Linetec People to Know: Jon Close

Jon-close-upQ: Tell me about your job

A: I am the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Linetec. My responsibilities include the oversight of our Outside Sales, Inside Sales, Estimating and Marketing functions. Making sure each of these areas works closely – not only with each other – but also with the rest of the organization is a large part of what I do every day. I also spend a significant amount of my time working with our customers and making sure we are doing our best to service them and meet their needs.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to joining Linetec, I worked in the automotive and aerospace finishing industry in Detroit. While many of the finishing technologies are similar, the architectural and automotive/aerospace industry is completely different. Architectural is primarily focused on performance and aesthetics, and the area of the automotive/aerospace industry I worked in was primarily concerned with functionality.

Jon-2013-golf-teamQ: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: What I enjoy most is working with our customers and with all of the associates at Linetec. By having a national presence, Linetec has a very diverse customer base. I enjoy learning and getting to know more about our customers, their businesses, and the regions in which their businesses are located. Also, our employees are second to none. Linetec’s employees work very hard and take great pride in their work. There is no doubt our employees make my job easier.

Q: What poses the biggest challenge for you?

A: The velocity of Linetec’s environment is incredible. Because we are a service company we have very little foresight of what is coming at us from a volume standpoint, and our customers’ order frequency and job sizes are not consistent through the year. Balancing these factors, while ensuring our quality, reliability and service remain at high levels, requires constant effort.

Q: Are there any finishing types or trends that you are seeing more of lately?

A: Not necessarily new, but finishes and colors that are or emulate natural metals remain very popular. Because anodize is a natural finish, we have seen it gain more and more favor in recent years due to the depth the finish offers along with its metallic appearance. Also, paint colors that resemble natural metals like zinc, pewter, copper, weathered steel and others are very popular with architects and specifiers.

Jon-horsesQ: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: Warm weather and all of the outdoor activities I will be able to do as a result of it.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: Anything  outdoors. I like biking, running, fishing, hiking, camping and anything that keeps me active and moving. I also love to travel with my family and showing them as many new places as possible. When the weather does not cooperate and I have to be indoors, I like woodworking.


Park City, Utah



Arches National Park



Linetec Golf Outing hula-hoop contest

Linetec People to Know – Ray Kroll

Ray---Half-Iron-7-17-16---2Q: Tell me about your job?

A: I am the Plant Manager of Linetec’s anodize facility. I am responsible for the day-to-day operations of the plant, as well as strategic planning. Based on sales forecasts – we determine staffing levels, shift structures, daily and weekly overtime, etc. I am also involved in Continuous Improvement activities such as 5S and Lean.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: I have spent my entire career in manufacturing, in several industries – textiles, screen printing and metal finishing. I grew up in the Midwest, but moved to South Carolina after graduating college. I spent nine years there. After three kids, we decided it was time to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to family. I worked for about three years at a company in Janesville, and three years at another company in Ripon, before moving to the Wausau area. I now have been with Linetec for almost 12 years.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: The people and the culture. Even with the growth challenges during the past several years, our team members always have amazing, positive attitudes. The willingness of our team to work overtime and to help wherever they’re needed makes my job significantly easier. I recently gave a plant tour and one of the people said they were amazed at how everyone smiles and says, “hi.” I’m told that it’s just not like that in other places. And although we have lots to do and our jobs can be stressful, people still like to joke around and have fun. It’s a great place to work!

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: Growth. Over the past four years, our growth has exceeded our capacity. However, we have responded to that with many expansions – adding a third anodize line, increasing Linetec Management Inventory (LMI), doubling our thermal capacity, offering a new shift structure, adding more packaging teams, etc. The past six months reminded me of how things were a few years ago – solid safety performance, good production performance, good OTC&C (on-time, correct and complete) performance, and strong financial performance. And I am convinced that this will be another exceptional year for our anodize team– with many much of the recognition we’ve frequently enjoyed in the past – VIP, meals celebrating our safety record and our OTC&C, and more!

Q: Are there any finishing type or color trends that you seeing more of lately?

A: We may only have a handful of colors available with anodize, but we are seeing more customer activity around our value-added services – such as bending, LMI, thermal improvement and special racking

Ray-web-golf-2011BeanBagGolf-(92)Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: Golf! Although I’m not a great golfer, I do enjoy getting out and playing during the summer months. I especially enjoy our Tuesday night league, which includes many current and past team members from Linetec and Wausau Window and Wall Systems.

Q: What is something people don’t know about you?

A: I have three grown daughters (two in college and one has graduated). With the additional free time on my hands, I have gotten into endurance racing – running and triathlons. I completed two marathons, and a half-iron distance triathlon last year. This year, I signed up for two more marathons, another half-iron, as well as the IRONMAN Wisconsin in September (2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run)!

Ray-family - BB - UWEC at UWSP 1-6-16 - 8c - Copy           Ray - Half Iron 7-17-16 - 1 - Copy

Linetec People to Know – Paul Bratz

Paul Bratz (2)Q: Tell me about your job

A: As Operations Manager my job is very exciting – there is no typical day. There is an element of day-to-day firefighting, but also a concentration on process improvement and planning for the future. Apogee’s guidance on Continuous Improvement and Lean has helped to focus our efforts. Our strong growth over the last few years has been exciting (and challenging) as well.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec I worked at American Wood Fibers in Schofield, Wisconsin. American Wood Fibers manufactures pet bedding from compressed bales of wood shavings, and wood flour that’s used primarily as a filler in plastics and adhesives. It’s an interesting process where wood waste from several of the door and window manufacturers in the area (many of which are Linetec customers) is processed into these useful items rather than landfilled or used as boiler fuel.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: The best part of my job is working with a wide variety of people in different capacities throughout the organization. I also enjoy working for a company with a track record of success and growth. Our culture and core values are one of the differentiators – they help make the tough days worth it.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: At the current time, labor availability is the largest challenge. We’re enjoying a strong economy today. Many businesses in our local community are hiring. To recruit and hire high-caliber people, we have to set a high standard and promote our strengths – culture, safety, stability and environmental responsibility.

Q: Are there any finishing type or color trends that you seeing more of lately?

A: White colors seem to be trending up at the current time. A few years ago, the trend was aluminum-flaked metallic colors with clear coats, but this has migrated more recently to mica-flaked “metallic” coatings without the need of clear top coats. Mica coatings are less sensitive than metallic’s to the flake orientation dynamics, helping to minimize the risk of metallic variation.

PaulBratz-flambeauQ: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I’m looking forward to summer activities. Golfing, biking, fishing and grilling out with friends are some of my favorites.

Q: What is something people don’t know about you?

A: Outside of work, I enjoy bicycling. I’m not a particularly gifted or fast rider, but I enjoy endurance riding. We have a local 24-hour mountain bike race that I usually participate in and I also do several rides of 100 miles or more each summer. I find cycling to be a great way to relax and enjoy time with friends, particularly when it involves a cold beer after long ride.

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Linetec People to Know – Jeff Fochs


Q: Tell me about your job at Linetec

A: I am the Regional Sales Manager for the East Central Region. I go out to visit new and existing customers ensuring customer satisfaction and trying to gain more business for Linetec. I also head up Linetec’s flat sheet program along with our purchasing department.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: My family owns a residential construction business, so I grew up building houses. After graduating, I was an outside sales rep for a local lumber yard and then moved to Weather Shield as a territory manager.

In 2007, I got the bug to move out West. I spent four years living in Seattle working for a Canadian company as a Territory manager selling architectural panels covering Washington, Oregon and California. In January 2012, I moved back to Wisconsin to be closer to family, and I started at Linetec in February 2012.

Q: Are there any color or finishing trends you are seeing in your territory?

A: I’ve been seeing more and more requests for unique finishes. Either odd colors, or textured coatings like our Terra Cotta. Our wood grain finishes are really gaining interest too.

Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I am looking forward to going to spring training in South Carolina with the Wausau West baseball team.

Q: What is something people don’t know about you?

A:  Most people outside the office don’t know that I love my crazy socks. It’s actually easier that way because I don’t have to try to match anything. Also, my dad and I make our own maple syrup.



Jeff’s fashion sense has been wearing off on  others at Linetec

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