Meet Production Machining's 2019 Emerging Leaders
Production Machining has discovered a lot of young talent in the industry, and we want to share the stories of 20 of these young leaders with you.
Although it has been said inspiration comes from within, it can be argued that motivation from others goes a long way in evoking action. After reading these stories of Production Machining’s 2019 Emerging Leaders, it’s easy to see why their nominators (their peers) chose them for this award. These 20 young professionals under the age of 40 are working hard to improve the future of manufacturing and are specifically blazing trails in the precision machined parts industry, educating students and colleagues along the way. These creative, driven, passionate, innovative and talented individuals are not only opening doors for themselves in their careers, but simultaneously opening doors for younger generations in the industry.
Every year Production Machining will select industry leaders under the age of 40 who are striving to be the next generation of leaders and innovators, and recognize them in the magazine.
Alex Puff, Manufacturing Engineer, Micron Mfg. Co.
Alex Puff has always enjoyed making and improving things and solving problems, even prior to his entry into his manufacturing career. That’s why it’s not hard to understand why he enjoys his job as a manufacturing engineer at PMPA active member company Micron Manufacturing Co. “What better place than manufacturing to be surrounded by taking chunks/bars of material and creating a usable product paired with endless opportunity for improvement?” Alex says.
Alex was hired at Micron in 2007 when he was 18 years old, making CAD part drawings, a skill he learned in high school at the local career technical center. By that time, he’d already had his own window cleaning business for two years. His entrepreneurial spirit carried over into manufacturing when, during the 2008/2009 manufacturing downturn, Alex created an LLC and found outside opportunities to use his growing CAD skills to draw for other local companies. In the meantime, Alex wanted to learn how to run the Swiss machines.
“It became apparent very quickly that Alex has amazing, inherent, practical engineering skills,” says his nominator, Dan Vermeesch, plant manager at Micron.
Within a few years Alex enrolled in night classes at the community college and began a degree in engineering. Shortly after his 21st birthday Alex was asked to become Micron’s estimator, and then his current position as manufacturing engineer followed a few years later.
Alex Puff, right, with his nominator, Dan Vermeesch.
Production Machining asked Alex some additional questions about himself. Here’s what he said:
PM: Tell me about a time when you had to think outside the box to complete a task. Were you successful?
AP: In my personal life I love to fish. Getting to the lake is a bit of a walk, especially with gear and a cooler, so I came up with solution of building a “cooler cart” to drive my equipment and beverages down to the lake. It was fun to make and served its purpose. At Micron, I’ve had to make fixed gaging that met a specific need for an ongoing material verification process.
PM: As an Emerging Leader, how do you hope to have a greater impact on the manufacturing industry and your community?
AP: Micron believes it has an obligation to support and help the precision machining industry, in general, and our community specifically. As a matter of fact, “Community Counts” is one of the values of the company. I see the impact that Micron has on the industry on a regular basis and how other companies impact us. For myself, I now oversee the engineering intern program at Micron, which offers the opportunity to reach out to the local high schools, community college and universities.
PM: Was there a pivotal moment in your career where you realized you chose the correct career path?
AP: I was asked to sit in the seat of the estimator—at the time it was intimidating—but Micron had faith in me. I felt I had to fill that role the best I could. When I realized that I could fill that role even though I was only 21, I knew I could do much more than I ever thought I could. I could take my natural drive to be creative and use it with all the things I had to learn in order to estimate to more fully understand how a business works.
PM: What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?
AP: It’s hard to imagine not being in manufacturing. My time on the Management Team over the past few years has put me on a path to help Micron move into the next generation of leadership. Leading the engineering intern program is another step in the direction of providing long term growth guidance for others.
PM: What would you say to a perspective young person to attract them to the field of manufacturing?
AP: Every day, everything we use started as an idea from someone, then another person had to design it, someone had to figure out how to manufacture it, then make it, and how to market and sell it. Also, trying to “wow” the younger generation with the machines, software/programs and other cool tech stuff we get to use.
PM: How has your PMPA membership been influential to your job or your company?
AP: PMPA is a great community to belong to. The conferences/seminars are a good learning resource, but even better is the networking with other companies. The PMPA forums are a great tool. It is a great community resource with more than 500 companies in the industry that contribute their experiences and knowledge.
Hayley Balmert, Machine Shop Administrator, Aviva Metals
Hayley began her machining career working in a Swiss lathe shop in high school. Then in 2016 she started working at Aviva Metals as a machining operator. Hayley's drive to learn more earned her a promotion to machine shop administrator in 2017. Taking her knowledge of how parts are made, she has developed the skills to document management, coordinate machine shop estimates, do job costing, maintain the shop ERP system, order material and review contracts. Hayley jumps on the opportunities to learn anything she can to improve setups, decrease downtime and keep machinists informed. She also takes initiative; if all machinists are assigned to other tasks, she figures out how to run a machine to get a job out in a timely matter. Hayley hopes to keep progressing her skills so one day she can become president of an aerospace precision machining company.
“I can't wait to see where she will take her leadership skills,” her nominator says.
Lindsey Bender, Senior Customer Support Specialist, Horn USA
When a customer calls PMPA technical member company Horn USA during normal business hours, they are greeted by Lindsey or another customer service representative on her team. In addition to order entry and answering phone calls, Lindsey handles customer complaints, accounts receivables, accounts payables, and much more. She is quick to volunteer when a co-worker needs help. Lindsey’s communication skills give her the ability to clearly and easily convey ideas, information and direction to her coworkers and customers. She is accurate and thorough, provides professional, yet friendly service, is highly motivated and excels at anything she sets her mind to, according to her nominator.
“I am nominating her because I believe she represents exactly what a good leader should be,” her nominator adds.
“My goal has been to understand the relationship between the manufacturer, the distributors and the customers in an effort to make those relationships as efficient and fruitful as possible,” Lindsey says.
David Burton, CNC Lathe Leader, Global Precision Industries
David started at Global Precision Industries (GPI) in 2015 as an entry-level CNC machine operator. He knew little about manufacturing, but showed up for work every day with a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn. David’s willingness to do whatever is necessary to make his company and his coworkers successful has advanced him in his career and will continue to do so. In 2017, he was asked to help run a program for a new customer on a complex twin turret lathe, which was a new piece of equipment at GPI. David learned everything possible about that job and worked with management to improve cycle time, cutting tool costs and gaging, and learned how to better train other operators for the job. Today, he is the “go-to guy” for that program and is responsible for all the new training and improvements for that job. He plans to further his education at a local college’s machine trade program.
“Dave has grown in his position so much and has helped develop those around him as well,” his nominator says.
Sonia Dumoulin, Production Coordinator, AccuRounds
Sonia Dumoulin graduated from a vocational high school in 2006 and was hired by PMPA technical member company AccuRounds shortly thereafter. After proving herself as a competent operator, Sonia quickly began setting up machines and has since worked her way up to production coordinator, where she evaluates performance of all production roles on the shop floor. The training Sonia has received at AccuRounds—technical, lean, supervisory, management, Shingo, and more—has enabled her to grow professionally and personally. In 2018, she began attending the weekly leadership meetings at the company. Last year, she attended a Business Leaders United Fly-In to Washington D.C., meeting HELP Committees in Congress as well as policy writers at the White House. Outside of her work, Sonia has volunteered in the community as a mentor to high school students, working career fairs, participating in STEM events, leading plant tours and collaborating with robotics teams.
“Sonia is a shining example of a person who carved out a career for herself. She’s come a long way and her potential is endless,” her nominator says.
Keith Goodrich, Product Specialist, CNC Software Inc.
Keith started his career in CNC machining in 2006 at a job shop in Connecticut. In four years, he worked up the ranks as operator, programmer and inspector before becoming shop foreman, overseeing 13 machinists and 17 CNC and manual machine spindles. His desire to learn required progression into some of the most challenging aspects of the industry. From there, he found a new opportunity as a manufacturing engineer making parts on vertical turning lathes while also honing his PMPA technical member Mastercam programming skills. Then, he accepted a role as an applications engineer with a machine tool manufacturer, where he trained customers using Mastercam. In 2014, Keith began working in his current position in CAD/CAM development at CNC Software, makers of Mastercam.
“Looking ahead, I’m excited for the future of the manufacturing industry,” Keith says. “I’m lucky to be in a critical position at such an exciting time. My role at CNC Software is allowing me to literally help shape the future of manufacturing.”
Graham Immerman, Director of Marketing, MachineMetrics
As part of the team that has delivered Industrial Internet of Things product to hundreds of shop floors and thousands of machines, Graham’s leadership stretches from PMPA technical member MachineMetrics’ internal team to executives of manufacturing plants and operators on shop floors across the world. He has a background in digital, social, traditional, account-based marketing, growth strategies and business development. Graham effectively and passionately communicates his ideas and vision in a way that is easy to understand. By empathizing with the people experiencing the change of digital transformation, Graham has been able to communicate the story of Industry 4.0 in a way that is inspiring instead of fear provoking.
“A true leader must be passionate, and Graham is contagiously passionate about marketing and manufacturing,” his nominator says. “Listen to him talk about manufacturing for a few minutes, and you too will feel like you can make a difference and have an impact on an industry that plays a role in all of our lives.”
Andrew Knapp, Applications Manager, Ellison Technologies
With 21 years of experience in manufacturing, Andrew has worked as a CNC machinist, programmer, supervisor and engineer in the manufacturing industry. Andrew is responsible for managing the engineering department at Ellison Technologies for all of Ohio and Eastern Kentucky. He is experienced with the programming of FANUC, Siemens and Heidenhain controls and solves complex manufacturing problems to help customers compete locally and globally. Andrew is well versed in multi-axis machines and has helped Ellison with some of the most complex applications. He first helps the sales staff choose the right platform and then completes stringent run-off requirements.
“Andrew excels not only at solving complex manufacturing problems, but also as a teacher,” his nominator says. “He has the ability to teach beginners in the trade all the way up to top programmers and setup men in our customers’ shops.”
Using his teaching talent, Andrew has taught machining classes at a local community college for the last eight years. “I believe one of the keys to the future growth of this industry is worker education,” Andrew says.
Nathan Neels, CEO, Harmonic Machine Inc.
As co-founder of Harmonic Machine Inc. almost 20 years ago, Nathan has displayed natural leadership skills through successive years when the company doubled in size. Nathan has a knack for motivating and encouraging his team members to give their best and is using modern technology to enable them to excel by maximizing efficiency. “Nathan leads many of his team members through training courses, and he continually invests in educating those around him,” his nominator says. He makes his team members feel empowered, cared for and respected, while giving them massive responsibility and creating an atmosphere where everyone feels ownership over their workspace.
Having recently obtained ISO:9001 certification, Nathan continues to push forward, embracing technology such as Industrial Internet of Things and automation. He also values being a constructive force in the local manufacturing industry and is currently working toward his MBA. “I lead a progressive company that values employees and has a modern and positive workplace culture,” Nathan says.
Justin Neumaier, Manager, E.J. Basler Co.
Justin has spent the last eight years at E.J. Basler Co. as a machine operator, then rapidly moved his way through the quality, sales, purchasing, information technology (IT) and project management departments. He started on second shift, where he quickly learned production CNC lathes. “He got our attention when he had several good ideas on how to streamline activities and increase production,” his nominator says. Within the year, Justin was given a position in the company’s quality department, where he mastered the final inspection of several hundred precision metal components. Justin has also been able to see many ways to save money for the company and has implemented a lean purchasing approach through material requirements planning. He also used his IT background to implement a new ERP system that led to his company’s growth. Because of this growth, E.J. Basler opened its first offsite expansion that Justin now manages.
“My desire is to build a solid culture by finding the sweet spot where people’s goals and company goals overlap,” Justin says.
Drew Peer, Regional Sales Manager, DP Technology
After earning a degree in mechanical engineering, Drew began his career in the manufacturing industry in 2011 as an applications engineer for DP Technology. He has since trained hundreds of customers on Esprit software, traveled onsite to manufacturers around the globe, learned to code and earned his Certified Machine Tool Sales Engineer (CMTSE) certification.
Drew also facilitated Esprit CAM software training for more than 750 new and existing customers across North America. He created and maintained the training curriculum and support strategies for the Mori Seiki Esprit Mapps project, which resulted in more than 8,000 licenses of Esprit being sold. His go-getter attitude and strong technical skills led to his progression into sales at the company. During his first year at his current position as regional sales manager, he grew his region by 35%. He has thrived in spreading his passion, knowledge and experience to others in the industry.
“We see a bright future for Drew and know he will be an excellent leader in the manufacturing industry for years to come,” his nominator says.
Jessica Presutto, Sales Coordinator, CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologies
Jessica began her career at CNC Indexing & Feeding Technologiesas an administrative assistant, taking care of all administrative duties, accounting processes, parts shipments and answering telephones, all while supporting the other employees. When the sales manager left the company, Jessica was thrust into the role of handling all sales and parts and service calls. Customers were sending her prints and schematics to quote accessory options, so she spent time with applications engineers to learn how to read these documents. After almost a year in this role, Jessica embarked on an overseas trip to visit all the OEMs to expand her product knowledge. Jessica has worked hard to expand the company’s customer base to not only include end users, but distributors and OEMs. Jessica has increased sales by 12% overall since she’s been selling for the company. She took on the challenge to expand her skills and knowledge to secure a better future for herself and to assist customers.
R.J. Reed, Regional Sales Manager – Midwest, Matsuura Machinery USA Inc.
R.J. is a third-generation machine tool salesman, and for him, a manufacturing career runs in the family. R.J. was selected by President Craig St. John to manage machine tool sales for the Chicago and Midwestern regions. He was recruited for his years of leadership in sales and project management, along with his desire to solve customers’ manufacturing challenges.
“R.J. is an energetic team player who specializes in acquiring new business, while maintaining relationships with a compelling focus on problem solving and partnership,” Mr. St. John says. Since earning his degree, he has merited many accreditations in professional sales and management and was named a Certified Machine Tool Sales Engineer (CMTSE). R.J. explains that his passion and dedication to machine tool technology, discovering solutions and helping customers achieve results drives every decision in his life. “I want to help customers by focusing on solutions and making their businesses better,” he says.
R.J. also volunteers his time giving back to the community through local organizations, including vocational programs, educational foundations and local children’s hospitals
Andy Reinwald, President, Ripley Machine Tool Co.
Andy took over ownership of PMPA active member Ripley Machine Tool from his grandfather in 2015. Since that time, he has worked to develop new business in areas that the company had never explored before. A new focus on using social media and the company’s webpage to drive sales has been a key factor to achieving new business. Andy also shifted Ripley’s focus to providing high quality production CNC turning. He has also added several new machines with live tooling and bar feeding capabilities to allow for less hands-on processes. This trend expanded even further when he installed the company’s first Swiss machine. These changes, coupled with cost cutting, has helped Ripley experience a 50% increase in sales in 2017, a 30% increase in 2018 and a 15% increase expected in 2019.
“It is clear that with selling the company to Andy, I have nothing to worry about; the future at Ripley Machine is very bright,” says Andy’s grandfather and nominator.
“I hope to continue to improve and grow Ripley Machine,” Andy says. “I am very excited to be involved in the future of manufacturing.”
Jason Schwartz, Southern Regional Sales Manager, Kyzen Corp.
Jason has had to learn various cleaning applications for his position at PMPA technical member company Kyzen. His technical background in chemistry and willingness to help the end user investigate and resolve cleaning issues has given him a positive reputation among his peers, and he has earned trust from his clients. Jason has traveled long hours at night and on weekends to be at a customer site, forgoing his personal time. He constantly provides technical input to numerous requests that go beyond his job description. Jason provides extra services, such as free environmental consulting, to those who request assistance in understanding government regulations. “As others watch people like Jason, they envy his desire to serve and will hopefully emulate his actions for the betterment of this industry,” his nominator says.
In the future, Jason hopes to help the manufacturing industry develop and implement more environmentally and worker safe chemical alternatives and processes. “As technology advances, the only way to adapt and innovate is by continuing to educate yourself from experts in fields other than your own," Jason says.
Hayley Serruya, Vice President of Operations, E. J. Basler Co.
Hayley started as an intern at E.J. Basler Co. doing various shop projects. Eventually she assisted with engineering and quickly learned the AutoCAD system. From there she studied the company’s quality systems and became a quality administrator, handling customer concerns. In addition, she trained and became a TS (IATF 16949) auditor, keeping the shop in compliance with this strict automotivestandard. While working as a customer quality liaison for the machine shop, last year Hayley graduated Summa Cum Laude from her Northwestern University class. She attended school at night and on weekends to get her degree in organizational behavior and business leadership, while still working full time. Hayley is currently vice president of operations at a 40-person machine shop that her company recently acquired. She says she is forever curious and committed to championing the narrative surrounding sustainability within manufacturing and the untapped potential of women.
“The wisdom and guidance that she provides is beyond what we see in others her age,” her nominator says.
Rachith Thipperi, Process Engineer, Pioneer Service Inc.
Rachith started at PMPA active member Pioneer Service in January 2018 as an intern without much knowledge about manufacturing. However, only a month into his internship, he was offered a full-time position as process engineer. After working with multiple teams, he excelled in his role, developing a dashboard tool that provided much-needed transparency and clarity to the quoting process. He learned the company’s enterprise resource planning system on the fly. He has a talent for catching problematic dimensional issues common to client prints, and his efforts have boosted his team’s efficiency and reduced errors. Rachith asks the right questions to understand the reasoning behind a current method, listens to his team members and almost always finds ways to improve it. He makes significant contributions to the company’s continuous improvement program. His insights extend to processes beyond production; he has bright ideas for the purchasing, customer service and sales departments as well.
“He has a bright future in manufacturing, and we believe we’ve only seen the beginning of what he will accomplish,” his nominator says.
Steve Yingst, Building 4 Manager and Continuous Improvement Manager, Flinchbaugh Engineering
As an engineer and lean expert, Steve applies the highest level of creativity to find new solutions to overcome issues that have historically plagued business performance and employee engagement at his company. He has a passion for safety and continuous improvement, making his plant the “shining star” of the Flinchbaugh facilities, his nominator says. Steve successfully led the largest project his company has embraced in the last decade: Within three months, a finished goods warehouse was transformed into a fourth fully functional manufacturing facility. Building 4 is a better version of the larger Flinchbaugh Engineering as a result of these efforts and the fact that Steve will do what it takes to earn a customer’s business. Outside of Flinchbaugh, Steve is a board member of SME in York, Pennsylvania, and is actively engaged in supporting STEM with local high schools, technical schools and colleges.
“Steve consistently demonstrates exceptional leadership ability, while delivering company leading financial results,” his nominator says.
Kyle Zabrensky, Inventory/Fulfillment Manager, Tsugami/Rem Sales, LLC
Kyle started at PMPA technical member Tsugami/Rem Sales about 10 years ago as a shipping/receiving/inventory clerk. During that tenure he learned the inventory systems, shipping systems, and how to interact with people of all different personalities and management levels. Kyle embraced all aspects of customer service in this position, routinely going above and beyond to make sure customers were delivered the correct parts, on time, every time. As the business continued to grow, Kyle began managing two parts coordinators daily, taking responsibility for the parts inventory and taking on a broader role in order fulfillment and customer service. Kyle has interacted with both the finance and information technology groups, which resulted in streamlining order processing and inventory management methods. He is a self-starter, often seeing a need for an improvement or change, researching the best methods to accomplish this, reviewing with upper management, and then implementing it.
“Kyle has a bright future ahead and is a true emerging leader in our company,” his nominator says.
Aaron Zarembski, Controls Engineer, Ecoclean Group
Aaron graduated from Michigan Technological University with a degree in electrical engineering technology and has since been interested in all industrial technologies. His career history includes working with robotic waterjet cutting, plastic welding, and currently at PMPA technical member SBS Ecoclean, working with parts washing machines. He has been involved in customer service as well as controls engineering since day one with Ecoclean. His nominator says, “Aaron is an outstanding problem solver and has been an invaluable asset for Ecoclean in every role he has taken on.” Aaron uses patience and efficient/effective solutions in order to satisfy customers while managing enormous pressure to keep production lines operating. He has an ability to apply PLC programming knowledge to a challenging automation process. Aaron is always looking at problems from a unique perspective and is great at thinking outside the box.
“In the future, I will seek to continue to develop and deploy systems and teams to drive customer uptime and satisfaction,” Aaron says.