In the past 60 years, manufacturing has shifted tremendously; from positions driven solely by men to the liberation movement that brought wives and mothers out of their home to share in the labor force.
Today, Stainless Foundry & Engineering, Inc. proudly supports 21 women manufacturers in professions ranging from Investment Assembly and Metallurgical Project Specialist to Human Resource Manager and Accounting Personnel. These roles vary with experience and qualifications but are not separated by office and foundry.
SF&E interviewed some of these women to share in their experiences, as women in manufacturing, in celebration of International Women’s Day 2018; Lois Ranieri (Foundry Engineer), Victoria Brockhaus (Customer Service Manager), Francine Veguilla (Purchasing Agent), Lori McCulloch (Contract Specialist), Jenny Hall (Metallurgical Project Specialist), Donna Kittler (Investment Assembly Setup) and Jeanne Wagner (Technical Director).
SF&E’s women manufacturers are not shy of stepping out of the office and getting their hands dirty. Brockhaus will be seen working with the machinist at SF&E’s machine shop or tracking an order for a customer in the foundry. McCulloch, following in Hall’s footsteps (sisters and coworkers for over 20 years), both started as Metal Lab Technicians, both given the opportunity for growth, now improving SF&E’s Quality Departments capabilities by pulling test bars, updating the QMP’s and Quality Policy Manuals under the supervision of Mike Porfilio.
The women interviewed came into manufacturing either straight out of high school (Kittler with 30 years of manufacturing experience) or right out of college (Wagner with 23 years of manufacturing and metallurgical experience). Veguilla, one of the newest members with 8 months of manufacturing experience, joined SF&E to follow in her father’s manufacturing footsteps. Veguilla is a full time purchasing agent for office and maintenance supplies all the while obtaining her masters degree at Cardinal Stritch University. These women all hold critical roles at SF&E to contribute to its greatness.
Based on Kittler’s expertise, she was first to assemble SF&E’s largest and most complex investment casting which was assembled from 7 wax pieces. Over the years Kittler’s versatility has allowed her to perform all jobs in the wax room from injection press operator to lead person.
By working with our customer’s engineering team, Ranieri delivered a unique and efficient solution to one of SF&E’s highest volume customers for their new line of all-terrain vehicles. Ranieri is an example of how hard work and perseverance pay off. Initially hired as an engineering technician, she put for the extra effort to earn her position as foundry engineer.
Hall has contributed positive cost savings, by using an innovative technique to save the company, and its customer’s, time and money by using extra material for new heats.
In addition to being our technical expert, Wagner has used her role and ability to positively impact her coworker’s confidence, strength and knowledge. Her passion to see other’s succeed is evident in her daily interaction with employees.
With all the guidance and support these women have offered they still face difficulties in their roles. “We’re always on the outside”, mentioned a key contributor to the casting process. “Earning respect with male coworkers can be tough”, said a female who works above and alongside other foundry personnel. Another insight was the “foundry male mentality” that makes it sometimes hard to develop as a women in manufacturing.
Stainless Foundry & Engineering, Inc. would not be where they are today if these valuable women didn’t give manufacturing a shot. Manufacturers need more women who are smart and strong to bridge the gap to open more opportunities. This environment gives you the chance to watch something incredible unfold and it’s not just a man’s world, especially if you find something you enjoy doing and do it well.