Manufacturing jobs throughout the region boast a variety of positions and career paths, and these women can attest to that diversity of opportunities! If you or someone you know is interested in a new career path, but aren’t sure what might be right for you, check out these testimonials from a variety of women in manufacturing at a few employers in the Lakes Region of Northwest Iowa!
Demco Products, Spencer, Iowa
“Manufacturing is a growing industry that is constantly on the move. It provides the opportunity to improve skills and learn new ones.”
Carrie Engelkes is an Engineering Clerical Assistant at Demco. She’s been at her position for the past six years, but is more than willing to assist in other areas of the business as needed. The growing manufacturing industry that is constantly moving and providing opportunities to improve or learn new skills is what brought Engelkes to her career in manufacturing.
“Manufacturing is a very hands-on, creative and rewarding opportunity,” says Engelkes. “Although manufacturing consists of routine, it also involves problem solving to make products stand out from competitors.”
In addition to the positive atmosphere and team members she works with every day, Engelkes says the best part of her career is the excitement of watching the products develop.
“It’s exciting to see a product take shape from the beginning to the end. It’s satisfying to see a finished product in action and be able to say, ‘we made that.’”
Outside of work, Engelkes enjoys reading and spending time with her three children.
“The jobs in manufacturing are not just for men. One needs to just be willing to try. I did and I like where I am.”
Kristi (Kris) Johnson also has been with Demco for six years. She and her husband moved to Spencer to be closer to their kids, and she had worked with Demco purchasing parts at her previous job with Aluma. The salesperson she worked with spoke highly of the company, and she applied. Now Johnson gets to work with a variety of people as well as be a part of building Demco’s products.
“The job is very satisfying. No day is the same. There are many different areas that could be a good fit,” Johnson says. “The jobs in manufacturing are not just for men. It takes people who enter data, sales, engineers, welders, painters, packaging, logistics just to mention a few. One needs to just be willing to try. I did and I like where I am.”
In her free time, Johnson spends time with her family, sews, crochets, travels, and enjoys outdoor recreation.
“The best part is the people I work with. The job is never boring.”
Kathy Kunzmann is an Inventory Associate with Demco. The pay is what originally drew her to a manufacturing career and now, “I have been a purchasing agent for over forty years,” Kunzmann says. “It has been the most challenging and enjoyable position I have had in my career. What other job can you talk all day, spend lots of money, and they pay you to do it!”
The best part of her job is the people she works with and that the job is never boring. For those considering a job in manufacturing, Kunzmann says to check the benefits and, “Today is your Tomorrow!”
“Every day is a new challenge.”
Pam Miller has been at Demco for 20 years. She enjoys that she gets to work close to home with good pay and benefits. The best part of her career, though, is that every day is a new challenge.
She enjoys “working for a versatile company that is constantly adapting to the changes in the agricultural and trailer market.”
For those looking at getting a job in manufacturing, Miller suggests, “you should have good work ethics – dependable, reliable and willing to work. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn something new, build confidence and get paid doing it.”
“I wish more people realized that working in manufacturing can be anything but boring.”
Margaret Schiernbeck works in Production Scheduling and Inventory Control at Demco. She’s lived in Spencer and worked in manufacturing for 33 years. Starting at Witco for 10 years, when the company moved manufacturing production to Mexico, Schiernbeck found a job at Maurer Manufacturing, which became Demco Products years later.
“Working in a manufacturing setting has been a positive experience for me,” Schiernbeck says. “If you can join a manufacturing company, I would expect you to find it as challenging and rewarding as I have.”
From the receiving department, through the production process, and all the way through shipping, Schiernbeck wants more people to know the pride manufacturing employees have in their work and the products they create. “There is a sense of pride throughout a manufacturing setting.”
The best part of her job, though, is the people she gets to work with.
“I have always been able to say my co-workers are the best part of my job, interacting with co-workers that strive to provide quality manufactured parts and equipment each of us can be proud of for our customers,” Schiernbeck says.
Variety is also a plus.
“I wish more people realized that working in manufacturing can be anything but boring,” she shares. “If a manufacturing company produces the same product day in or day out, or offers a vast line of different products, you will find each workday a little different than the next, keeping your work life interesting.”
“I love the diversity of what I do.”
Nicole (Nikki) Schnell has also been with Demco for over 20 years. She has experience in a variety of positions including sales, customer service, accounts receivable, shipping and receiving, IT, purchasing and scheduling, but her primary role is Engineering Clerical Assistant. Schnell enjoys helping out wherever she is needed.
“I love the diversity of what I do,” Schnell shares. “I do so much more than just work as an Engineering Clerical Assistant. I assist multiple departments daily. Whether I am troubleshooting a program issue, doing research, collecting data or answering questions from any department that needs help. It also helps that I work with a great group of people.”
Even though manufacturing work can be challenging, Schnell wants people to know that it is also a lot of fun.
“Manufacturing is not just working on a production floor. A lot of work goes on in the office as well before production can even begin to work. From sales, engineering and even accounting. It takes a team from beginning to end in all positions within the business.”
This mother of three loves animals, spending time with family and friends and watching movies to relax.
Learn more about Demco Products or explore their careers!
GKN Armstrong Wheels, Estherville, Iowa
“I enjoy working in the community and being a part of a local business.”
Both Jody Hobmeier and her husband work at GKN in Estherville. Hobmeier, an Estherville native, enjoys building parts and finished products to contribute to the agricultural and earthmover industries. One of the biggest things she has learned in her time at GKN is that you gain valuable skills.
“It’s rewarding as you learn skills that you can use inside and outside of work. I have learned several problem-solving techniques.”
“You can come in with no experience and learn the trade through training,” she says. “Keep an open mind that there is room to grow and learn. It’s always great to see what our finished products can do for others.”
“The best part is the people I work with.”
Amanda Hersleff works in assembly and operation at GKN. She has worked in manufacturing since college. She says the best part of her job is the people she works with. Learning is a big part of her work, too.
“You gain a lot of knowledge when working in manufacturing,” Hersleff says. “You can grow and advance.”
Learn more about GKN or explore their careers!
Safco Products, Milford, Iowa
“I wanted to do something different. I had only worked in retail before I began my career at Safco.”
Tiffany Plagman is an Assembly Group Lead at Safco Products. The Laurens native now lives in Spencer and commutes to her job in Milford. Before getting a job a Safco, Plagman only had experience in retail, and she wanted to do something different. Her hands-on job makes the days fly by, and she doesn’t get bored because there is always something new to learn!
“I had never worked in manufacturing before and had no idea what I was getting myself into,” says Plagman. “What I’ve learned is that anyone can succeed in manufacturing.”
“There is always something new to learn. You will never get bored doing the same thing day in and day out.”
Because the job is hands-on, Plagman’s days fly by. “There are times when other departments need help so you get to learn many different areas of the plant.”
“Every day is different and we get to wear a lot of hats.”
Kassandra Kroger is a buyer at Safco. She was born and raised in the lakes region and has a degree in Business Management and Marketing from Northwest Missouri State University. She has been at Safco almost three years.
“After graduation, I returned to the area exploring several job opportunities before finding my call in manufacturing,” Kroger says. “After trying out several career paths post-graduation, I hadn’t found the perfect fit. My parents both have 20+ years in manufacturing industries, and I decided to explore the option for myself.”
Jordan Doll is also a buyer with Safco. She recently relocated to the lakes region where she found her home at Safco.
“Initially, my background in purchasing drew me to this role. It was during the interview process that I was first introduced to the appeal of a career in manufacturing,” Doll explains. “I quickly observed an environment where creativity, ingenuity, and continuous improvement are embraced. All of this, coupled with a team that feels like family, made joining Safco the easiest choice I’ve made.”
Kroger and Doll enjoy the variety they have in their positions at Safco. Working with small and big suppliers and learning the vast array of positions within a plant make their jobs interesting.
“Manufacturing isn’t always repetitive daily tasks, as many assume. Many manufacturing operations, like ours, are flexible and constantly evolving,” they share. “Every role in a plant is valued. No matter your position, your ideas have the ability to bring about change.”
Learn more about Safco Products or explore their careers!
Tyson Foods, Storm Lake, Iowa
“There are many opportunities in manufacturing business besides line-paced jobs, and you can build and make a career out of it.”
Danielle Massukado is an FSQA Manager at Tyson Foods, The Hillshire Brands in Storm Lake. A veterinarian working in the Food Industry for the last 20 years, Massukado has experience with beef, pork and poultry plants.
A mentor in her early career encouraged Massukado to make the world a better place through her skills acquired at Vet School, which sparked the idea to improve Food Safety and Quality of Animal Protein offered to the world.
“Being a woman in a male-dominated field can pose challenges, but it’s not as intimidating as you think – diversity makes good business sense,” says Massukado. “(The best part is) leading the way through my work in developing solutions to some of the greatest challenges around it – and by inspiring and encouraging more women to join the manufacturing workforce, since we are an important part of the solution to the industry’s workforce needs.”
“There are many opportunities in manufacturing business besides line paced jobs, and you can build and make a career out of it,” she shares. “There is so much room to grow.”
“I quickly learned that the manufacturing industry isn’t a scary place, but rather a job that can become a career.”
Tyson Foods HR Coordinator Genesis Miranda has worked her way up in the company, starting on the production line and moving up to her current position.
Miranda came to Tyson when she moved to Storm Lake and needed a steady income.
“I quickly learned that the manufacturing industry isn’t a scary place,” she says, “but rather a job that can become a career. When I realized that, I knew I wanted to grow within the company, and that is why I am in HR.”
When asked the best part about her job, Miranda shares, “I meet so many people with different walks of life. Every one of our Team Members has a different reason for why they come to work every day. But the best part would have to be helping those individuals realize that they can do so much more here.”
“Some of the people I admire most work right here, alongside me, continuously developing themselves and advancing in their career because they’re willing to put in the work.”
“GO. FOR. IT!!!” is Miranda’s message to those looking at manufacturing as a career option. “There are so many paths you can take towards success in this field of work. Although you may have to put in some work and ‘roll up your sleeves,’ this is a great place to advance in a multitude of different careers – not just HR!”
“Many manufacturers invest in their employees by providing training and higher education.”
Kimberlie Bumgardner is the Environmental Manager at Tyson Foods. She’s worked in the environmental industry for 26 years in a variety of industries.
“I love spending time outside and traveling,” Bumgardner explains. “This career choice has given me the opportunity to do both. There are also many other positions that allow for a more regular schedule with minimal or no travel such as the position I am currently in with Tyson. The diversity of positions and promotions that are offered is why I have remained in the environmental field and manufacturing for so long.”
Bumgardner finds value in helping the people and companies in the manufacturing industry to find “comprehensive, creative and cost-effective ways to effectively maintain regulatory compliance and expand toward operating in a sustainable manner.”
She shares that there are opportunities for promotion, especially for those willing to put in the work and learn new things.
“Many manufacturers invest in their employees by providing training and higher education as they want to encourage hard-working, highly-motivated employees to stay with the company and become leaders in the industry.”
Learn more about Tyson Foods or explore their careers!