Department/Title: Director of Research & Product Development
Worked at Kadant Johnson Since: February 2000
Tell me about your career path and how you got to Kadant.
After graduating from Western Michigan University (WMU) with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I started my career at Ronnigen Research & Development in aluminum mold design. Soon after, I went to work for Parker Aerospace and focused on hydraulic pumps. I started at Kadant Johnson in 2000 and earned my professional engineer license and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from WMU. I then had a brief stint at Summit Polymers before returning to Kadant.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I enjoy the variety and diversity of applications I get to be involved in and I enjoy working directly with our customers. You never know what someone is going to request a design to do — from molten salt and lead to chlorine gas.
What do you think is the most important quality for success?
Being able to define for yourself what success is and looks like. You should know what it is you’re trying to achieve.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
You can’t over communicate. Most people fail to communicate appropriately, and in the absence of communication people assume the worst.
What do you find the most challenging in the product development process?
Getting a clear definition of what product the market actually wants. It takes longer to get an agreement on a new project than it does to design and launch it.
What do you enjoy the most about developing new products?
The challenge of solving a customer’s problem with the best design to fit the customer’s overall needs.
Tell me about your family.
My wife, Melissa, is a Nurse Practitioner. We have three kids: Benjamin (18), Ellen (15), and Hank (8). I’m the youngest of three kids. My mother is a retired high school math teacher and my father is a retired circuit court judge.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My wife – she has incredible strength of character and determination. She puts other people’s needs before her own, is positive and happy, and very adept at quietly moving the family in a good direction.
What do you like to do in your free time and why?
Hunting, fishing, and muscle cars. They are all challenging, they can be done alone or with friends, they provide a clear definition of success and teach you to respect and appreciate what you cannot control.
Do you have a favorite sports team and how did you become a fan?
Detroit Red Wings – I started playing hockey in college with friends and once I started playing, the game on television became more interesting. I enjoy the constant motion in hockey.