40-Under-40: Class of 2016

Young professionals are a vital asset to the finishing industry. Products Finishing is recognizing the industry’s top young talent through an annual 40-Under-40 program.
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Young professionals are a vital asset to the finishing industry, and it is important to acknowledge those who are making great strides in shaping the industry’s future. Products Finishing is recognizing the industry’s top young talent through an annual 40-Under-40 program.

We surveyed job shops and suppliers to find 40 individuals under the age of 40 who are making a difference in the finishing industry, both in their business and in the finishing community. The recipients were chosen based on leadership and potential leadership—whether it is in the company
they work for, or in their involvement in the industry. 

Products Finishing will select 40 people in the finishing industry each year who are striving to be the next generation of leaders and innovators, and recognize them annually in the magazine. We will start the 2017 process in January, so be on the lookout in the magazine and at PFonline.com to see how you can nominate the next 40-Under-40 recipients. 


2016 40 Under 40 Class


� Sean Novak

Manager of Finishing Services, Apple; Cupertino, California

When Anoplate’s Milt Stevenson Jr. set out to hike all 46 of the Adirondack Mountain high peaks and join an elite group of hikers who have done the same, he wanted an adventurous hiking partner who was eager to keep them on task. He found that partner in Sean Novak, a young chemical engineer who was hired by Anoplate out of Syracuse University to help meet customers’ rigid finishing specifications in the aerospace, defense, electronics, medical and optics industries. When they would reach the summit, Stevenson says Novak and he would spend time resting and talking about life’s more important journeys. Three years later, Novak has reached the apex of his career (so far) as manager of the surface finishing team at Apple Inc., a Cupertino, California-based conglomerate that designs, develops and sells consumer electronics, software and online services. Novak, a member of Products Finishing’s inaugural look at the top 40 Under 40 in the finishing industry, leads a team of 11 engineers specializing in the anodizing and plating of enclosures, connectors and internal components for Apple products, including the iPhone, laptops and computers, iPads and, most recently, the Watch.


� Kassy Knudson

Director, Khrome Werks Division; Lincoln Industries; Lincoln, Nebraska

Kassy has been a part of and led most facets of Lincoln Industries, one of the largest electroplating and polishing facilities in the U.S. She starting on the finishing lines before moving to become director of one of Lincoln’s branded product divisions, where she has shown how to be a leader no matter what the job title or duties. Lincoln officials say Kassy brings energy, creativity, rational and strategic thinking to the table, and has a passion for the success of Lincoln Industries as it expands its coating services and innovation department. She is also very involved in the community and wellness programs at Lincoln, serving on the community connections committee and taking part in many of the company’s fitness programs. More importantly, Kassy has mentored others and inspired them to think outside the box, focus on their personal development and become a leader in the Lincoln organization.


� Ambrose Schaffer                                                                                              

R&D Manager, Functional Coatings; Coventya; Canajoharie, New York

Ambrose started with Coventya as a research and development chemist in 2006 and focused primarily on electroless nickel technologies. He has done extensive research on high-phosphorus electroless nickel for data storage applications. Ambrose transitioned to lead R&D chemist for Functional technologies in 2011 and now oversees all the R&D activities for that product line. His primary responsibilities at Coventya are to manage key R&D projects and personnel, as well as drive strategic product development initiatives for both local and global functional coating technologies. A University of Albany graduate with a degree in chemistry, Ambrose has written and presented multiple technical articles at industry conferences on the subject, and holds two patents for electroless nickel technology. He and wife Leah have two children, a 14-year-old daughter, Aleah, and a 3-year-old son, Elijah. He is an avid runner and has completed five marathons. He also enjoys hiking the Adirondack Mountains and cycling.


� Chad Andreae

Vice President; Therma-Tron-X; Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Chad has a degree in mechanical engineering and began his career as a maintenance engineer at Bemis Co. and at Kimberly-Clark before joining TTX as a design engineer in 2004. It did not take TTX management long to see that Chad’s knowledge and expertise were needed to usher the company into a new era of business. Since moving to sales in 2010, TTX’s business has grown exponentially as Chad works with a small team of sales engineers to develop customized solutions for clients in need of complete paint finishing lines and water and wastewater treatment systems. Chad is an innovative designer, a tough negotiator and a savvy communicator that holds multiple patents. Beyond sales, he leads TTX in daily operations with his father and brother and enjoys giving technical presentations. Chad and wife Christine have four girls and two boys—the newest addition joined the family in 2015 from China. Chad enjoys serving in various ministries through his local church, coaching, camping and running. He is also a licensed pilot and frequently flies for work and for pleasure.


� Jeremy Davitz

Chairman/Owner; Production Plus/MagicRack; Columbus, Ohio

Jeremy is a third-generation owner and chairman of Production Plus Corp., best known for manufacturing the multi-patented MagicRack system which serves the finishing industry. He carries forward the legacy of grandfather Walter, who started the company in 1979, and father Dan, who led the company through 2015 and remains a valuable part of the team. Jeremy focuses on strategic planning for the company’s long-term growth to enable the technical and sales teams to continue offering solutions across the finishing industry. Also an attorney, he is a partner at Bowshier Davitz and Rieser LLC, where he focuses on serving the legal needs of closely-held businesses. Jeremy is also passionate about Christian higher education and serves as General Counsel of Ohio Christian University, where he teaches human resource management and business law. He loves to read history and enjoys walks with wife Jennifer and their yellow lab, Buckley.


� Kristin O’Neill

Technical Sales Representative; Elcometer; Rochester Hills, Michigan

Kristin worked her way up through the Elcometer ranks from customer service to ISO Process Control Coordinator and now as Technical Sales, where her code writing skills enable her to develop custom paperless quality assurance software. She started on the technical side in the Repair and Calibration Lab, where she was lead auditor for the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System. Last year, she jumped into software support working with coaters to integrate their instruments with digital reporting and customized software solutions specific to their industry and application. Some of her recent projects include a customized quality assurance reporting toll for a large manufacturer of oil and chemical storage tanks, and a real-time statistical process control system for a manufacturer of custom containers. She is a member of the Society for Protective Coatings Women in Coatings group, and has a leadership role on the mentoring subcommittee.


� April LaBonte

Technical Service Engineer; Uyemura USA; Ontario, Canada

April focuses on the Southern California area for Uyemura. She spent three years in the printed circuit board industry as a wet process laboratory technician and engineer at TTM Technologies in Anaheim, where she worked with product design and process methodology. Her current responsibilities include line audits, troubleshooting, installations and a full complement of customer service tasks for the company’s customers. April has a special interest in thermodynamics, chemical reaction engineering and environmental chemistry. She is experienced in wet processes, including acid copper, electroless copper, viafill, ENIG, ENEPIG, silver and OSP. April graduated from the University of California at San Diego with a degree in chemical engineering. When not working in the coatings industry, she enjoys running, recently completing a half marathon, as well as kayaking and football.


� Charles Cecil

President; Col-Met Spray Booths; Rockwall, Texas

Charles became general manager in 2011 and built a foundation that enables Col-Met to scale its growth in a profitable and sustainable way. After years of double-digit growth, he was promoted to president, giving strategic direction to over 120 employees. Charles has a finance degree from Colorado State University and has trained through the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts. He is also a member an organization that provides leadership training and business coaching to CEOs and executives. Charles is a member of the Rockwall Chamber of Commerce board and is also an early response team member for United Methodist Committee on Relief. He and his wife have two children.


� Juli Kettler

Sales Engineer; Cincinnati Thermal Spray; Houston, Texas

Juli graduated from Texas A&M University with a psychology degree in 2011 and immediately stepped into the surface finishing industry with Schumacher Co. in Houston. As the corporate sales representative for Schumacher Co., Dixie Electroplating and Spraymetal, Juli focused on plating, coatings and other surface finishings primarily for the oil and gas industry. In February, she decided to expand her surface finishing knowledge and joined Cincinnati Thermal Spray as a sales engineer for the Texas Division where she is also concentrating on coatings and dimensional restoration, primarily for land-based gas turbine components.


� Alex Beck

Technical Service Engineer; Asterion; Indianapolis, Indiana

Alex is responsible for all facets of process troubleshooting at Asterion, specializing in zinc, tin, aluminum preparation and chromate processes. In addition, instrumentation procedure development and maintenance falls directly under his purview. The troubleshooting process often involves visiting customer facilities and working alongside them to fix problems. Alex has been at Asterion for three years, where he originally started performing analysis on customer bath samples. Asterion is his first job in the electroplating industry where he was hired shortly after graduating from Wabash College with a degree in chemistry and cum laude honors.


� Charissa Kobyluck

Quality Manager; Coating Technologies Inc.; Phoenix, Arizona

Charissa’s vision, organization and tenacity have contributed greatly to her success. CTI officials say its reputation for being one of the best in quality and customer service is directly related to her forward-looking leadership. Charissa has been instrumental in achieving approved vendor status for several new primes since her arrival, and has instituted a solid quality program that has helped to expand the company’s market share. She also gives back to her community as a Girl Scout leader and volunteers for a youth baseball organization and other charities. Co-workers say it is her energy and unbridled spirit that makes her a joy to work with.


� Vicente Gomez

Sales Engineer / Global Approvals Team; Pavco; Ann Arbor, Michigan

Vicente’s chemical engineering background and business acumen have gained him a place in the finishing industry at a young age. In addition to his engineering degree, Vicente has undertaken extensive and highly focused technical training on plating technologies from benchtop and pilot line to production environments. He is a Certified Electroplater-Finisher and will graduate from the University of Michigan with an MBA this year. The culture duality that he has adopted from living in several parts of the U.S. and Mexico gives him a broad view of the market and different ways of conducting business interactions.


� Maria Joaquin

Metal Finishing Supervisor; Burndy; Lincoln, New Hampshire

Maria’s energy and motivation has led her far in the finishing Industry with over eight years of progressive experience. With biology and chemistry degrees from California State University, she went on to work in the industry, eventually arriving at Heraeus as a chemist for the wastewater system. Maria joined Alcoa as its chemical plating supervisor, and was recruited by Burndy in 2015 where she relocated to New Hampshire to learn environmental compliance in the industry. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environmental engineering, and will eventually take over the environmental regulations of the facility.


� Rahul Nair

Applications Engineer; Fischer Technology; Boston, Massachusetts

Rahul has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas, specializing in contact mechanics at the nanoscale. For the past nine years, he has worked in the field of micro and nanoindentation testing equipment to characterize coatings and surfaces. Rahul currently manages the micro and nanoindentation product line for Fischer Technology and has authored/co-authored multiple technical papers in this field.


� Matt Schario

Lab Manager; Columbia Chemical; Brunswick, Ohio

Matt is responsible for overseeing the service and quality control labs, as well as ensuring proper training of chemists and interns. He is also responsible for technical service, sales and support with the joint venture, Columbia Chemical de Mexico. Matt has been with Columbia Chemical for over five years, previously serving as technical support representative in the U.S., Europe and Mexico. Prior to joining Columbia Chemical, he served as a laboratory chemist in the plating industry for five years. Matt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Kent State University, and is a member of the National Association of Metal Finishers.


� Chris Whittaker

VP Sales & Marketing; Cleaning Technologies Group; Cincinnati, Ohio

Chris's potential was recognized early, and his passion for the sales and marketing side of CTG shows in his daily work and in his successes from when he first took his current position in 2010. Sales volume has increased sales by over 60 percent, the quotation close rate grew by 50 percent and he implemented a global, cloud-based customer relationship management system. Chris understands the value of relationships and can often be found reaching out to the top management of CTG customers to be sure that their needs are met and to learn what future needs they may have.


� Kyle Hankinson

President; KCH Engineered Systems; Forest City, North Carolina

Kyle has successfully continued the culture of innovation in manufacturing as a core competence of his company. As a Distinguished Honor graduate of the U.S. Army Rotary Wing Flight School, he serves as a chief warrant officer and pilot in command of the Apache Longbow Attack Helicopter, and was deployed to Iraq and the Persian Gulf in support of Operation New Dawn and Operation Enduring Freedom. Kyle has a business degree from North Carolina State University, along with commercial and airline transport pilot ratings in helicopters and airplanes with the Federal Aviation Administration. He is a Certified Electroplater-Finisher and is on the board for the NASF.


� Marc Aleksinas

President; Metal Chem; Greer, South Carolina

Marc grew up in the finishing industry, working in Metal Chem’s quality and R&D labs while attending Vanderbilt University, where he received degrees in economics and English. After a year in at a large national bank, Marc joined Metal Chem full-time in 2007 in electroless nickel research and customer projects in the lab, developing an ISO 9001:2008 quality policy. He transitioned to sales and distributor development until 2014, where he developed, serviced and supported distributors of Metal Chem's pretreatment and electroless nickel chemistries. He is a board member of the Master's Association of Metal Finishers and served as president of the organization from 2013 to 2014. 


� Waasy Boddison

President; American Plating Power; Fort Myers, Florida

Waasy Boddison is owner of American Plating Power along with his business partner, Peter van Gorp. He started working at the age of seven cleaning the deck of his father’s shrimp boat and earned money in high school working on cars after school. Waasy has been actively involved in the planning of the NASF’s Sur/Fin conference, and has twice chaired the event committee. He and wife Anne have two children, Emily and John.


� Casandra Bardsley

Manager of Materials and Compliance; Erie Plating Co.; Erie, Pennsylvania

Casandra started as a lab technician at Erie Plating in 2008 after getting her chemistry degree. She moved up to lab manager by showing initiative in helping Erie develop new projects, troubleshooting plating problems and becoming involved with environmental compliance regulations. In 2013, Casandra received a master’s degree in environmental health and engineering. Her role at Erie has grown with her as she has initiated projects, including updating the chemical management software and creating an internal cradle-to-grave philosophy with the hazardous waste generation. Casandra constantly learns from those with years of experience, as well as from new, educated and motivated associates.


� Alex Roy

Director of Sales and Customer Support; Roy Metal Finishing; Conestee, South Carolina

Alex is a third-generation Roy family member who joined the company in 2001 as a process coordinator. With his processing knowledge and customer-focused approach, he has established strong customer relations over the years and has grown RMF’s steady customer base, both tier one and two, to approximately 225. He works closely with the production, quality and shipping/receiving teams at all three locations on a daily basis to ensure every customer receives quality finishes on schedule. His leadership skills and dedication is aligns well with RMF’s culture. Alex has played an integral part in the company’s addition of a second facility, which was announced in 2016.


� Adam Adkisson

Vice President; Metal Processing International; Mission, Texas

Adam has 11 years in custom coating at Metal Processing International, which has two plants, Oklahoma Custom Coating in Seminole, Oklahoma, and Metal Processing International in Mission, Texas. With over 160 employees and a focus on HVAC, heavy equipment and transportation, Adam specializes in ecoat, liquid and powder coating. Adam has been executive vice president since 2014 and is responsible for accounts receivable/accounts repayable, new product development, accounting and key account sales. He was formerly an operations manager, quality manager and lab technician.


� Meghan Bates

Vice President of Operations; Luke Engineering and Manufacturing; Rittman, Ohio

Meghan has achieved excellent results with her team in performance, safety, sales, production and quality at Luke. She is goal driven and sets realistic metrics that are shared and communicated to her team, consistently meeting performance goals and celebrating success with her staff. Meghan contributes to the overall operations in meaningful ways, giving her time and talents to employee training, presentations and staff recognition.


� Kerry Behnke

Zinc Business Team Manager; Professional Plating Inc.; Brillion, Wisconsin

Kerry started at PPI in 1998 on the zinc plating line, and was promoted to zinc business manager in 2012. Her drive and leadership has led to significant growth and change with the zinc plating operations, and she saw the company adjust from hex to tri-chromium. Kerry and her team of 75 employees is responsible for the day-to-day success of PPI’s entire zinc plating operations, as well as our wastewater and environmental compliance areas. She and her husband have two daughters and a son.


� Korey Bell

Operations Manager; Westside Finishing; Holyoke, Massachusetts

Korey has been a tremendous asset to Westside Finishing, especially after the company purchased and installed new equipment in 2014 with numerous challenges that continued for about 12 months. Korey took the lead working with the vendors to troubleshoot the equipment. Korey began to learn how to use the equipment despite its limitations. He has been an active leader to the rest of the Westside team.


� Mark Burger

Business Development/Director of Mexico; KC Jones Plating Co.; Warren, Michigan

Mark is a Central Michigan graduate with degrees in entrepreneurship and economics, has completed the University of Notre Dame Executive Education Program and is a Certified Electro-Finisher at KC Jones. He has made many presentations at Sur/Fin and contributed articles to Products Finishing on the growth of the surface finishing industry in Mexico. Mark has overseen four plating line installations at KC Jones, including the start of a new facility in Mexico. He has surveyed and visited plating companies all across the U.S., China, Taiwan and Japan, and has landed key accounts for KC Jones.


� Jose Bustamante

Plant Manager; Oshkosh Plating; Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Jose began on the floor six years ago at Oshkosh Plating. With a desire to learn about metal finishing, he constantly goes above and beyond to send out a good quality product. Two years ago he took on the role of plant manager and company officials have seen him grow over those years into a leader at Oshkosh. Under his leadership, the team has reduced the reject rate, decreased lead time and has had less employee turnover.


� Nicholas Capalbo

Vice President of Facilities; New Method Plating Co.; Worcester, Massachusetts

Nicholas has played an instrumental role in updating the mechanics of the shop at New Method Plating Co., without changing the original process of plating. He has converted a rack nickel line into a rack zinc line, and helped in the conversion of the wastewater treatment department from manual to computer based. Recently, he facilitated the installation of a new oven and oversaw its calibrations. Nicholas is proud to be part of the third generation of the company, honoring what his grandfather created in 1931.


� Chase Churchill

Operations Manager; Jamestown Electro Plating; Jamestown, New York

Though Chase is the son of the owner, he has had nearly every job in the shop, including shoveling sludge from plating tanks. He is a graduate of Roanoke College in Virginia, and not only is he getting married this summer, but he is also taking over ownership responsibilities so his father can retire. Chase is very civic minded and has served on many volunteer boards, including chairman of the Chautauqua County Red Cross. His leisure activities include skiing, boating, hiking, fishing, hunting and flying airplanes.


� Dallas Cooley

Vice President of Sales; Georgia Powder Coating; Gainesville, Georgia

Dallas started with GPC at its inception in 1999, hanging parts and driving the forklift. Now, he is an equity partner with over 40 employees, Lean Six Sigma yellow belt-certified and a graduate of the National Institute of Christian Leadership. He also has a blog on leadership at dallascooley.com. He and wife Leslie and have an energetic 10-month-old son, Carson. Active in the local church, he also serves on the board of directors of a destructive behavior ministry for teenage boys.


� Keith Eidschun

President; Freedom Metal Finishing; Clearwater, Florida

Keith’s shop at Freedom Metal Finishing was acquired by his grandfather in 1965 and later run by his father. He worked at the shop while pursuing a degree from the University of South Florida, and became General Manager for its sister company Technifinish. Two years later, he took over the plating operations after his father passed away. Keith created a one-stop shop for pretreating and painting critical aerospace parts, maintaining ISO 9001 and AS9100 accreditation and adding Nadcap AC7108, Chemical Processing, and AC7108/1. Keith is an active member in the Florida Finishers.


� Bryan Leiker

Event/Membership Director; MFASC; Burbank, California

Brian served two years as president of the Metal Finishing Association of Southern California (MFASC), taking on the duties of executive director and resulting in the most profitable and well-attended events. He is involved with the NASF Bright Design Challenge and is active in all NASF meetings and events. Besides the association, Brian works with his family business, K&L Anodizing, one of only four EPA model shops in California. He works part time for MFASC, running all events and membership programs.


� Matt Lindstedt

Technical Sales Manager; Advanced Plating Tech; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Matt took over as sales manager at APT in 2005, and it was clear to him that the company could no longer continue to service the markets that it had been in for nearly 60 years. He says the great recession was a wake-up call and helped him realize that, if APT was going to succeed, they had to change. Thus began the journey to become an engineering-focused company that was driven by change and improvement. Matt says the company has come a long way and continues to improve.


� Michael Michalak

Sales/Marketing Coordinator; DECC Co.; Grand Rapids, Michigan

Mike’s manufacturing and leadership experience has promoted the growth of others within DECC, enabling him to expand his talent into sales and marketing. He has helped increase web traffic to the company’s website by almost 300 percent over the past few years. Requests for quotations generated through the website have dramatically increased, as well. Mike’s passion and enthusiasm encourages employees to become involved with helping solve customers’ problems.


� Ben Minger

President; Twin City Plating; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ben bought his shop, which is now a Products Finishing Top Shop, three years ago at 26 with little experience, a lot of loans, an open mind and a willingness to work hard. The 15-employee company was profitable, but the culture and facility was in dire need of some rejuvenation or it was on pace to slowly fizzle out. Since then, he has spent over $300,000 in plant and process improvements and has expanded from one shift to an additional small stagger shift. Sales have increased by 20 percent, while also increasing profit margins.


� Andrew Neary

Paint Engineer; Vermeer Corp.; Pella, Iowa

Andrew came into Vermeer’s paint finishing department four years ago and has grown in his present role with personnel now looking to him solutions to problems. He continues to go above and beyond the industrial standards of a paint finishing engineer by taking the company to the next level in coatings. Andrew’s skills as an engineer and a problem solver continue to grow, and his people skills help educate personnel at the plant level, which translates new changes into success stories for the company.


� Micky Ricard

General Industry Sales; Exel North America; Plymouth, Michigan

Micky worked for 14 years in the IT field, but decided to take the opportunity to transition into the finishing industry for the simple reason of solving new challenges and problems every day. As he learns more about the finishing industry at Exel North America, Micky finds that he is most interested in systems applications and unique solutions, which include all types of powder applications. He says working at the company has given him two distinct advantages in this industry: working with the best people and the best products. 


� Nathan Silvernail

Technical Manager Substrate Protection; PPG; Springdale, Pennsylvania

Nathan manages the Industrial electrocoat and pretreatment technical organizations for PPG’s North American region. He received a degree in chemistry from North Dakota State University and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Notre Dame before starting his career with PPG in 2008, developing an understanding of the diverse coatings technologies. Nathan is the owner of five patents and has six pending. He has written 17 journal publications, and presented in 12 seminars throughout the world.


� Jijeesh Thottathil

Manager of Electroless Nickel Solutions; Surface Technology Inc.; Robbinsville, New Jersey

Jijeesh has innovated electroless nickel technologies that had been in place for many decades, the most significant of which is his invention and development of One-Plate, a single-solution bath make up and replenisher. He has been a leader in developing composite EN baths that are RoHS compliant, an EN-PTFE bath that plates three times faster than conventional EN-PTFE baths and EN-PTFE baths made without PFOS and PFOA for health and environmental benefits.


� Brian Zimmerli

General Manager; Plastonics Inc.; Hartford, Connecticut

Brian is a very energetic and personable man who has the ability to make friends quickly. He started with Plastonics 16 years ago as quality assurance manager and proceeded to expand his knowledge in the various coating operations, which led him to be sales manager, directing the outside sales force. In addition, he was appointed general manager of the entire operation and now directs, not only sales, but all plant personal.


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