Young professionals are a vital asset to the precision machined parts industry, and it is important to acknowledge those who are making strides toward shaping the industry’s future. Production Machining is recognizing our industry’s young talent who were nominated by their peers through our new Emerging Leaders program.
We surveyed shops and suppliers to find individuals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the precision machined parts industry, both in their business and in the manufacturing community. The recipients were chosen based on leadership and potential leadership, whether within their own companies or with involvement in the industry.
Production Machining will select a certain number of people in the precision machined parts industry each year who are striving to be the next generation of leaders and innovators and recognize them in the magazine. We will start the 2019 process early next year, so watch for information in our magazine and on productionmachining.com about how to nominate the next Emerging Leaders.
Jami Massey, CEO, C&H Enterprises
With a title like CEO of her family-owned business, one might assume that Jami Massey reached her lifelong goal of becoming the head of the company by always being focused on the business she was born into. But that is not exactly the case for Jami. In fact, for a long time she wasn’t convinced that working for her parents’ company, C&H Enterprises, a Silicon Valley precision machine shop with customers in the semiconductor and aerospace industries, was what she wanted to do. But like many kids whose parents own a business, she dutifully worked at the company while in school. Jami started in the administration department while she attended junior college, and she moved her way up to a position in the quality department, eventually becoming quality manager.
In that position, Jami brought the company into the 21st century by writing the procedures and elements of C&H’s quality management system. She also persuaded C&H employees to understand the importance of this procedure and explained that it was something they all must follow.
“Jami did an excellent job in convincing C&H employees that this was a new wave in the future of the company,” says Stephen Spacher, director of sales and marketing at the company. “She demonstrated her leadership and communication skills by being an excellent listener with obvious empathy that made employees feel they had been heard.”
Without intentionally searching for a position at the company, Jami says she felt comfortable in her quality management role. “Processes are what I appreciate the most about the business, so working in quality fit well for me,” Jami says.
At that time, she was also interested in ISO certification, so under her lead, C&H became ISO 9001 certified and AS 9100 certified for aviation. Even after completing this accomplishment, which took more than a year, Jami went back to school, still not ready to settle down in a career in manufacturing. She earned a degree in human development.
While continuing working at C&H, it didn’t take long for her to realize that she truly enjoyed working in manufacturing. She leaped from her position as quality manager to an executive position with the company. Although her human development degree seems unrelated to manufacturing, Jami says it has helped her immensely with her people skills and dealing with many personalities within the company and in the industry.
Last year, Jami became CEO of the 120-employee business that she has grown to love.
“As CEO, she continues to provide the motivation and energy to drive the company to new levels of production, while always taking care of the customer,” her co-worker, Stephen, says. “Jami is always considerate of her demands on her employees, and she makes sure she has given them a goal that can be met.”
Jami says she loves manufacturing because she enjoys the challenge of discovering what customers really want. “We start with a block of material, and oftentimes the customer doesn’t know what they want, so there are design elements to it,” she says. “There are so many creative minds that I work with that have to figure that out. They not only have to do it right but also efficiently. I love being around thinkers as well as the collaboration and allowing people to use what they know and encouraging them to grow.”
In her first year as CEO, sales at the company increased by 29 percent. “Jami always has an eye to the future, looking for new technology and better ways of doing things,” Stephen says.
Jami believes that the customer drives production, and only an extraordinary team determines success. Her strategy includes integrating her philosophy into the manufacturing industry that attracts ambitious leaders and creative thinkers under a collaborative framework. “This employee-based approach, coupled with the latest technology in machinery, robotics and data software, will stimulate development and growth within the organization, leaving a lasting impact in the industry.”
According to Stephen, it is a pleasure to work in a company with Jami at the helm. “She loves sharing her ideas and always enjoys a good laugh when things get too serious,” he says.
Parrish Castor, Director of Quality and Technology, DaCruz Manufacturing
Although Parrish’s background includes a degree in criminal justice, a brief stint playing minor league baseball and then working as an underwriter, he was destined for a career in manufacturing. Since his start at DaCruz, he has been involved in all aspects of the business and is known as the go-to person for organizing special projects. He is responsible for reducing the company’s tooling costs, regularly investigating machining challenges and creating solid relationships with customers and vendors. Parrish has attended lean manufacturing and Kaizen training classes, is an active member of PMPA and participates in STEM-focused activities in his community to raise awareness and interest in engineering among youth.
Manuel Merkt, President and COO, Hermle Machine Co.
Manuel began his career as an apprentice for a company in his hometown in Germany. He earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree, and eventually landed a job at Hermle in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since he moved to the States, he has impacted his local community by raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for German immersion students by launching an apprenticeship program. He has also been involved with the German American Chamber of Commerce, ensuring German companies succeed in the U.S. market. Manuel was recently recognized by the lieutenant governor and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development for his work in inspiring young individuals to explore careers in manufacturing.
Andres Barajas, Journeyman - CNC Machinist Programmer, Micron Mfg. Co.
Andres began his career in 2007 at Micron Mfg. Co., spinning chips and sweeping floors. He began learning about machining when he was given the opportunity to load bars into a machine and check the parts that were produced, even though he had never touched a machine tool before. In 2017, Andres graduated as Micron’s first journeyman CNC machinist programmer. While continuing to learn on the shop floor and taking machining classes every day, he is a single father raising a young daughter. He says machining has made him a better person and has given him confidence and a path to becoming an engineer.
Derek Briggs, Swiss Product Manager, Tsugami/Rem Sales LLC
Derek began his engineering career working on Tsugami machines at F&F Machine Products and then Bil-Mac Corp. In 2011, Derek joined Tsugami/Rem Sales as an application engineer and became engineering manager in 2015. Recently promoted to Swiss product manager, he is tasked with researching and implementing new technologies that integrate with Tsugami machines and improving the overall customer experience. When he is in the office, he can be found helping peers on the showroom floor and teaching training classes for distributors and end-users. Derek’s future aspiration is to assist in the improvement of Tsugami customer experiences.
Diana Peters, Executive Director, Symbol Training Institute
Diana is the founder of Symbol Training Institute and has led the facility to become a top NIMS credential provider. While providing hands-on training and job placement for her students, she strongly advocates for women's equality in manufacturing by promoting the profession to women. She founded and is currently president of Manufacturing Next, an organization that was created to promote manufacturing careers to women and youth. Diana also serves as the co-chapter president of Women in Manufacturing’s Illinois chapter and was a 2017 NAM/Manufacturing Institute Step Ahead Awardee as a leading woman in the manufacturing industry.
Janie Hughes, Quality Specialist, Horn USA
Janie is not afraid of a challenge; each time an opportunity is presented to her, she accepts the role with enthusiasm. Nine years ago, Janie was a distribution associate by day and a struggling singer-songwriter in the Nashville scene by night. Then she heard about a position opening at Horn USA, and that’s where her career began in manufacturing in 2010. She is especially devoted to engaging and supporting the next generation of machinists. She participates in PMPA’s NextGen Committee and Horn USA’s Mfg Day open house each year. In addition to being the company’s quality specialist, Janie is Horn’s health and safety coordinator.
Phillip Judt, Applications Engineer, Absolute Machine Tools
Phillip’s experience in the production turning industry began as a front-line machinist at a Swiss machine shop, eventually learning about CNC Swiss and CNC fixed headstock screw machines. Upon joining the team at Absolute Machine Tools, Phillip has been instrumental in assisting companies to advance from cam-operated equipment to CNC screw machines. He provides training for programming, setup and operation of sliding and fixed headstock, multi-axis, multi-slide equipment and CNC mill-turn centers for all of Absolute’s production turning customers. He is energized by problem solving and the implementation of new and innovative ideas to solve old issues, and he enjoys training others to do the same.
Kyle Detterbeck, Vice President, Lester Detterbeck Enterprises Ltd.
Having experienced working on the shop floor where he started learning about machining, Kyle has a thorough understanding of the industry and the challenges of efficient part production. He joined the family business in 2008 as a member of the fifth generation of Detterbecks in manufacturing, eventually working his way up to the front office. He cultivates a new perspective to a very mature industry. He is always eager to try new ideas, and he pushes the company to improve. He is an active member of both the PMPA's NextGen committee and its Management Update committee. Outside of the business, Kyle is a volunteer fireman and a first lieutenant for his fire department.
Justin Pluff, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Marshall Manufacturing Co.
Justin joined Marshall Manufacturing as an apprentice, and after several years of study and experience, he has proven to be instrumental to the company. He helped transition it from a screw machine shop to a CNC Swiss facility while also becoming a trainer and mentor to many of his co-workers. Justin is inspired to dedicate much of his time to training because he wants to give back to an industry that trained him well, and he enjoys seeing the successes of those he has trained. He hopes to pursue difficult machining challenges and pass on the knowledge gained to promote precision machining as not only a trade but an art.
Aaron Wiegel, President, Weigel Tool Works
Aaron started working at Wiegel Tool Works when he was in grade school, and in 2001, he officially joined the family business his grandfather founded. He became co-owner and president of the metal stamping company in 2010, and in partnership with his sister and his brother, Aaron has grown the business and tripled revenues. In the past year, he established and became president of MSA-Wiegel, an international joint venture created to further add to the company’s manufacturing capabilities and serve customers globally. Aaron is actively involved in several manufacturing associations, and he pushes for any chance to attract and retain talent in the manufacturing industry.
Kelly McCambridge, Controller, Orrco
Kelly started her career at Orrco in 2014, after earning her degree in supply chain management from Penn State University and then working for a large chemical company. This represented a new opportunity for her to combine her background in the family business (she is the first member of the fourth generation), education and work experience to advance the company. Through her efforts, she has revamped Orrco’s inventory management system and has been an expert at cementing relationships with buyers and purchasing agents. Her most recent accomplishment has been spearheading the revamping of the company’s quality control program. As a result, Orrco has earned its first ISO registration.
Jonathon Wilyat, CMM Quality Manager, Camcraft
Jonathon began his career at Camcraft two years ago with little experience in the industry. He started on the shop floor, learning about the machines, processes and goals of the company. Jonathon learned the CMM quickly and in no time was showing his co-workers all the features within the software that they didn’t know existed. He took training courses on GDT and Solidworks and is now one of Camcraft’s top Solidworks users. Johnathon taught himself 3D modeling, and as a result, he is assisting in the design of several manufacturing processes on the shop floor. Because of his determination and willingness to learn, he won’t give up on a challenge until he finds a solution.
JR Lang, President, Midwest Turned Products
JR took a leap of faith and started his own business, Midwest Turned Products (MTP), in 2006 after holding technical positions at several companies. MTP quickly grew into a large-scale machining and manufacturing business. JR says he’s been blessed with the ability to provide employment and forge partnerships with many eager and hardworking individuals and with so many great customers and vendors in the CNC machining industry. In his community, JR is involved in two business leadership groups, where he shares his expertise and experience to help other emerging leaders develop their talents and strategies.
Ryan Ervin, Manager, Direct Sales – Americas, Hardinge Inc.
Ryan’s career started at Hardinge 12 years ago after earning a degree in business administration. His first position with the company was in marketing, focusing his efforts on e-commerce solutions, digital marketing and website management. Now in his sales position, Ryan is customer-focused, driven to provide good quality products and services. He understands how important customers are, and he knows how to keep them happy. He works through processes and procedures to streamline the most efficient process. Ryan is actively serving on multiple committees for PMPA and attends AMT conferences regularly to stay abreast of the latest happenings in the manufacturing industry.
Andrew Prestigiacomo, Sales and Marketing Manager, Global Precision Industries
Andrew began working at Global Precision Industries (GPI) in 2010, as a senior in high school. His first job was to run production on a CNC vertical mill. He learned to operate multiple machines, use measuring instruments, change tools, read prints, and so on. He went to college during the days and worked part time at GPI during nights and weekends. After he received his bachelor’s degree, he was promoted to the company’s sales and marketing manager in 2014. Since then, GPI has increased revenue by more than 300 percent, has grown from 11 to 48 employees and has purchased multiple pieces of new CNC equipment.
Nate Ruhenkamp, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ashley Ward Inc.
During his junior year in college, Nate worked as an intern at Ashley Ward Inc. He distinctly remembers the smell of cutting oil as he walked through the door for his interview, and he was immediately hooked. He was hired at the company after he graduated and has been there for seven years. Having no formal engineering or technical training, he has learned about manufacturing through mentoring and industry engagement. He is a member of the PMPA and is involved in initiatives such as program development for National MFG Day. Nate has a goal of leading a machining company while educating youth about manufacturing careers.
Carina Nehring, Human Resources Manager, Harmonic Machine Inc.
Carina moved to Canada about 10 years ago from Germany, and since then, her career path has led her to Harmonic Machine Inc., where she has created a company culture and work atmosphere that is positive and motivating. Carina has managed to hire, train and lead a group of about 50 people through some challenging years. She has developed several HR policies and is currently working on an aggressive plan to roll out a leadership training program. She has also brought together diverse individuals with various skills and backgrounds to create a cohesive team that works together smoothly. Carina enjoys learning more about leadership and management in her spare time.
Jim Preston Jr., V.P., Meier Screw Products and Manufacturing Co.
As a fourth-generation machining industry family member, Jim has a passion and energy for the industry. Working in a small shop with 10 employees, Jim assumed leadership at Meier Screw Products in many areas when he began working there 13 years ago. The company was once a Brown & Sharpe machine shop, but through his leadership, it has upgraded to faster CNC Swiss, HMCs and VMCs in only a few years. Jim is currently on the PMPA board of directors, has served on the PMPA information technology committee and is a founding member of the association’s NextGen committee. He finds great satisfaction in giving back to his employees and community.
To nominate an Emerging Leader for our 2019 awards, visit this link.
This year’s 10 Emerging Leaders have many character traits in common that shine well beyond the buildings in which they are employed. Their leadership skills and willingness to help others grow within their skill sets has proven that the precision machining industry’s future is bright in the hands of these talented individuals.
Nathan’s unique knack for investing in the growth of his more than 50 employees creates a workplace made up of people who feel empowered, cared for and respected.
Manuel was once a young factory worker in Germany who navigated his way to where he is today—the president and COO of an international manufacturing company based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.