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3/8/2017 | 5 MINUTE READ

40-Under-40 Program Features Young Women Leading the Finishing Industry

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In honor of Women’s Day 2017, Products Finishing recognizes the women leading the way in the finishing industry as part of our annual 40-Under-40 program.


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In honor of Women’s Day 2017, Products Finishing recognizes the women leading the way in the finishing industry as part of our annual 40-Under-40 program. For the class of 2016, 40 individuals were acknowledged as young professionals making strides in industrial finishing and shaping the industry’s future. Of that prestigious group, several women joined the ranks as technical professionals, managers, and engineers, all demonstrating vital contributions to the finishing industry and community. Here are a few of their stories.





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.





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.





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.





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.





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.





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.





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.


Products Finishing is looking to select the next 40 young people in the finishing industry who are striving to be the next generation of leaders and innovators. We will recognize them annually in print throughout the year in the pages of Products Finishing, as well as at special events.

Think of co-workers and colleagues—anyone who matches the criteria—and nominate someone you feel is deserving. Nominees must be under the age of 40 as of April 1. Honorees will be chosen based on the quality of the nomination submitted, not the quantity of nominations. Visit to nominate someone. Nominations close April 1. Contact Editor Tim Pennington at



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