2019 Women of Excellence in Metal Forming & Fabricating

November 1, 2019

WiM Works to Encourage, Engage

The Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), with more than 3000 members, is a national association dedicated 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, bimonthly professional-development webinars, a customized employment tool called WiMWorks, the bimonthly IMPACT e-newsletter, and a robust searchable directory.

For more, visit www.womeninmanufacturing.org.
MetalForming magazine is proud to recognize our 2019 Women of Excellence in Metal Forming and Fabricating. MetalForming editors and our program partners, Women in Manufacturing (WiM), present here 44 Winners and 14 Honorable Mention recipients, each demonstrating on-the-job excellence and a commitment to manufacturing.

The Women of Excellence in Metal Forming and Fabricating program exists to recognize the vital role that women play in our industries, and to inspire the next generation to reap the rewards of a manufacturing career. The 2019 class, the largest in the four years that MetalForming has presented these awards, features boardroom to shop-floor honorees that, no doubt, serve as inspirations.

“MetalForming proudly shines the spotlight on these industry leaders—women who excel and contribute greatly to the success of their metal forming and fabricating companies, and also inspire other women to choose a manufacturing career path,” says Brad Kuvin, MetalForming publisher/editorial director. “The commitment and skills exhibited by each of these honorees is exactly what our industry needs in order to remain globally competitive for decades to come.”

MetalForming’s editorial staff and the staff of WiM recognized these women for their longevity and accomplishments in the industry, and a commitment to others in their careers and in their communities. We thank all of the nominees and those who nominated them. 
Efforts to increase manufacturing opportunities for women while recognizing their skills is an important function of MetalForming’s parent organization, the Precision Metalforming Association, 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, and vice president of Association Services for PMA. “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.” 

We at MetalForming invite you to join us in congratulating our 2019 Women of Excellence honorees. Read on as we identify these honorees, whose quotes are meant to convey appreciation for their manufacturing careers, and inspire others to follow the manufacturing path. 

Giselle Benitez

Production Lead, Okay Industries Inc., New Britain, CT

From the beginning, 15 years ago as an entry-level operator in Okay Industries’ finishing and assembly area, Giselle has set the bar high for herself, arriving each day with a can-do attitude and a drive to learn more and do more than her job requires. Giselle looked at each machine or production assignment as an opportunity for growth. Taking great accountability not only for her personal work but for the work of the entire team, she naturally began leading by example, motivating others when they needed it, and empowering others by sharing her knowledge. Giselle gained trust by being willing to help others succeed and improving results by building confidence and loyalty of those around her. In this way, Giselle became a production lead before officially being put into that role. Currently, Giselle helps lead a finishing and assembly team that manufactures millions of complex life-saving medical- and surgical-device components and subassemblies for global medical OEMs. 

Through her decade-and-a-half at Okay Industries, Giselle never took her eye off her goal, taking every opportunity to learn on the job and making herself a valuable employee. Through all of this, she has raised a family and now mentors for the role of production supervisor.

“With knowledge, comes confidence―Giselle uses her confidence and drive for personal and operational excellence to lead by example,” her nominator writes. “She utilizes her ability to speak fluent Spanish to effectively communicate goals and expectations, and patiently teach her team.”

Giselle has been recognized on numerous occasions as an Employee of the Month, and received the 2018 Employee of the Year award for exemplary performance, teamwork, leadership and commitment to delivering superior results. Beyond job duties, Giselle takes the lead in celebrating employee milestones, planning holiday celebrations and rallying support for various company-driven community events such as walkathons, blood drives, United Way campaigns, and food and clothing collections.

“The best leaders come up through the trenches with a drive and thirst for knowledge and delivering excellence, and the best leaders help their peers shine and celebrate their successes,” offers the nominator. “Giselle embodies all the qualities of a true leader. She started at Okay Industries with the courage to step outside of her comfort zone and exercise flexibility and willingness to learn and do more. Her humbleness and self-made success, and genuine unselfishness have earned her the trust and respect of her peers, who in turn work to help her positively impact Okay, its employees, its customers and the broader community. Giselle is a woman on fire, and most deserving of this recognition.”

Lisa Bowen-Dillard

Materials Manager/IQMS Administrator, Truform Manufacturing, Dickson, TN

A 30-year industry veteran, Lisa joined Truform Manufacturing six years ago at the start of its explosive growth. As materials manager/IQMS administrator, Lisa has proven herself to be an effective and determined leader and delegator, and drove implementation of the company’s new ERP system. 

“She wears many hats and executes daily and with passion,” says her nominator. “It would be great to have 10 more employees just like her. Lisa has many people coming to her for questions and directions on a daily basis. Not only does she handle what needs to be done, she does so while working well in team environments and showing respect toward others.

“Constantly looking for ways to improve the business, grow professionally and take on new responsibilities,” her nominator continues, “Lisa mentors her subordinates in all aspects of materials management and is well respected by her team and peers.”
“A manufacturing career holds a great opportunity for women by giving them the ability to have a competitive edge in a diverse environment. It creates visibility that allows for other women to thrive in manufacturing.”

Lauren Boyle

Industrial Engineering Manager, Sjoberg Tool & Manufacturing Corp., Hartland, WI

In just five years in the industry and with Sjoberg Tool and Manufacturing Corp. (STMC), where she began as an intern, Lauren has accomplished a lot.

Her nominator writes that she was instrumental in developing a specialty work cell devoted to supplying product to a key account. This involved the analysis of product flow for the optimum efficiencies to ensure removal of unnecessary waste from the process. She also was “the catalyst” responsible for organizing and launching the STMC safety team as chairperson.

Lauren’s desire to continually learn more about our metalworking processes, machinery, leading people, and areas in which she can contribute to make STMC a better industry supplier,” says her nominator, “lead to her promotion earlier this year industrial engineer to industrial engineering manager/lean leader. We are excited at what she has in store for her future with STMC and the metal forming industry.” 

“There are so many learning opportunities in the field of manufacturing! Every day there are new challenges and the industry continues to change day by day. I have enjoyed working with people inside and outside of this company and I continue to learn from everyone I meet. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue to grow in this field!”

Faye Brand

Co-Owner, Co-Line Manufacturing, Lynnville, IA

Actively involved with every aspect of the business, Faye oversees all office functions, including human resources, and coordinates meeting at all levels, from management reviews to employee company lunches. She provides all supervisors with valuable information, shared each morning during a shift meeting. This information covers safety, on-time delivery, quality, department KPI and customer/vendor tour times.

Faye constantly seeks process and system improvements in order to streamline production information and IT functions, simplifying them and ensuring effectiveness. For example, early in 2019, she invested her time to understand the nesting process for sheet metal laser cutting, and determine the critical information necessary to maintain these machines at the forefront of operations.

Faye holds Co-Line Manufacturing employees in high regard, ensuring the protection of company culture and making sure that employees receive fair and equitable treatment. When an employee experiences extended ill health or personal troubles, she helps coordinate giving and donations—the company matches employee offerings. 

In the past, Faye has been willing to assist in the press room, running hand-transfer dies to ensure customer delivery and satisfaction. And, she has been known to pop in on the night shift, bringing pizza for employees. In 2019, Faye has promoted Fabulous Fridays, with plans for Wellness Wednesdays―aimed at maintaining high employee morale. 

To promote manufacturing and grow the business, she supports employee tours for area schools—from kindergarten to college. And, beyond Co-Line Manufacturing, Faye publishes a local newspaper, The Hometown Press, and most recently was awarded the Lynnville-Sully School District Citizen of the Year.

“On top of everything else, Faye is a wife, and mom to two children,” her nominator offers. “Yet, when she speaks of family, many times she is referring to the 185-strong family at Co-Line. Faye’s success does not include the words ‘stop’ or ‘can't.’ Half of her life has been invested in this second-generation family business, and her passion has not waivered.”

“Manufacturing is an exciting and ever-changing career choice for women. There are many opportunities to learn and grow. It takes a team of dedicated employees to move an idea from conception to a finished product, with numerous steps in between. Working alongside both men and women in the factory and office, and helping to improve our processes and eliminate extra steps, is my favorite part of my manufacturing career.”


Susan Carlock

Vice President of Business Development, Mursix Corp., Yorktown, IN, WiM member

Susan started with the company six years ago as director of human resources and now serves as vice president of business development. In this role, her accomplishments are many:

  • Solidified Mursix's relationships and partnerships with existing customers while forging new relationships domestically and abroad
  • Reorganized and reinvigorated the company’s entire sales and marketing structure and spearheaded several allied projects, such as the complete redesign of the company's website 
  • Led efforts to engage the company with an outside consulting to improve accountability and goal-tracking
  • Leveraged previous healthcare-industry experience for the design and implementation of the company's Defined Contribution Benefits Program, resulting in expanded healthcare-benefit choices for employees and greater control of the company's healthcare costs.

Moreover, Susan’s willingness to give back shows in her active participation in several industry-related organizations: Women in Manufacturing, Women Executive Leadership, Indiana Automotive Council and Conexus Indiana. She also serves as a member of the leadership team at Next Muncie, a long-term redevelopment and revitalization effort for the city of Muncie, IN. She does this while managing an active travel schedule of visiting customers and prospects.

“Susan has brought not only a fresh outlook to the company,” says her nominator, “but also an energy level that helps to inspire and motivate her peers and subordinates.”

“Traditionally, women haven’t been embraced by the manufacturing industry, but I insist that women in manufacturing are paramount to the evolution of the traditional manufacturing plant. No longer is it only a labor-intensive field, but one that offers a vast range of jobs requiring every skill level. It is necessary and proactive to diversify our employee base. Women are good for business!”

Colleen Casey

Senior Account Manager/Estimator, Dalsin Industries, Bloomington, MN

With 34 years in the industry all spent at Dalsin Industries, Colleen has been instrumental in the company’s development and growth. With deep knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes, she has become an industry leader. Her experience, consistency and effectiveness in closing new business opportunities are year-over-year accomplishments, and she’s earned the company’s prestigious Employee of the Month award numerous times.

Dedicated to her profession and detail-oriented, Colleen excels at problem resolution and at ensuring customer satisfaction. She goes above and beyond the parameters of her position, and immerses herself in various professional associations. For example, she’s an active leader in the Association of Women in the Metal Industries, currently serving as Minnesota chapter secretary, and actively mentors individuals new to the industry.

“Colleen is a quality-focused, hard-working employee who can be counted on to get the job done right the first time and deliver on promised ship dates,” writes one of her many nominators. “She works well with others and will go the extra mile to ensure that internal and external customer deadlines are met. She knows a tremendous amount about working with metals, and has been an excellent resource for those of us who know less.”

“I believe that manufacturing finds you. My career with Dalsin has been rich and rewarding far beyond the walls of its building. The customers, vendors and outside organizations that I have been fortunate to interact with throughout my career are what make being a part of manufacturing so rewarding.”

Laura Currier

Quality Manager, MW Industries Inc., Economy Spring and Stamping, Southington, CT

With 32 years in the industry, including four at MW Industries Inc., Economy Spring and Stamping, Laura brings a wealth of experience to her position, working diligently to upgrade the company’s quality system. 

“Through her leadership, our company has been recognized as an exemplary supplier to a major medical OEM,” reports her nominator.

Recently achieving ASQ certification as Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence, Laura continues to lead all associates to be more aware of, and responsible and attentive to, overall quality and best practices.

“Her passion for excellence in all areas,” her nominator offers, “inspires and drives the team to work the right way all of the time.”

“Manufacturing offers positions for women who enjoy hands-on work and building things, but there also are roles in finance, marketing, sales, internet technology, communication and law to name a few. It’s time to get the word out…opportunities in manufacturing are endless and the sky is the limit.”

Susan Eaton

President, ETN Enterprises, LLC, Medina, OH

After spending 15 years in the stamping and fabrication industries, Susan Eaton pursued her dream: to have her own company. Today, as president of ETN Enterprises, her dream is a reality.

“Sue’s story represents the American dream in its entirety,” says her nominator. “She refinanced her house 12 years ago and started the company herself from nothing. She bought the equipment, got the sales, and ran all aspects of the company all these years herself with no supervisory help. Today, ETN is a $6-million fabrication business.

“One of the major reasons for her sales-growth success,” her nominator continues, “is the fact that ETN’s quality and service are so superior to other competing companies.” 

“Being in the metal forming/manufacturing business can offer a woman an exciting, challenging and satisfying career. Although predominately a male-dominated industry, more and more companies are seeking women due to their attention to detail, creativity and problem-solving abilities. If you are willing to take some risks and work hard, the opportunities are endless.”

Rita Fasci

Inside Sales Manager, International, Acme Monaco Corp., New Britain, CT

Rita joined Acme Monaco Corp. in 1986 as a receptionist, working her way up to customer service manager. This provided a natural progression for her, as she had worked in the restaurant industry where customer service goes a long way. Today, as inside sales manager, international, she has earned the trust of her customers.

“Over the years,” says her nominator, “Rita has been very diligent in learning all that she could about the several thousand different parts that we produce. She has seen many changes in manufacturing processes and sales techniques, having always held leadership roles in our sales organization and becoming one of the most knowledgeable members of the sales team. She also is heavily involved in the training of new sales-team members. Our customers have grown accustomed to her identifying problems and offering solutions. She also is the first one to volunteer to help with company fundraisers to support charities. She really is a great example to anyone who is thinking of making manufacturing a career.”

Rita’s accomplishments outside of work are stellar as well. She has been recognized for her participation in the STEM/Advanced Manufacturing Technology Expo, reaching more than 400 students from local technical and public (secondary and middle) schools, and as one of the YWCA’s Women in Leadership.

“I am proud to be a member of the Acme Monaco Team as it is amazingly gratifying to witness the benefits of our finished products and to know that they have touched so many, many lives in the most positive way. Being able to help another human being is the greatest gift one can give. There are many challenges in life―keep moving forward, don’t ever give up and you will succeed and achieve your goals!”

Chamille Ferreira

Supervisor CNC/Assembly, Connecticut Spring & Stamping, Farmington, CT

Beginning her career at Connecticut Spring & Stamping 12 years ago as an operator, Chamille methodically marched her way through the ranks to her current position. In her role as production supervisor for the company’s assembly and CNC departments, she has streamlined operations, as these two departments are codependent. She has enhanced the scheduling boards of both areas, resulting in improved on-time delivery; has led A3-lean-system problem-solving events; and has taken the initiative to gain a solid understanding of CNC Master Cam software and programming. 

Working with the company’s engineering department, Chamille provided operations input on new-product process development and has made several contributions with regard to enhancing gauge design based on ergonomic concerns. She also worked with management and the finance department to track and analyze manufacturing costs. An active member of Women in Manufacturing, Chamille also represents the company at recruiting events and currently is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Management.

“Chamille is a natural leader―comfortable and effective on the shop floor and in the conference room,” writes her nominator. “She understands that her success as a production supervisor and the overall success of her areas are dependent on her team, so she sees greater accomplishment in her team’s progress than her own. Chamille represents leadership and accomplishment at CSS and in the industry through her extroverted personality, focus on continuous improvement, never-give-up attitude and willingness to train others. She is a real-life example of how, with hard work and determination, one can move into a manufacturing leadership role.”

“Manufacturing has many fields that you can enter. You can be in engineering, sales, customer service, quality control and production. In the manufacturing industry, you can see all of the different processes used to produce a finish product. Every position is important, so if you like a challenge, enter the manufacturing field.”

Holly Gotfredson

President and Owner, American Metalcraft Inc., Villa Rica, GA, WiM member

With her background in art and marketing, Holly brought a fresh perspective to American Metalcraft when she joined the company 15 years ago, launching her career in the metal forming and fabricating industry.

Her nominator lists among Holly’s accomplishments: creation of a business plan and marketing campaign with an eye-catching re-brand; continuous efforts to ensure company representation at industry events and professional organizations; development of two American Institute of Architects-accredited continuing education classes for architects and construction professionals; and the introduction of a monthly video series on issues and trends specific to architects, general contractors and installers. 

That’s not all.

“She’s so knowledgeable about metal tariffs and how they've affected our industries that she's been asked by many professional organizations to speak on the subject,” her nominator writes. “Moreover, she has expanded our brand and market share by engaging professionals from all parts of the construction industry.

“As a family-owned business, and with all of us from production backgrounds, we were sorely lacking a cohesive image and brand before Holly,” her nominator continues. “Her constant enthusiasm has pushed our company in a new and positive direction. She became so passionate about our company that she purchased it in 2017. As owner/president, she's really stepped up to become our ambassador, representing our company at trade shows, speaking engagements and more.”

“There is so much innovation and growth happening in manufacturing today. Creative minds that enjoy problem solving, invention, change and the inherent artistic element in production are great fits for this career.”

Beth Graves

President, Prime Controls, Inc., Dayton, OH

During Beth’s tenure as president of Prime Controls, which began in 2014, the company has won multiple accolades including being named the Manufacturing Business of the Year in 2016 by the Dayton Business Journal, along with ranking on the Inc. 5000 list for three consecutive years. 

Her accomplishments include presiding over a seven-percent-plus revenue increase in her first year at the helm, followed by record-breaking sales in 2015. Sales-growth records expect to be toppled again in 2019. With Beth as president, the company has launched multiple new products, branched into a new industry, and earned ISO 9001:2015 certification.

Currently working to obtain a doctorate in Strategic Leadership, she has earned Six Sigma Green Belt certification, undergone 5S quality-management training and has served as an adjunct teacher of International Business at the University of Dayton. Beth also volunteers her time speaking to younger community members about science, engineering and manufacturing. And, she set in place the company’s Impact program, where employees volunteer with various local non-profit organizations to give back and help impact lives. 

“Not only does Beth bring the professionalism, experience and industry knowledge that is required of her position, she is a president who truly cares about her employees and the team,” writes her nominator. “This small company of only 15 employees is more like a family and everyone is very invested in the success of the company thanks to Beth. She gets in the trenches with us every day to ensure that we succeed as a team.”

“The metal forming and fabricating industry is often thought of as old and dirty. However, that impression could not be further from the truth. It is full of smart and talented people, who are bringing the future to the forefront. From back-office to plant-floor positions, this industry is in serious need of the strengths that women often bring to the table.”

Kim Gross

Compliance Manager, Hobson & Motzer, Inc., Durham, CT

Examples of sound leadership and valuable contributions characterize Kim’s 24-year career with Hobson & Motzer. In 1995, she began in a clerical role in the Engineering department and soon became a key contributor to the development of the company’s quality-management system (QMS) and efforts to achieve ISO 9001 certification, which was achieved in 1996. This experience was a springboard to her next role in document control, where Kim’s work was highly regarded, earning her in 1999 a promotion to her current position as compliance manager.

Today Kim oversees all compliance and regulatory responsibilities for the company’s two manufacturing sites, manages its QMS and is currently leading a new effort for certification to ISO 13485 (medical-device components). In addition, she ensures compliance to all health and safety, and environmental regulations. 

“Kim is a persistent, principled individual who has earned the respect of her peers and associates,” writes her nominator. “She leads by example and is committed to safety, quality and overall performance. A team player, she is supportive and approachable, and someone who shies away from personal recognition over that of her team. Kim is a role model to many in the company and certainly worthy of being honored as one of this year’s Women of Excellence in Metal Forming and Fabricating.”

“The perception that all manufacturing is dirty, boring and heavy man’s work has kept many women from pursuing a career in manufacturing. I personally think that manufacturing was one of man’s best-kept secrets and I’m grateful to be in on it. I encourage women to consider a manufacturing career path. It’s exciting and rewarding to work with cutting-edge technology in a fast-paced, constantly evolving environment. If you are creative, motivated and eager to learn, there are countless opportunities.”

Lisa Habe

President and Owner, Interlake Industries, Inc., Willoughby, OH, WiM member

As president and owner of Interlake Industries, Lisa’s love for the metal forming industry is well illustrated by her involvement in industry groups. An active member of the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM) since its inception in April 2008 as Women in Metalforming, Lisa served as a member of panel discussions where she shared her experiences in the industry and offered advice to women just beginning their careers. Later, when the group became WiM, she was a founding board member. 

A 16-year veteran of the industry, Lisa also has been an active participant in the Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA’s) Naples Group since 2003, and has served PMA as a member of the Board of Directors, the Training and Education Committee and the PMA Audit Committee. 

“Lisa is a strong supporter of PMA’a advocacy efforts,” writes her nominator, “participating in PMA Lobby Days on Capitol Hill and donating to the association’s political action committee and advocacy fund. Lisa also has spoken to the media on behalf of the industry, sponsored an all-girls robotics team for the RoboBot Competition, and has participated in tours of Interlake Industries to help promote manufacturing.”

“Why not manufacturing? I personally enjoy the creative and problem-solving aspects of my job. There are so many directions you can go in manufacturing―HR, sales, engineering, operating, quality and more. If you are motivated, the opportunities can be endless.”

Erin Hart

Production Manager, APG Cash Drawer, Minneapolis, MN

With 17 years under her belt at APG Cash Drawer, and in her current position as production manager, Erin is a champion for continual improvement throughout the organization. She has led key projects and initiatives that have improved processes and product performance. She leads production teams in delivering products to the highest quality standards, with zero returns due to workmanship.

She supports the industry by personally leading tours through the factory to share best practices with other companies and customers, explaining the value of producing metal formed parts and assembling them into world-class products. Inhouse, Erin takes great pride in developing employees to grow and accept additional responsibility and authority.

“Erin is known for dedication and loyalty to her team, colleagues, company and customers,” writes her nominator. “She dedicates time and effort to helping all areas and departments support and improve overall business performance. She never gives up, and is always willing to lend a hand to help others become more successful.”

“I enjoy working in the manufacturing industry because of the wide variety of experiences and skills that I learn and use daily. Manufacturing is not just about making stuff. It is an opportunity to be a designer of products or processes, a teacher, a leader, a skilled laborer, a problem solver and a lifelong learner. The possibilities are endless!”

Linda Kestler

Project Engineer, Weiss-Aug Co. Inc., East Hanover, NJ

Linda has been in the manufacturing industry for 34 years, with 21 of those spent specifically in metal forming and fabricating. Her role as a senior project engineer at Weiss-Aug Co., where she has been for 12 years, involves taking a program from the receipt of a purchase order for new tooling, to the release of the tooling to production to make parts.

“Linda has been an instrumental part of a number of high-profile jobs that we have launched in the automotive and medical fields,” says her nominator. “She has championed the leadership role in getting these projects started, approved and through production. She also is a major player in getting our new software system off the ground while totally maintaining her other projects. Lisa is a good team leader and is always willing to help others understand their roles in completing projects for our customers.”

“I work with Weiss-Aug internal teams, customers and suppliers to provide materials and processes that will deliver a quality product in the manufacturing environment. Every program presents unique challenges, whether it be extremely tight tolerances, tooling/process development or accelerated timing expectations, which keeps my job interesting. Project Engineering is rewarding as you continue to learn as new products are introduced.”

Jennifer Lake

New Product Development Engineer, PennEngineering, Danboro, PA

An 8-year employee of PennEngineering, Jennifer’s passion for her work shows as she strives to understand the technical nuances of the products she represents as new product development engineer. Over the years she has developed and helped release several new product lines of PEM-branded fasteners. She also has provided technical support by developing new testing and measuring techniques for threaded fasteners. 

“Jen has worked on a number of challenging technical projects in metal forming, machining and assembly, developing new products and new designs,” writes her nominator. “She shows a clear understanding of technical challenges and helps guide her team toward solutions.”

Local high school and college students, too, have benefited from Jennifer’s expertise as she promotes STEM learning and engineering opportunities.

“Every year she works with our interns, guiding their learning,” her nominator writes. “She has helped women come on board as engineers, offering her wisdom and assistance as they become part of our workforce.”

“My favorite part about working in manufacturing is watching a project come to life. The process of working with a project from concept stage on a computer screen to developing a finished metal part is very rewarding. I also enjoy working through all of the challenges throughout a project, and because every project is different, it keeps me on my toes!”

Pamela Larson

President and General Manager, AutoForm Engineering USA, Inc., Troy, MI

Pamela joined AutoForm Engineering USA six years ago as president and general manager, bringing to the position 24 years of engineering and management experience. Her nominator describes Pamela as a strong, motivational leader.

“As her team strives to meet their goals, she supports them by listening to their ideas, giving them the authority to move forward on good suggestions, and helping them when they need something to get their job done,” writes her nominator. “An employee once told her that she had never worked harder or felt more valued than she does under Pamela’s leadership.”

Pamela also works well with customers and suppliers, says her nominator, drawing on assembly-plant experience where she worked with suppliers to ensure that they had quality products to ensure a quality vehicle build.

“She has always tried to ensure a win-win outcome for everyone,” her nominator states.

In addition, Pamela holds two technical patents. In 1996 she received her first for a spot welded aluminum crossmember to assist in vehicle assembly via front-end open architecture and off-line fluid-system sealing. Her second came in 2002 for a low-cost, lightweight, reinforced vehicle frame. In addition, since 2018 she has served on the editorial advisory board for Lightweighting World magazine.

“For younger women considering a career in manufacturing, I would strongly encourage it. Women bring a different perspective to the industry, are often very creative, and work well with people. Their well-needed diversity helps to foster new ideas within teams. Because of this, women who enter the manufacturing world tend to have a strong voice and can be very successful within the industry.”

Carolyn Leary

Analytical Laboratory Manager, Kyzen Corp., Nashville, TN

As analytical laboratory manager, Carolyn performs a critical task. With cleaning products manufactured and distributed worldwide by Kyzen used primarily in precision and critical cleaning operations, customers depend on the company for rapid guidance when issues arise. Carolyn is one of the company’s main support personnel in handling these issues. 

Her department provides a high volume of technical support to the field sales force as well as customers. In addition, she has led the way in updating all U.S. product labels and safety data sheets to meet new global rules; developing numerous control kits and methods to analyze and control cleaning processes in the field; and establishing quality-control and testing labs across the company’s global operations and sites.

“Carolyn always makes herself available for phone calls, provides technical documents or regulatory information to address requests, and alters her schedule to perform lab tests to establish desired results, all on a very busy global scale,” writes her nominator.

Her willingness to help, knowledge and experience are very much appreciated throughout the company, and often noted by customers.
“Carolyn’s performance of duties, in addition to going above and beyond to help all who ask or need help, is why she so rightfully deserves this award,” her nominator offers. “She has one of the best customer-support attitudes you will ever find in this business.”

“Women do not need to be intimidated when looking at careers within manufacturing. My experience has been that a competent and confident woman can be very successful. Manufacturing has gone far beyond the simple assembly of a finished product to now include aspects of design, process/quality improvement and customer service. This diversity offers opportunities for career growth and development.”

Molly Lucas

Human Resources Manager, A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co., Avon, OH

Molly has spent her 15 years in the industry as human resources (HR) manager at A.J. Rose Manufacturing. Under her leadership, the company’s HR department serves as a key resource for associates, supervisors and managers. 

In her role, she:

  • Oversees an HR staff of five women and actively hires women throughout the organization
  • Leads safety and self-funded workers comp programs, achieving recordable accident rates lower than industry averages and record low costs
  • Promotes metalworking careers for younger people through the Lorain County (Ohio) Manufacturing Sector Partnership, of which she is a founding member, and promotes relationships with the local community college and high schools
  • Develops and leads company training and apprenticeship programs
  • Negotiates long-term labor contracts in two plants and strives to maintain productive employee/management relations.

In addition, says Molly’s nominator, “She gives back to the community through her work as a board member of Blessing House, a children's crisis-care center.”

“Opportunities are endless for women in manufacturing. I would recommend a manufacturing career to any woman who wants to be challenged, work with a diverse group of people and provide another perspective that can make an impact or difference. Working in manufacturing, I am engaged, my efforts are recognized and I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.”

Jenna Mahaney

Total Quality Production Systems Kaizen Coordinator, North American Stamping Group, Portland, TN

Jenna began her career 15 years ago in purchasing before becoming a production manager and overseeing 20-plus associates for a small and growing company. Over the past 11 years, she has honed her skills as a lean practitioner, focusing on operational excellence. Today at North American Stamping Group (NASG), Jenna serves as a total quality production systems kaizen coordinator.

Her nominator writes that Jenna has been “instrumental in the NASG-designated pilot-cell project, where the team she leads has identified tangible annual cost savings of nearly $133,000. The team has looked at everything from reducing scrap to increasing machine uptime for higher productivity. Working side-by-side with production, quality and engineering leaders, Jenna continues to learn and expand her capabilities, to master her role and to prepare her for future opportunities.

“When we look at what fuels Jenna’s relentless ambition every day,” continues her nominator, “we point to her parents, both of whom having worked in manufacturing all of their lives. Jenna grew up seeing how manufacturing provided a great living for her and the family. Today we see how that has paid off for her as she enjoys teaching, coaching and working with all levels in the organization. Jenna has a very bright future here at NASG.”

“Today, we have made great strides to set the bar for the next generation of women. Manufacturing is very competitive, fast-paced and detail-oriented. Companies are looking for high-potential performers to drive the mission and move the company to the next level. To be selected to play a strategic role in driving that growth is challenging and rewarding not only in my job, but to my family. It shows my children that anything is possible …if there is a glass ceiling, break through it and make your own path!”

Cheryl Mannor

Production Lead, Whitcraft LLC, Eastford, CT

Cheryl leads one of Whitcraft LLC’s most-challenging flow lines, which includes a high mix of part numbers and a large volume of parts. Since taking over the line she has leveraged kaizen and the Whitcraft Production System to lead the operators toward single-piece-flow production, which ensures quality and on-time delivery at optimal cost. This transformation did not happen overnight, reports her nominator, and required a unique set of skills from an operational and leadership perspective. While implementing the lean initiatives, Cheryl maintained on-time delivery. 

A strong planner due to the in-depth manufacturing knowledge gained over her 25 years in the industry, Cheryl has worked in several different departments and succeeded in each―bringing all of them in line with customer-delivery requirements and execution of demanding production schedules.

“Many at Whitcraft have said that Cheryl is the best leader they have ever had because she’s a very strong communicator, clearly explains goals and the path to accomplish them, and makes sure that the team gets there,” her nominator writes. “Most importantly, Cheryl connects to members of her team on a personal level. She knows what is going on in her employees’ lives and helps them be successful while maintaining their work-life balances. People want to work hard and be successful with her because they believe in her and know that she believes in them.”

“I believe that women who have organizational skills, and are detail-oriented and nurturing, would find the metal forming and fabricating field to be a great and rewarding career to pursue. These strengths make a good leader, and the satisfaction of starting a job and bringing it to its completion on time is huge. There is no better feeling than helping and teaching an entry-level person to grow within a company."

Virginia Martinez

Director of Operations, Technical Employment Training, Inc., San Bernardino, CA

After joining the company nine years ago, Virginia helped transition Technical Employment Training (TET) into a manufacturing-training facility for the unemployed and homeless, equipping them with National Institute for Metalworking Skills credentials for manufacturing apprenticeships.

Her nominator says of Virginia, who has 15 years’ industry experience, that she “is one of the best leaders and individuals I have ever mentored. As a high school teacher, I ‘recruited’ her for the manufacturing field. She attended the local community college and was employed by Walker Stamping in Ontario, CA. After retiring from the education business, I hired Virginia to help develop TET.”

Virginia’s skills, according to her nominator, make her top-notch in the manufacturing field.

“The manufacturing industry is a place to be innovative, while engaging with today's evolving world. Opportunities are endless for anyone willing to earn and learn. Being in the manufacturing industry has provided an endless amount of opportunities from education to engineering to metal forming. With a growing industry that is in demand, I would recommend this to any individual who seeks a career where they will be promised a long prosperous career.”

Karen McWhirt

Controller/Human Resources Manager, Prospect Machine Products, Prospect, CT

A 19-year industry veteran, Karen was administrative director for the Smaller Manufacturers Association of Connecticut before becoming a member of the Prospect Machine Products team seven years ago, where she serves as controller/human resources manager.

Her nominator describes her as an “up-by-the-bootstraps manufacturing leader with a disciplined mindset” that has enabled her to “expand her role into purchasing, inventory control and production while becoming our manufacturing software expert.”

As the person who runs the company’s daily gemba meetings, “Karen has gained the respect of the entire team by the example she sets for hard work, trustworthiness and team spirit, and could easily run the company,” says her nominator, who actually does run the company as president.

Karen also serves as a member of the board of directors for ConnStep (Connecticut State Technology Extension Program), a statewide Manufacturing Extension Partnership affiliate.

“There is no career in manufacturing for which women are not qualified. Opportunities for women continue to grow throughout the ranks of manufacturing, especially with our country’s shortage of skilled workers. I continue my advocacy with local educators in the vocational technical high schools, middle schools, high schools and community colleges to promote manufacturing as a career worth pursuing for all students.”

Mary Mehwald

Assistant to the President, Atlantic Tool & Die Co., Strongsville, OH

Mary is passionate about creating an excellent work environment for the 850-plus associates at Atlantic Tool & Die, where she has spent all of her 20 years in the industry. Truly believing that the associates are her company’s greatest asset, according to her nominator, she has worked tirelessly to make sure that people enjoy coming to work, and that everyone works together to serve Atlantic Tool & Die’s global customer base.

This passion has culminated in her assistance and guidance in solidifying a new banking deal over the past year, a vital transaction that will allow the company, with an 82-year history, to remain a leader with a bright future in the metalforming industry. Testament to her knowledge and experience, she has been asked to speak on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce meeting regarding U.S. companies that have built manufacturing operations in China—Atlantic Tool & Die has had a China presence for more than 11 years. 

“Our company is in great hands,” offers her nominator,” and continues to invest in capital, create good-paying jobs and serve our customers well under Mary’s direction and leadership.”

“Working in the metal forming industry is a challenge and pleasure every day. Observing my husband, Frank Mehwald, steer the company’s success and watching his visionary management style closely for years have taught me everything that I now contribute. In many ways being a woman in this industry is a huge advantage. Women have an intuitive skill set that helps others succeed. This includes an effective management style, an ability to listen and an innate knack to encourage success.”

Jan Mellinger

President and Owner, NW4S, Inc., Tualatin, OR

A 31-year industry veteran, Jan has run her own stamping company, Northwest Fourslide, for the past three years, following 10 years as vice president. All of that is to say that she knows a thing about stamping, motivating employees and customer service, according to her nominator.

“Jan is such a hard worker and is so dedicated to her employees and the customers she serves,” her nominator writes. “She is a visionary and is planning for the future as she continues to build a skilled workforce while keeping up with cutting-edge technology.”

Her nominator also notes Jan’s willingness to share her time and expertise through outside organizations that include local school districts and Exceed Enterprises, a non-profit organization that provides vocational and personal development services for people with disabilities.

“Manufacturing requires an incredibly intricate web of relationships between suppliers, customers, engineers, operators and logisticians in order to effectively deliver quality parts on time. Being able to problem solve and balance all of these competing considerations is a challenge that any young lady should be excited about undertaking. You are only limited by how hard you are willing to work.”

Kim Mitchell

Materials Supervisor, ARaymond, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Kim’s industrial journey began 25 years ago when she joined ARaymond as customs coordinator. 

“From there it was onward and upward,” writes her nominator. Today as materials supervisor, Kim runs the shipping/receiving departments, as well as the materials handling group.

“Kim is the definition of success in leadership,” continues her nominator, “because she never gives up and always stays focused on goals for herself and her teams, regardless of circumstances. As a supervisor, Kim works tirelessly with her teams to keep things running smoothly 24/5, and weekends and holidays when needed as shipping never closes. What Kim has accomplished shows that hard work and determination open the doors to a bright future in this or any industry.”

"I would highly recommend manufacturing for women. It is just not converting raw materials into finished goods; it is much more than that. It is becoming an engineer, a designer, a toolmaker, a machinist or a metallurgist. The opportunities are endless and women should embrace them.”

Lina Mody

Owner and President, LA Metal Stamping, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As president of a family-owned and -operated manufacturing company, Lina has been driving innovation and new thinking in the industry since the mid-1990s, gaining her several industry awards over the years and building a workforce with a shared vision.

“Her mantra,” writes her nominator, “is simple and clear: ‘We are great at what we do; let’s make sure that everyone feels that energy.’” 

Her nominator continues: “As a visible minority business owner with a great passion for the world of metal parts, Lina continues to bring on board key team members with shared values to help grow the company. Her ability to guide the team into new ventures allows us to be responsive and quality driven.” 

In 2020, Lina will oversee the expansion of the LA Metal Stamping production facility as it adds more than 10,000 sq. ft. of production area to the current plant.

“This multi-million dollar investment,” writes her nominator, “will make the company a leaner and more competitive-based operation. We as women have a belief that drives our ambition to be not just okay, but rather the best we can be. We collectively can assist one another to strengthen businesses and support for a future group of women business leaders. Anything is possible in manufacturing. Our family business, which I lead, has become what it is because we grew with the right people in place. I was supported by a strong group of female peers, so every day I push forward any opportunity to guide the next woman business owner.”


Cassandra Murchison

Quality Manager, Quality Metal Stamping, Henderson, TN

A certified Six Sigma Black Belt and 35-year industry veteran, Cassandra brings passion to her role as quality manager at Quality Metal Stamping. That includes passion for educating the company’s growing workforce, and passion for mentoring for those finding their way through the manufacturing career path. Her efforts form an integral part of the company’s vision for growth, reports her nominator. 

“Cassandra’s leadership is unparalleled, and her commitment and dedication to a robust quality management system has allowed our team to successfully diversify our business model,” her nominator writes. “She is a true pioneer in the metal forming industry, and we are grateful for her commitment in creating the QMS way!”

“Women in manufacturing can find rewarding and fascinating career opportunities. Manufacturing offers opportunities to utilize life skills such as prioritizing projects, nurturing others to grow and learn, goal setting, financial planning and safety management. For women who enjoy science and math, the opportunities are endless in manufacturing. Today’s manufacturing environment is an enriching adventure for women of all interests!”

Darci Ruggles

Quality & Continuous Improvement Manager, NSA Industries, St. Johnsbury, VT

Two decades in manufacturing, including 11 years at NSA Industries, has given Darci the experience and expertise to get the job done. For example, she led the deployment of lean manufacturing and continuous improvement initiatives across the entire NSA organization for more than a decade, and is a key resource in resolving existing customer quality issues.

The lead architect of the company’s quality system, Darcy also assumes a critical position in NSA's efforts to develop new business. As NSA has grown both organically and through acquisition, Darci has helped to integrate the distributed quality teams into a cohesive functional group.

“Darci has a passion for excellence in everything she does,” writes her nominator. “She is very analytical and an excellent problem solver. Extremely professional, Darcy is comfortable presenting to an executive audience, and also very hands-on and comfortable on the shop floor. And, Darci is a passionate leader, working tirelessly to develop her team.” 

“I have never looked at the path I wanted to take in manufacturing and thought I couldn’t do it because I was a woman. Manufacturing often involves new technology, working within many different industries, and working with many different people. It can be fast-paced, and there is always a problem to solve, a lesson to be learned and a way to make things better. Any woman or man can choose a manufacturing career for these reasons.”

Janina Schmieder

Operations Manager, Scherdel Sales & Technology, Inc., Muskegon, MI

A 24-year industry veteran, Janina spent 10 years with the Scherdel Group in Germany and 14 years with the company in the United States. As operations manager since 2015, “she consistently has shown a high level of leadership and integrity in her duties, overseeing our entire production staff,” writes her nominator. “Our organization has grown steadily over the past few years, and Janina has taken on many additional duties and tasks with confidence and effectiveness. 

“Known for her engaging demeanor and positive attitude,” continues her nominator, “she mentors our young employees, many of whom have become dedicated supervisors under her direction, and she excels at finding creative and feasible solutions to everyday situations in our fast-paced manufacturing environment. She continues to grow our middle layer of employees so that we are well-positioned for the future.”

“The ever-changing manufacturing environment needs diverse influences to be successful. From my experience, as a woman you can be successful in any function in manufacturing if you put your heart into your goals and have a vision along with drive to make a difference.”

Shalene Singh

Human Resources Manager, Dayton Rogers of Texas, Arlington, TX

Shalene has dedicated 15 of her 22 years of industry service to Dayton Rogers. As human resources manager of the Texas division, she oversees all facets of the department and serves as account manager to one of the division’s largest customers. 

Since her arrival at the Texas division, says her nominator, “she has helped build and train a dynamic work force with employee onboarding processes that allows delivery of quality parts on time. She always is searching for new ways of thinking and communicating to improve projects and customer satisfaction. Her contributions to our workforce development program have been a guide for all of the divisions on how to improve overall employee morale and retention. Her contributions have had significant impact on the overall health of the company, and her consideration for employees and customers is impressive. Dayton Rogers is lucky to have Shalene as an employee. Her dedication deserves a spotlight.”

“Over the years, I have learned by getting involved, asking questions and learning the processes. My competence speaks for my earnest efforts and dedication to persevere as an example to so many women, that achievement and excellence are possible. I recommend that women pursue a career in metal forming and fabrication because it is a challenging, fast-paced environment. I hope that I can empower more women to choose this industry for new opportunities and to apply their talents.”

Bonita Stayton

Vice President and Secretary, Press Inc., Morristown, TN

With 26 years at Press Inc. and currently serving as vice president and secretary, Bonita has been involved directly in shop-floor production and with all employee work records. She deals directly with customers on a daily basis, and has written thousands of quotes. Literally millions of dollars of work at Press Inc. has included her involvement, according to her nominator.

“Her accomplishments in the metal forming and forging industries are second to none,” her nominator writes. “She knows the component parts on all of the presses and equipment better than our customers who own the machines. Our customers love and admire her super attitude, care and quick answers. Bonita leaves no stone unturned and truly cares about all her fellow workers, treating them with respect as they do her.”

Described as a go-getter, Bonita is quick to answer the phone in order to ensure that machine-repair customers are taken care of and sent in the right direction for quick results.

“Simply put,” concludes her nominator, “Bonita is irreplaceable.”

“The last two-and-a-half decades of my life truly have offered an exciting experience in the metal forming and forging press-repair business. I would recommend this, or any aspect of the manufacturing field, to any woman. We represent approximately half of the population, so our perception is vital to the future of manufacturing.”

Lisa Stroh

Manager, Employee Relations, Nidec Press & Automation, Minster, OH

Lisa's career with Nidec Minster (formerly the Minster Machine Company and now a part of Nidec Press & Automation) began in 1996 when she joined as the company's occupational health nurse. In 2001, she became manager, environmental health, safety & security. Her leadership in these areas led to a cultural change, resulting in an employee population that understands that accidents are preventable, not inevitable. This change in perception and understanding has enabled Nidec Minster to achieve and maintain world-class levels of safety. In addition, her time and efforts spent caring for employees and their health earned her recognition in 2005 and 2013 by external occupational nursing organizations for professional excellence.

In 2018, Lisa took on a new challenge as employee relations manager, her current position. In this role, she focuses on improving communications and employee engagement to enhance the Nidec Minster employee experience.

“Lisa began her career by caring for the personal health of individual employees,” says her nominator. “She advanced her career by caring about and creating a better physical environment for all of our employees. Now her caring focuses on creating an environment that promotes effective interactions for enabling our employees' professional and personal growth.

“Lisa has demonstrated,” continues her nominator, “exceptional leadership throughout her varied career with Nidec Press & Automation. She is focused, diligent, a prudent risk taker, and an effective communicator. She models the behaviors she expects from others on a daily basis. Caring is the hallmark of her career.”

“My career has never been boring! I have had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects across multiple disciplines. I have been able to meaningfully contribute as an individual, a team member and a team leader. A career in manufacturing can provide variety, challenge and opportunities for advancement, all at an exciting pace, to anyone willing to fully engage.”

Ling Tang

Quality Manager, Conrex Steel Ltd.,Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada

Ling has spent her 12 years in the industry with Conrex Steel, where her nominator writes that she “commands respect and trust each and every day.”

As the company’s quality manager, Ling sees to it that the company remains within ASME-certification guidelines. This includes ensuring that all welding procedures are maintained and updated; reviewing all drawings at the quote stage to ensure that capabilities and quality components are achievable; verifying that quality procedures are met daily; and training all plant inspectors.

“While steel fabrication remains a male-dominated industry,” says Ling’s nominator, “she never hesitates to voice her opinion in the best interests of our customers and team. I rely on her to ensure that we meet the quality levels that our customers expect. Ling is very passionate about her career here, and is an integral member of our team.”

“The manufacturing industry is broad and dynamic. Manufacturing jobs require people skills, technical skills and attention to detail, which are attributes that women inherently are good at. Women need to appreciate that working in manufacturing can be very exciting and rewarding.”

Mary L. Tice

Vice President-Control and Automation Systems, Helm Instrument Co., Inc., Maumee, OH

Mary Tice started her career at Helm Instrument Company in 1967. Her professional accomplishments include developing in 1989 the first plant-wide reporting software for the metal stamping industry. FirstMate software, then a DOS-based program, has since been updated to a Windows-based platform with Ethernet connectivity.

With Helm being a global supplier of tonnage modules for the various Rockwell Automation modules, her nominator says Mary travels the world, introduces stampers to PLC based solutions for press and automation control. She also directs the Helm Encompass partner network with Rockwell Automation.

“I enjoy learning the process in the manufacturing sector. Putting together solutions for systems to control and enhance an operation is a great niche for anyone who likes problem solving. Innovation in the manufacturing arena continually evolves, and information gathering is a key component of any process solution.”

Rolanda Thurman

Chief Financial Officer, Columbia Machine Works, Inc., Columbia, TN

Rolanda gained her start in manufacturing 37 years ago when she joined Columbia Machine Works as office manager, a position that she still holds, along with her chief financial officer title. She has worked for two generations of the Langsdon family, which started the business as a small machine shop in 1927.

“Rolanda,” says her nominator, “has played an integral role in the evolution of Columbia Machine Works as one of the largest contract manufacturing facilities in the Southeastern United States.” 

“I began my career with Columbia Machine Works, Inc. as a summer job. This year marks my 37th year with the company. Why have I stayed with the company for so long? I appreciate the challenge of learning new skills and educating myself on new technology. I have found the manufacturing industry to be a very satisfying career.”

Janet West

Corporate Quality Manager, Bennett Tool & Die, LLC, Gallatin, TN

Janet brings to the table 20 years of industry experience and the knowledge that comes from being a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and an American Society for Quality-certified quality-improvement associate and lead auditor.

As corporate quality manager at Bennett Tool & Die, Jan has led efforts at all three company facilities to meet the requirements of the new ISO-9001-2015 standard.

“More importantly,” writes her nominator, “Jan has led the effort to establish the systems necessary to improve Bennett's quality performance in the short term while establishing the foundation of our continuous-improvement effort in the long term.” 

In addition to her duties in leading Bennett’s quality efforts, Jan also serves as a member of the safety committee, and actively participates in the company’s lean initiatives and community-involvement efforts. 

“Jan always is approachable, eager to support and is a patient teacher,” writes her nominator. “She is a hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves, let’s-get-the-job-done type of leader. She is cool under pressure always gets the job done, which has gained her the respect of her direct reports, her peers and our hourly team members. One of the best complements a leader can get is that they make everyone around them better. Jan is that type of leader.”

“Working in manufacturing can provide the opportunity to be part of something innovative―next-generation vehicles or modes of transportation, a life-saving medical device or procedure, or even more efficient equipment or processes. Manufacturing companies provide a long-term career path and competitive compensation; allow you to use your creativity to make things better, faster or safer; and offer a wide range of positions, from the manufacturing floor to CEO.”

Angela Westfield

Director of Procurement and Strategic Sourcing, Metal Flow Corp., Holland, MI

Angela, having spent all of her 18-year manufacturing career with Metal Flow, has been recognized as a strong performer. Continuously growing her role within the organization, including education efforts that will result in a Master of Science degree in Management, Strategy and Leadership from Michigan State University in December 2019, she embraces team leadership and has moved Metal Flow forward with her cross-functional leadership skills.

Angela serves as an example to others with her strong work ethic, drive and professionalism, according to her nominator, and is willing to leverage her skills on special projects. She also develops others through her participation in their career development and by providing effective feedback.

“As a professional woman,” her nominator writes, “she is a role model for others on how to balance personal and professional commitments while growing a successful career in manufacturing.”

“The manufacturing sector offers a variety of exciting experiences and potential paths for women to advance their careers. The innovations and technology are rapidly evolving, providing an opportunity to expand your skills through hands-on problem solving and team collaboration.”

Anja White

President, Meier Tool & Engineering, Anoka, MN

During her 20 years in the manufacturing industry, Anja has accumulated a wealth of experience in coaching, mentoring and motivating women. As an example, she was the cofounder of MN Women Leading Manufacturing, a community built for professional women who lead or aspire to lead in Twin City manufacturing organizations.

Meeting each customer’s needs is Anja’s number-one focus in her day-to-day activities, and she makes sure that the management team and the entire company have the same attitude: Make sure that customers are heard and understand that the Meier Tool & Engineering team will work together to provide the best in customer care. 

“As a growing company, we value her clear communication, leadership and vision as the foundation of our success,” writes her nominator. “Being aware of both the human and social capital of business, along with political aspects, serves as a holistic approach to leading our company.” 

Anja listens well, knowing that company associates have great ideas, and she exhibits the courage to promote change and encourage forward thinking.

“With the ability to focus on an opportunity, using her wit and sense of humor, she reminds us that we can work through challenging situations to create a positive outcome,” her nominator writes. “She empowers ownership, responsibility and the will to lead a team approach that results in a job done right.”

“Today’s manufacturing environment offers so many opportunities and career paths; it is high-tech, fast-paced and innovative. Experiences can be broad, meeting people of all levels and different industries, and you can see a tangible outcome of your work every day. It is so rewarding to look at a product we are part of and say, ‘We made that.’”

Beth Wickett

Accounting Coordinator, Almetals, Inc., Wixom, MI

As accounting coordinator, Beth has been an integral member of the Almetals team. Testament to this, she was instrumental in helping to create customized software that Almetals implemented in 2017. Drawing on her 24-plus years in manufacturing, she also recently co-wrote and published an article related to aluminum forming.

With her experience, Beth willingly shares her knowledge and expertise with those coming up in the industry behind her.

“Beth is patient and extremely knowledgeable about her craft,” writes her nominator. “Her can-do and always-willing-to-help attitude helps to drive the company forward.”

Beth actively contributes to the company both inside and outside of work, not hesitating to lead company efforts and actively taking the lead on her committees and teams.

“She's good at what she does and won't think twice about helping anyone with their job,” Beth’s nominator offers. “Anyone in the metal forming industry who knows Beth will tell you that she is very intuitive. And, if she doesn’t have the answer, she will keep asking until she finds it.”

“Women can achieve fulfilling careers in manufacturing with companies that appreciate their input and experience. Manufacturing is notably male-dominant, but there are increasing opportunities for women in all aspects of this field―from the plant floor to the boardroom. Smart leadership will value the different viewpoints that women provide to workplace discussions.”

Deborah Woodhead

Division General Manager, NN Inc., Power Solutions Group, Brainin Div., Attleboro, MA

More than 30 years ago, Deborah began working in the secondary operations department at Brainin Advance in Attleboro, MA, and with determination and a willingness to learn, rose through the ranks. She became vice president of finance when Brainin, as part of Precision Engineered Products, was purchased by NN Inc. in 2015. Shortly thereafter, Deborah earned another promotion, to general manager of the Brainin Division. Recognized for her leadership abilities, she was reassigned and successfully turned around a Texas NN plant.

“Deborah leads by example, never asking more of anyone than she is willing to give,” writes her nominator. “She comes from a humble background and treats everyone, regardless of their status, with respect and dignity. Her work ethic, dedication, humility and loyalty to those above and below her status is something exceptional, and her contributions have helped this company succeed.”

“Manufacturing provides good wages and stable careers for many with or without college degrees, and with a desire to learn a skill and trade. Manufacturing today offers endless opportunities for women in all aspects. Our biggest goal: Strive to remain competitive with a diverse workforce that is constantly challenging the current state, enabling us to advance to a better future state. Women in manufacturing will find nearly limitless roles in which they can participate, succeed and grow.”

Jacquelyn Santoro

Vice President and Director of Legal Affairs,Check-Mate Industries, West Babylon, NY

A natural-born leader, Jacquelyn has contributed greatly to the growth of Check-Mate Industries in the five years since assuming her current role, according to her nominator.

With the company recently having successfully opened a second facility in Thomasville, GA, due to production demands, her negotiation and mediation skills have been invaluable in dealing with the State of Georgia in order to bring the 168,000-sq.-ft. facility online in an extremely short time period.

Additionally, she has played an integral role in setting up employee matrices in order to properly manage an employee's skill level in a certain role, ensuring that the employee is receiving adequate training and proper compensation.

“Jackie has shown her commitment to employees and customers through her relentless hard work and her tireless attempts at process improvement,” her nominator writes. 

With the company recently having successfully opened a second facility in Thomasville, GA, due to production demands, Jackie's negotiation and mediation skills have been invaluable in dealing with the State of Georgia in order to bring the facility online in an extremely short time period, according to Jackie’s nominator. 

“Jackie has shown her commitment to employees and customers through her relentless hard work and her tireless attempts at process improvement,” her nominator writes.

Jill Hayes

Production Manager, IGH Steel Fabrication, Lebanon, IN

After beginning her career at IGH Steel as a front-office fill-in, Jill was offered a full-time position due to her outstanding work ethic and attitude, according to her nominator. Having advanced to the position of scheduler for laser-table work and programming, she then achieved positions as material buyer and outside-contracting negotiator before attaining her current position as plant production manager.

Jill displays exceptional commitment, exceeding her responsibilities and spending time before and after regular office hours making sure that production operations are in order.

Jill's name is always recognized with enthusiasm and respect, offers her nominator, who adds that her ability to listen, respond and direct is genuine and appreciated throughout the industry.

“From contractors to customers, from suppliers to drivers, and among fellow employees, the consensus is the same,” her nominator writes: “If Jill is working on it, it will get done.”

Jill's name is always recognized with enthusiasm and respect, according to her nominator, who notes that her ability to listen, respond and direct is genuine and appreciated throughout the industry. “From contractors to customers, from suppliers to drivers, and among fellow employees, the consensus is the same,” writes her nominator: “If Jill is working on it, it will get done.”

2019 Women of Excellence Honorable Mention

Penny Barnes, Human Resources Manager,ITW North American Stamped Fasteners, Gallatin, TN

Coy Belt, Production Manager, Pennant, Lebanon, TN

Rachel Blado, Office Manager, The Davis Groupe, LLC, Murfreesboro, TN

Rene Cooper, Applications Engineer, T. J. Snow Co. Inc., Chattanooga, TN

Denise Copeland, Office Manager, Ace Wire Spring & Form Co., Inc., McKees Rocks, PA

Karen Gagliardi, Customer Service Representative, HK Metalcraft Manufacturing Corp., Lodi, NJ

Nancy Goldston, Project Estimator and Safety Director, Benchmark Tool and Machine, Pelham, TN

Tresa Holloway, Human Resources Supervisor, Precision Industries, Portland, TN

Heidi Julian, Customer Service and Logistics Manager, Bettcher Manufacturing, McAllen, TX

Christy Keith, Inside Sales Associate, North American Stamping Group, Portland, TN

Jennifer Lawrence, Sheet Metal Manager, Islandaire, Setauket, NY

Melanie Magella, Precision CNC Technician, Weiss-Aug Co. Inc., East Hanover, NJ

Peggy Tweed, Stamping Supervisor, Meco, Greenville, TN

Linda Van Valkenburgh, Inside Sales, Accounts Manager, KHK USA Inc., Mineola, NY MF

Industry-Related Terms: Cam, CNC, Die, Drawing, Edge, Form, Forming, Gauge, LASER, Layer, Lines, Model, Nesting, Point, Run, Scrap
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: A.J. Rose Manufacturing Co., Atlantic Tool & Die Company, Helm Instrument Co., Inc., Nidec Press & Automation, Dayton Rogers Manufacturing Co.

Technologies: Management, Training


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