Jeffrey Clark, president and CEO of Waukesha Metal Products
Address: N53 W24635 S. Corporate Circle, Sussex
Industry: Contract metal forming manufacturer
Family: Wife and three children
What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“Expand our capacity and capability with the acquisition of Revstone SLP in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.”
What’s new at your company?
“Our San Luis Potosí, Mexico plant and team.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“We have several large programs launching in 2015 that will require capital expenditures and talent expansion at all three of our manufacturing locations. Our hope is to add at least 10 positions in our U.S. operations next year. We have yet to determine how many positions we will add in Mexico.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“Balancing the resource requirements of the new operation in San Luis Potosí and the launch of major programs in our Grafton and Sussex facilities.”
Why are you based in southeastern Wisconsin? What benefits does the region offer your company?
“The company was founded in Waukesha in 1971. The founders learned their trade in this area and chose to stay because of the talent base. I continue to see southeastern Wisconsin as a premier manufacturing region in the U.S. with a rich tradition of skilled talent.”
How concerned are you about finding talent in the future workforce? How does your company help prepare students to fill in-demand positions in your industry?
“I believe talent will be the biggest limiting factor for growth for any company based on the predicted population growth, baby boomer retirements and current immigration policies. We have been working with numerous K-12 school districts and GPS Education Partners to enhance manufacturing career awareness and provide work-based learning opportunities for high school students. We are partnering with GPS Education Partners and several other local manufacturers to launch a new Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Pathway at our Sussex facility in 2015. We are also working with regional technical colleges and universities to offer apprenticeships and internships for skilled trades, maintenance, automation technology, engineering, supply chain management, and business disciplines. Our corporate goal is to have 10 to 15 percent of our workforce be apprentices, interns or co-op students.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Grow or die.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“One of my early bosses told me that the best leaders recognize the point in time when they have reached their maximum potential to contribute to the organization and have the confidence to step aside so the organization can grow and perform. Fortunately, I have not reached that point!”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“Not funny at the time, but one faux pas that I can laugh at now happened when I first traveled to Japan to meet with a customer. Having little international business experience and no ‘international team,’ I secured a very nice travel wallet embossed with our logo to give to our customers as a gift. Unfortunately I did not realize in Japanese customs that the color of the black leather travel wallet had an unintended meaning of bad luck or death. I now do a better customs review for every country we conduct business with ahead of time!”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“Spend time with my family, work towards a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and read about history.”