passion for the trade, her unique welding skills, her comradery, and her commitment to excellence.  

“I would recommend a career in fabrication/manufacturing to women because it is very rewarding. You can get a sense of satisfaction in building something with your own hands. Women who have good attention to detail can really thrive in this industry.” 

Phyllis Edwards

Planning and Scheduling/Contract Account Manager, C.E. Smith Co., Greensboro, NC

Phyllis EdwardsFor 47 years, Phyllis has been at the heart of C.E. Smith Co., witnessing industry technology evolve from clipboards to computers. Along the way, she adapted to change and mastered new skills to help C.E. Smith Co. meet domestic and international challenges. And, notes her nominator, Phyllis exhibited professionalism and a can-do attitude that has helped her solve any problem thrown her way and made her essential to the success of the business. 

Phyllis has been instrumental in helping to implement all manner of new programs and processes, from rolling out new computer and production-management systems, to establishing protocols and testing to support the company’s ISO 9001 certification. 

With a vast depository of knowledge that she willingly shares across various internal teams, Phyllis also shares her knowledge in mentoring younger employees. Her thorough knowledge of all metal forming processes provides incalculable benefit in her plant-wide scheduling and planning duties.
“If we were to describe Phyllis in one word, it would be ‘dedication,’” writes her nominator―”dedication to manufacturing quality parts, dedication to our company and its employees, and dedication to our customers.”

“I think that manufacturing is a very interesting field and lot more exciting than many other occupations out there. Manufacturing is so diverse; there is always something new and challenging to work on.”

Megan Fellinger

President and Chief Executive Officer, Morrison Products, Inc., Cleveland, OH

Megan FellingerAs the third-generation owner of Morrison Products, Megan impresses colleagues with her ability to balance work, family and community. She learned the business inside and out, working in each department to gain a greater understanding of the departmental collaboration required to keep Morrison Products successful. Megan showed her business savvy in 2018 when, as CEO, she led an acquisition that more than doubled the size of the company, growing it from 500 to more than 1100 employees across two countries. 

“Megan leads the day-to-day operations not through micromanagement but by setting expectations,” her nominator writes. “She leads by empowering us, the staff―utilizing our talents, in these COVID times, to provide a safe environment and enabling home-office remote work where possible.”
During the pandemic, Megan has spearheaded training for managers to help with the transition of employees from office to remote operations. She also led the Morrison Products COVID-19 response team―the company is an essential infrastructure business supplying the HVAC industry―in daily meetings across all plants. 

“Manufacturing is the perfect spot for problem solvers. It’s a fast paced, ever-changing environment where hard work and creativity constantly are required. Businesses with diversity throughout their workforce have proven to outperform in the industry over time. Women are underrepresented in manufacturing today, so the path for success for both you and your future employer is wide open!” 

Mary Fitzgerald

President, Acme Wire Products Co., Inc., Mystic, CT

WiM logoMary FitgeraldWith 38 years in the industry, including 35 at Acme Wire Products, Mary has managed to balance a full-time career while raising four children. In her professional life, she is active in Women in Manufacturing (WiM), serving as secretary of the WiM Connecticut Chapter since its inception in 2016 and focusing on new-member outreach and event development. And, Mary, as the first female member representing wire forming, participates in the Precision Metalforming Association’s Press Club, an executive networking group. Past and present memberships include the board of directors of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, advisory board of Phoenix Specialty Mfg., and secretary of Noank Community Support Services. 

Mary also contributes to the local community through volunteer participation with the Girl Scouts and her church and works with local groups to support manufacturing-career awareness. For example, Mary developed and ran a video challenge event pairing teams of high school students with local manufacturers to expand industry/school partnerships, which led to an increased awareness of the importance of manufacturing to the local economy and the wide variety of manufacturing careers. 

Also, she participates in Techapalooza, an Eastern Advanced Manufacturing Alliance event at Thames River Community College in Norwich, CT, which provides hands-on metal forming activities with middle school, high school and community college students to expand their knowledge of simple metal forming and assembly concepts.

“Manufacturing is an industry that includes many career opportunities using skills that are technical, creative, analytical and managerial. Whether they use their talents in production, engineering, finance, quality, human resources, marketing, management, sales or supervision, women can have a seat at every level in a manufacturing company.”

Marie Gieseler

Business Manager, Kent Corp., North Royalton, OH

Marie GieselerMarie started with Kent Corp. more than two decades ago and has worked her way up through a variety of positions within the company, earning promotions through hard work and dedication. 

Among Marie’s recent accomplishments:

  • Helped establish a new F1 portable end-welder manufacturing cell 
  • Helped Implement a new manufacturing-software module
  • Streamlined the company’s inventory-management system
  • Contributes to Kent Corp.’s supply-chain management activities.

“Marie is a creative, intuitive thinker and problem-solver, and attacks challenges in multiple ways,” writes her nominator. “She helps us attract and retain good employees and is a great team builder.”

“Don't think of manufacturing in terms of grease, noise or steel-toed shoes.  Manufacturing is America's heartbeat, and it greatly benefits from different viewpoints and talents, both in the manufacturing plant and at the conference-room table.  Manufacturing needs a woman’s unique perspective to problem solving―take a chance, be bold and learn something completely new!”

Pam Hiebert

Executive Vice President, Full Vision Inc., Newton, KS, Kansas

In 35 years at Full-Vision, Pam developed and expanded her accounting expertise, earning her a position as controller. From heavy involvement in the company’s MRP system to working in the trenches putting work order packets to the floor, she has created all manner of data and spreadsheets for financials, quoting and system work arounds. Her dedication and expertise led to her recent promotion to vice president.

“Pam does so many things for the company and will work 80 hr./week if that's what it takes,” her nominator writes, describing why she sets an excellent example for colleagues and for those who are considering a a career in manufacturing. “She is very in tune with processes and how everything flows through the shop’s work centers. And if this isn't enough, I have even seen her put on work gloves and perform manual labor to help get things to the finish line. Pam is a top-level performer and knows the metal fabricating business well.”

“Manufacturing can provide many fun and exciting career paths for women. These paths include sales, customer service, engineering, procurement, production, quality and accounting. These processes are all vital to the success of the manufacturing company. If you want to be a part of taking something from start to finish manufacturing provides the perfect opportunity for that.”

Christine Hogan

Warehouse Manager, Stewart EFI, LLC, Thomaston, CT

Chris HoganChristine successfully manages a multi-cultural, highly functioning warehouse team at Stewart EFI, which is consistently asked to go above and beyond in meeting customer demands for on-time delivery (OTD) and last-minute pull-in orders. She  leverages her soft skills and personality, as well as dry wit and tremendous sense of humor, offers her nominator, in balancing the daily interactions with upper management, customers and shipping personnel, as well as doing everything possible to accommodate the prompt and correct shipping of prototypes, new tool engineering samples, and anything else asked of her. This is in addition to her management responsibilities and daily production shipment-OTD demands.

More common than not, Christine is the one to come in on scheduled days off, or to stay late on normal workdays to get parts out the door which have been delayed in getting to her, for one reason or another. She handles all requests promptly and honestly, and even in the few times she cannot make whatever demand/request happen, she will explain why and do whatever is in her power to provide a solution or alternative. 

Additionally, she regularly rewards her team with pizza and birthday festivities in efforts to maintain good morale in what is most often a very demanding, fast-paced environment. 

“Christine always is willing to ‘go the extra mile’ in efforts to get deliveries out the door to customers,” writes her nominator. “She represents all that is right with women in leadership positions within a manufacturing organization.”

“Manufacturing is an exciting career, never a dull moment.  Being part of a team, working in the final stage of a manufacturing business, you work with all departments including outside vendors.  This business is always moving and changing daily. It is both challenging and rewarding to make 'it' happen for a customer and your team that has worked so hard.”

Heidi Hostetter

Vice President, Faustson Tool, Arvada, CO

Heidi HostetterWith two decades in the industry, including 17 at Faustson Tool, Heidi, through her leadership, has helped the company earn multiple excellence awards from its military and aerospace customers. Heidi has been awarded the Bizwest Woman of Distinction Award. She was instrumental, along with partners Faustson Tool, Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace, in founding the ADAPT Center at Colorado School of Mines, which strives to help industry explore and standardize metal additive manufacturing.

“Heidi always has led from a position of strength and innovation,” her nominator writes, “bringing new technologies into play to improve the production of parts for her clients. The performance of Heidi and the team at Faustson is second to none, which is why it continues to be an important partner for its customers.”

"It’s fun! It’s rewarding! And it makes a difference! Every time I look at an F-35 aircraft I can see the parts that I helped manufacture.  Every time I look at a home dialysis machine, I know that my parts are in there.  When our soldiers are at war I know that in some small way I was able to help protect them and, ultimately, the citizens of this country. Then at the end of an honest, hard-working day, I get to go home and make a meal for my son.  I love that as a woman in manufacturing I have found my place in this big world and have come to realize I can have it all. So can you!" 

Nichole Lawrence

QA Inspector II, Quality Industries, Lavergne, TN

Nichole LawrenceNikki is considered a tremendous asset and a value-add team-player for the quality assurance (QA) team and for Quality Industries.  She is a consistent top-producer in terms of inspection volumes, but also hyper-diligent in her inspection processes, working to guarantee the quality of parts, assemblies and processes.  Nikki plays a vital role as part of the company’s second-shift inspection team as an independent self-starter―frequently coordinating with multiple operational teams, leaders and functions to make critical quality decisions.  She does this reliably and dependably without the QA leadership presence that is enjoyed on first shift.

Most recently she played an integral role in a new-customer launch in Quality Industries’ brake department.  While were short-handed due to COVID-19-related issues, Nikki single-handedly managed the deluge of first-article inspections on her shift and almost instantly ramped up new inspections and documentation requirements for this new product line, her nominator reports. 

“Nikki definitely is a ‘set the bar high’ kind of person and team member, and reflects this in her performance, work ethic, hustle and attitude,” her nominator writes. “She makes the right calls, does the right things and leads by example.  Her effectiveness and positive impact are seen as she daily invests herself in our business, and daily drives results in ensuring product quality for our customers.   We’re a better team because Nikki is here.”  

“Starting out a career in manufacturing as a woman can be almost intimidating, because at the end of the day, manufacturing is still a highly male-dominated field.  This is unlikely to change until people can see that it's not just manual labor, and there are so many different skill sets that you can learn.  Multiple opportunities exist for women in manufacturing.”

Rosemary Martin

Quality Coordinator, Win-Tech, Inc., Kennesaw, GA

Rosemary MartinWhen Rose came to Win-Tech in 2012, the quality department needed help, as the company had recently migrated to AS 9100 from ISO 9001, and requirements were proving to be a massive undertaking. Although she interviewed for an administrative position, during the interview Rose’s background in manufacturing came to light, which resulted in the creation of the quality coordinator position for her. Rose met the challenge head-on. Today, she is known as the “queen of all things quality,” her nominator reports, “and has made accuracy and efficiency job one while becoming the face of Win-Tech's quality department.”

At Win-Tech's recent AS 9100 recertification audit, Rose received praise from the auditor for her guidance through the quality-control process, recognizing her incredible organizational skills, her solid understanding of the aerospace standard and her ability and willingness to answer any questions the auditor asked. 

“After the audit,” her nominator writes, “the auditor commented that never in all his years had he seen a system so rock solid as the one Rose had in place for the quality control department. It was for this praise that in mid-2020 Rose was awarded a Win-Tech Challenge Coin for her dedication to Win-Tech.”

“While manufacturing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, today's manufacturing offers a wide array of career paths at all levels, which are exciting and rewarding. We're seeing more and more women in manufacturing-leadership roles and a steady rise in women-owned manufacturing businesses. What better role model for women today than women who are breaking down gender barriers.”

Tracy McFarland

Director of Quality, Oberg Industries, Freeport, PA

Tracy McFarlandAs director of quality at Oberg Industries, Tracy leverages her 28 years of industry experience and her degree in metallurgical engineering to ensure that the company’s quality-management system and compliance standards, as well as customer and regulatory requirements, are consistently met for Oberg to maintain its various quality certifications across its seven facilities.  

A true quality guru, Tracy also is responsible for working with all functional areas to define and monitor quality metrics and to identify continuous- improvement opportunities.

“Tracy not only has supported the quality team at Oberg Industries, but her talent for material science plays a large role in ensuring that new equipment, data collection and recipes are functioning, thorough and correct,” writes her nominator. “She provides thorough support to her quality team; to teams updating our internal heat-treatment requirements, validations, etc.; to those needing her direct support; and to the entire organization.”

“Manufacturing is a rewarding career, as you are able to see and understand how products are made and utilized across many industries. The career possibilities within manufacturing are endless, from operating equipment on the production floor to the engineering and designing of products and equipment, to ensuring the quality of the product being manufactured.”

Cindy Melton

Production Manager, Oneda Corp., Columbus, GA

Cindy MeltonStarting at Oneda Corp. 25 years ago as an assembly operator, Cindy has worked her way up through the ranks to production manager, with her dedication and professionalism on display all along her career journey. Testament to her capabilities and execution, under Cindy's leadership and guidance, production efficiency has improved by three percent and obsolete inventory has been reduced by 10 percent.

Given that Oneda Corp. is a smaller company with 75 team members, everyone must wear a lot of hats. In Cindy’s case, besides leading the production and purchasing departments, she leads most of supervisors. 

“Cindy is an incredible team leader, with excellent people skills and organizational skills, and a desire to learn and improve,” writes her nominator. “She is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, regardless of other factors. Cindy makes Oneda Corp. a better place, and we are incredibly lucky to have her.”

“Manufacturing often seems intimidating, but today it is about what you can offer the company. Women have the mindset that we can do anything, and that is what manufacturing needs—women who are open to learning and taking risks. It is very fast paced, and there always is something new to learn or improve upon. It is such a rewarding job!”

Jocelyn Merlo

Customer Service Supervisor, Vulcan Spring and Mfg. Co., Telford, PA

Jocelyn MerloA 16-yr. employee of Vulcan Spring and Manufacturing, Jocelyn recently was promoted to a senior position due to her commitment to the industry, to the customers and to her company. She receives quarterly recognition through Vulcan’s Values program, where peers recognize outstanding performance of an individual that exemplifies one or more of Vulcan’s 10 stated values. 

As a critical liaison between Vulcan and the customer, Jocelyn, in almost every positive customer-feedback response according to her nominator, is mentioned for her professionalism and superior customer service. This includes responding in a timely manner to all inquiries, and explaining in clear, concise ways exactly what the customer needs and what Vulcan can deliver. With her recent promotion, Jocelyn takes part in leadership-team meetings and manages the customer service team. 

“Over the past 6 months, including management of a ramp-up in critical production for equipment to fight the battle against COVID-19, Jocelyn has worked to deliver product at volumes we have not seen before,” writes her nominator. “Not only is Jocelyn key to our team and our customers, but she also is critical to the growth of our business and to the success of critical products in the metal forming sector.”

“Whether your career path is established or still taking form, manufacturing offers opportunities from entry- through executive-level positions amongst the many departments that support the development, production and sale of quality products. Initiative and willingness to learn and work are rewarded by growth and new possibilities.”  

Paloma Montero

Director of Enterprise Development, Worthington Armstrong Venture, Malvern, PA

Paloma MonteroPaloma has excelled in the steel and manufacturing industry, receiving promotions while completing her Executive MBA from Michigan State University with honors.  She recently has been promoted to director of enterprise development and continues to be a strong contributor to her company and throughout the industry. Paloma also is the former president of the Detroit chapter of the Association of Women in the Metal Industries.   

Paloma is passionate about her work in the metal forming/tailor-welded-blanks industry, and demonstrates that passion in her daily duties.

“Paloma is the definition of a leader, working full time while maintaining and supporting her family at home,” writes her nominator. “She uses her knowledge and skills in business development and innovation to drive profitability and sustainability in the workplace. Paloma is a major asset to the company.”

“Manufacturing companies make an impact in our everyday lives. From automotive to electronics, we as women can participate in innovating for the future, and that is very exciting. In addition, manufacturing provides opportunities for women looking to advance their development through continuous education, inhouse training and stretch assignments to enrich their skills for future career growth.”

Deb Oberle

Plant Manager, Findlay Products Corp., Findlay, OH

Deb OberleDeb is the first and only female plant manager employed by Findlay Product Corp.’s parent company, Midway Products Group, Inc., reports her nominator. She started at Findlay Products Corp. as a quality engineer in 1996 when the metal stamping plant first opened. Through her hard work and dedication, she was promoted to production manager and then to plant manager.  

Deb consistently has led her plant to a first-place ranking among the parent company’s eight manufacturing facilities. Her firm but fair management style has gained the respect and dedication of many employees throughout the organization in quality, engineering, manufacturing and materials management.

Deb's well-rounded background and knowledge of metal stamping and assembly has positioned her well for further advancement and growth at the corporate level, but she has said, "I can't leave my team, I just can't.  They count on me, and I count on them every day."

“And that she does,” her nominator offers. “Deb leads by example every day, putting in long hours and exhibiting a commitment to do whatever it takes to assist not only her team, but all of our other sister manufacturing sites as well. When any one of our stamping facilities suffers a major press breakdown or assembly issue, Deb's team is among the first to answer the call for help until the issue is resolved.  This often means extended work hours and weekends, but she and her team can always be counted on.”

“My career in the manufacturing industry has been extremely exciting and fulfilling.  Over the span of 30-plus years working in manufacturing, directly involved with every aspect of day-to-day activity and decision making, I have gained so much knowledge and respect for the industry and the people that are a part of it.  It definitely is challenging, but looking back I would not change a thing.”

Donna Plum

Director of Human Resources, Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc., Wallingford, CT

Donna PlumStarting with Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc. as a personnel assistant in 1984, Donna worked her way up through the human resources ranks until being named director of human resources in 2001. Women within the organization aspire to see their careers ascend like Donna’s, according to her nominator, further explaining that Donna regularly advances the cause of Ulbrich’s women and minorities by keeping Ulbrich’s affirmative-action goals and responsibilities in the forefront of her mind with all of her HR-related decision making. 

In 2019, the Ulbrich family recognized Donna’s service by granting her a 35-yr. service award. In 2020, she became Ulbrich's resident expert on COVID-19, excelling at managing the company’s workforce throughout the pandemic. 

Active in a variety of state and local manufacturing-focused organizations, Donna is a member of the Connecticut Workforce Alliance “Skill Up” Advisory Committee, a member of the Advanced Manufacturing Employer Partnership for Central Connecticut, and a participant in the Wallingford, CT, HUBCAP Manufacturing Employment Pipeline. She also serves with the Human Resources Roundtable Committee within the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce. 

And, Donna has been the Ulbrich coordinator of the United Way of Meriden/Wallingford annual fundraising campaign for more than 20 yr. As a result of her hard work and dedication to this cause, Ulbrich consistently has attained Diamond-level status for the highest level of contributions among area businesses. She also has been a long-time volunteer for St. Lawrence Church in Killingworth, CT.

“In the human resources field, personal credibility is of paramount importance,” writes Donna’s nominator. “As a company representative and spokesperson, her word is as good as gold. Donna deals fairly, openly and professionally with Ulbrich employees without regard to rank or stature. She is a terrific performer, an outstanding professional, and a woman of substance and character who has assisted many women within Ulbrich to reach their full leadership potential. Donna has a stellar reputation and is viewed as an integral member of the Ulbrich team by all of us.”

“Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with many talented and creative individuals.  In manufacturing and in human resources, every day presents new challenges and experiences.  Today’s manufacturing world is an exciting and rewarding career choice.  In an industry that is capabilities-driven and with new technology constantly developing, there are many career opportunities for women in all aspects of the business.”

Wanda Robinson

First Shift Lead, Wrico Stamping NC, Pineville, NC

Wanda RobinsonIn her 26 years at Wrico Stamping NC, Wanda has participated in numerous internal leadership and career-building classes, growing from a novice press operator to one of the most knowledgeable employees in a key leadership role that Wrico NC. 

Wanda has been one of the key members of the company’s safety team, and acts as the key contact for first-responder situations on the first shift. She also has received certifications in blueprint reading and GD&T from Central Piedmont Community College, and as a former forklift instructor, helped train and administer certifications for Wrico NC employees.

“Wanda is one of the most hardworking, dedicated employees on the production floor,” writes her nominator. “As the first-shift lead at Wrico Stamping NC, she embodies everything that her title holds. With each new advancement in technology and process, Wanda has taken the time to continuously improve her skill sets to help her advance in her field. She has become one of the most dedicated employees that Wrico Stamping NC has, and embodies leading by example.

“Wanda also helps to guide new employees in the manufacturing field,” her nominator continues. “Not only has she had the challenge of proving herself as a strong woman in the manufacturing industry, but she has done so with grace, knowledge and a sense of fairness towards every employee that has had the pleasure of working with her.”

“Having started a new occupation in the metal stamping industry in 1994, I have found that every day is both challenging and exciting. The industry is constantly evolving and being able to advance with it is what is rewarding.”

Anna Sanchez

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, MetriCan, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Anna SanchezA second-generation member of MetriCan’s ownership family, Anna, in her 18 years at the company, has demonstrated her abilities and used her industry and business expertise to lead and run day-to-day operations, managing enterprise risk and developing and executing MetriCan’s strategic direction. 
Anna joined MetriCan in 2003 as finance manager, where she built her knowledge and understanding of various business functions including manufacturing, engineering, design, technology and plant operations. In 2009 she was promoted to chief financial officer (CFO), having helped shepherd MetriCan through the 2008/2009 downturn with minimal loss to the business, and oversaw the company’s expansion into the United States and Mexico from a financial perspective.

Promoted to executive vice president and CFO in 2017, Anna today runs and oversees all operations, and provides strategic direction while interfacing with customers, legal and banking representatives, and other key external organizations. Her efforts helped MetriCan earn the Shape Supplier Excellence Award for Quality and Delivery in 2016 and 2017, and Brose Key Supplier recognition in 2019. In 2018, MetriCan’s stamping facility in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, was chosen to support a visit by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to promote the newly signed USMCA trade agreement. 

Since her 2017 promotion, Anna has initiated a strategic-planning process at MetriCan, which continues to be an active, dynamic effort to manage the changing external environment and take advantage of the corporate team’s expertise. She has led this work (and continues to) with enthusiasm, commitment to change, and willingness to shift and adjust as required to meet the dynamics of the external environment and internal business needs. An example was the pivot adjustments made because of COVID 19.

“Over the past four years, Anna has actively pursued her own leadership development and sought the same for her leadership team,” her nominator writes. “She is driven by the desire to build MetriCan as a leader in the metal forming industry. Anna has consciously and consistently focused on developing her technical knowledge, understanding and expertise. She has grown from manager to leader and understands the difference and the impact that her leadership has on her team, peers, family, customers and other outside individuals and organizations.”

“A manufacturing career focuses on the customer while engaging people throughout the organization, embedding teamwork and incorporating new technologies and processes. This industry provides women the opportunity to leverage their leadership skills, as well as to enhance their own skills and experience. By challenging the traditional norms, women can break numerous barriers on the shop floor and at the corporate level, driving growth and change in manufacturing.”

Michelle Schlipp

Executive Director of Accounting & Finance, Dayton Rogers Mfg. Co., Minneapolis, MN

Michelle SchlippMichelle oversees the day-to-day operations of the Dayton Rogers finance department in Minneapolis, bringing a strong understanding of the entire finance function of manufacturing in managing financial reporting. She has enacted processes to help control costs, improve financial reporting, document transactions, improve efficiency and provide clear analytics. She also has worked hard to expand her knowledge of the company’s culture and history.

She impresses with her passion towards organization and detail, and her unique ability to explain dense information in an easy-to-understand way, according to her nominator.

“Michelle constantly collaborates with multiple departments, and her ability to work with a diverse group of personalities allows a culture of trust and sincerity within our corporate office,” her nominator writes. “This, in turn, allows others to foster their sense of curiosity and generate conversations that challenge us to think about why we do what we do. Michelle has embodied the type of culture and values that Dayton Rogers is built on. She is a great asset to the company, a wonderful human being, and we are lucky to have her on the Dayton Rogers team.”

“The skills that women specifically bring to the table outside of education are needed in all fields, but specifically in male-dominated fields that want to continue to move forward into the next era of manufacturing.”

Alyson Scott

President, Fredon Corp., Mentor, OH

Alyson ScottThrough Alyson Scott's 24 years in the metal forming industry, she has been a fierce advocate for acquiring future talent for the industry, and for developing and retaining that talent. For the past 10 years, she has produced Northeast Ohio's largest regional junior high and high school combat robotics competition, which acts as an attraction and recruitment pipeline for local talent into the metal forming industry. Through this program, Alyson has made a positive impact on thousands of middle school and high school students, many of whom now work in the metal forming industry. 

As for accomplishments within the metal forming industry, Alyson Scott serves at the president of Fredon Corp., a metal forming manufacturing facility employing 100 people.  She has been featured several times as a notable woman in manufacturing in a variety of news articles. Not only is Alyson highly regarded as a leader within the metal forming industry, but as a leader in the greater community as well. For example, she serves as a councilwoman for Kirtland Hills, as president of the AWT Foundation Board of Directors, has served on several NTMA Committees and panels, and is a trustee for the Lakeland Community College Foundation.

“The industry is constantly evolving and advancing through technology, which provides women the opportunity to have a career that is intellectually challenging and never dull. Also, in my experience women enjoy working within teams made up of people of varying skill sets, backgrounds, ages and experiences that typically are found in manufacturing environments. The ability to work well within different group dynamics is important to the success of any company and can be very rewarding to the employee.” 

Liz Sink

Production Scheduler, US Metal Crafters, Archdale, NC

Liz SinkSince leaving a career in law enforcement, Liz has applied her practical and matter-of-fact skill set at US Duct and now at startup and sister company US Metal Crafters, where, as production scheduler, she has thrown herself into managing the chaos of floor routings, travelers, scheduling and logistics. 

Liz is referred to as “the Brain” by Steve McDaniel, US Metal Crafters owner and CEO, due to her high tolerance for multi-task laden, logistical and operational nightmares, and her ability to calm the waters when things get rough in the plant. She has served on the front lines as the company quickly transformed from a local job shop servicing the furniture industry in North Carolina to an OEM manufacturer for longer-run stamping, roll forming, laser cutting and fabricating jobs.  

“Liz's efforts are paramount to the success of US Metal Crafters and to many of us here who truly understand the magnitude of the hybrid position that she makes look easy,” writes her nominator. “Our successes since her arrival from US Duct are undeniable and documented.” 

“Manufacturing is such an integral part of everyday life; therefore, women should feel ‘at home’ wanting to produce, inspire and create products that make the world function. Ask the questions, be willing to learn each step of the process to understand ‘the dance,’ and never fear the challenge.  Be a part of a team that supports you and you’ll achieve greatness!”

Jackie Stachowski

Product and Market Manager, Nucor, Decatur, AL

Jackie StachowskiJackie has been heavily involved in the successful growth of the automotive market for Nucor Steel.  Her past work as a district sales manager and in applications engineering have been key in developing Nucor's largest automotive account.  She has been an active member of the Detroit chapter of the Association of Women in the Metal Industries (AWMI), serving in several positions as a board member, including chapter president and vice president, and served as editor of the AWMI newsletter. Jackie also took an active role for Nucor in development efforts at the Steel Market Development Institute, including serving as chair of the Wheels Task Force.  

“Jackie has developed close relationships in the steel and automotive industries that have given her opportunities to help others succeed,” offers her nominator. “She is well liked by her peers and colleagues, and has worked hard to help others, including her customers.  Jackie did all of this while raising a family and balancing a demanding career.  Her leadership skills have been an asset to the organizations she has participated in, and have proved invaluable when tackling the issues that she encountered daily in her various jobs at Nucor.”

“Manufacturing provides a rewarding opportunity to use one’s full skill set.   Compensation is competitive and there are unlimited opportunities to get involved within the professional community.  Working with like-minded, productive people has made my career in manufacturing extremely fulfilling and allowed me to set a great example not only for the women around me but also for my own children.”

Marge Talarek

Controller, Tenneco, Brunswick, OH

Marge TalarekMarge began her career more than 32 yr. ago at TRW Automotive in the financial sector. Upon Federal-Mogul’s acquisition in 2015 of TRW’s Global Valvetrain division, she became the main plant controller at the Northeast Ohio plant located in Brunswick, OH, the North American Technical Center and the firm’s pass-through entities. In 2018, Tenneco acquired Federal-Mogul and Marge yet again was instrumental in supporting the plant with the transition and changes to processes. 

In her role as plant controller, Marge consistently demonstrates exemplary service while maintaining a positive attitude, even when the request is challenging. She is very responsive to senior-leadership requests for more information about budgets and financial plans, notes her nominator, explaining that “daily, we deal with a number of budget issues and often have questions related to the applicable accounts. We frequently call Marge with questions and always receive quick answers. 

We are grateful for Marge’s engagement in our projects at the plant, from the beginning through the reconciliation of budget to actual expenses to project close,” her nominator continues. “Marge frequently exceeds our expectations, and we appreciate the outstanding customer service that she provides day in and day out, and her positive demeanor and expert knowledge of matters related to finance and project oversight.”  

“It is incredibly rewarding to know that my day-to-day efforts contribute in some way to the success of the plant.  Providing the right information at the right time helps the plant and team accomplish their goals. Manufacturing constantly brings new challenges in an ever-changing environment with many opportunities to learn and grow.”

Roxanne von Andrian

Director of Quality Systems, Weiss-Aug, East Hanover, NJ

Roxanne von AndrianLeveraging her decades of working in industry, during her short 2-yr. stint with Weiss-Aug, Roxanne worked to achieve ISO 13485 registration for the firm’s Fairfield, NJ, plant, and completed a Transition of Registrars for IATF 16949 and ISO 9001 at its East Hanover, NJ, plant with zero findings―a rare feat with this type/depth of audit certification. In addition, Roxanne completed training to become an AIAG Certified Lead Auditor to IATF 16949 with AIAG Supplier Auditor Certification.  Her achievements are many at Weiss-Aug, and her impact on the organization, observes her nominator, has been astounding.  

“Roxanne is a true leader, a powerful, well-versed and well-rounded engineer with strengths in multiple disciplines, her nominator writes. “She can take on a task in any area of manufacturing, including quality systems, metallurgy and mechanical systems, and is adept enough to jump in and get things done. She has a demeanor and candor that makes her well-liked, which allows her to be an excellent mentor and sounding board to our junior team members.”

A trusted as a strategic member of the Weiss-Aug leadership team, Roxanne has looked for opportunities to empower other female team members and provide them with confidence and re-assurance so that they look for growth and "spotlight" opportunities within the organization. 

“Roxanne is someone that team members look up to as an example of what someone can accomplish,” explains her nominator, and of someone still striving to climb new mountains―constantly learning, evolving and setting the bar for others.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, Roxanne took on a leadership role by establishing a detailed Pandemic Response Plan and is the company’s acting Pandemic Response Team Leader. Through these challenging times, Roxanne has navigated many challenges, and each time has helped us rise above.”       

“I recommend that women step up and take most of the 12.5-million manufacturing jobs currently available—good and steady income, transferable skills and getting things done. I started working in manufacturing 37 years ago. After a 12-yr. project-engineering role and teaching at the university, I transitioned to a manufacturing-management role, which paid better. I’ve not worried about my career since.”

Mary-Ann Warren

Set-Up Operator Press, ARaymond Tinnerman Mfg. Hamilton Inc., Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Mary Ann WarrenAfter participating in a company-sponsored co-op program, Mary-Ann joined ARaymond on a full-time basis in maintenance more than 23 years ago, with other company roles as a production office assistant and night-shift leadhand before moving into her current position as set-up press operator.

“Possessing solid technical, parts and set-up knowledge, Mary-Ann is a consistent contributor to the business, and over the years has made numerous positive contributions by sharing her technical expertise and press trouble-shooting skills with more junior operators,” write her nominators. “Most recently, she was involved in a team collaboration that focused on capturing core training outcomes as part of formalizing our inhouse training programs within the fabrication/press area of our business.  Her insights on the technical and core skills and competency required have proven to be very beneficial in establishing a clear road map for new-operator training and development pathways.” 

“Manufacturing has been a very satisfying career choice.  Working in the metal stamping industry with progressive dies has been rewarding. The auto industry is ever changing, and companies have to be innovative to stay competitive, which means that the way we preform our jobs has changed over the years.  Learning new technology has been challenging, but continues to enhance how we do our jobs daily."

Eva Williamson

Shipping/Finished Goods Manager, Phoenix Specialty Mfg. Co., Bamberg, SC

Eva WilliamsonEva has been with Phoenix Specialty Mfg. Co. for more than 41 years and has held several positions during that time, including sales representative, office manager and, most recently, shipping and finished goods manager. Her dedication to the company has earned her the opportunity to hold several leadership roles during her tenure.

Eva’s dedication to Phoenix Specialty Mfg. Co., and the metal forming industry, is shown in her years of service. She is extremely passionate about her job, as well as the company, with a leadership style that is unmatched, her nominator offers. 

After 34 years in sales, Eva was asked to step into the position of shipping/finished goods manager. As always, Eva acted as a team player and was willing to step in where needed. She has since created a cross-training matrix in the shipping department, helping to develop a cross-functional team.

“Eva has always represented Phoenix with a smile,” writes her nominator. “She has attended more than 100 trade shows and planned countless events for the company, and is detail-oriented in every task given to her. She was set to retire this past March, but because of her dedication and team-player mentality, she decided to delay her retirement and remain with the company. Eva’s passion, dedication and leadership has made her a vital asset to team Phoenix over the years.”

“A career in usually male-dominated manufacturing is a win-win for women and the companies that hire them.  Women bring their hearts to work and wear them on their sleeves every day.  Women are more driven, creative, compassionate, effective and organized communicators. They value a company’s best asset―its employees―and ensure its success. Women work hard to be supportive and adaptable. They get things done.”

Shana Witalisz

Director of Custom Solutions, EpiCenter, Westfield, MA

Shana WitaliszPossessing bachelors’ degrees in chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, along with earning post-graduate credits, Shana has developed the technical and leadership skills to direct a team of programmers who develop custom solutions to meet the needs of EpiCenter’s customers. She works with customers to define their requirements and translates those needs into the technical jargon needed to properly engage with her technical staff.

Beginning with EpiCenter 11 yr. ago as a part-time programmer while in college (where she earned both of her bachelor’s degrees concurrently within 4 yr.), Shana rose through the organization, first as a full-time consultant and now in her current position as director of custom solutions. Part of the company’s management team, she supervises a staff of 12. Beyond her extensive career responsibilities, Shana performs volunteer duties with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team in Training, the Alzheimer’s Association, and Girls on the Run.

“Shana has a ‘can do’ attitude and moves very quickly through any level of complexities to do the best job possible for her company and her customers,” writes her nominator. “She also understands that a true leader is humble, leads by example, never asks her staff to do anything that she would not do, and addresses tough issues directly. Shana clearly is a role model and great example of a deserving woman in business.”

“The manufacturing industry has opportunities that are limitless for women.  It is an industry that allows you to enter at any skill level and grow as far as your creativity and drive will allow.”    

Michelle Woomer

Sales/Production Coordinator, Eagle Metals, Inc., Leesport, PA

Michelle WoomerMichelle has exhibited exemplary leadership during her 30 years at Eagle Metals. She has transitioned from her initial role as receptionist to what can only be described as an MVP, according to her nominator. As the company has grown from 15 to 80 employees, Michelle has been involved with every department within the organization. While she primarily works in production and sales, she has a role in quality, shipping, purchasing, planning, IT and accounting. 

Whether working with internal team members or customers and suppliers, Michelle looks to find the best outcome for all involved while exemplifying the core values of Eagle Metals, bringing a considerate and thoughtful approach to leadership as well as a willingness to learn. She frequently receives praise from customers and suppliers.  

“Michelle takes the time to and ensure that everyone is included in the conversation, and then arrives at a thoughtful and inclusive plan of action,” writes her nominator. “Yet when it is time for her to take the initiative, she does so with determination. Her honesty, and friendly and considerate nature are qualities that make her a natural leader. Michelle has had an enormous, positive impact on the success of our company.” 

“As women, we have the ability to accomplish great things, so why not in manufacturing?  Even though I have been in every department here at Eagle Metals from receptionist to production, there is a field out there for you. Why not give manufacturing a try?  I believe that manufacturing could be a perfect fit for any woman, providing a good sense of how much manufacturing impacts everyday life.”

Jessica Zheng

Vice President, Global Business Development, Simufact Engineering GmbH and Forming Technologies, Divisions of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, Oakville, Ontario, Canada

Jessica ZhengJessica has a long history in the metal forming industry as a business-development executive. She knows this area inside-out, not only the forming processes but also what is important to the manufacturing industry―the overall sustainability, including design for cost, faster time to market, lightweight construction and design for manufacturability. Jessica has been heavily involved in driving business internationally and has vast experience in different industries, including automotive and aerospace, and in different regions—especially the Asian market.

Jessica exhibits a great level of assertiveness in what is a male-dominated industry, which is reflected in her current position as vice president, global business development, where she is responsible for the entire operational business.

“Manufacturing is on the cutting edge of technology. While the manufacturing industry has traditionally been seen to have a male-favored culture, I find that women often bring new and different perspectives into manufacturing operations, driving efficiency, safety, cost reductions and higher-quality products. Many of my female colleagues and friends are very hardworking, persistent and detail-oriented. They are dedicated to solving problems and strive to make a difference. More than ever the old manufacturing world needs more women to join and promote diversity and innovation. If you are a young woman who is dedicated and not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can make a difference in this industry.”

2020 Women of Excellence Honorable Mention

Stephanie Almanzar, Business Systems Analyst, Weiss-Aug Surgical Products Division, Fairfield, NJ

Mary Anthony, Application Engineer, Oberg Industries, Freeport, PA

Anabel Antunes, Production Planner, Weiss-Aug, East Hanover, NJ

Misti Armstrong, Customer Service Representative, Larson Tool & Stamping Co., Attleboro, MA

Alison Barnell, Territory Sales Mgr., Metalloid Corp., Sturgis, MI

Meredith Barnes, Marketing Manager, US Metal Crafters, Archdale, NC

Amy Bishop, Inside Sales Representative, Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc., North Haven, CT

Allison Book, Purchasing Manager | EPS, Inc., Alpharetta, GA

Kara Bosse, Director of Sales-Industrial, Matthew Warren Industries (MWI), Southington, CT

Catherine Campbell, Controller, Acme Monaco Corp., New Britain, CT

Emily Clark, Form Department Lead, Tech-Etch Inc., Plymouth, MA

Colleen Corcoran, Inside Sales Manager, International Mold Steel, Hebron, KY

Maria Crespo, Slitter Setup Person | Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals, Inc., Wallingford, CT

Magdalena Domzalska-Pol, Human Resources Director, Spartanburg Steel Products, Spartanburg, SC

Martyna Finethy, Training and Development Coordinator | Okay Industries, Inc., New Britain, CT

Audrey Frantz, Manufacturing Support Engineer, Aida-America Corp., Dayton, OH

Suszanne Gilchrist, Accountant | Ernst Metal Technologies, Moraine, OH

Meggin Kovich, Senior Sales Administrator, Clips & Clamps Industries, Plymouth, MI

Fiorella Loret de Mola, Industrial Engineer, Weiss-Aug, Fairfield, NJ

Nancy Macurdy, Inventory Control/Kitting Coordinator, Oberg Industries, Freeport, PA

Laura MiklichFacility Engineer | Heyco Metals Inc., Reading, PA

Monica Murphy, Progressive Supervisor, Choice Fabricators, Inc., Rainbow City, AL

Marissa Plucinski, Vice President | BL Duke, Forest View, IL

Mary Rappin, Human Resources Manager, North American Stamping Group, Portland, TN

Amanda Riddle, Purchasing Coordinator | Metal Flow Corp., Holland, MI

Lisa Singletary, Purchasing /Material Manager, Phoenix Specialty, Bamberg, SC

Kimberly Slazek, Director of Human Resources, Trans-Matic Mfg., Holland, MI

Julie St. JohnMarketing & Inside Sales Coordinator, Almetals, Inc., Wixom, MI

Michelle Sutton, Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Winzeler Stamping Co., Montpelier, OH

Annika Weinschenk, Ph.D., Product Owner, Forming Technologies, Oakville, Ontario, Canada MF

Industry-Related Terms: Case, Center, CNC, Core, Die, Edge, Form, Forming, LASER, Lines, Manufacturability, Model, NC, Point, Roll Forming, Run, Tolerance
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: IRMCO, Weiss-Aug Group, Ulbrich Stainless Steels & Special Metals Inc., Kent Corporation, Dayton Rogers Manufacturing Co.

Technologies: Management


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