Linetec People to Know: Cara Bahlow

CaraB-(2)-webQ:  Tell me about your job

A:  I am the Quality Engineer for the paint facility. This year, I will celebrate my 10-year anniversary with Linetec.  My responsibilities include supervising the Quality Assurance department, reviewing customer specifications and working with customers to understand their quality expectations, managing customer concerns and returns, corrective actions, maintaining certifications, and providing requests for documentation such as test reports and certificates of analysis.  I relay customers’ needs internally to ensure that we are providing the quality finish that our customers are expecting.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec I worked in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a global adhesive corporation specializing in the distribution of specialty chemicals and equipment. I spent eight years as the Quality Manager for two divisions that offered custom packaging for a variety of materials and developed custom-formulated products.  I enjoyed my job thoroughly, but was excited for the opportunity to return to Wausau with my young family so we could spend a lot of time with our extended family. Linetec was the perfect fit!  Often people tease me that I went from watching glue dry to watching paint dry!

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:  My favorite part of my job, as well as the biggest challenge of my job, is the fast paced nature of the production environment.  In quality you can never have a plan for the day because you do not know what challenges the day will bring.  I really like visiting customers and working through customer audits to understand how they use our services and what end application their product has.  I also like helping and watching employees grow into experienced, confident employees who are proud of their work and what Linetec has to offer.

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

A:  The biggest change I’ve seen in my job is the evolvement of Linetec’s quality program and that of our customers.  Many of our customers use instrumentation in their receiving and quality inspection.  Our employees, the data we maintain, and the testing and procedures that we have in place have advanced significantly over the years.  Customer requests that once seemed an impossibility have now become standard procedure.  I am proud of what we’ve accomplished; the Linetec team has never been stronger!

Q:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  At Linetec I look forward to the growth our new product offerings.  There are some very exciting finishes I can’t wait to see more of on our paint line!  Personally, I look forward to family vacations and every moment spent together making memories as a family.

CaraB-(3)-webQ:  What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A:  Outside of work, my husband and I enjoy cheering our 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter on in their activities – whether it is on a football field, dance studio or one of their many Scouting adventures.  I’ve been a Girl Scout leader and a Sunday School teacher for many years. I love seeing that look on a child’s face when they’ve learned something new or mastered a new skill.  I hope I’ve influenced them positively and someday they’ll remember these moments with a smile.  I love singing for our church and participating in the church choir.  I enjoy swimming, figure skating and playing tennis.  My favorite place to be is our family cabin in Tomahawk, Wisconsin – boating, fishing, swimming, campfires and ice cream.  It has been a very special part of my life since I was a young child.  There is no place that I would rather be!

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Linetec People to Know: Tom Harenda

Tom-motorcycle-webQ:  Tell me about your job

A: I am the Transportation Manager at Linetec. I started out in the Packaging department back in 1991 and transferred to the Shipping department shortly after that. I worked the dock loading trucks and also was the Shipping Clerk prior to becoming the Transportation Manager. My current responsibilities include oversight of our Linetec fleet/trucks, coordinating the trucking for numerous customers and supervising the 1st shift Shipping department. Being at the “back-end” of the process is not easy, as we’re challenged to get things out the door almost daily, especially with the increase in volume we’ve experienced the past few years.

Q: What did you do prior to Linetec?

A: Prior to Linetec, for several years I installed material handling equipment (conveyor and overhead rail systems, storage racks, etc.) I got tired of the travel and living out of a suitcase, so I sought out other employment.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?

A:   Having a sense of accomplishment when my team and I are able to assist sales or a customer. Typically that entails securing trucking on short notice, or expediting a “hot” shipment to meet their schedule. It’s critical to have a network of carriers/contacts to satisfy those types of requests, and it’s not very often that we’re unable to meet a specific demand. Building and surrounding myself with a strong team has been a necessity and I take pride in the team that we’ve built.

Q: What poses the biggest challenges for you?

A:  Without a doubt – our growth… We’ve been extremely busy lately. As I mentioned earlier, being the last step in the process continually puts us in a position where we have to perform, without exception. We strive to be as accurate as possible, knowing that any mistakes we make can delay our customers’ already tight production timeframes.

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

A:   Once again – our growth… When I took over our transportation, we had two trucks and a “partner carrier” to accommodate the routes that we ran. Today, we have seven of our own over-the-road OTR trucks and drivers, and two “partner carriers.” We currently serve around30 states and over 75 customers. Transportation has proven to be a great asset sales tool for Linetec customers. My team and I are proud to be a part of a service that has continually grown and provided additional finishing opportunities for Linetec.

Tom-golf-outing-webQ:  What is something you are looking forward to?

A:  I’m looking forward to the remainder of the summer, and hopefully DRY weather… It’s been an extremely wet spring/early summer and it’s hampered my ability to get outside and do some of the things I like to do, specifically riding my motorcycle.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A:  Most people I work with know that I ride my motorcycle as often as possible. I’ve put on over 180,000 miles in the past 10 years. I have taken several long distance rides, going to Yellowstone, the Tetons, the Black Hills, the Ozarks and Colorado, but the majority of those miles have been in Wisconsin. There are plenty of great roads here to seek out, especially in the southwest portion of the state.

I also enjoy live music. Often, my motorcycle rides entail riding to a specific destination to watch a band. I’ve seen countless famous, big name rock bands, but I prefer finding new, local bands playing at the local pub.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is my new favorite hot spot for music. There are several good bands that call Sturgeon Bay and Door County their home. In the summer, there are numerous venues to choose from that host live music. It’s also beautiful there. I find it very relaxing and hope to retire there someday.

 

 

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.

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Park City, Utah

 

Jon-arch

Arches National Park

 

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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)!

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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

jeff-5yr-anniversary-web

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.

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

Learn more about Linetec at www.linetec.com