Future Leaders in Manufacturing (FLM) Committee

Our Future Leaders in Manufacturing committee (formerly Vanguard Committee) continues that tradition by providing young professionals an opportunity to drive fresh, new ideas to the Spring and Metalstamping community. Contact the Future Leaders in Manufacturing Committee Chair Jake Youmans at youj@ctspring.com to join us!

Interested in a manufacturing career?
Contact NESMA at info@nesma-usa.com

Committee Members

Jake Youmans, Chair

Jacob (Jake) Youmans began his career at Connecticut Spring & Stamping while still in high school, and he has no plans of leaving his family’s company. Jake earned his B.A. in Business and Psychology at Bryant University while continuing to work at CSS during school vacations and throughout the four summers.

During his first two years full-time, after having spent his early years in the Information Systems Department, Jake has worked alongside loyal and skilled colleagues in many departments to become as knowledgeable in as many facets of the manufacturing business as possible in preparation for possible management roles.

Connecticut Spring is a leading international manufacturer of precision springs and metal shaped solutions that have been a strategic supplier of custom springs, progressive stampings, fine blanked stampings, machined components, and assemblies for nearly 80 years.

Adam Jacobson, Member

Back in high school, some dozen or so years ago now, I remember everyone from teachers and guidance counselors to my own parents were pushing a four year college education. They particularly pushed the four-year education that lead to jobs with computers. Everyone would say, “Computers are the future. That is where all the jobs are going to be.” I remember thinking, “Computers are great and all, but someone is still going to have to build and fix those computers.” I realized this early on, which lead me to take every shop and auto class I could in high school. Those classes quickly became my favorite part of the day. I didn’t realize it then, but those classes were laying a foundation for a career path.

As high school started to wind down and my friends started getting acceptance letters to various colleges, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. My mom brought to my attention a new program offered by the local tech college. It was a small blurb in the local paper about a new program that highlighted the need for qualified and skilled employees in manufacturing. The article highlighted the strong relationships it was growing with local companies. Some of these companies donated equipment, tools and services that students could learn on.

Because of that article, I enrolled in Gateway Tech for their automated manufacturing systems technician program. I earned a two-year associate degree which set me off on my career path. One of the most attractive things about this degree was the strong foundation I would gain in several fields. Having a good understanding of everything from electrical to hydraulic systems has made me very adaptable throughout my career path.

My career path started during my second semester at Gateway. A local division of ITW came to Gateway Tech looking to find an entry level, part time employee to start as a junior automation tech. Fortunately, one of my professors recommended me and I quickly went from no career path to having a great entry level job in my field while going to school full time. I stayed with ITW for three years and earned my degree while working part time. I still had my sights set higher and I quit my job in pursuit of a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Through my instructors at Gateway Tech, I learned of a program where my credits could transfer to a state school, University of Wisconsin–Stout (UW-Stout). Unfortunately, I quickly learned that UW-Stout was not for me because all the credits that I earned at Gateway only transferred as electives. I also learned I was not fond of the traditional classroom whatsoever.

After a year at UW-Stout, I decided to get back into what I knew best and took a job as a maintenance technician at a plastics company called Rose Polymer. I grew more as a person outside the classroom during my time at UW-Stout. In my five years at that company, I became well rounded in many different areas of the business, with more opportunity due to its smaller size.

For several reasons after five years a Rose Polymer it was time for a new challenge. I found my first opportunity in the spring with JN Machinery now as a general manager. During my time at JN Machinery I continued to add to my mechanical skills as well as learning the business. This included traveling to visit customers to do sales an on-sight service.

Four years of success with JN Machinery and I made the change to my current employer with FENN. One of the biggest reasons I went to FENN was my desire to stay in the spring industry that has wonderful sense of community. The main reason however is I finally found a job that I enjoy and offers me a good work life balance. At FENN I still get to do the thing I enjoy the most…meeting with customers and fixing machines.

As I stated earlier, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school and that is okay. If I can offer any advice do not be afraid of change. I have learned more in my career from my mistakes then my successes. If you have any more questions or would like to know more feel free to email me at adam.jacobson@fenn-torin.com.

Kristina Fischer, Member

Kristina Fischer Engineering Project Manager and Production Planner Gibbs Wire and Steel Co., LLC Born and raised in Litchfield, CT, my manufacturing career started at Oliver Wolcott Technical High School where I took Computer Aided Drafting and Design. Here I learned drafting skills which included applications such as AutoCAD, Inventor, and SolidWorks.

I then traveled out to Kettering University in Flint, MI where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During my time there, I gained real world experience by co-oping at General Motors Powertrain and Pratt and Whitney. Now I put my degree to work as an Engineering Project Manager and Production Planner at Gibbs Wire & Steel Co., LLC in Southington, CT.

My responsibilities include scheduling orders, conducting engineering projects, supporting production floor operations, and supporting continuous improvement initiatives. My favorite thing about my job is that it allows me to watch how raw material enters the doors and exits as customer product, and how each employee does their part to make that happen. I love being a part of that process and working hard every day to make it a better process.

In my free time, you will find me cruising one of my classic muscle cars, hiking in Northwest CT, or at home baking. I would love to answer any questions about the manufacturing industry or chat with anyone about my experience. You can reach me at kfischer@gibbswire.com.

Brendan Schuch, Member

Born in New Britain, it brings me great pride at being the Vice President of Sales at Acme Monaco Corporation, a family owned company that is headquartered in that very city. I’ve had the pleasure of working at the company for 9 years in various roles and have been thankful for the opportunities offered to grow professionally within the company.

After graduating from high school, I attended Providence College to pursue history and finance degrees. The next step of my academic career was spending two years overseas in Germany to achieve a Master’s Degree in International Studies. Those years away at college and studying overseas were a valuable learning experience that I reflect on to this day. Although I did not bring any technical background when I first interviewed at Acme Monaco, the company offers great training as well as hands-on experiences that allowed me to quickly be brought up to speed on our manufacturing capabilities and strengths.

Being a part of a multi-faceted team also allows me the opportunity to consult with the experts at the company in a professional environment that encourages open cross-departmental communication and cooperation that greatly aides in the company’s success. As one of the key employees at the company who is constantly in close communication with clients and colleagues, the confidence in providing them with valuable support while strengthening the relationship is a rewarding aspect of the position.

It is a true pleasure to work hand in hand daily with our customers as a team to see their projects grow from the ground up to reach market success! Most importantly, it gives me great satisfaction to be involved in an essential and respected industry that is known for its clean, reliable, and safe workplace environment while also offering members the opportunity to professionally develop and grow their skills. In my free time, I enjoy honing my culinary skills and staying active by playing ice hockey.

I’d be happy to answer any questions about myself, Acme Monaco as well as the industry – please email me at bschuch@acmemonaco.com.

Annelise Mackiewicz, Member

Raised in Southington, CT- I did not have any manufacturing background before I started working at FENN-Torin in East Berlin, CT as the Marketing & Sales Coordinator in 2021. I am constantly learning, and I am surrounded by some of the smartest people I know, cutting edge technology & watch amazing machines be built from the ground up. Seeing things go from a custom idea, to a drawing & then being built is something incredible. I mean, I never really thought about where a spring came from until I saw my first spring coiler in action out on the floor but when it happened it blew my mind! I really enjoy the manufacturing world & encourage people to open their eyes to look at it differently.

My education stems from UConn & after changing my major a few times, I finally decided on Communications. I worked full time in a restaurant in every position you could think of from when I was 16. I realized through that I really enjoyed making connections & talking to people. I wanted to learn more about communication channels & I was also interested in marketing for a career. I thought it would be a good base to start on, but I never thought I would work in manufacturing. Starting here opened my eyes to a whole new world I didn’t think previously about. I would love to give advice to anyone who may be unsure of what they want to do with their lives outside of high school, based off my own experience. You can reach me at Annelise.mackiewicz@fenn-torin.com

Brian Zimmerli, Member

Born and raised in Glastonbury, CT, my manufacturing career started very early on. Being in a 3rd generation family business, I started working during the summers in high school loading parts on conveyors and learning from the ground up. Eventually working full-time I started as quality assurance. Then moving into a sales position gaining relationships with customers. Until I moved into a management position. Plastonics is a metal finishing job shop specializing in Powder Coatings. We have the ability to coat 1 part or 1 million. Plastonics is proud to be one of the first Powder Coating shops in the USA being in business over 60 years. brian@plastonics.com