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Brad Kuvin Brad Kuvin
Editorial Director
Lou Kren Lou Kren
Senior Editor

7th Annual Women of Excellence in Metal Forming & Fabricating

December 5, 2022

Recognizing all women in metal forming and fabricating, and in particular these 35 Women of Excellence honorees.

Following a pandemic-caused hit, U.S. manufacturing has begun a rebound, but this upswing doesn’t mean a return to traditional manual jobs. Instead, offers an October 2022 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, manufacturing employers now need a new kind of worker, one with skills to operate in a highly automated environment. This shift may be opening doors to more women, according to Census Bureau data and trends in the manufacturing industry.

7th Annual Women of Excellence in Metal Forming & FabricatingSome 2022 facts, according to the bureau:

  • Women comprise some 47 percent of the American workforce, with 30 percent working in manufacturing.
  • Women in manufacturing hold one of four management positions.
  • Women in manufacturing earn on average 16 percent more than the national median annual income for employed women.

Although men still hold the majority (67.9 percent) of U.S. manufacturing jobs, Census Bureau research shows that from 2010 until the pandemic struck in 2020, the share of women in manufacturing jobs rose in every working-age category. In 2021, the numbers returned to pre-Covid levels. And, as manufacturers strive to foster creativity, they have found that gender diversity boosts employee morale and retention. As a result, data show growth of women not only in manufacturing, but also in STEM-related fields—skills increasingly required by manufacturing employers as automation increases.

To recognize the increasing role of women in manufacturing and to spur continued advances, MetalForming magazine, in conjunction with the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) and with the support of the Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM), presents its Seventh Annual Women of Excellence (WoE) in Metal Forming and Fabricating Awards. From scores of entries in 2022, we recognize 35 honorees in leadership positions and on the shop floor, representing dedication to their company and the industry, and demonstrating excellence day in and day out. 

About the Women in Manufacturing Association

Women in ManufacturingThe Women in Manufacturing Association (WiM) is a national and global trade association dedicated to supporting, promoting and inspiring women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry. It provides year-round support to more than 15,000 individual members representing more than 2000 manufacturing companies from 48 U.S. states and 40 countries. WiM encompasses manufacturers of all types and welcomes individuals from every job function—from production to the C-suite. Membership is available to anyone working within or with the manufacturing sector. For more, visit

“While women make up only about one-third of the U.S. manufacturing industry workforce, for many companies they fill a variety of critical roles,” says Brad Kuvin, MetalForming editorial director, “from working on the production line to filling a variety of management roles to running their own manufacturing businesses. In this issue of MetalForming, we explore, for our seventh year running, the role of women in metal forming and fabricating facilities and recognize their achievements. The 2022 WoE class provides excellent examples and inspiration for those who may follow in their footsteps.”

As MetalForming’s parent organization, PMA actively seeks to promote manufacturing opportunities for women while recognizing their skills, as does WiM, an organization that grew out of PMA’s commitment to these efforts. 

“Congratulations to the 2022 class of MetalForming magazine’s Women of Excellence in Metal Forming and Fabricating winners, who exemplify the ingenuity, grit and passion held by so many women in industry,” says Allison Grealis, WiM president and founder. “We are excited to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s group of honorees, and we hope that their stories inspire future women to pursue careers in this industry and current women in industry to aspire to great things.” 

Read on for profiles of these 35 honorees, along with quotes describing why they feel fulfilled in manufacturing careers and providing encouragement for young women who may follow in their footsteps.

Cindy Barron

Materials and Logistics Supervisor, ARaymond Manufacturing Center North America Inc., Logansport, IN

Cindy BarronCindy has been with ARaymond Logansport for more than 34 yr., having started out in secondary assembly and moving to shipping. Through her dedication and hard work, Cindy was able to get promoted rapidly to shipping clerk/expediting. She quickly mastered that position as she helped to expedite all product running through production, secondary, coatings and finishings, and onto the pack line and FGS. She then was promoted in 2011 to supervisor. She has participated in many continuous-improvement teams, including helping to lead a team to revamp the packing line to make it more ergonomic and to incorporate automation.

Cindy is not afraid to jump in with her team and load trucks when needed. She has helped to design and create a robust process within her department, takes pride in what she does, and cares about on-time delivery to customers, her nominator notes. She helps to certify the fork truck drivers and believes in safety within her department and within the plant. Her team works very well under her direction and believes in the culture that she has established.

“I would recommend working in manufacturing as it is an important part of making products that are needed and used worldwide. We supply multiple countries and industries, which helps maintain and support the United States and other countries. It has helped me grow in my skills and knowledge in shipping, importing and exporting. We see first-hand how the products we produce are vital to the growth and support of other companies. How amazing is that!”

Alicia Bortone

Vice President Supply Chain, Loftis Steel & Aluminum Inc., Nashville, TN

Alicia BortoneWith more than 20 yr. of supply-chain experience including 17 at Loftis Steel & Aluminum, Alicia, as vice president of supply chain, is responsible for directing all supply-chain purchasing decisions for the company. Her certifications include Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity and Certified Professional in Supply Management. She has been promoted twice during her tenure with Loftis, from sales and inventory specialist to product manager to her current role.

Alicia oversees all purchasing and inventory decisions, vendor relations, buyouts, and team trainings, and undertakes other operations-management duties. Among her many accomplishments, Alicia played a significant role in the integration of Loftis and Tennessee Die operations in 2018. Well-respected in the industry, Alicia has developed countless relationships with vendors and suppliers over the years.

“Manufacturing is a unique blend of science and art that provides never-ending challenges and opportunities, and infinite variables.  Opportunities are as diverse as the industries served and products created, allowing for so many chances to apply skills sets and implement ideas.”

Paula Burkett

Order Entry Coordinator, JV Manufacturing Co., Natrona Heights, PA

Paula BurkettThrough Paula's 27 yr. at JVM, she has filled many roles, excelling in each and making the company and her team stronger. She has worked as an engineering assistant, in shipping and receiving, as a purchasing assistant, a receptionist, and now order entry coordinator, where she works at the intersection of sales, engineering and manufacturing. Her role provides the oil in the gears, helping these groups work together and provide each other with the information needed to best ensure success.

Throughout Paula's career she has accomplished a lot, her nominator says. One example was the company’s transition to a new ERP system, where she played a pivotal role. Not only was she tasked with a tremendous amount of data entry, conversion and quality checking, but she also was one of the front-line employees testing and setting up the system. Today, many employees across the organization lean on her for her knowledge and to help them understand the proper way to use the ERP system.

“Women are natural builders and creators. A process such as manufacturing offers women the ability to be part of a creative process with tangible results at the end. It is very rewarding to be part of a team that brings new things into the world, and I believe that women like myself should take great pride in that.”

Toni Cardinale

Office Manager, Marion Manufacturing Co., Cheshire, CT

Toni CardinaleToni's longevity at Marion Manufacturing—26 yr.—along with her consistent work ethic, shines bright, as exemplified by her receiving a Marion-proclaimed award as the "Fighter for the People" because she constantly takes care of everyone around her in any way that she can.

Toni always has gone above and beyond for anyone and everyone at Marion. She can be found coming into the office during her off time to help assist with financial or office needs, and is a role model for those around her because she constantly exhibits integrity, honesty, empathy and positivity.

Toni sets an example for the younger employees at Marion through her selflessness and acceptance of others. She has a passion to inspire and a clear set of values, her nominator writes, noting that with Toni's commitment to manufacturing, she is a true representation of leadership.

“Working in manufacturing has not only provided me with financial stability and flexibility to take care of my family, but there is satisfaction when I am able to help unskilled workers get involved in apprenticeships and training that help them achieve their professional goals. I encourage any woman to work in this industry, whether it be in the office or the toolroom!”

Michele Cherney

Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer, Winco Stamping, Menomonee Falls, WI

Michele CherneyMichele started with Winco in 2017 in a part-time chief financial officer role. Shortly after, she was offered a full-time job and her leadership skills began to shine through. In 2019 she added chief operating officer to her title and now leads a six-person senior-leadership team.

Despite coming to Winco from an industry outside of metal forming, she quickly adapted, learning the ins and outs of the business and helping navigate through the pandemic. Since joining Winco, she has led the company to record sales and profits. Her most impressive accomplishments: forward thinking around attracting and retaining employees, treating employees like family, and coaching and mentoring her senior-leadership team. As her nominator writes, Michele is a true asset to Winco Stamping.

“Metal stamping is complex yet straightforward. As a result, it’s rewarding and pushes you to grow. There’s a hardness to it with heavy machines, metals and noise, and a softness with your teammates, customers and culture. Women get to use their unique talents to recognize these diverse facets of their company and people, and support both to develop and thrive.” 

Kristi Coles

Shipping and Receiving Supervisor, Marwood International, Woodstock, Ontario, Canada

Kristi ColesKristi was hired at Marwood in 2019 as a production supervisor and quickly moved into a shipping-supervisor role, where she has been very involved and a key member of the shipping team. The facility ships 120,000 parts daily through Kristi's department to 12 customers. This translates to 18 trailers/day leaving the facility. The hard work and attention to detail from her team is extremely important, and the team ensures that, every day, it meets targets and supplies customers with parts.

Kristi oversees 12 employees responsible for shipment of more than 6 million parts/yr. Kristi's efforts have resulted in reduced expedites, and increased productivity via improved material flow and inventory control.

“Manufacturing has the stigma of being a dangerous and dirty career path, and people do not realize how much it has changed. In my role I am challenged every day in an environment that is ever-changing and where no day is the same. I want to set an example for my daughters and show them that there are excellent opportunities for women in manufacturing.”

Rene Cooper

Applications Engineer, T.J. Snow Company, Inc., Chattanooga, TN

Rene CooperRene started as a department administrative assistant and quickly proved herself capable of more, learning resistance welding and the process of quoting and specifying machines for resistance welding. In addition to quoting the machines, Rene also serves as product-line owner for the imported Italian Tecna brand of resistance welding equipment (for which T.J. Snow is a master distributor) and is responsible for the T.J. Snow directory of available used spot welding machines.

Often, customers assume Rene is a man, as they have only interacted via email, or if initially introduced on the phone they wonder how much she can help with their machine needs, until she starts asking them technical questions and they quickly realize that she knows what she is talking about, explains her nominator, and when presented with a challenge she logically looks for solutions.  

“I am blessed to have been part of the T. J. Snow team for many years. I enjoy watching a project progress from an idea to design, build and to customer satisfaction for a job well done. With so many avenues of the manufacturing and metal working industry available, opportunities for motivated, forward-thinking women willing to accept challenges are endless.”

Ellen Dougherty 

Strategic Account Specialist, Okay Industries, New Britain, CT

Ellen DoughertyA truly dedicated employee for 39 yr., Ellen (“Elly”) has embraced her role as strategic account specialist with integrity, pride and enthusiasm. An integral player in supporting long-term, trusted relationships, she is a dependable, loyal advocate for her customers, a true cross-functional team player, and a champion of many initiatives within Okay and the community. 

Starting her career as a receptionist, pre-computers, she managed multiple phone lines, posting job cards, shipping schedules, customer orders invoices and more. Through this role, she found a passion and tenacity for manufacturing and account management. This role provided a foundation for a long and successful career as a sales coordinator and evolved to her current role. 

Consistently recognized from customer feedback throughout her career, Elly is respected for her responsiveness, friendliness, effective communication and ability to consistently provide her customers with superior support.

“Elly manages every customer with the same dedication,” says Sean Stowik, director of sales & marketing. “She eagerly drives difficult discussions and quickly analyzes and communicates the best available solutions to all involved.”

Not only is Elly an exemplary champion at cultivating strong external relations, but she never misses an opportunity to celebrate her peers, sending notes and birthday cards, and has selflessly contributed her time, talent, and creativity to plan countless United Way campaigns and company events.

A native to Connecticut and resident of Berlin, Elly continues to give back to the community. In 1997, she was a recipient of the New Britain YWCA’s Women in Leadership Award and Employee of the Year in 1996, and in 2011, she was awarded the “United Way Campaign Coordinator of the Year” by the United Way of Central & Northeastern Connecticut.

“Working in administrative support in manufacturing for most of my life, and still enjoying this career path, supporting customers and all company departments makes it both diverse and challenging work. It’s exciting to be able to continue to learn as technology progresses and witness what we can produce today as compared to the late ‘70s. Women surely play an important role in manufacturing.”

Meredith Hackathorn

Purchasing Director, C.E. Smith Co., Greensboro, NC

Meredith HackathornMeredith was hired as the shipping coordinator nearly 10 yr. ago and has fulfilled many different roles at the company leading to her current role as purchasing director. She also manages the IT department and has spent the last few years helping to modernize the network to make it safer and more efficient.

Meredith took over the purchasing department in 2018 and worked very hard to learn the skills needed to navigate the material-price roller coaster and complex material-availability issues.

“She is super smart, and we all admire her for what she has done for our company, especially during trying times,” her nominator writes. 

“Working in manufacturing has been challenging and rewarding in so many ways. I am constantly improving and learning new things. I get to be creative and solve problems on a daily basis. Manufacturing is so diverse, from the industries we serve to the roles within a company, and the opportunities are endless. There is something for everyone in this career.”

Rita Hemmert

Project Manager/Administrative Office, Nidec Press & Automation-Nidec Minster Corp., Minster, OH

Rita HemmertRita started her career at Minster Machine, now Nidec Press & Automation (NP&A), in May of 1974 as a CRT minicomputer operator and, through her 48-yr. career, has progressed through roles with increasing responsibility. She has been instrumental in leading continuous-business-process improvements that allow the NP&A team to better serve its customers with new equipment production, customer service, and parts support. This includes her role as a leader in the development, implementation, and process improvements of three global business systems, with SAP as the most recent in 2021.

“Rita is a strong supporter of both her families—in the roles of wife, mother and grandmother, and as a strong supporter of her NP&A family,” says one colleague. Offers another: “She is very trustworthy, dedicated and hardworking. Without her, Nidec Minster wouldn’t be the way we are. She will be greatly missed after her retirement as she begins her new stage in life.”

“I find manufacturing to be a very fast-paced and interesting environment to work in. Although all of my work experience has been in the administrative field, the constant product enhancements, improvements and acquisitions cause ever-changing requirements and challenges for administration. The need for continuous improvement creates a very challenging and rewarding atmosphere, which I have enjoyed for many years.”

Esther Holewa

OEM Sales Manager, Schuler Inc., Canton, MI

Esther HolewaEsther has been a loyal employee of Schuler for the past 25 yr., having started out as a receptionist and advancing through various departments and promotions. In her current role she serves as Schuler's main interface for various automotive manufacturers, handling day-to-day business as well as major capex-investment programs. 

“Esther's dedication and whatever-it-takes attitude are second to none,” her nominator writes. “She always is positive and remains undeterred even in the most challenging of situations. I have yet to meet anyone who could match her in these attributes. She is a true role model.”

“Manufacturing is about creating and developing, and it has been exciting to support an industry that continues to grow with innovation. And, now I get to share in the excitement of the future of vehicles, with advancements in urban mobility and improving the reliability and connectivity of manufacturing through technologies such as industry 4.0.   But with all of this said, the collaborating partnerships created along the way have been the most rewarding. This industry IS the place to be.”

Heidi Julian

Customer Service Manager/Logistics Manager, Bettcher Manufacturing LLC, McAllen, TX

Heidi JulianThroughout her career (25 yr. in the industry and 18 with Bettcher), Heidi has advanced step by step, winning with effort and intelligence, and acquiring extraordinary skills. She is a capable and professional person, which makes her well-deserving of this recognition, according to her nominator, who notes that Heidi has overcome many obstacles in her life and always has a smile on her face. She carries a bachelor’s degree in Business and Engineering, and has multiple certifications under her belt. 

Heidi has been characterized by having great knowledge and development within the company’s metal forming processes. She possesses a great sense of urgency and support in all areas where her help is required, is friendly, and shares her knowledge to anyone who asks. She is the “go-to person,” says her nominator.

“I am so proud to be part of the manufacturing world. This field has so much to offer and is exciting and rewarding. Every day I go home knowing that I have inspired others to continue to grow. It has given me the opportunity to provide for my family while creating many friendships along the way. Always strive to do your best and you will succeed.”

Teresa LaMay

Program Manager, AJ Rose Manufacturing Co., Avon, OH

Teresa LaMayTeresa started her career in 1996 and eventually became quality assurance (QA) manager, and joined AJ Rose In 2005 as a QA specialist.  She was instrumental in the establishment and PPAP of new welding and machining lines as the components transitioned from her former employer to AJ Rose.  During her time as a QA specialist, she maintained a customer base for quality issues, managed several continuous-improvement (CI) projects, including leading AJ Rose’s TS and ISO certification transitions to IATF.  In 2018, Teresa was promoted to program manager.  

Teresa’s attention to detail, quality and manufacturing knowledge have been invaluable in handling simultaneous product launches and CI projects.  Her knowledge of quality and customer-specific requirements has allowed her to successfully complete many product launches.  She continues to mentor and train associates, i.e., IMDS and Reach compliance.   Teresa helps with SCM and VDA auditing, and helps others in understanding customer-specific portals.

“As technology advances and customer requirements continue to increase and become more critical and challenging, I see manufacturing as a perfect fit and a rewarding career path for women. Manufacturing allows women to shine with our natural abilities to pay attention to details, multitask and problem-solve—especially in the current fast-paced and ever-changing automotive industry.”

Marianne Langford

Account Manager, American Fabricators Inc., Division of Kloeckner Metals Corp., Nashville, TN

Marianne LangfordMarianne has been with American Fabricators Inc. (AFI) for 22 yr. After being hired as an estimating assistant, it became clear early on that her office skills were far above average. Marianne has been described as one of those people that with a truck load of work dumped on her desk early in the morning, has it done by lunch and is looking for more.

After a few years of working as estimating assistant, she moved to shipping and began coordinating all of AFI’s daily shipments. This move helped to sharpen her communication skills, as she now was talking to customers and trucking companies on a regular basis while coordinating packaging and shipments.  When a job became open in customer service, Marianne was brought up to help manage day-to-day order entry and assist customers with their needs. Marianne has never shied away from a challenge and now is cross-trained in multiple departments, and fills in for production control and shipping as needed. “She makes a positive impact on what we do every day,” her nominator writes.

“Manufacturing is a rewarding career because I truly grew with it and have a lot of great opportunities that offer challenges. Account management is knowing the needs of each of your customers and striving to the best of your ability to respond promptly and knowledgably. Every day is something different. It’s also awesome to see the diversity in our customer base. My daughter has worked in the office for a while with me, and my father has run some of the machines. It’s truly a great place for opportunities.”

Ronda Lee

General Manager of Operations, Steel Technologies, Greensburg, IN

Ronda LeeRonda hired into Steel Technologies on the plant floor in 1987, and since then has worked her way from operator to various area supervisor roles, to plant manager, and then into the role of general manager of operations.  The plant she runs manages programs for demanding HVAC and automotive OEMs and Tier One suppliers. Of the 30 plants in the Steel Technologies’ portfolio, Greensburg is a leader in safety, quality, productivity and profitability. 

Ronda always is directly engaged with her teammates and has earned the respect of all who work with her. She has developed a culture within her team that serves as a benchmark for other companies in this industry. She has earned the respect of all stakeholders that deal with her plant, and continues to push for and achieve continuous improvements, starting with safety.  This year she has begun to work with IOSHA to start the process of qualifying the company for its VPP Status for safety. Ronda effectively collaborates with all groups at the company to achieve common goals and is an ideal leader, according to her nominator.

“There has never been a better time than now for women to explore opportunities in manufacturing. The career choices are endless in operations, quality, logistics, human resources, inventory control, sales, purchasing, leadership and more. The firsthand experiences provide invigorating challenges that will unlock your full potential and give you the satisfaction of a fulfilling career.”

Rebecca Lichwalla

Director of Quality Assurance, Connecticut Spring & Stamping, Farmington, CT

Rebecca LichwallaRebecca has been with Connecticut Spring & Stamping (CSS) since 2015 when she joined the quality assurance team as a quality engineer working in the spring-manufacturing division. Rebecca brought to CSS a strong analytical background and an extremely robust RCA (root-cause-analysis) skill set. She mentored manufacturing associates in these skills, and her passion for problem solving quickly paved the way for several important continuous-improvement projects. She is well-versed in SPC, internal auditing, ISO standards, and gauge and fixture analysis. Based on her contributions, Rebecca was promoted to Spring Division quality manager where she worked to raise the bar on the CSS quality-engineering operation. In short order, Rebecca received another promotion to the senior staff level, and continues her mission as CSS director of quality assurance and quality engineering.

Rebecca represents leadership through her ability to teach and train quality principles at multiple levels. She works hands-on with her inspection team and engineers, and hand in hand with manufacturing leaders and operatives. She has guided CSS through two AS9100 recertifications and two ISO13485 recertifications.

“A career in manufacturing is challenging and exciting.  There are many opportunities to learn, grow and advance your career. It is filled with innovative technology and people that will become lifelong friends and family. You get to feel the pride of knowing that you are part of creating something that could improve or even save a person’s life.”

Lizeth Loya

Head Estimator and Project Manager and Drafter, New Mexico Steel Fabricators Inc., Las Cruces, NM

Lizeth LoyaDuring her 9 yr. at New Mexico Steel Fabricators, Lizeth’s effort and ability have earned her top-estimator and leadership awards. She has achieved steady growth in sales in 2022, and has displayed innovation in approaching projects. Lizeth has trained other staff members effectively, and successfully has acquired new accounts on a consistent basis, all while showing initiative in learning new technologies and software.

Lizeth couples her leadership role in the manufacturing business with management of many projects, helping the company to succeed.

"Metal manufacturing may sound like a male-dominated profession, but I feel like a woman of steel! Women bring a different perspective with unique optimization into this progressive, dynamic and innovative industry. As a woman estimating and managing challenging projects, I have learned that there is no job too big or too small; that every single task is essential for a successful outcome and a satisfying career."

Ilda Mandujano

Plating Department Lead, Metalfx, Willits, CA

Ilda MandujanoIlda was hired at Metalfx in 1995. Since her hire, she has exemplified a positive attitude and demonstrated a willingness to help others. She was flexed into various departments and learned assembly, fasteners, paint-line offload and part marking. In 2007 Ilda was promoted to the lead of the plating department and has maintained a HazMat certification.

Ilda has been instrumental in helping bring in new employees by training in a critical skill, and her bilingual speaking skills have allowed the company to better teach that new workforce. She has been a major contributor to Metalfx maintaining its ISO certification. In monthly leadership meetings, she has been a critical voice in helping the company’s operations team drive to accomplish its goals, and to successfully transition to lean methodologies.

“Working in manufacturing has been and remains a great experience. There are so many areas where we can learn and so much opportunity for growth and to show our potential. Over the years I have seen more and more women perform jobs that previously were only held by men.  We are proof that when we are determined women can be successful and excel in any job we choose.”

Heather McKinley

Production Planning and Customer Service Manager, New Standard Corp., York, PA

Heather McKinleyAfter 7 yr. with New Standard and 12 yr. in the industry, Heather recently was promoted to customer service manager, taking on this additional responsibility while serving as production planning manager. Identified as one of the company’s high-potential associates, she has been placed in the company’s High PO program.

A critical associate within New Standard, Heather serves as the ”glue” that keeps the organization in alignment to support its customer base and operations. Engaging with associates at every level, she remains dedicated to her role and to the growth of her direct reports. Heather's role can be very challenging with respect to being that middle person where she must answer to the customer base and at the same time manage the operational production planning with the organization’s plant managers and staff, yet she handles it well.

New Standard has seen a substantial increase in growth during the past 3 yr. despite challenges presented by the pandemic, the supply chain and the need for labor requirements that come with substantial growth. Yet Heather and her teams have not altered from continuing to drive growth while focusing on the company’s core values.

“What I love most about being in the manufacturing industry is the relationships that I have built along the way. Collaborating with customers and suppliers through supply-chain shortages has been at the forefront in the past couple of years and is something that I have truly enjoyed. I love being part of the solution and working as a team to solve a problem. The opportunity I have had in the manufacturing industry has been amazing so far, and I can’t wait for what the future holds!”

Amanda Menchinger

President and General Manager, Globe Tech, LLC, Plymouth, MI

Amanda MenchingerAmanda took over as president and general manager of Globe Tech in 2009.  In 2011 she went through the process of getting Globe Tech certified as a woman-owned business through the WBENC, a certification that she/Globe Tech maintains to this day.  She has guided the company through steady growth and expansion into new markets and capabilities.

Being a female owner and managing the day-to-day operations of a complex metal stamping and fabrication business is quite an accomplishment.  This business is extremely competitive, and Globe Tech has flourished and grown under Amanda's leadership. Globe Tech produces complex mine-roller assemblies direct to the Army, production frames for military vehicles and heavy trucks, fabrications for automation equipment, and stamping tools for the automotive industry.  Amanda has promoted the inclusion of women in all aspects of the company, and other key roles at Globe Tech led by women include accounting, purchasing, human resources and materials/scheduling.  She hosts high school students at Globe Tech for Manufacturing Day each year to promote jobs in the manufacturing industry as viable career options, showing young men and women what is possible with hard work and dedication.

“There are countless benefits to women and the industry for increasing gender diversity across manufacturing. Limitless opportunities exist to grow meaningful careers as we become more effective and innovative in the solutions we create. There’s no better time than now for women to bring their knowledge and strengths to manufacturing! Together, we will trailblaze new paths for future generations of girls.”

Pamela Neale

Senior Tool Designer, JK Tool, New Kensington, PA

Pamela NealePam brings nearly 30 yr. of experience to the JK Tool tool-design group, working with her team to provide unique design concepts and techniques that help keep JK Tool competitive and respected in the Industry. A very thorough designer, Pam pays extreme attention to detail, and customers speak highly of her and enjoy working with her. Pam’s efforts result in customer satisfaction and continued business support.

“I believe that Pam is a great role model for young women looking to get into the metal stamping and forming industry,” her nominator writes.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in engineering, but it wasn’t until I was in college that I realized just how few women shared the same interests. Thankfully, that seems to be changing. Women can add a unique perspective and level of detail that greatly enhance manufacturing processes. My career in manufacturing has been a rewarding choice. I follow a project from the conceptual design to its completion, ensuring the quality of the product. Everything we use in our daily lives was manufactured in some way. Joining a manufacturing team offers so many different career paths, providing practical experience that leads to a lifetime of growth and unlimited opportunity. What a great way to make a difference in the world!”

Ana Neves

Sales Manager, Ramco Equipment Corp., Hillside, NJ

Ana NevesAna is well-recognized in the industrial-cleaning market as a knowledgeable professional who possesses a high level of expertise and experience. Her years of service to the industry and the customers who require technical support are exemplary. She has steadily developed from a technical sales position to become the sales manager in a complex and often-changing manufacturing world.

From aerospace to medical, automotive, defense, military and general consumer good—all of these markets require end products that meet expected performance, throughput, operational cost and quality. Ana works with these diverse industries to help select the best cleaning process and equipment to meet their needs and budgets. This scope of applications requires extensive knowledge on all phases of operations, material handling, environmental compliance, reliability and customer support. Ana constantly imparts her expertise and knowledge to her customers and prospects in a manner that instills confidence and, more importantly, meets the project demands.

“Manufacturing is where it starts!  It’s fulfilling to demonstrate success to other women looking to follow a path in manufacturing.  Working in a male-dominated industry brings different challenges for women, but those willing to view the challenges as opportunities can reap great rewards, personally and professionally.  The career possibilities in this industry are endless.”

Louann Peri

CNC S/U Programmer, Southco, Inc., Honeoye Falls, NY

Louann PeriLouann, a high performer that has excelled in multiple positions at the Southco facility in Honeoye Falls, joined the company in 1988. Early on, she supported the company’s zinc diecasting secondary operations by setting up and operating trim presses, thread tappers and CNC mills. As she developed within the company, Louann continued to leverage her experience and knowledge as part of the team that implemented CNC lathe capability in the facility’s turning area. She developed into a high-level CNC programmer and helped expand capabilities in CNC turning throughout Southco.

A consistent contributor to the business, Louann has made numerous positive contributions by sharing her technical expertise and troubleshooting skills with new operators. She has helped develop and write CNC programs for Southco-turned components used in aerospace, automotive and other industries.

The CNC turning team at Southco recognizes Louann for her dedication to providing quality product as well as her ability to develop and train both new employees and tenured operators. Louann stands out in her role with an outstanding work ethic and well-rounded skill set, her nominator writes, while noting that she always has a positive attitude and is willing to go the extra mile in efforts to meet customer requirements.

“There is a lot of opportunity for young women in metal working. It's rewarding to see what can be formed with a machine and with CNC programming. If you like to work with your hands and minds, I would highly encourage it. Be it in vocational or trade schools, or in college, there are plenty of programs available, and work is out there in this field for women.” 

Marianne Petosa

Customer Relations and Inside Sales, Accurate Machine and Tool Ltd., Toronto, Ontario

Marianne PetosaIn her seven years at Accurate Machine and Tool Ltd., Marianne has shown her leadership skills and the drive to make a difference throughout the organization. While she has held several positions and serves in several different capacities, Marianne’s main role as customer relations manager is where she has excelled and shown the most personal growth.  Marianne is always eager to support everyone from those on the shop floor, shipping/receiving and managers. Her input and knowledge crosses over production, logistics, quality, pricing, and production quoting. But foremost, she brings the voice of the customer to life in our planning and production meetings.

Marianne has found her “leadership voice” within the organization.  She is the first and most frequently contacted point with customers. In customer-satisfaction surveys, the customers specifically reference Marianne for her exceptional responsiveness and service.

“We have women in all levels including administration, assembly leads, and working on the shop floor, operating presses and mold machines. I’m grateful to work with a company that recognizes the potential in what we all have to offer.”

Karen Phillips

Health, Safety and Environmental Manager, O'Neal Manufacturing Services, Ambridge, PA

Karen PhillipsKaren started with O’Neal Manufacturing Services more than 25 yr. ago, working in an administrative support role for the shipping and receiving department. She quickly climbed in the O’Neal business structure, holding the positions of shipping supervisor, production supervisor, ERP training subject-matter expert, safety specialist, and health, safety and environmental manager. Karen’s work ethic, dedication and tenacity are easily recognizable, but her ability to connect with employees is her most valuable asset, her nominator offers, noting that Karen’s approachability and willingness to work with everyone provides her with a solid foundation to excel in the industrial safety arena.

In her current role, Karen has been the catalyst for a successful safety culture at O’Neal, which has earned her multiple awards and certifications of achievement. Her leadership, Karen’s nominator concludes, has created a worldclass culture and safety program at O’Neal.

“In the 25-plus years I’ve worked at O’Neal Manufacturing, I’ve seen an enormous amount of change. I am in awe of our female employees’ abilities to produce parts working next to their male counterparts. They are expert welders, machine operators, office workers and safety managers/committee members in our districts throughout the country. The sky is the limit for females in the steel industry!”

Mahasin Pledger

Human Resources Coordinator, Magna/LMV Automotive Systems, Liberty, MO

Mahasin PledgerHaving started at Magna/LMV Automotive Systems in 2015 as a junior human relations (HR) coordinator, Mahasin is now the most senior-level coordinator in the organization’s HR department. She trains, coaches and mentors shop-floor personnel, and actively participates in event planning and teambuilding. Throughout periods of high turnover and heavy workload, Mahasin has been a steady presence at LMV, ensuring that the HR Department continues to provide quality service to all of its employees.

“Mahasin's work ethic is a ‘lead by example’ approach,” her nominator writes. “She takes the time to put in extra hours and go the extra mile to enable growth opportunities for others at LMV. Mahasin has shown an ability to always stay positive and coach others to do the same, despite the tumultuous nature of our industry.”

“Culture cannot change without women in the room. It is no secret that fewer women work in manufacturing than men—many fewer, but that’s changing. Manufacturing is starting to incorporate strategies to attract high-performing women to showcase their multitasking and problem-solving talents. My career in the manufacturing industry has been so rewarding. I’m so honored to be one of the faces of change.”

Cathie Pragano

Human Resources Manager, Stewart EFI, Thomaston, CT

Cathie PraganoCathie has been in the human resources department at Stewart EFI for more than 30 yr. and has navigated the company through several changes during that time. Always her number-one priority: keeping employees satisfied and safe.

She hires the best eyelet toolmakers and other production personnel, her nominator offers, and has pushed numerous employees into the eyelet toolmaker apprenticeship program over the years. She is an asset to the entire industry, her nominator concludes.

“Manufacturing is an exciting and thriving industry with so many moving parts and many positions available for women—from machine operating and inspection to design engineering and toolmaking, and from quality technicians and engineers to management positions. There are endless possibilities for one to achieve success and to be rewarded for hard work and dedication.” 

Maria Rivas

Global Human Resource Director, Termax Co., Lake Zurich, IL

Maria RivasMaria started at Termax 15 yr. ago as a human resources generalist, but quickly advanced to a management position, working full time while attending classes to learn her trade. Each year while head counts increased at the fast-growing company, she worked to implement all necessary training. Later, the sale of the company led to many new challenges as Maria had to incorporate new ideas, processes, insurance, benefits packages and more. Again she rose to the task and took it head on. Covid brought a whole new set of challenges, and Maria led her team through the pandemic, keeping everyone safe and helping Termax continue servicing its customers.

Maria has excelled in her position by learning each of the manufacturing positions at Termax, and has led the improvements in job descriptions and training so that the company can hire, retain and improve staff, including staff at the company’s China and Mexico locations. Maria stays involved with PMA HR Roundtables and other activities, which help improve herself and Termax, and her knowledge of manufacturing has been a great asset when she presents at job fairs, schools and Manufacturing Day events to help promote the company.

“Manufacturing always has been a male-dominated industry and to see throughout the years how women have broken those barriers is amazing. I have learned throughout the years at PMA/WiM that manufacturing isn’t just a dirty job, but  it is making a difference in someone’s life. Women operating CNC machines and punch presses, and becoming technicians and tool & die makers are great accomplishments, and it’s great to be a part of that change.”

Cori Schubert

Customer Service Representative,Eagle Metals, Leesport, PA

Cori SchubertSixteen yr. ago, Cori left the restaurant industry for a career in manufacturing at what was then called Eagle Brass, and since has had an enormous impact on the success of the company. She has developed relationships with customers around the world and does an excellent job keeping them informed—quoting their jobs, following up on orders—and is a big reason for return business from customers. Cori continues to take an active role in the success of Eagle Metals, always willing to learn, visit a customer, attend a PMA event or work at a trade show.

She is a role model to her kids and also helps set the tone at Eagle Metals in setting an example of the level of customer service that all associates must provide to customers, reports her nominator.

“Manufacturing is the backbone of America and it's gratifying to play a role in keeping it alive. Women often bring a different perspective to problem solving, we excel at multitasking and we tend to have a distinctive skill set that can be lacking in such a male-dominated industry.  There are many entry-level positions to get your foot in the door, and the sky is the limit from there.”

Lisa Servello

Customer Service Manager, NN, Inc., Power Solutions Group, Attleboro, MA

Lisa ServelloLisa has led the customer service team at NN's Brainin Advanced Industries site for 10 yr., ensuring that all of its customers’ needs are meet in a timely, courteous and professional manner. Her astute knowledge of customers’ products, attention to detail and leadership skills inspire confidence from customers, staff and the NN management team.

Leading by example, Lisa has allowed NN to maintain a high level of employee retention and confidence.

“Manufacturing has many career opportunities for women, from the production floor to upper management.  I started in reception and have worked my way up to customer service manager.  I have been fortunate to work with a very knowledgeable group of people who have shared their knowledge and experience, which has allowed me to grow within my company and the industry.”

Mary Simpson

Leveling Center Sales, Arku Inc., Cincinnati, OH

Mary SimpsonMary started working in the metals industry in 2008. She originally worked in design and sales of castings and later moved into the steel processing industry, then, in 2020, joined the Arku team. After only her second year at Arku, Mary became the primary salesperson for contract leveling. Her efforts in sales during the pandemic were successful enough to maintain the entire team, with no layoffs needed.

Mary was the key driver of leveling sales in 2022, helping the team to0 achieve its annual sales goals by June. The department already has achieved the largest annual sales figure in company history, and she has been the key figure in setting a new bar for future expectations and possibilities.

“Although my career in the metal industry started in accounting, moving into a manufacturing position has been a fascinating and rewarding career choice. Being a part of manufacturing allows a person to be a part of watching new products evolve, thus driving our economy and offering diverse career opportunities. It is great going to work and doing something you genuinely love.”

Sarah Simpson

Inside Sales and Purchasing Manager, CMC of Georgia, Toccoa, GA

Sarah SimpsonGoing on 9 yr. with CMC of Georgia, Sarah always has shown an ability to solve problems effectively and build knowledge of customers’ needs. She was promoted to inside sales manager after 2 yr., and often is recognized by customers as a knowledgeable source and effective communicator.

Sarah has been able to train her team such that she has added human resources to her responsibilities, and, when CMC of Georgia’s purchasing manager retired earlier in 2022, she also asked to take on this role. All of this has been accomplished even as she welcomed a son to her family, and now enjoys being the mother of a 2-yr.-old toddler.

With no knowledge of how to run a medium-sized fabrication business, Sarah learned quickly and trained new people to help her grow and take on new responsibilities. She leads by example, not asking anything of her team that she has not or would not do herself, offers her nominator, and in a short time she has built herself into a key member of the management team. Sarah's hard work has earned the respect of not only the colleagues she works closely with every day, but also those in on the shop floor.

“Diversity within the workplace is crucial. Each individual possesses his or her own strengths and weaknesses, which ultimately drive a successful, thriving business. Women play a large role in fostering a collaborative environment. I would recommend a role in manufacturing to women because of the sense of inclusion felt, the ability to thrive and the push to succeed.”

Missy Smith

Plant Manager, Kirchhoff Automotive, Lansing, MI

Missy SmithAfter gaining impressive supervisory production experience and certifications in the automotive industry, Missy joined Kirchhoff Automotive 13 yr. ago as a production manager in the company’s largest stamping plant in North America. After gaining experience in the Kirchhoff Automotive Production System, she was promoted to plant manager, leading a high-volume, multiple-program just-in-time plant.

While managing such a complex product line in the automotive industry can be challenging, Missy always embraces the task at hand in a positive manner, and her dedication to the team has proven to be a successful model. The plant led by Missy often is recognized as exceeding internal targets, her nominator offers. As a result, it has been chosen multiple times to introduce new systems, policies and procedures for Kirchhoff in North America. She leads the effort for Kirchhoff’s Digitalization 4.0 and innovative leadership methods. And, as she is a strong proponent for safety, her plant sets and maintains the safety benchmark.

“I learned at a young age that hard work and dedication is an important part in advancing in the Manufacturing Industry. I continue to develop my knowledge daily and encourage others to do the same.  I take great pride in being able to share my knowledge and mentor young team members that are just getting started in the manufacturing world.” 

Sherry Stepp

Global Marketing Manager, Kyzen, Nashville, TN

Sherry SteppWith 25 yr. at Kyzen, Sherry most recently was appointed as the initial president of the newly formed Manufacturing Cleaning Association—a prestigious and earned honor resulting from her devotion and hours spent in the development of this industry education organization. A tireless contributor, she is well-recognized in the metal-manufacturing industry due to published technical articles and trade-show presentations.

Sherry understands the market, the processes used to manufacture goods, and requirements to ensure that methods used meet EH&S concerns and perform at acceptable operational cost. And, she often mentors young ladies and men in Kyzen’s marketing department, putting forth effort to encourage the team to emulate her professional ethics, courtesy and customer service.

“A career in manufacturing is diverse and encompasses so much more than just working on a factory floor. All you have to do is look at this list of inspiring women receiving this award over the years to know that everything is possible. The best thing about a career in manufacturing is that the opportunities are only limited by your imagination, determination and willingness to learn and grow.”

Erin Wilson

Senior Learning and Organizational Development Specialist, JTekt North America, Greenville, SC

Erin WilsonErin began at JTekt nearly 13 yr. ago as a non-degreed administrative assistant, and was promoted to be part of the growing company’s new training department. She excelled as a natural in curriculum design and delivery as the unit evolved into the Learning and Organizational Development department.

Determined to complete a degree in Organizational Development, Erin did just that and was recognized for her credibility and commitment to drive company values. She later was promoted to senior specialist. Training in project management and her natural associate insights have created several project opportunities, and currently, Erin is being mentored in new responsibilities as preparation for her next promotion. Associate across all of JTekt’s plants recognize her credibility and commitment to equip and inspire them to gain effective results in their assignments.

For her part, Erin credits her success to having inspiring leaders such as Tom Pratt, “who believed in me, more than I believed in myself,” she says. “Tom demonstrates what true leadership looks like and has created a culture of servant leadership that I aspire to emulate. True leaders understand that desired results come through and with others.”

“Women bring diverse perspectives and artistic solutions to the workplace that encourages creative thinking, innovation and, ultimately, profitability. Women are multifaceted beings and we the have the ability to advance manufacturing with our ability to see things through a difference lens. This can only strengthen problem solving and boost synergy. If women have the desire to leave an imprint and inspire others to become more than they believe they are capable of, manufacturing is the place to achieve it. The opportunities are endless and awaiting greater gender diversity!”

Industry-Related Terms: Brass, Center, CNC, Core, Die, Fixture, Forming, Gauge, Grit, Lines, Model, Point, Run
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms

Technologies: Management


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