Rising 30

Revolutionizing the Industry

Those looking for the future of advanced manufacturing and logistics (AML) need look no further. Rising 30 honors AML’s emerging leaders—those bringing exceptional leadership and innovative thinking to bear on the industry’s toughest challenges.

Each year, 30 honorees under the age of 30 are selected and celebrated, drawing attention to those with the collaboration, energy, and creativity to change the way the world does business. And they’re just getting started.

Rising 30 Class of 2022

×

Jack Anderson has earned respect on two continents with his work at PWR Group. Recognized as a driver of advanced manufacturing adoption, he leads a team that develops innovative ways to apply new manufacturing techniques using existing equipment. After joining PWR in Australia in 2014 and working in a variety of production roles, Anderson came to the U.S. to help set up and train staff at PWR’s North American facility (formerly C&R Racing). He decided to remain in the States to expand PWR’s footprint into new industries and geographic areas while, as he puts it, “growing the engineering team in North America to continue to take over the world.”

×

In less than a year with Roche Diagnostics, Grace Beach has already made a big impression. Participating in a two-year global supply chain rotational program that includes stints in engineering, warehouse operations and planning, she has worked most recently on a project implementing new technology to streamline operations for the firm’s Indianapolis box-making operations. The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduate is praised by her supervisors for her collaborative mindset, focus on understanding her team’s challenges and discovering lasting solutions.

Jack Anderson

Engineering Manager

PWR North America

Bio

Grace Beach

Supply Chain Management Rotational Development Associate

Roche Diagnostics

Bio

Grace Beach

Supply Chain Management Rotational Development Associate

Roche Diagnostics

×

Although she’s been with Cook Medical just a few years, Brittany Busse already has been credited with transforming manufacturing operations for an entire department and helping the operations team save millions of dollars by applying lean manufacturing principles. With an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis degree in biomedical engineering, she is applauded for technical skills, ability to build relationships with cross-functional teams and natural leadership – all of which are cited as playing a role in helping to reduce manufacturing scrap by more than $2 million, cut the cost of manufacturing by $1.4 million and reduce time to manufacture devices by 68%.

×

In his first manufacturing role after high school, Jacob Coffing quickly demonstrated enough potential that his employer invested in his ongoing education. With their assistance, he earned an associate degree in advanced manufacturing, gaining broad manufacturing experience. At Purdue University’s INMaC (Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center), Coffing now focuses on subtractive manufacturing, engaging with industrial affiliates and students on projects involving a range of advanced manufacturing processes and tools, including robot and cobot deployment, IoT machines sensors and monitoring and prototype development. According to his nominator, Coffing is recognized as a subtractive manufacturing subject matter expert but is always learning new subject areas.

Brittany Busse

Production Engineer

Cook Medical

Bio

Jacob Coffing

Director of Testbed Operations

IN-MaC – Purdue University

Bio

Jacob Coffing

Director of Testbed Operations

IN-MaC – Purdue University

×

Internships and a hands-on college engineering program allowed Matthew Cooper to graduate from Western Kentucky University and immediately hit the ground running in his manufacturing career. Arriving at Subaru of Indiana Automotive in 2018, he quickly found himself as a project lead that earned him and his team first place in the 2019 Subaru of Indiana Automotive Plant Wide Kaizen Competition and 3rd place in the firm’s international Kaizen competition. Matthew led quality planning and development activities for one of the Subaru of Indiana’s largest projects: the transfer of transmission assembly from Japan to Indiana. Now, Matthew leads a dynamic group of engineers that cover 90 suppliers for all Body and Chassis components.

×

With a degree in mathematics from Fordham University and a master’s in Technology Entrepreneurship from the University of Notre Dame, Kerry Egan has excelled in her role by making data valuable to her employers. At OIA Global, she is credited with using data to improve processes and decision making and delivering tangible results for the firm and its customers. In one case, the former NCAA Division 1 rower’s insights into customer-level reporting helped to identify more than $1 million in savings for a single customer. Firm leaders say her efforts have had a direct impact on OIA Global’s bottom line, helping to drive profit increases of more than five percent year-over-year.

Matthew Cooper

Supplier Quality Engineering Group Leader

Subaru of Indiana Automotive

Bio

Kerry Egan

Chief of Staff, Americas

OIA Global

Bio

Kerry Egan

Chief of Staff, Americas

OIA Global

×

Spending hours in the garage tinkering with his dad put Max Faiman on a course to drive innovation at one of Indiana’s oldest firms. Joining Indiana Furniture when it was beginning to modernize one of its key product lines, he quickly helped to update existing processes and introduce new ones in order to accommodate a new partnership. Since then, he has continued to contribute on both new and established product lines, driving numerous process and product improvements. Now the firm’s leaders say they turn to him when they have problems that don’t have obvious answers and rely on him to contribute new ways of thinking for a firm that’s been around for more than a century.

×

When Elizabeth Fisher isn’t working with her fiancé on their 1970 Dodge Superbee, she’s helping to increase Kem Krest’s business by increasing its supply chain efficiencies. Analyzing processes, reducing supply chain friction and streamlining operations, she improves overall supply chain flow for her company, its suppliers and customers. One key achievement has been the development of a New Product Launch Matrix, a step-by-step project tracker that’s so effective that it not only earned Kem Krest more business from GM but was also adopted by GM to track its new-part launches. While her supply chain expertise delivers results, Elizabeth’s team says her greatest attribute is her ability to forge relationships based on respect, professionalism and mutual results.

Max Faiman

Product Engineer

Indiana Furniture

Bio

Elizabeth Fisher

Supply Chain Manager

Kem Krest

Bio

Elizabeth Fisher

Supply Chain Manager

Kem Krest

×

Although still in high school, Vivian Galey already has earned professional certifications, logged hours of additive manufacturing experience, presented solutions to business leaders and garnered enough credits to graduate with one year of college in the books. A senior working with Perry Central High School’s Commodore Manufacturing, she helps local companies solve actual workplace engineering issues, has designed a product she hopes to market soon and helps to increase the program’s business with area employers. The first female high school student in the nation to earn the National 3D Printing Certification from Stratasys, she has become an expert in additive manufacturing and is working hard to train students to fill her shoes when she graduates.

×

Before she graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati, Gina Gianfagna had already worked with a couple of the biggest names in manufacturing: The Dow Chemical Company and L’Oréal USA, participating in co-op rotations that taught her just how many opportunities the manufacturing world can offer. In 2018, she transitioned roles within Corteva Agriscience, where she became an influential leader for a production and supply chain team challenged with meeting sales demands while reducing inefficiencies and costs. The results? The capacity gains for the largest product in her portfolios resulted in a business value of $1.6 million in the first year and set the stage for additional gains each year after. While the firm applauds Gina’s technical skills, they say the real key to her success is her ability to bring out the best in her team.

Vivian Galey

Additive Manufacturing Manager

Perry Central’s Commodore Manufacturing

Bio

Gina Gianfagna

External Manufacturing Operations Leader

Corteva Agriscience

Bio

Gina Gianfagna

External Manufacturing Operations Leader

Corteva Agriscience

×

Shortly after Malachi Greb left a steady manufacturing project management job to launch Elite Automation, he ran into a problem: COVID-19. Firms stopped welcoming new vendors into their lobbies and held off on new projects. A born problem-solver with an Ivy Tech degree in advanced automation and robotics, Malachi turned his attention to social media, continually posting YouTube videos about technical topics and eventually rising to No. 3 on LinkedIn in terms of social media presence for automation companies. When manufacturers re-opened their doors, his phone started ringing. Today the former one-man show has grown to a dozen employees, designing, programming and installing industrial automation systems to the tune of nearly $1 million in sales in 2021.

×

For Jenessa (Jena) Hammonds, spending the last two years of high school in the machining program at the Porter County Career and Technical Center led to a role as the go-to expert for high-tech tools such as cobots and coordinate measuring machines. Having entered the advanced manufacturing world as a machine operator, she earned a scholarship to Vincennes University, where she completed an associate degree in technology before joining Konrady Plastics in 2020. Recognized as a go-getter with ambitions to lead, Jena was assigned to help identify and solve problems to increase efficiencies in the company’s lathe department. Firm leadership credit her not only with stepping up to take on new challenges but with inspiring colleagues to do so as well.

Malachi Greb

CEO

Elite Automation

Bio

Jenessa Hammonds

Lathe Department Manager

Konrady Plastics

Bio

Jenessa Hammonds

Lathe Department Manager

Konrady Plastics

×

Kalese Howse knew from her freshman year at University of Tennessee-Knoxville that she wanted a career in engineering and manufacturing, which, she says, provides a unique environment to interact with many different people and see the direct results of her acts in a production system. What she didn’t realize until later is how important helping people develop would become to her. As a Safety Operations Manager, she has improved processes and implemented new programs for Toyota, but her are equally enthusiastic about her work with her team. Seeking to help her colleagues develop through feedback, stretch assignments and benchmarking, she has earned their respect and driven ongoing improvements. Further demonstrating her commitment to helping others grow, she also has excelled at recruiting college candidates for co-op and full-time positions.

×

A little less than five years ago, Kelsey Huelsenbeck was a high school Spanish teacher who had never thought much about the manufacturing and logistics industries. That was before she was hired on as the first full-time employee of Antique Candle Co., a firm that was then producing about 200 candles a day. Now, Kelsey leads a team of 30 people who produce up to 6,000 candles a day. Among her successes: making the financial and manufacturing decisions that led to the procurement and implementation of $200,000 in custom-made high-tech candle-making equipment. With a focus on lean processes, Kelsey has improved operations and online commerce, helping to take the company from $350,000 in annual revenue to about $8 million in just four years.

Kalese Howse

Safety Operations Manager

Toyota Motor Manufacturing

Bio

Kelsey Huelsenbeck

Chief Operations Officer

Antique Candle Co.

Bio

Kelsey Huelsenbeck

Chief Operations Officer

Antique Candle Co.

×

Michael Hurst enjoys working on continuous improvement projects, especially on big efforts that impact efficiency across the firm’s plants. One recent example: He used his skill and knowledge to develop a reporting application that automates Stellantis financial reports. Displaying each plant’s daily financial performance by day, week and month, it helps teams identify and address problem areas. Leadership was so impressed that the application has been implemented in all of Stellantis’ North American plants. Meanwhile, his success in utilizing cost deployment for the Kokomo casting plant has helped teams identify and attack plant losses and has led to his being asked to give presentations on the dynamics and strategy of cost containment.

×

As co-founder of MITO Material Solutions, Kevin Keith isn’t simply on a mission to build his firm; he’s also striving to revolutionize the composites and additive industry. Established in 2016 out of a student led start-up transferring patented technology from Oklahoma State University – where Kevin earned his degree in mechanical engineering technology – MITO Material Solutions has attracted some $7 million in funding, onboarded 50 customers and added six employees. Named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 and SAMPE Young Professionals list in the same year, Kevin is lauded by his team for his ability to act as a bridge between technology and business professionals, and for his aptitude for commercializing novel technologies into existing processes.

Michael Hurst

Plant Controller

Stellantis

Bio

Kevin Keith

Chief Technology Officer

MITO Material Solutions

Bio

Kevin Keith

Chief Technology Officer

MITO Material Solutions

×

Jack Lopez says his career in advanced manufacturing started with a fascination with the many materials an atom can be arranged into. That passion led to a materials engineering degree from Purdue University, where he also participated in a co-op program that landed him at Praxair Surface Technologies. Upon graduation, he accepted a full-time position with the firm, where he spent four years as an additive manufacturing engineer. He helped advance the firm’s material portfolio for additive manufacturing metal powders by evaluating chemistry and laser powder bed fusion (LBPF) process parameters. He recently returned to Purdue to pursue a Ph.D., with a focus on LBPF of novel alloys and composite materials.

×

Henry Lynch always wanted to start a business, and, while he’s only been out of college for a few years, he’s already done that twice. Shortly after graduating college, he helped launch AxisPoint Alliance, a logistics firm where he set up business systems and helped build a proprietary software product to improve communications and workflow. That software served as the foundation of his next start-up experience, Vsimple, where he leads a product team that designs, builds and implements software that drives efficiencies for manufacturing and distribution firms. An economics and finance graduate of Centre College, Henry has supplemented his education with a Harvard Business School certificate in business analytics and post-grad work in enterprise systems at the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Jack Lopez

Additive Engineer/Graduate Researcher

Purdue University

Bio

Henry Lynch

VP of Product

Vsimple

Bio

Henry Lynch

VP of Product

Vsimple

×

With Purdue University degrees in both occupational health science and environmental health science, and a Certified Safety Professional designation from the Board of Certified Safety Professionals, Jessica Meeks has taken her skills to a few firms since she graduated, but always with the same mission: promoting the health and safety of employees in any workplace environment. With experience at a St. Louis-area Amazon fulfillment center, at Cummins sites in Columbus, Indianapolis water treatment and distribution facilities and now, with Adidas in Indianapolis, she has assumed roles with increasing levels of responsibility and leadership. She aspires to be a regional or multi-site manager in health and safety while also being a key player in the decisions regarding environmental compliance.

×

Armed with a Purdue University degree in mechanical engineering, Charles Messmore Jr. has played a role in a number of new-model projects coming off of the Honda production line in Greensburg. Leading teams that test, install and validate new equipment, he helps to make sure the latest additions to Honda vehicles perform as desired, most recently playing a role in integrating vision systems used for quality validation for the 2022 Civic Hatchback. In addition to applying his engineering knowledge, Charles has shown a passion for increasing his skillsets, making him what a Honda department lead described as “one of the most well-rounded engineers in the department.”

Jessica Meeks

Health & Safety Manager

Adidas

Bio

Charles Messmore Jr.

Electrical Engineer

Honda – Indiana Auto Plant

Bio

Charles Messmore Jr.

Electrical Engineer

Honda – Indiana Auto Plant

×

With a background informed by Project Lead The Way classes in high school, time spent tinkering with his dad and with friends, and a desire for self-education, Bryan Ott made an immediate impression at California Closets. He was promoted to inventory and production specialist after less than a year with the firm. His bosses credit him with reducing waste and driving innovation through new approaches to raw material inventory and with winning significant cost savings through a collaboration with the purchasing department. At the same time, they acknowledge that Bryan brings other assets to the firm that are perhaps less tangible but no less important: a zest for life and positivity that spreads throughout the organization.

×

As an alpine skier, Jacob Perkins competes in international events where participants routinely go 100 mph. His colleagues at Amatrol Inc. say he runs at a similar speed there, relishing the fast-paced challenges of innovating in the advanced manufacturing sector. In three years, he has initiated and led transformational projects for Amatrol, a firm that provides technical education and training for industry, community colleges and technical colleges. Jacob has leveraged his ISO certifications and Six Sigma Green Belt to help sharpen Amatrol’s operations (one ISO auditor praised Amatrol’s ISO 9001 system as one of the best implementations in Indiana) and tapped his passion for innovation to introduce new technologies to its programs. These and other contributions earned the Wright State University bachelor’s and master’s degree grad a recent promotion.

Bryan Ott

Inventory and Production Specialist

California Closets

Bio

Jacob Perkins

Manufacturing Engineering Team Lead Amatrol DACW Bayport

Amatrol Inc.

Bio

Jacob Perkins

Manufacturing Engineering Team Lead Amatrol DACW Bayport

Amatrol Inc.

×

Driven by an entrepreneurial energy, Brandon Ruggles arrived at Lacy Diversified Industries (LDI) with two start-ups under his belt, experience with a global consulting firm and his own business running on the side. LDI leadership says he has applied that energy to the firm’s portfolio of advanced manufacturing and logistics companies, driving business improvements that have direct impact on the bottom line. Praising his ability to relate to people from the boardroom and the shop floor, his bosses credit him with completing projects that previously failed and getting buy-in from hesitant leadership, in part due to his ability to distill complex topics into common-sense terms. His insights have delivered where they matter most: increased profits and reduced spending.

×

Paige Sandel landed her first job in manufacturing as an accounts payable specialist while pursuing her college degree. A few years later, she had the degree as well as a position as division controller responsible for 21 business units—employing 11 accounting systems—and more than $430 million in annual revenue. In late 2021, she joined WishBone Medical, where she has made a quick impact, working with WishBone’s team in Warsaw, Ind., as well as its subsidiaries in Larwill, Ind., and Istanbul Turkey. Praised for her ability to recognize opportunities for improvement, attention to detail and ability to juggle several projects at once, Paige has, among other things, developed new reporting packages that not only helped the firm improve results but also championed increased job satisfaction among employees.

Brandon Ruggles

Manager, Strategy and Operations

Lacy Diversified Industries

Bio

Paige Sandel

Corporate Controller

WishBone Medical Inc.

Bio

Paige Sandel

Corporate Controller

WishBone Medical Inc.

×

Natalie Scott came to Indiana from California seeking the “true college experience.” She found that and a career. Attending Purdue University, she earned a degree in industrial engineering and also participated in two internships with Cummins, which led to her current role supporting the company’s electric school bus operations. Instrumental in helping to relocate the company’s electric vehicle components line from California to Columbus, Natalie generates timelines for change implementation, coordinates and manages implementation tasks and executes on-time delivery, earning praise from bosses for going “above and beyond.” One key success: Natalie led three successful supply chain generational changes, introducing more than 150 new parts and changes on time per the customer’s requirements.

×

A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Alex Topalovic helps northern Indiana businesses improve business performance through innovation. With enFocus, he guides businesses through the adoption of services and processes that sharpen supply chain, manufacturing, R&D and market access. Praised for being able to turn improvement recommendations into actionable steps, Alex has played a key role in the deployment of Transformation XP, which helps companies improve on-time delivery, reduce stock outages, increase revenue and improve customer satisfaction. Alex also has launched his own business, Digital Leader, a platform that helps high school teachers develop students into digitally literate, agile and innovative leaders by connecting them with emerging technologies and nurturing lifelong-learning mindsets.

Natalie Scott

Industrial Engineer

Cummins Inc.

Bio

Alex Topalovic

Management Analyst

enFocus Inc.

Bio

Alex Topalovic

Management Analyst

enFocus Inc.

×

A passion for nature and for helping people led Christopher Tracy into a career as an environmental engineer. A willingness to tackle any task – regardless of whether it could require his working “below” his aptitude or stretching to meet challenges that test his expertise – has made him valuable to his bosses at Heritage Environmental Services. One key achievement: developing a system to track manifest ages to ensure that waste moves through Indiana in an environmentally compliant and appropriate way. With a bachelor’s from The Ohio State University and master’s from Purdue University, Christopher intends to pursue his Professional Engineer’s license.

×

While still in high school, Tommy VanHook earned a certificate from the American Welding Society, an achievement that helped him land his first job with TBK America, as an assembly operator. In the ensuing four years, the firm has promoted him to team lead, supervisor and, his current position, production engineering manager. Continuing to set his course by continuously learning in new areas, Tommy recently attended robotics training that included classes on robot programming and is currently gaining hands-on experience in Amazon Web Services and programming for computer numerical controls and logic controllers. In addition to lauding Tommy’s skills and understanding of manufacturing concepts, TBK leadership also are impressed with the example he sets for others in the company, and the inspiration his assembly-operator-to-management-role story provides to workers on the production floor.

Christopher Tracy

Junior Environmental Engineer

Heritage Environmental Services

Bio

Tommy VanHook

Production Engineering Manager

TBK America

Bio

Tommy VanHook

Production Engineering Manager

TBK America

×

Joining Rolls-Royce as part of its supply chain graduate rotation program, Kyle Varble has enjoyed a fast ascent, gaining a ranking as the youngest Global Commodity Manager across Rolls-Royce’s international operations. In that role, he has responsibility for 11 direct reports, 120 global suppliers and an $80 million annual spend in a group that produces propellers and waterjets supporting 90% of the U.S. Navy’s fleet. Along the way, he has negotiated more than $5 million in cost savings, managed suppliers across international boundaries and won the respect of a team that includes people twice his age. With a degree from Indiana State University and an MBA in progress with the University of Illinois, Kyle is dedicated to recruiting other young professionals into the supply chain industry.

×

After serving four years with the U.S. Marine Corps, Caleb Wayman enrolled in Vincennes University’s Advanced Internship in Manufacturing Program (AIM), gaining experience that not only gave him an entry into a career but also connected him with his future employer. His time at AIM led him to a job with Caterpillar and then to a position with Subaru of Indiana Automotive, which led to his current role back at AIM, where he works with students and area employers to prepare people to enter the workforce as skilled maintenance technicians. His employers say the program benefits from Caleb’s natural (and Corps-sharpened) leadership, as well as his enthusiasm for students and the growth of the advanced manufacturing field.

Kyle Varble

Global Commodity Manager

Rolls-Royce

Bio

Caleb Wayman

AIM Site Director

Vincennes University

Bio

Caleb Wayman

AIM Site Director

Vincennes University

Former Honorees

The Rising 30 awards program launched in 2021 with an inaugural class of honorees who set the stage for this year’s class.

Past Recipients

Know a Rising Star?

Interested in nominating someone for the Rising 30 Class of 2023? Fill out the information below to be notified when Conexus Indiana opens applications for next year’s class.

Rising 30 Class of 2023 Info Request
First
Last