Manufacturers need quick access to current information and proven resources for wide-ranging needs. Presently comprised of 11 highly experienced professionals, the VMEC Team has decades of combined, hands-on experience in all aspects of manufacturing and enterprise growth. And when necessary, we have ready access and established relationships with State of Vermont and private resources, plus more than 1,300 NIST MEP National Network consultants and numerous other resources across the nation through VMEC’s longstanding affiliation with its federal stakeholder partner, the Hollings National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) within the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Staff and Board
Companies can also access a wealth of valuable information and resources through the VMEC website, newsletters, events, certification programs and connections to numerous local, regional and national resources.
Office: (802) 728-1421
Bob is the Director & CEO of VMEC. He has more than 40 years of leadership, management and manufacturing experience. He is an engineer by formal training and a 1972 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. After graduation, he served as a commissioned officer in challenging positions at sea and ashore. In the interest of his growing family, in 1977 Bob made a personally difficult decision and voluntarily resigned from active duty in order to move to Vermont with his wife, raise their family, and pursue new career opportunities in manufacturing. He also continued to serve in the Coast Guard Ready Reserve until 1982. Bob joined VMEC as Field Staff-at-Large when the Center opened its doors for business in January 1996. Eleven months later he was promoted to VMEC Director & CEO.
During his career, Bob has held a wide variety of key management and leadership positions in manufacturing companies where he gained diverse practical experience in operations, finance, sales & marketing, human resources, continuous improvement and information technologies. Prior to VMEC, he was Vice President of Operations for a leading manufacturer in the paddle sport industry. He also worked in the granite industry for 17 years, including 9 years as a partner and President/CEO of a leading granite manufacturing company.
Bob has served as a corporate officer and Board member for a number of private U.S. companies, industry associations, national and regional non-profits, the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) and the Modernization Forum. He was a member of the Vermont Technology Council from 2000-2015. While a Cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (1968-1972), during his Senior “First Class” year Bob was honored to serve as Regimental Commander, the highest cadet military position for the approximately 1,000 person Corps of Cadets, and also as Captain of the highly competitive Coast Guard Academy Varsity Sailing Team.
Patricia joined VMEC in January 2003 and has been the Assistant Director since July 2009. She leads VMEC’s Innovation and Growth Services development and has worked with many manufacturing companies and other organizations to accelerate growth by teaching and coaching a system for innovations including new customers, new products & services, and improved processes.
Patricia has 21 years of manufacturing experience with larger corporations in Process Engineering, Quality, Supply Chain, Line Leadership, and Engineering and Plant Manager positions prior to joining VMEC. She graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1983. She has worked at several major manufacturing sites in industries including paper, glass & ceramics, and telecommunications.
In early 2009, Patricia became a certified Growth Coach Trainer by Eureka! Ranch International’s Growth Leadership Training Institute. In addition, Patricia has received training as a “Trained Brain” by Eureka! Ranch and was part of the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and Eureka! Ranch International’s Growth Services product development and beta testing team. At the May 2010 MEP National Conference in Orlando, Fla., Patricia received a national award as part of the MEP Trained Brain Team, the MEP Group Practitioner of the Year Award.
Office: (802) 728-1568 / Cell: (802) 793-0919
Becky is a Certified Public Accountant and has a Masters degree in Leadership from Franklin Pierce College. Becky has worked with manufacturing companies since 1986. She has been the financial support both internally as Controller and externally as a consultant, auditor and tax advisor. Becky joined VMEC in April 2002 and works out of the main office in Randolph Center.
In July 2012, Lisa returned to VMEC, having previously worked for us from November 1996 – June 2009. With over 35 years of practical experience in the manufacturing and professional services industry, she has held positions in technical sales and service, strategic planning, quality management and project management and most recently as Director of Manufacturing at the King Arthur Flour Company. Lisa has worked broadly across enterprises from the shop floor to the executive boardroom, coaching and facilitating organizational transformations in continuous improvement. Lisa’s broad skills and experiences integrate throughout industry sectors with experiences in Healthcare, Higher Education, Government as well as Manufacturing. She is working with Vermont companies to implement an Innovation Engineering Management System; as a pioneer of the practice, in early 2014, Lisa became the fourth VMEC Team Member to be certified as an Innovation Engineering Black Belt.
When she is not working with clients, Lisa can be found outdoors enjoying the beauty our region has to offer with her husband, Chris.
Robynn has 30 years of hands-on experience in the areas of communications, marketing, event management and public relations. She earned a Bachelors Degree in Communication Arts/Public Relations from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh in 1988 and earned an Associate Degree in Business from Champlain College in 1986.
Robynn’s past work experience has included positions with the Plattsburgh & Clinton County Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh, NY, Assistant Marketing Director with the New York State Department of Economic Development, Director of Special Events for the Plattsburgh Airbase Redevelopment Corporation (PARC), Trade Show and Training Coordinator for Blodgett Corporation in Burlington and Community Relations Specialist for TD Banknorth in Burlington.
Robynn left her position with TD Banknorth in 2005 to create her own successful small business that she managed until July 2009 when she joined the VMEC Team as Marketing & Training Manager. She resides in Essex Junction and outside of work, enjoys biking, snowshoeing, hiking and traveling.
Office: (802) 728-1427 / Cell: (802) 498-7711
Anne has worked with VMEC for over 10 years in an administrative capacity. She earned her Associates degree in Business Mgmt and Technology in 2016 from VTC. Prior to working with VMEC, she was employed by BCBSVT for 14 years in the claims and project management departments. She worked for Merchants Bank as a teller, head teller, and assistant manager and co-owned a business for 12 years.
She lives in Northfield where she raised her 4 children and spent thousands of hours traveling the state for hockey, soccer, baseball, basketball, and softball. Now an empty nester for many years, she is finding her own passions which include creating stained glass pieces, mosaics, landscaping, and traveling to see her children and grandchildren.
Damon Devani began working at VMEC in January 2021. He comes to us from a sister MEP National Network Center™, IMPACT Washington, where he was a data and technology specialist focusing on big data, project management, and information technologies procedures and health. He was previously a consultant at IMPACT Washington, assisting and managing the organization’s transition to new CRM software. A Vermonter at heart and graduate of Champlain College with a BS Degree in Computer Science & Innovation, Damon’s duties in his role will include providing internal technology and IT systems support and business systems improvement, along with external assistance to VMEC clients focusing on IT and technology-enabled administrative and manufacturing improvements.
Carla C. Wuthrich joined the VMEC team after 25 years of experience at IBM and GlobalFoundries in technical, managerial and transformational roles. Over 10 years while at IBM, she led and aligned the Strategy Deployment processes, Leadership Development and continuous improvement efforts for the IBM Microelectronics Division, reaching over 3 sites and 5,000 employees. Areas of direct influence included manufacturing engineering and operations, development, characterization and test, quality management systems, finance, supply chain and value stream management. At GlobalFoundries, Carla became the Value Stream Program Manager for semiconductor modules, managing the daily to annual processes to exceed on-time delivery, revenue and inventory objectives.
Carla is equally energized when facilitating and coaching the executive suite through to the front lines, in production and non-production environments. Using end-to-end, strategic thinking and data, she partners one-on-one with leaders and their teams to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and mindsets that can sustain a culture of innovation and continuous improvement, while working on the challenges and opportunities that matter today.
Carla has a diversity of training and experience in Materials Science (Cornell University (BS) & Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Lean / Continuous Improvement systems (IBM/LSSBB, VMEC, LEI) and ballet (American Ballet Company, School of American Ballet and currently a choreographer for Vermont Ballet Theater). Carla is an amalgamation of ‘big picture thinker’ and problem solver, system designer and manager, engineer and artist. While she is profoundly energized by her work, she also is called to share music, a meal or a quick hike with her family and friends.
Chris Paulk joined VMEC in February 2020 and works from a home office base in the Woodstock, VT area. He holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from New Mexico State University. Over the past two decades, he has worked with numerous companies, gaining broad experience and expertise in start-up business development, business management, prototype design, fabrication, testing, commercialization and developing innovative new ideas. When speaking about Chris, the old saying, “If you can dream it, he can build it”, has been used many times. In fact, he has built everything from particle accelerators to reconstructing parts of a Civil War Gun Boat, the USS Westfield (Flagship U.S. Navy, 1863).
Chris is a proven entrepreneur and leader. In 2003 he founded, owned and managed an engineering firm with offices in Mesa, Arizona and Houston, Texas. He sold his business in 2011 and later led the successful roll out of two engineering design and economic development labs for two major universities, as well as serving in multiple other leadership roles. Prior to joining VMEC, Chris spent 6 years as the Director of the Automated Fabrication and Design Lab for Texas A&M University.
Chris has diverse business, manufacturing, education and teaching experience. He has helped build industry advisory boards, led system-wide manufacturing program rollouts, supervised engineering lab development/construction and served as an industry expert with the Texas Manufacturing Workforce Development Commission. While working for Lone Star College from 2010 – 2013, Chris taught multiple courses, was the Advanced Technology Department Chairman and was lead faculty for the Engineering Technology program. Chris has a strong commitment to education and the importance of fostering strong partnerships between industry and education to advance educational offerings of local institutions.
In addition to supporting VMEC clients in their continuous improvement journeys, Chris is a resource in the areas of Cybersecurity and the deployment of “Manufacturing 4.0” technologies. He is able to provide assistance and support to VMEC clients desiring to implement automation solutions, technology-enabled manufacturing and digitally connected smart systems to capture new manufacturing efficiencies, competitive advantages and business growth opportunities.
Chris considers himself “a die-hard Gear Head.” When not working, he actively pursues his love for two things – his family and anything that goes fast!
Phil has been helping manufacturing businesses improve and grow since earning an engineering degree in 1990. Starting as an engineer visiting customers to solve problems and introduce new products led to roles in sales and business development. After completing an MBA, he moved into management and held positions as a Technical Director developing electronics and engineering solutions and was a Plant Manager in two different locations.
Along the way he has implemented lean transformations, ISO certifications and business development systems. This includes experience at both small and large companies in industries including papermaking, nonwovens, electrical insulation, electronics and metal fabrication. He brings a diverse background and a track record of successes, whether on the shop floor or working with the leadership team.
When not working, he can be found with his family in the Northeast Kingdom, hiking, biking or skiing.
Howard joined the VMEC Team in May 2021, bringing 25 years of skills building and practical experience as a manufacturing production professional. His background includes leading and training individuals on high producing teams how to use Lean manufacturing and systems thinking to reduce costs and continuously improve process efficiencies.
Over the course of his career, Howard has increased his knowledge and honed many skills through various hands-on manufacturing positions and in leadership roles. Prior to joining VMEC, Howard was Manufacturing Manager for Galvion/Revision Military, a manufacturer of high performance protective solutions for the modern soldier. Earlier manufacturing experiences included working for well-known doors and windows manufacturer Jeld-Wen as a Process & Production Improvement Specialist Manager, Safety / Environmental Manager and Production Manager; and as a Group and Plant Manager for NSA Industries, one of the top ten comprehensive metal solutions manufacturers in the United States.
Passionate about manufacturing, Howard lives in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and travels the state to assist and support VMEC clients.
In his personal time, Howard’s love for auto racing has him and his wife traveling all over New England to compete at the short track events.
Karl retired full time from VMEC in June 2020 but works with us on an as-needed basis.
As the holder of seven U.S. Patents, Karl Swanke has a deep personal commitment to lifelong learning and the synergy sharing of innovative new ideas. Starting with experiments while obtaining his Physics Degree from Boston College, and throughout his more than twenty years in manufacturing, he strives to find out how things work with an eye towards developing better, more efficient ways to accomplish the process. In 2000, Karl earned a Masters Certificate in Project Management from The George Washington University.
Drawing from his work in various capacities as Lean Practitioner, Business Analyst, Product Engineer, and Project Manager in the Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Development areas of organizations, Karl has honed a keen understanding of manufacturing processes. Using Lean principles to map the current state of processes, he is an expert in refining them into their most efficient future state. Karl also has years of experience incorporating Agile process techniques into accomplishing accepted change more quickly and in 2017, Karl completed the requirements necessary to be named an Innovation Engineering® Blue Belt.
From his extensive background in team sports where he played Division I football at Boston College and later as a professional football player with the Green Bay Packers, Karl enjoys using this expertise in teamwork dynamics to mentor others to greater successes. In one example, he set a goal for his team of interns to create an industry-unique product that would not only cut error rate by over 50% but would also shorten turnaround time from 5 days to ½ hour. The successful process resulted in the award of a U.S. Patent for Karl and his interns.
Don retired full time from VMEC in December 2020 but works with us on an as-needed basis.
Don has over 40 years experience in manufacturing engineering and manufacturing management, including Department of Defense (DoD) manufacturing. He also has expertise implementing Lean improvements and strategies in the healthcare industry. Prior to VMEC, Don was process and test engineer, a manufacturing manager, and a partner in a startup technical services business where he served as General Manager. Don holds a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Pennsylvania State University and studied Software engineering at the University of Vermont.
Don’s primary focus is in implementing Lean transformations and providing practical Lean training in manufacturing, office and health care settings. He also has expertise in RFID applications, plus experience working with clients through the VMEC New England Manufacturing Supply Chain (NEMSC) Defense Industry Initiative. He holds a Lean Bronze Certification and is recognized as a LBC-Sensei under the guidelines of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME), American Society of Quality (ASQ), and the Shingo Prize for Excellence in Manufacturing.
Ken retired full time from VMEC in February 2017 but works with us on an as-needed basis.
Ken Walker brings to VMEC over 30 years manufacturing experience with engineered products. From technical applications of air and water pollution control systems to fabrication of custom aluminum structures, Ken has worked intimately with design and manufacturing teams. As Vice President of Operations and then President of a job shop manufacturer in Baltimore, MD, Ken applied his technical and financial experience to the strategic development of new products, improvement of manufacturing operations and allocation of scarce resources. Cellular production and work teams were key elements to the company’s success.Ken was trained as a Mechanical Engineer with distinction from Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, followed by a Master in Administrative Science from Johns Hopkins University and a Master of Finance from Loyola College, Baltimore, MD, and course work for a MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland. In his 15 years with VMEC, Ken worked with manufacturers and service organizations throughout Vermont applying Lean fundamentals to improve work flow, workplace organization and problem solving. Additionally, he has used these techniques and the experience of eight years on the Board of Directors for a regional acute care hospital in Maryland to apply the same improvements to several medical centers in Vermont.Off the clock, Ken trains for endurance racing and competes in cross country skiing and 24 hour orienteering races at the international level.
The VMEC Board is an elected advisory board of up to 15 elected members, with the majority of its members required to be proactive Vermont manufacturers represented by senior leaders and/or owners of the companies. Board members serve without compensation for a minimum of 2 years. Elected annually, the VMEC Board Chairperson is required to be an active manufacturer.
The VMEC Board meets a minimum of three times per year to address important matters and provide guidance and advice in areas including: program content and emphasis; selection and delivery of products and services offered by the Center; assessing the soundness of Center strategies, partnerships and strategic alliances; program funding and revenue generation; and important staff issues and other matters that impact the Center’s ability to fulfill its mission and its commitments to stakeholders.
2020 VMEC Board members include:
- Dave Blittersdorf – All Earth Renewables, Inc. (Williston, VT), CEO / Founder
- Ben Clark – Ann Clark Ltd. (Rutland, VT), CEO
- Jeff Couture – VT Technology Alliance (Burlington, VT), Executive Director
- Bob Flint – Springfield Regional Development Corporation (Springfield, VT), Executive Director
- Rob Green – Vermont Precision Tools (Swanton, VT), Operations Director
- Lisa Groeneveld – OnLogic (South Burlington, VT), COO/ Co-Owner
- Dr. Christopher Koliba – University of Vermont (Burlington, VT), President’s Fellow for Engagement & Professor of Community Development & Applied Economics
- Lindsay Kurrle – Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development (Montpelier, VT), Agency Secretary
- Dave Lynn – Agri-Mark/ Cabot Creamery, Inc. (Waitsfield, VT), SVP & Top Operations Officer
- Greg Maguire – Liquid Measurement Systems, Inc. (Georgia, VT), General Counsel and Director of Strategic Initiatives
- Ken McAvey – Global Foundries (Essex Junction, VT), Senior Director of Central Engineering
- Pat Moulton – Vermont Technical College (Randolph Center and Williston. VT), President
- Mike Rainville (VMEC Board Chairman) – Maple Landmark, Inc. (Middlebury, VT), President / Owner
- Brenan Riehl – Nolato GW, Inc. (Bethel, VT), President and CEO
- Bob Zider – Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (Randolph, VT), Director & CEO