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.


Linetec People to Know: Mark Huber

MarkHuber-(5)Q: Tell me about your job.

A: I am a Production Supervisor in the Anodize facility, working the 12-hour night shift.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: I worked at Nestle Nutrition for almost 10 years as a Validation Scientist prior to becoming a Supervisor. I went on to work at Parker Hannifan as a Supervisor before moving to Wausau and joining the Linetec team.

Q: As we recently celebrated Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service. Tell me about your military life.

MarkHuber-(4)A: I first joined the Army in 1981 as a medic. I progressed to paramedic and staff sergeant, before accepting a commission as an officer after graduating from Physician Assistant school. I served four years on active duty in the Army and 16 years in the National Guard for a total of 20 years. I retired in 2001 as a captain.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A: Working with a dedicated team of individuals who take pride in their work and in themselves. I enjoy playing a role in building a positive team environment and am particularly satisfied when one of my direct reports achieves a goal or a promotion.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A: The biggest challenge we’ve seen as of late is trying to be flexible to production demands with limited personnel. Cross training to ensure that people can perform a variety of different skill positions has become paramount to our business success.

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

A: The focus on improvement and change for the better.

Q: What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I moved to the Wausau area to be closer to my daughter and her family, which I’m happy to say, includes two very spoiled grandchildren.

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

A: I love animals and have a Bernese Mountain Dog named “Bear.”


Linetec People to Know: Colleen Hruska

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAQ:  Tell me about your job: 

A: My job involves many different responsibilities, including health promotion, management and prevention of illness and injury, and consulting on medical matters and health related issues. I oversee the Linetec First Responder program, which involves recruiting, training and ongoing support for a wonderful group of associates who have stepped up to serve the company in matters beyond their normal job responsibilities. In addition, I manage Linetec’s medical case management program through collaboration with other health professionals and community agencies to meet the health needs of the workforce.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to my position here at Linetec, I worked as the Director of Staff Development for many years at various Skilled Nursing Facilities. I also have many years of experience in the hospital setting in both medical and surgical areas, as well as the Intensive Care Unit.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  The best part of my job, without a doubt, is the fact that I have the opportunity to interact with the associates here at Linetec and assist them in matters of health and life. I am always very touched by the idea that co-workers come to me with issues, and value my experience and expertise. I truly enjoy all components of my job. The variety of responsibility keeps the days fresh and never boring.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  The biggest challenge I face is being able to touch base with all the associates working here. I generally work during the weekday, so associates working varied shifts – nights and weekends – do not have as much contact with me. I try to be very accessible to all associates by giving out my phone and email, and encouraging them to contact me day or night if they have matters that I can help with.

Colleen-5K 2016-web

Photo from 2016 5K

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

A:  The biggest change in my job over the years here at Linetec is the fact that we have grown so much and I no longer know all the associates by name. I have also noticed that Linetec associates are becoming increasingly more interested in Wellness and realizing the importance of being active and eating well. Linetec has a Wellness Committee whose members plan fun activities, while promoting healthy living for associates and their families. We recently had our 3rd Annual 5K Run/Walk. It was well attended and a great event. Planning is already underway for next year’s race.

Colleen-MaggieQ:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A: I am looking forward to spending the upcoming holidays with my family. I also look forward to spending time with my dog, Maggie, who loves to play and take long walks.

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

A: One thing that people don’t know about me is that I am quite into sports – both playing and watching. If I was not a nurse, I would like to be a sportscaster or sideline reporter. I like playing softball, tennis and working out at the gym. I also have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Linetec People to Know: Tom Danen


Tom was recently honored with the Patriot Award presented by Department of Defense. From left to right: Spc. Andrew Jimenez, Tom Danen – Linetec and Dave Monk – ESGR representative 

 Q:  Tell me about your job

A:  I am the 1st shift applications supervisor at the paint facility. I supervise the mainline applications team, flex line, as well as oversee our wood grain process.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Linetec was my first full time job. Prior to Linetec I had summer jobs and part-time work after school and on the weekends. For all four years of high school, I worked at Kalepp Fish Farm during the summer. In addition to working at the fish farm, I also worked at Blue Odyssey supper club as a waiter/bartender in the evenings and on the weekends.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  Definitely the people that work here.

Linetec has great core values. I truly believe that most everyone that works at Linetec is happy to be here and that shows through quality and team atmosphere.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  The speed of our business definitely is a challenge; however, those same challenges make us better. The pace of material flowing through the facility and changes in priorities make a daily routine ever changing.

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

A:   Our building expansions and growth. When I started here at the paint facility, we used to rack where we currently unload. Wausau Window and Wall Systems used to occupy what we now call “Paint North.” We had an in-line washer and the off-line booth was down in applications. I would have never thought that we would grow as much as we have and would need to add as much building as we have already, and still, we potentially need more space.

Q:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  Two answers for this one: one work and one personal.

On the work side, I look forward to the growth of the company and how we will handle the increased volume. In particular, I’m excited to see the growth of our specialty finishes – such as our wood grain and terra cotta textured finishes – and what we may implement as our next specialty finish.

Tom-bow-and-arrow-webOn the personal side, we are approaching one of my favorite times of the year – fall, when the weather gets a little bit cooler and the archery season opens.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A:  I have a passion to be in the outdoors: hunting, fishing, spending time at the family cabin, riding four-wheelers, camping, cutting firewood, making maple syrup, shooting archery and the list continues.

Q: What is something that most people do not know about you?

A:  Well there are two things that most people do not know and they are: I used to motocross race ATVs, and that I really enjoy shooting 3-D archery and even shoot competitively.

TomDanen-hunting-web     TomDanen-ATV-web

Linetec People to Know: Andy Joswiak

JoswiakQ:  Tell me about your job

A:  For the past 18 years, I have been the V.P. of Operations. The duties and details of the job were very extensive, so with Linetec’s recent growth, the decision was made to split that role into two positions.

The two new positions are:

V.P. – Operations with responsibility for daily manufacturing, scheduling and safety

V.P. – Engineering and Technical Services, (my new position), with responsibility for Engineering, Environmental, Continuous Improvement, Maintenance, New Product Introductions, and New Plant & Equipment

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: I focused on my education and held part-time jobs. I sent out one resume while in my senior year of college – and I am still here.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  Working with all the great people at Linetec and helping to build a team and culture that has made Linetec the best in our industry.

I also enjoy working on concepts and projects that make us safer, better, faster and more reliable.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  Easy – keeping up with the significant growth we have seen over the past four years.

It has been phenomenal, but ensuring we have capacity to service that growth has at times been challenging.

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

A:   Change – it never stops. We are constantly improving our process capability, capacities and offerings. It has been great to be part of the change improvement for the past three decades.

If I had to pick one, it would be connecting nearly all the buildings of Linetec with the Line 3 “Great Hall” connection.

Q:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  Getting into more detail of my new position to make Linetec even better and more capable.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

Andy-snowmobiling-webA:  I really enjoy the outdoors, both winter and summer. It is tough to find things to do outside in Wisconsin in the winter. Snowmobiling is one thing I really enjoy no matter how cold it gets outside.

You don’t understand cold until you are doing 100 MPH on a snowmobile with an outside temperature of -17F. (I am not sure what the wind chill was, but it was a little cool.)

I have also snow-machined in Alaska several times. If you ever have that opportunity, do it. It is nothing like trailriding in Wisconsin. And I still managed to keep in contact with customers via cell phone in the mountains!