Linetec People to Know: Brian Stratton

Q: Tell me about your job

Wisconsin Safety Council 2018

Linetec wins Wisconsin Corporate Safety Award – April 2018

A: I manage Linetec’s safety program. Sending our associates home safely at the end of their shifts and keeping the company in compliance is the goal. To accomplish this I am extensively involved in the development of safety programs, equipment and process modifications, incident trending and prevention, incident reporting and investigation, safety awareness, safety training, financial investment, risk assessment, audits and attainment of safety objectives.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Working in a manufacturing environment has comprised my entire professional career. I have held the positions of production supervisor, plant manager and safety manager. I find it interesting that each company I have worked for was involved with windows to a certain degree, including window treatments, wood and vinyl window fabrication, and architectural finishing.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Having worked at Linetec for nearly 16 years, I no longer consider coming here each day to be a job. Keeping our associates safe has become more of a mission. Linetec maintains a safety culture that is truly one of the best I have ever seen. Being part of it is what I find most rewarding. We have a good thing here!

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: Looking into that crystal ball. Trying to figure out and prevent that next significant incident or injury. Fortunately, as of late, our associates have made that part of my world much easier. The best safety device in the world is a safe worker and we have a lot of them.

Q: Are there any safety issues or recurring trends that you are seeing more of lately?

A: Fortunately, Linetec safety trending as of late has been very positive. After averaging an incident rate of 2.6 for five years, rates have dropped to 0.86 in 2017 and we’re currently at 0.43 so far through 2018. If you look at our current incident graphing, you will see we need to concentrate on hand, arm and wrist injuries. Some back strains in there as well.

BrianS (1)Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I really love to hunt and fish. To me there is nothing more peaceful than an evening in the bow stand or an early morning out on a lake. I try to go on a hunting or fishing trip each year. Those are the things I look forward to.

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

A: I am a big nostalgic rock junkie. I love 70’s and 80’s bands.

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: I would go up to the family cabin in Tomahawk and chill.

BrianS (2)Q: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: Grandchildren are now a part of my life. I find it amazing how just looking at a picture of them can brighten up any day. A co-worker once scolded me for having the pictures of those kids behind me on my file cabinet. She said, “Set those pictures on the window sill right in front of your nose.” Those were great words of advice!

 

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Linetec People to Know: Mike Bridenhagen

Mike BridenhagenQ: Tell me about your job

A: I manage the Inside Sales/Service team, which includes sales and service representatives, order and sample coordinators, estimators, technical specialists, and leadership. Our job is to work with our customers to ensure their satisfaction. We learn their needs and expectations and create programs that fulfill their quote requests and orders. We work with our outside sales team, scheduling department and production areas – every day – to follow orders through from start to finish, and to solve any concerns that may come up along the way.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: I have been in sales and customer service leadership positions prior to Linetec. I’ve worked for an eclectic mix of companies, but the common thread has been a strong desire to provide superior product and customer service, and exceed customer expectations. I’ve had the privilege to work with world-class organizations and world-class people, and have learned many invaluable lessons and tenets from them. My goal is to impart these to our team members the best I can and ensure our core values are met for both our customers and our team.

MIkeB-BigBoyQ: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: There are so many things I enjoy about working at Linetec. The desire to do things right and not cut corners, to treat associates fairly and reward them for doing their jobs well, the commitment to a safe workplace, the family atmosphere, the lack of a steep organizational chart, the fun activities, community involvement – the list goes on and on. But if I had to pick one thing, it would be the dedicated and caring team I get to see every day. They make it fun to come in every morning!

Q: What poses the biggest challenge for you?

A: I’m fairly new to the industry so learning the technical side of what we do can take time. It is fascinating, though, and it has been a whole new eye-opening experience for me.

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

A: We are seeing an increase in interest in some of our more “exotic” finishes, such as our woodgrain finishes, brushed stainless anodize and terra cotta textured coatings. However, our multitude of anodize and paint options, and the quality of our work continues to be second to none!

MIkeB-golferQ: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: Summer! This past winter has been exceedingly protracted in Wisconsin. It’s been one of the coldest and snowiest winters I can remember. Wisconsin is such a beautiful state, and it’s nice to get out and enjoy it when the weather is nice. But in Wisconsin, our weather can change very quickly, so we’ve learned to take the good with the bad. Hopefully, our good weather will last well into fall this year!

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

A: My favorite band is Rush – I have been a fan since the mid-’70s. I saw them five times in concert and I’m sad that they are no longer touring!

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: I would take my wife back to Banff, Alberta. I love the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian Rockies are absolutely beautiful. After a weekend of those pristine sights and wonderful fresh air, I would be ready to go back at it with renewed vigor!

MIkeB-muskieQ: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: A lot of things make me happy because I try to be a positive person. Thinking about my wife and kids always cheers me up because family is the most important part of my life and I love doing things with them. I also love sports and outdoor activities: golfing, fishing, bowling, basketball, trail running, mountain biking, travelling, landscaping and lumberjacking. If I can do any of these things, I’m usually pretty happy! Oh, and I love to eat. There’s an old saying: “The more I run, the more I can eat.” That’s me!

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Linetec People to Know: Alex Jazdzewski

Alex-fam2Q:  Tell me about your job

A:  I’m the Senior Buyer for Linetec. I’m responsible for the daily procurement of the materials Linetec needs to do business – from both a tactical and strategic standpoint. I spend a good portion of my day in the tactical role, which include helping solve problems with the Linetec team, responding to internal purchase requisitions by our ERP system and by our associates to order materials, analyzing data on consumption of materials, and working with our vendors to ensure that purchase orders come in on time and complete to support our operations. The rest of my day, I’m in the strategic mode – working closely with the Linetec Sales and Operations team along with our vendors to strengthen our supply chains. Some of the strategic tasks that I work on include: negotiating purchase contracts, researching different avenues of supply, preparing RFQs and RFPs, and analyzing our supply chains to identify risks and mitigate them.

Q:  What did you do prior to Linetec?

A:  I worked for a local company in Central Wisconsin for almost 12 years that specialized in component building systems for residential housing. We could take almost any set of blueprints and design the floor, wall and roof system in components that were built in a factory and then assembled together on the jobsite. I held a number of positions with that company including drafter, structural technician, estimator, inside sales manager, production scheduling manager, field operations and logistics, and ultimately, procurement and supply chain management.

Q:  What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  The feeling of accomplishment when Purchasing assists the Linetec team in getting the job done. Working alongside such a great team of employees is very fulfilling and I’m proud to be able to support them in my role.

Q:  What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  The speed at which Linetec operates is second to none. As such, a major challenge for procurement is to make sure that we align with vendor partners who can provide us with high-quality products with short lead-times. We have a great group of vendors who have a deep understanding of Linetec’s operating environment – and we’ve developed very solid partner-based relationships with them. We can count on our vendors to get us what we need when we need it for our customers.

Q:  Is there anything new that purchasing has brought to Linetec lately?

A:  To speed up the service to our associates and our customers, Purchasing has pursued services that promote speed of transactions. In the past, the time between submitting a purchase requisition, placing a purchase order and delivery of that order could’ve taken 24-48 hours – or more. We now have a large number of vending machine on our shop floors that put tools, PPE and other production consumables at our associates’ fingertips – at the point of use. We also have increased the type and amount of vendor-managed inventory (VMI) and consignment inventory on our floors to ensure that our team has what they need whenever they need it. QR-coded supply bins and apps on mobile devices allow people to reorder supplies whenever they need them. We are even investigating RFID-controlled inventory lots to allow our vendors to quickly identify inventory on the floor and actively manage their production level to ensure Linetec’s supply.

alex-fam4.jpgQ:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  This summer! My wife Andrea and I just purchased property in the country on which we are planning to build a new home this year. I grew up on a family dairy farm in the country, but moved into the city when Andrea and I were married. We’ve lived in the city now for almost 14 years. We are excited to move back out into the country!

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

A:  I enjoy running and ran four half-marathons in three months last year. I’m planning another couple half marathons this year. I enjoy the challenge of pushing myself to do something that just seems almost impossible to do. My dad and I also dig the graves for our church.

Alex-famQ:  If Linetec gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A:  My family and I enjoy camping and traveling immensely. We’d probably hook up the camper and take the time to go to Door County, WI. We would enjoy the area by hiking the great state parks there, some wine tasting and having some fun around the campfire.

Q:  What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A:  My kids! My son John is 9 years old, and my daughters Arianna and Ava are 7 and 5 respectively. They have great personalities and make me smile every time I think about them.

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Linetec People to Know: Christian Neumann

ChristianNeumann-at-work-smallQ:  Tell me about your job

A:  I was recently awarded the shipping/receiving & packaging supervisor position in the Anodize plant. My job consists of leading the shipping/receiving and packaging team, helping with day-to-day tasks, updating our many packaging work instructions, working with the supervisors in other areas, working on continuous improvement projects, and much more!

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec, I obtained my bachelor’s degree at Minnesota State University (MSU) Mankato and started my career at UPS as a Preload Supervisor. It proved to be a bigger challenge than expected transitioning from logistics to manufacturing, but a very rewarding one.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  My favorite part of my job is working with all of the great people we have here at Linetec. I have a great team of hard-working employees and I really enjoy interacting with them every day. We also have a great management team that strives for excellence, but likes to have fun while doing so. The people really make the difference here.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  There is so much to know in the position that I recently started. I started my career at Linetec as a Production Supervisor on the anodize lines. In shipping/receiving and packaging, there is so much to know about each of our customers, as each company has different requirements and needs for getting their material delivered safely.

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

A:   The color trend that really catches my eye is the copper anodize finish that we offer. The color is unique and it looks so cool when it goes up on a building. I love seeing the projects when they are completed, I wish there were more in our area so I could look at it more often!

ChristianNeumannQ:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  After six years together, my fiancé and I are tying the knot. We’re getting married this summer in June, and I’m really looking forward to that day. We’ve done a lot of planning over the past year and I can’t wait to enjoy the day and the vacation/honeymoon that will follow. We are starting with a weekend in Chicago, and then will be flying down to St. Lucia to enjoy the sun, ocean, and some golf!

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

ChristianNeumann-pilotA:  When I entered college, my initial plan was to become a commercial pilot. I started at MSU Mankato in their Professional Pilot program, where I earned my private pilot license and instrument rating. After further consideration, I decided against that career path so I could pursue something that would provide a better family life. I do know how to fly small, single-engine airplanes and I miss it greatly. My favorite part of that experience was flying at night; it was always so calm and the cities and sights always looked so incredible. As for now, I would love to obtain a private pilot – glider rating, so I could continue to enjoy this hobby.

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: It would depend on the time of year. If it were summer, I would use that time to hit the golf course and to go to the cabin in Minocqua. I’m really looking forward to some fishing and swimming at the lake this summer. I also have plans to improve my golf game this year. In the winter, I would use that time to go skiing at Granite Peak and sample a few craft beers at some breweries in the area.

ChristianNeumann-footballQ: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: When the Packers won the Super Bowl and when the Badgers went to the Final Four. I’m an avid Wisconsin sports fan and I love following our state’s football and basketball. I’m crossing my fingers for Badger football to make it into the College Football Playoff this year!

 

Linetec People to Know: Jane Kessel

Q: Tell me about your job

Kessel-webA: As the head of HR, I’m responsible for developing and managing many different HR programs. Our team makes sure Linetec is supported with the people resources – number of people, skills and engagement – it needs to service our customers. This means I get involved in developing and implementing a wide range of recruiting initiatives, overseeing programs for our associates to make Linetec a great place to work, developing skills and retaining talent. My team also does lots of company-wide communication. We’re very big on communication at Linetec!

Lately I’ve been working on helping Linetec reorganize our structure to support company growth. Every day I’m doing something with hiring and recruiting. The cool thing is that every day is different. Some days we’re getting the critical tasks done like payroll processing or new hire orientation done. Other days we are planning recognition celebrations, planning training programs, working through a difficult employee problem, or developing policies to help the business run better and to ensure a good employment experience. Most people don’t realize it, but there is also a fair amount of financial and data management in HR and lots of software applications to oversee and manage – HRIS, time keeping, performance review, document management, etc.

I’m lucky to have a team of top-notch HR professionals who work hard to support our associates and managers. They make my job easier. Having been with Linetec for 16 years, I’ve seen the economy give us occasional ups and downs, but overall, Linetec has been mainly ups. With a lot of growth in the business, our customer base depends on our team of associates. It’s also been a tremendous opportunity for my personal growth, through both continuing education and lots of on-the-job experiences, including several assignments outside of HR. We have a very open door environment, so we get a lot of Linetec associates stopping in or calling with questions each day as well.

The laws that HR has to oversee change constantly, so I also need to make sure I’m staying current on any recent developments that could affect Linetec.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec, I was the HR manager at Greenheck for 10 years. Before that, I worked in HR for a general aviation company in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’ve worked in HR for almost 30 years. I started out in pay, benefits and payroll, and then moved into roles more focused on employee/labor relations, development and HR strategy.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: My best days are when I’m in direct interaction with Linetec associates – whether its working with them to address a question or concern, attending a fun company function, or just talking with them in the break room about what’s happening with their lives or their jobs. We have such amazing associates at Linetec. They are smart, engaged and really care about the company and our customers. The people really are the reason this is such a great place.

I’m also passionate about continuous improvement. I love new, challenging projects and feel really satisfied if we can put something in place that saves people effort, frustration or improves the experience people have interacting with HR. The best part of HR is that we have regular contact with all levels of the organization, our corporate headquarters and the community – we get involved in a lot interesting stuff!

Janek-6webQ: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: The current low unemployment levels are a real challenge as we continue to grow and hire. There are just more jobs than people right now. Wisconsin unemployment is at an all-time low. It helps that we have a lot to offer compared to other companies – pay, benefits, culture, and that we are willing to train people from other industries. Linetec’s core values create a unique culture that really attracts people, but we also have to put a lot of time and effort into each hire to make sure they fit the Linetec values-based environment.

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

A: There is a lot of technology being used in HR these days. It seems everything has an app. We continue to find ways to use technology to streamline processes, but also keep that personal touch that has made us successful. It’s an interesting balance.

People also look at their careers very differently than they did years ago. Associates and candidates want new challenges and lots of training and development. They won’t stay in the same job for many years the way prior generations did. This is exciting because we can employ people in different capacities. It also sometimes can be difficult to handle the movement in the company, and to provide the development and opportunities fast enough to meet everyone’s needs.

Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: Spring!

JaneK-3webQ: What is something people don’t know about you?

A: I’m a BIG University of Nebraska Cornhusker fan – that’s where I went to college. Actually, most people do know that about me. Also, I come from a big family. I grew up with 10 brothers and sisters. Family is important to me and I have a lot of it!

Q: If Linetec gave you a surprise three-day paid break to rest and recuperate, what would you do with those three days?

A: Golf, kayak, ride my bike and cook.

JaneK-webQ: What always cheers you up when you think about it?

A: My kids! I have a son and daughter – both grown and recently married. I’m very proud of them and their spouses. They are all talented, young professionals who bring a lot of fun and support to my life.

 

Linetec People to Know: Scott Spaid

Scott-Spaid-(2-web)Q: Tell me about your job

A: I represent Linetec as the Northeast Sales Manager. I travel up and down the East Coast looking for new finishing opportunities, as well as servicing existing accounts.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: I have always been a salesman. Prior to selling exclusively for Linetec, I represented a company that produced commercial skylights and residential solariums. Before that, I represented an aluminum composite material (ACM) manufacturer.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: I enjoy bringing on a new customer. Our sales cycle is very long so it is very rewarding when a prospect turns into a customer. I also enjoy the interactions with so many different people from so many different backgrounds.

Scott-Spaid-(1-web)Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: Traffic. Getting around the populated East Coast is a real challenge; a typical two-hour drive can easily turn into a four-hour event.

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

A: I am seeing more and more bright whites, plus mica-flake “metallic” finishes.

Scott-Spaid-(3)Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: .I am looking forward to improving my golf swing with lessons, which were a birthday present from my wife.

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

A: I have camped in every state but six,  plus six Canadian provinces, on a nine-month cross-country trip with my brother.

Linetec People to Know: Dale Burford

Burford-webQ:  Tell me about your job

A:  I’m a Senior Technical Engineer. My job entails working on processes to make improvements, troubleshooting problems that occur during production, and acting as a backup to our Environmental Compliance Engineer, Dave Linden.

I also talk and visit with customers and help them with issues they might be having in their processes or in the field.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec I worked as an engineering supervisor at a water treatment chemical manufacturer in East St. Louis, Illinois. I managed a plant of 25 people and we manufactured water treatment chemicals in bulk and filled railcars and bulk trucks.  We serviced many Midwestern municipalities and large factories so that they could treat their waste water as well as drinking water for large cities.

Burford2-webQ: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  I have always loved working with people. I enjoy working on teams to tackle problems. I’ve found the work ethic in Northern Wisconsin to be second to none.  Some of the people here inspire me with the commitment they have to their work-a great sense of pride in most everybody.

I love the sense of humor I’ve found in the people from Northern Wisconsin….something in the water up here?

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  Winter

Understanding the thick Northern Wisconsin accents….just kidding

As I sit here trying to think of an answer……only winter comes to mind!!!!!

I need to pick up a winter sport instead of binge watching Game of Thrones again.

Q: What is the biggest change you’ve seen over the years of doing your job?

A:  The growth for sure. I’ll have been here for 15 years in January and I’m still in awe of the size of the facility now…it’s awesome. Another thing is that I used to know most people, now I see new faces, and people, all the time. That’s a good thing…I was getting tired of all the old faces 🙂   For example, Denny Helgeson, in Paint Applications, celebrated 39 years  with Linetec a few weeks ago. I was telling some people in QA and one fellow said, “Wow, I wasn’t even born when he started here!”  I told Denny and we bold had a good laugh….

Burford3-webQ:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  Summer. Cooking out. Swimming. Site seeing. One of the reasons my wife and I love it up here is it’s so beautiful. Wausau is a beautiful city.

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

A:  I’ve played guitar most of my life. I was in a band for many years in Milwaukee. You might say I’m a Rock Star.

Dale is also our resident Sumo Wrestler referee.

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