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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

PMA Member Spotlight -- Beth Weissenrieder-Bennis, Weiss-Aug Company, Inc.

Each month, the PMA Member Spotlight features an outstanding member sharing his/her insights into the latest industry trends and technologies.

PMA is pleased to highlight Beth Weissenrieder-Bennis, director of strategic planning and marketing for Weiss-Aug Company, Inc., East Hanover, NJ. Weiss-Aug provides custom insert molding, precision medical and automotive metal stamping , and assembly solutions. With more than 40 years of experience serving the automotive, medical, electronic and semiconductor industries, the company's experts in design, engineering, tooling and manufacturing excel at providing precision manufacturing through innovative design.

Hear Beth's thoughts about technology challenges facing metalformers, finding skilled workers, how social media works within her company's marketing strategy and more!

Beth Weissenrieder-Bennis, 
Director of Strategic Planning and Marketing, 
Weiss-Aug Company, Inc.
Q:  Which job classifications are the most challenging to find skilled workers?
A:  Die makers and die technicians, tooling designers, and new product development engineers. We are not relying on outside resources to provide a crop of talent in these areas. We’ve always had an apprenticeship program, and are now expanding it to include die technicians due to the shortage of talent. Companies have to invest in educating and training workers. 

Q:  What is the biggest technology challenge metalformers face today?
A:  Increasing speed of bringing up new programs while maintaining quality. For our medical device customers specifically, time to market is everything. During the development phase, a part design can change by the hour, and the need for fast prototype fabrication technologies is necessary to keep pace. We also are pushed to continually reduce tooling lead times and meet early production start dates. Customers want things faster, but they don’t want to pay more or sacrifice quality. 

Q: What is the best conference or seminar you or your employees attended in the past year and why?
A:  We had two new managers attend the Management Development Academy (MDA). Both of these managers were promoted from within the organization from a non-management role.  The MDA not only helped them to develop management skills, but also their industry knowledge and exposure. 

Q: What is on your wish list for your shop, next year (i.e., a new piece of equipment)?  
A: Again with the need to increase speed, we’ve begun the process of bringing our tooling capabilities to the next level with a recent investment in a Yasda hard mill. Next year we will add an Amada DVI profile grinder, and CNC form grinder. These machines will enable us to work more quickly and accurately from solid models.  These files will then be sent to the CNC machines to grind/mill extremely tight tolerance punches, and split die sections.  We also will have the ability to fabricate our own electrodes for tooling.  The new CNC room will be a self-sustaining closed-loop system that will include a CMM and have reverse-engineering capabilities. 

Q: What are the advantages/disadvantages of being a next-generation metalformer?
A:  This is a tough question. The biggest disadvantage I think are that the odds are stacked against next-generation leaders. The Family Business Institute has the following figures: “Only about 30 percent of family businesses survive into the second generation, 12 percent are still viable into the third generation, and only about 3 percent of all family businesses operate into the fourth generation or beyond.”

The biggest advantage is the ability of the level of experience one can gain from an early age. Many next-generation leaders worked as youngsters during the summers at the plant. I know that I’ve worked in every department, from accounting to quality. As a result, I have a ton of respect for each function and understand that it’s all integral to our success.  This coupled with the exposure to leadership from an early point in one’s career can help prepare a next-generation leader.

Q: How does social media work within your company’s marketing strategy?
A:  Twitter/FB is good place for quick headlines to advertise job opportunities and industry/company news. LinkedIn is more valuable in that posting relevant articles and updates tend to get more views and help to build a network of new contacts and potential new customers.

Q: What are the top three songs on your play list right now?
A:  My almost 7-year-old daughter is the DJ in my car, so all we listen to is Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry. I’m just happy to not have to listen to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat anymore!

Thank you for your participation, Beth!

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