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Women in Manufacturing is a community created by Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) members and designed exclusively for women who have chosen a career in the manufacturing industry, and want to share perspectives, gain cutting edge manufacturing information, improve leadership and communication skills, participate in sponsoring programs and network with industry peers. Visit the Women in Manufacturing website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#HearHerStory with Kiery Wilson from Post Foods


At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-buildling will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.



Kiery Wilson
Associate Food Scientist II
Post Foods
#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.
I’m a food scientist in research and development with Post Cereal; right now I’m working on Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Pebbles and any new products in that brand. I develop new products and quality improvements for the Pebbles brand. Typically, I spend half my day working in the lab, trying out new formulas and the other half at my desk working on the computer. I work with ingredient suppliers, create specifications, develop formulas, order ingredients and attend meetings on our projects. I also plan and oversee plant trials, where we try out our formula and scale it up to the production facility. I also help troubleshoot issues in the production facility when the formula doesn’t scale-up quite the way we planned. Sometimes, I get to work on consumer information like taste testing, focus groups and developing questionnaires to better understand consumer wants or needs. Every day I do something different; it’s definitely not monotonous.

How did you arrive at your current position? What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?
I stumbled into Food Science when I was going to school at Brigham Young University. I started in a major that was not what I thought it would be and I felt I needed to find a job that could provide for me, and one day, my family. A job like that was definitely not possible with a Classical Studies degree. I scoured the majors list and didn’t see what would fit me, especially since I wanted a job that I would be happy to do every day. Tall order, right? I worked on my generals for the next semester and tried out the Introduction to Food Science class. I’d heard from friends that it was a fun, easy class, full of free food each week, so why not? After my second class, I was hooked. Now I can’t imagine what kind of job I’d be doing if it wasn’t food science!

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men. Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?
I’ve encountered multiple stereotypes, but they’re less about manufacturing stereotypes and more about being a capable woman in the man-dominated industry of manufacturing. The majority of our department is comprised of women and we tell each other when we find sturdy, well-fitting clothes or shoes or safety glasses. Just because it’s a man’s world, doesn’t mean I have to dress like one! We’ve had to ask for women’s sizes when ordering uniforms because men’s sizes just aren’t meant for women. It can also be difficult making your voice heard when you’re 20 years younger and a woman. It’s a struggle to give input without coming across as overconfident and cocky. You have to craft your message carefully and sometimes you just want them to listen so you talk louder. Doing so will automatically kill whatever message you are trying to convey. Women have to work harder at managing their emotions when they’re angry or overwhelmed.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor. Has mentorship played any role in your career?
Mentoring has played a huge role in my career. The first few years out of college, I didn’t have an official mentor, just colleagues I’d talk with sometimes. About a year ago, I realized I was unsure of how to handle a few situations at work and started looking for a mentor and asked a senior product developer. She and I meet to discuss any difficulties I come up against while at work and solutions. She has helped me strengthen areas I’m struggling in and taught me how to use my strengths to my advantage. It’s invaluable to have someone you trust to bring up things you could do better and help you learn the skills you need. It’s also very helpful to have someone who sees your interactions with others and can offer advice or correction for future situations. In the last year we’ve worked together, I’ve made great progress in my ability to handle difficult situations and in my confidence to deal with constant changes. It doesn’t need to be another woman, just someone who you feel comfortable talking with about questions or issues you have over the course of your work, someone to show you how to maneuver your way through promotions, raises, etc. You also may want to follow a specific mentoring guide as well, currently we are using “The Mentor’s Guide” by Lois J. Zachary. It is full of questions that can generate discussion and keep you from discussing the same thing over and over. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your personal and professional development!

WiM recently unveiled new survey results. One of the key findings is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today. But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?
Word of mouth is a powerful thing. I tell people about my job, everywhere I go, especially to anyone who is in high school or college and looking for a major. My husband tells people about my job, because he thinks I have the coolest job around, and together we encourage people to look into food science. It always surprises people when I talk about my profession because so few people know it’s a real job! I remember how I had never heard of it, and how amazing it was to hear about such a job. I want to give others that same opportunity. I always have a stack of business cards to give out with the offer to help answer any questions they might have about food science. Volunteering at any level of school is valuable. Teaching your kids and their friends about it is powerful. My sister-in-law just had a mad scientist birthday party for her 7-year-old and 12 of her friends. They did all kinds of science experiments and had a blast. We as women are the ones who decide what the next generation will be like and introducing students to STEM jobs needs to start earlier. If we want more women in the field we need to be visible to the world. Girls need mentors; they need to see someone doing a job and think, “maybe I could do that someday!” We need to volunteer, talk about our jobs and be accessible! Schools, girls’ groups, church groups, friends, family, our kids, even random strangers can all benefit from our willingness to volunteer, and influence the next generation of women in manufacturing.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options. Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why?

I never would have thought about a job in manufacturing when I was in high school, even in college! It never was something that appealed to me; I could only picture being a line worker and the drudgery that can come with that type of position, day in and day out. When I found Food Science and learned that I could be making new food products and live inside “How It’s Made,” I became much more interested. I didn’t realize that there were more than just line workers who work in manufacturing—it takes everyone working together: R&D, quality, engineering, operations, sanitation and more. Sometimes you get dirty, sometimes not. You’re not always in the manufacturing facility either. I go out a few times a week but spend the most time in my office and lab. I have a part in making food that influences people. What I make can influence others and I have a voice that wants to be heard.



Monday, December 15, 2014

WiM Mentioned in an AP Story about Manufacturers Seeking Women Workers

WiM was mentioned in a new AP article on manufacturers' efforts to recruit women employees.

The article says, "Some companies in need of welders, machinists and other skilled workers are now targeting women, who account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce but hold less than a third of the nation’s 12.2 million manufacturing jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

Pointing to a report by the National Women's Law Center, the article notes that "women’s share of manufacturing jobs peaked in the early 1990s, and remained mostly unchanged until the recession."

One reason for this problem?  The writer points to another piece of research: "A ... survey done for Women in Manufacturing, a nonprofit industry group, found that women ages 17 to 24 tended to see the industry as male-dominated and dull."

Read the full article to see how companies like Harley-Davidson and others are working to fight stereotypes that keep young women away.

Friday, December 12, 2014

#HearHerStory: Susan Heynen


At Women in Manufacturing, we are committed to supporting women in the manufacturing sector. We firmly believe that mentorship and community-buildling will help attract and retain women in manufacturing.  As part of our mission, we feature on our blog the stories of women we admire who are currently working in manufacturing.  The following is the latest installment of our "Hear Her Story" series.


Susan Heynen
Manufacturing Engineer
Caterpillar Inc.#HearHerStory / @womeninmfg

Please tell our readers a little bit about your job and what your work looks like every day.

I am a Manufacturing Engineer for Undercarriage RCWT off road construction in East Peoria, Illinois. When challenges and obstacles arise each day, I support, coordinate and direct the work needed to be done to resolve the issues. I am a diagnostic resource and support for shop floor maintenance technicians for bin picking. I provide technical and project leadership for the manufacturing process throughout the facility in the area of process maintenance and programming support. I track issues and fix root causes. I also am a liaison with other production facilities and corporate engineering teams for Full Link Heat Treat.

How did you arrive at your current position? What attracted you to a career in manufacturing?

I worked for a contract company within Caterpillar and needed more of a challenge, so I applied for positions with Caterpillar and was offered my present position. What attracted me in my current position was the automation. Caterpillar invested in building a “cell” with nine robots, three furnaces, two quenches and an induction system, and hired me to oversee this area. I went to college for an electronic degree because I knew there was a wide selection of jobs in this field. The jobs I have found most rewarding are in manufacturing in many aspects.

At WiM, much of our work is dedicated to refuting outdated stereotypes about the manufacturing sector: stereotypes like the workplaces are dirty and dangerous and that the field and skills required are a better fit for men. Have you encountered stereotypes like these in your education or career and how did you overcome them?

I certainly have worked in environments as mentioned. I show them what I am made of. I get in there, get dirty and greasy, do the hard work or even tedious work. I sometimes take charge and lead the direction with my head lifted high with confidence. I can wash my hands with soap and water later. Women are just as smart and capable as men and sometimes even more so—as we have ALL seen and experienced.

Research shows that women, especially women in STEM fields, do better if they have a mentor. Has mentorship played any role in your career?

When I started with Caterpillar in 2004 I had a Caterpillar manager that mentored me. We talked about my skills and goals. He helped give direction. When opportunities arose he helped get me in positions where I could develop and build more skills that landed my present position. Whatever job you have, learn more skills—they always take you to the next step. Having a mentor and someone that cares for your future and success is a blessing.

WiM recently unveiled new survey results. One of the key findings is that there is significant overlap between what young women want in careers and the attributes of careers in manufacturing today. But the survey also found that, too often, young women are not aware of the opportunities available in manufacturing. What do you think can be done to spread the word to women about career options in modern manufacturing?

I think it would be nice if teachers and coaches would encourage and talk about this to their students—also, if media would have TV commercials about women in business and manufacturing. How about showing commercials where there is a team of people working but, the majority of the hard workers are women? Show how men welcome and support their knowledge, thinking and abilities. I personally have roofed my house, laid a 30x30 block patio, gutted rooms of lathe and plaster, went to college, raised a son, managed my household, worked hard in manufacturing, and am debt free. You need determination and to be a Go-Getter. I started with nothing 30 years ago—no home or car.

Our survey also found that the majority of women in manufacturing today would recommend the sector to young women considering career options. Would you recommend a career in manufacturing? And, if so, why?

I definitely recommend women to pursue careers in manufacturing. I have worked in manufacturing for 24+ years. There are many areas to choose from in the manufacturing world. I have always been in engineering of some sort; in testing/evaluation, calibration and now a support role.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest Post: Funds Investing in U.S. Manufacturing Companies: Foreign Investor Considerations

Here's the next post in a series of guest pieces provided by WiM supporter, Foley & Lardner LLP.

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Funds Investing in U.S. Manufacturing Companies: Foreign Investor Considerations
By Annette De La Torre and Jamshed Patel

Operators of manufacturing companies, especially those considering a sale or capital raise, should understand investors’ concerns regarding direct investment. Today, investment funds with investors and investments in multiple jurisdictions constitute a large part of the U.S. manufacturing direct investment landscape. However, tax challenges exist for these fund managers and investors.

The tax treatment of foreign investors depends largely on the type of income generated by a fund. For example, assume that an investment fund is structured as a domestic limited partnership, with both U.S. and foreign investors. Further, assume that the fund acquires a U.S.-based manufacturing company, which is also structured as a domestic limited partnership. Unless structured properly, the foreign investors will have to file U.S. income tax returns and pay U.S. income tax on their share of the income from the manufacturing operations. This structure poses little concern for those American investors, but it is quite troublesome for foreign investors.

Effects on Foreign Investors & Fund Managers

The income derived by foreign fund investors from manufacturing operations conducted through an entity that is treated for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a flowthrough entity will generally be deemed to be “effectively connected” to a U.S. “trade or business.” As a result, the foreign investors will be (1) subject to U.S. tax on their income generated via the investment fund, (2) required to make annual U.S. tax filings, and (3) subject to U.S. withholding taxes on fund income. Additionally, a foreign investor that is classified for U.S. federal income tax purposes as a corporation will generally be subject to U.S. branch-profits tax. Similarly, if the fund manager invests fund assets in loans originated by the fund manager, then such loan origination activity could also give rise to mandatory U.S. taxes and filings for foreign fund investors. This treatment of ordinary operating income also applies to capital gains.

“Blocker” Corporations

There are two ways to limit a foreign investor’s U.S. tax and reporting obligations. First, the investor can hold its fund investment through an entity treated as a C-corporation for U.S. income tax purposes. Alternatively, the investment fund can hold its interest in the flowthrough manufacturing entity through an entity treated as a C-corporation. These structuring methods are referred to as using a “blocker” corporation because it blocks the foreign investor from income otherwise considered “effectively connected” income. Instead, the blocker converts such income into “FDAP-type” income which generally does not necessitate a direct U.S. tax or reporting obligation for the foreign investor. The only downside is that the blocker entity itself will be a taxable entity for U.S. tax purposes. The blocker will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at a 35% rate and to possible state income tax. However, this cost may be lowered by implementing a capital structure that employs both debt and equity. Any distributions paid by the blocker will generally be subject to a U.S. dividend withholding tax at a rate of 30% (or a lower rate if a treaty is applicable). In many situations, this withholding tax is not expected to be material, because the amount of distributions paid by the blocker before final exit is expected to be relatively small. So long as the blocker is not a “United States real property holding corporation” (i.e., does not derive most of its value from U.S. real property interests), an exit in the form of a sale of the shares of the blocker will generally not trigger U.S. income tax.

There are a number of tax issues that investment funds and their investors face when structuring their funds and investments. Given the magnitude of foreign investment, American manufacturing companies would be wise to understand the myriad tax issues affecting their potential sources of capital.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Guest Post: EPA Advocacy Can Add Value to a Manufacturer’s Bottom Line

Here's the next post in a series of guest pieces provided by WiM supporter, Foley & Lardner LLP.

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EPA Advocacy Can Add Value to a Manufacturer’s Bottom Line
By Sarah Slack

Whether you’re manufacturing widgets or rubber bands, paper products or cheese, one thing most manufacturers have in common is being subject to various regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). Manufacturers often experience regulation as an imposition of new, stringent requirements that drive up operational costs. However, there are opportunities to engage in the regulatory process that allow manufacturers to participate in the development of the rules they must follow. In his book, “Effective EPA Advocacy,” Richard Stoll, elected this year as a Fellow in the American College of Environmental Lawyers, breaks down the processes by which EPA develops its rules and policies. He also outlines how companies can become involved in shaping the regulations and policies that affect their operations and their bottom lines.

Manufacturers can be impacted by rules and policy that are developed in several ways, and Stoll specifically addresses several of these, including “informal” rulemaking and “sub-regulatory” decisions.

Informal Rulemaking

Most manufacturers are familiar with the informal rulemaking process – it is the traditional method by which EPA publishes a draft rule for notice and comment and then incorporates and/or responds to those comments in crafting the final rule. Stoll notes that if a company wants to influence the development of rules through this process, then early and frequent advocacy is key. Working with the agency in the planning phases of a new rule provides manufacturers with a chance to influence a rule that is still being drafted. On the flip side, Stoll also outlines the power of the judicial review process, which allows parties to seek review of final agency decisions.

Sub-Regulatory Decisions

Manufacturers are usually less familiar with the use of sub-regulatory decisions, which is the process by which EPA interprets or clarifies its regulations. Sub-regulatory decisions serve an important role for the regulated community, allowing EPA to provide clarity without utilizing the resources to go through the informal rulemaking process.

Sub-regulatory decisions can be in the form of an interpretive memo intended to be responsive to a specific question or a more conventional guidance document developed in conjunction with a rule to guide implementation and compliance. In the end, Stoll notes that the sub-regulatory decision making process is even more informal than informal rulemaking. Also, although EPA relies heavily on this type of guidance and courts will look to it as informative, Stoll points out that it does not have the force of law like regulations. Its development cannot be challenged in court either. But even though sub-regulatory decisions aren’t enforceable per se, to the extent the EPA relies on them in its decision making process, there is value in working with the agency to help establish reasonable guidance.

The Cost/Benefit Analysis

Ultimately, Stoll acknowledges that whether manufacturers engage in EPA advocacy comes down to weighing the cost of compliance against the cost of engaging in the regulatory process. As manufacturers strive to strike this balance, Stoll identifies a number of practices and factors that should be considered, including the following:

  • Informal rulemaking really is informal – any party can request a meeting with EPA on any issue at any time.
  • Start early, and if possible, even before EPA issues a draft rule – EPA is often considering ranges of options. By the time a draft is issued, EPA has already reduced the options under consideration.
  • Find out what rules EPA is developing – review the regulatory agenda; sign up for email alerts from EPA, industry groups, or both; and review trade press.
  • Coordinate your efforts – pooling resources can be cost effective and smart in the right situation, and there can be strength in numbers.
  • Go beyond EPA if necessary – enlisting the assistance of Members of Congress and making your case to the media can be both cost efficient and effective.
Participating in EPA advocacy may seem daunting, but participation can add real value to a manufacturer’s bottom line.

This post originally appeared on Foley & Lardner LLP’s Manufacturing Industry Advisor blog. Subscribe to the blog at http://www.manufacturingindustryadvisor.com/

APPI Energy Outlook for 2015


APPI Energy, an Affinity Partner of ours, has put together a great energy outlook piece for 2015.

As the weather turns colder, it isn't all snowmen and hot chocolate, APPI reminds us.

"Last winter’s extremely cold temperatures caused high energy costs for unprepared customers, some of whom are still feeling repercussions today," the consulting firm says in the piece posted on their website.
And the same may be coming this year.  According to APPI, "Weather forecasters are predicting another cold winter in the U.S. Below-normal temperatures are expected to encompass two-thirds of the U.S., particularly the East Coast and Gulf Coast."

So APPI encourages readers to think ahead.  "If extreme cold weather forecasts are accurate," the piece says, "electricity consumers should prepare for the risk of more electricity price volatility." 

To plan for price fluctuations, APPI offers several recommendations:

"Energy consumers are encouraged to mitigate risk exposure to volatile energy prices by using a fixed-price supply contract as soon as possible, to cover supply through at least March 2015. Customers unwilling to commit to a one-to-three year supply contract should at least consider locking in a short-term, four-to-five month supply solution."

Interested readers can see the full piece here or contact APPI Energy at 800-520-6685 or info@appienergy.com.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Fall 2014 IMPACT Newsletter

The latest issue of our IMPACT newsletter is out.  Visit our website to read the electronic version.  Inside, you'll find a summary of our recently released survey results as well as highlights  from SUMMIT 2014 and a list of upcoming events.  

Want a hard copy?  You can also find a subscription request form on the website.