2018 Outstanding Women in Manufacturing

2018 Outstanding Women in Manufacturing

Beginning in February, SVAM accepted nominations for the 2018 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing Award. SVAM asked manufacturers from across the region to nominate one woman within their company they felt rises about the rest. This is the fifth year that SVAM has given this award.

The purpose of the award is to show the significant role that women play in manufacturing. This award highlights women, at all levels, who have demonstrated excellence in manufacturing. It encourages women who work in the manufacturing environment to continue to strive for excellence and also helps to showcase a different side of manufacturing, which can often be seen as a male-dominated field. Nominations were scored based on company impact, personal drive, adapting to change, teamwork, and leadership.

The Winner of the 2018 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing Award is 

Melissa Harrison, Chief Estimator at Strongwell, 20 Years in Manufacturing

The role of an estimator at Strongwell is to analyze data and blueprints to provide a best estimate on the time, material, and labor required to manufacture, fabricate, and deliver materials to construction project sites. As the only female leader within her group at Strongwell, Melissa became self-taught and well versed in blueprint reading, complex mathematics, and composite design.

With her leadership, Melissa and her group manage close to 1,200 quotes annually, amounting almost $45 million worth of industrial plastics sales. Her vast experience, narrative, and department knowledge has given her company a manufacturing edge by integrating department functions to better serve a leaner manufacturing environment.

As a champion of continuous learning, Melissa has challenged complacency by utilizing and partnering with regional partners within the sectors of education, workforce training, and regional manufacturing consortiums.

Melissa began her career with Strongwell as a Customer Service Representative. After nurturing and developing key market accounts, she was later promoted to the Customer Service Manager position, overseeing a team of account managers to manage hundreds of accounts. After she understood the business and economics side of manufacturing, she searched for an opportunity to expand her manufacturing knowledge into production control. This position encouraged her to utilize her customer service training to manage the delicate balance between capital and human resources.

Achieving departmental successes created an opportunity to broaden her skill-sets into fabrication. With the assistance of mentors, she launched into the department as an estimator with a managerial track as the company’s first female Chief Estimator.

Melissa shares her stories of opportunity with STEM/STEAM educational tours through primary and graduate levels of education capacities. Melissa isn’t afraid of “working outside of the box”, which is evident by her participation and service to multiple organizations across the region. Melissa is heavily involved with United Way, advocating for the organization among her peers at Strongwell. Melissa leads the United Way Day of Caring team at Strongwell encouraging participation from Strongwell employees and securing the necessary materials provided by Strongwell.

Her commitment to serve has made Bristol a great place to live and Strongwell a great place to give.



The Finalists for The 2018 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing Award


Cindy Flemming, Plant Controller at Core Health and Fitness, 25 Years in Manufacturing

“I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of an organization that continues to manufacture high quality products in the United States and especially Southwest Virginia.”

Cindy has worked with various programs within the State of Virginia to obtain grant funding and support for Core. These grants have been for training, Port of Virginia containers traffic through Virginia Ports, support for job creation, and capital investment. These funds have been invaluable to the success of manufacturing and distribution operations at the facility.

Cindy continues to provide strong financial guidance, reporting and leadership for the company to ensure operations are remaining on course with the highest level of integrity.

In the past, Cindy has been an active participant in Twin County Chamber of Commerce, promoting local businesses and growth in the region. She has been engaged as a business leader in discussions with potential new company relocations to the area through aCorridor Virginia Economic development and has a strong interest in growth for the community.

Recently Cindy has been part of a leadership team at Core to complete Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training and will set for the ASQ certification in the Spring. She led a project to improve utility efficiency in the paint line process that will have a cost savings opportunity of greater than $25,000 a year to the company’s bottom line.

Cindy has spent her career of 25 years in the state of Virginia working in the fitness industry as well as furniture – both manufacturing operations – to promote improvement in efficiency, cost, safety, and has been an important leader in each organization.

Cindy has proven to be a strong contributor to the organization’s success. She is always wanting to contribute and support the improvement efforts of manufacturing by being involved in the organization at every level.



Lisa Greenway, Manager – EHS (Environmental Health and Safety), General Dynamics Mission Systems, 32 Years in Manufacturing

“I’m delighted to have been nominated for the 2018 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing Award, much less being named as a finalist.  The award is sponsored by an excellent organization, the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing, which covers a regional area approximately the size of Connecticut.  I’ve been asked before if I’ve ever thought about leaving the industrial community, having been an Environmental Health and Safety Manager in a manufacturing environment for almost 30 years.  Honestly, I can’t see myself anywhere else.  It’s very rewarding work.”

Lisa has been the leader for EHS in Marion for ten years. During that time she has taken a facility that recorded 55-75 safety incidents per year to one that had only 7 minor incidents in 2017. Also in 2017, Marion underwent a large ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001 EH&S audit with zero findings; an amazing accomplishment for a complex plant with one million square ft and over 500 employees. Lisa has been instrumental in helping General Dynamics Mission Systems achieve its safety and environmental goals.

Not only has Lisa been significantly involved in STEM programs and programs that encourage girls and women to pursue manufacturing, but what could make a bigger impact on the community than ensuring the safety of so many community members, and maintaining responsible environmental stewardship for a major community employer.

Lisa has personally developed and led many programs at General Dynamics in Marion, to include on-site nursing to ensure the fastest possible medical attention and best care for our workforce. She developed, leads, and ensures the training of the on-site Medical Emergency Response Team. She also leads the safety committee and she leads an internal audit program which is key to maintaining high standards.

Lisa is a great speaker and an exemplary leader and mentor for everyone at our site. Further, with a BS in Environmental Science, she is a wonderful role model for women in STEM occupations and women in manufacturing. She has provided guidance and advice to the SVAM Center of Excellence as well as providing her vast experience to a Virginia state-level Manufacturing EHS committee.

Lisa is the ideal leader, with grace, confidence, and professionalism; but more importantly, Lisa is courageous and driven to do the right thing, and willing to evaluate issues with reason and rationale. Lisa is a voracious learner, which has made her an expert in her field, and she uses that expertise to educate others. She is an ideal role model for women in STEM, and Women in Manufacturing.



Melissa Whited, Production Control Coordinator, Tempur Production, USA, 14.5 Years in Manufacturing

“It’s recognition that I am on the right path; that showing respect to others and following my heart does work; However being recognized by your peers and higher management is an extraordinary moment. For that I am truly blessed. Now I would like to take a moment to thank Southwest Virginia Alliance for giving this award out the last 5 years. There are many hard working women in this region. What a wonderful job you must have to know that this organization has placed a smile on so many women’s faces, who have received this award.”

Melissa has been involved in several key projects, participated in Kaizen events and worked with the quality department to ensure better communication to help maintain inventory in the quality warehouse. She has launched new processes and ensures individuals received needed training.

Melissa has been an integral part of the success of the production department. Since assuming the role of Production Planning Coordinator in 2016, she has created a training catalog for our primary production scheduling tool, trained leads in the classroom and on the job on how to use this device. Melissa assisted the Information Technology Team with the institution of the Radio Frequency Smart System in Duffield.  This is used for both production and inventory, as well as trained operators.  This is an invaluable tool for our facility to have accurate and precise inventories and to be able to accomplish taking inventory to a higher level of efficiency than has been achieved in previous years.  Melissa traveled to our Albuquerque New Mexico facility to work with IT to launch a new system and provide necessary training.

Melissa is a kind and caring person. There is no doubt that her treatment of others in the workplace has impacted them beyond the walls of the building.

To say she would go above and beyond to assist anyone in her home town/community, is gained from the positive, generous and knowledgeable attitude she gives her place of employment daily. One is the better for knowing her.

Melissa has shown great initiative to learn new systems and to take advantage of learning opportunities. She never hesitates to take advantage of any training course at her disposal, to better her position in the facility. Melissa’s pride and passion shows in her daily contributions at the facility.

The coaching and mentoring Melissa has provided to the team leads, as well as the production employees has been invaluable in empowering our employees with a greater sense of understanding of what is required of them in their roles.  She serves as a resource for the team and is there for support and guidance to help the team be successful.

Melissa’s day to day leadership in production planning has made her a valuable asset to both production sites.  She keeps an “open door” attitude to better aide and assist any employee that may need assistance in their daily tasks. Her positive and effervescent attitude spills into each employee’s attitude to achieve their highest level of performance.  Her team looks to her for guidance, support and leadership, of which she does not fail them. It’s an understatement to just say Melissa is a leader; she is a shining example of what any production facility would look for, want and need in a production planning coordinator.  She’s a self-starter, task and detailed oriented worker which makes her overall a worthy recipient of an Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing.

“When considering our nominee of Outstanding Woman of the Year, Melissa was unanimously endorsed by our entire management team.  For her dedication, her importance to our day to day operations, her role of mentoring new leads, her ability to implement not only the technical aspects of the role but maintain those vital aspects of motivating and building teams.  Melissa is perfect for our nominee and has shown her worthiness in the past 14.5 years.  She is very deserving to be the Outstanding Woman of the Year.” – Randy Peterson, Production Manager, Tempur Production, USA



Lisa Delby, Production Systems Manager, Somic America, 25+ Years in Manufacturing

“I’m pleased, honored and humbled to be one of the honorees of this year’s Outstanding Woman Award in Manufacturing.”

Since Lisa joined the company in 2010, she has risen to every challenge placed in front of her. Lisa has been promoted to Production Systems Manager recently, which means that she is responsible for the entire Production Control process as well as the entire Manufacturing process. In order to do this, Lisa has shown not only the desire to grow, but also the ability to learn Somic’s systems at a high level. While in the role of PC Manager, Lisa led her team during the implementation of Somic’s new ERP system which totally changed how Somic employees manage their inventory. Lisa has done an outstanding job at leading, developing and mentoring her team from day one. It is said, without her leadership, Somic would not be as successful as they are today.

In her role as Production Control Manager, Lisa has directly developed and mentored a number of employees that have went on to become leaders of our company. Lisa is the type of Manager that has to lead by example. In February of last year, the company had an issue that occurred where the company had to quarantine and verify every product in our plant. Instead of simply directing the employees, Lisa had a tool in her hand and was helping everyone do the job. She stayed that day until the issue was under control and worked with her people for 15 plus hours. This is the type of leader she is. Many examples can be provided of Lisa’s leadership style that shows she will not ask her team to do something she is not willing to do.

“Lisa, to me, is a daily reminder of just how strong a Woman in Manufacturing can be. She has the drive and desire to do anything that she sets her mind to. She will not be defeated. Lisa is often the only woman in the room when we have productivity meetings or problem solving meetings, but she always has the room’s attention and respect. She is knowledgeable about what we do and is passionate about doing it the right way.  I feel that Lisa personifies what it means to be an Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing through her “lead by example” management method and through her “I will not be defeated” mentality.” – Jeff Dunnack, Plant Manager, Somic America



Tina Clevinger, Office Manager, West River Conveyors & Machinery Co., 36 Years in Manufacturing

“I am extremely honored to receive the 2018 Outstanding Woman in Manufacturing award.  I am  grateful for the recognition I have received for my work, but could not do it with out the teamwork at West River.”

In the 36 years that Tina has worked at West River Conveyors, she has made many noteworthy contributions over the years.  Technological advancements have happened many times over the longevity of the business so she has had to learn new accounting systems and train others to use them as well.  Most recently, WRC made its largest technological advancement thus far adding a cloud based customer management system that required Tina to work in a whole new way! She adapted to that change with no problem at all, even making suggestions to make the system a lot better along the way. Having been an employee here for 36 years, she has learned the ins and outs of every facet of the business so noteworthy contributions come regularly when you have Tina’s knowledge.

Tina has grown with the company from its humble beginnings into one of the key decision makers in a fast-growing manufacturing business.  She has positively impacted the company through her integrity, character, work ethic, and positive thinking. She knows just about anything about the business and is key in answering questions or using her for advice on projects.  She is definitely a devoted employee and helpful in any way possible.

Tina is involved in a lot of community service as well as heavily involved in her church. She’s helped organize motorcycle ride benefits, Relay For Life events, church leadership and women’s conferences, and most recently served for two years as President of Theatre Guild of Buchanan County, Inc. Her leadership there was instrumental in getting the guild off the ground a little over two years ago.  This theatre program has taken off and is a growing program in the community.

Being a leader often requires working together as a team and being a leader on a team. One part of Tina’s daily tasks include customer quotations and making sure parts and components are ordered for the customer orders that come into the office. Making the entire production happen from start to finish definitely takes team work and she’s always willing to share information to help all parties involved so that WRC can make the best product for its customers. She is always a leader in getting products out the door. As mentioned previously, she is a logistical freight master.

“Tina is well-deserving of this award. She stands out among women in an industry most male-dominated. She is not afraid to handle any task and deals with customers, vendors, and employees daily. She’s helpful in every interaction and assists the guys in the shop each day.  One memory that sticks with me is her persistence in making things happen!  There’s a mining operation here in our county that is headquartered in Pennsylvania.  The operation has never given us the opportunity to quote their underground conveyor projects.  We have contacted their main purchasing agent numerous times to no avail.  Tina took it upon herself to at least get the purchasing agent to visit our location.  For one solid year, she called and emailed him, and sent literature.  Finally, he answered a call and said “I’ll be over there today.”  Getting him here was the first step and eventually others from the operation visited and we’ve been selling to them over the past couple of years.  My point in this story is that she isn’t afraid to stand out and her voice be heard.  Tina can get the job done with anyone and that makes her an outstanding woman in manufacturing.” Jessica Savage, Marketing Manager, West River Conveyors




Ranae Anderson, Global, Sustainability Leader, Universal Fibers, 23 Years in Manufacturing

Ranae has exemplified three key leadership traits: a) technical mastery, b) internal team and external / public motivation, and c) effective educational skills. She represents Universal as a director on a national Board, as well as a leader with customers and suppliers in an area critical to Universal’s strategy [sustainability] as an organization across the markets it serves.

Virginia Tech secured an NSF grant promoting STEM in rural schools [VT PEERS]. Universal Fibers agreed to be the industrial partner for the 2 Smyth County Middle Schools. Ranae has both led its support and worked hands-on in the classroom. Internally, Ranae has championed an associate workshop: “We Are Sustainable” aimed beyond the workplace – extending to their homes & families.  Ranae has led teams of VT undergrad Chemical Engineers through their senior design projects. In her role as a director of CARE, [Carpet America Recovery Effort] she advocates for the industry with entrepreneurs, government regulators, and Environmental NGOs.

Anyone associated with manufacturing knows that there are people you can hands things to – and they come back complete and well done. Ranae is the epitome of that person, and for that reason, has consistently grown in her role and responsibilities. Her flexibility in transitioning from leading the UF Color Team to being the pivot for a key strategy – globally gives testimony.

Ranae has led Universal’s process to develop 2020 Sustainability Goals. She has coordinated efforts in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific to achieve consistent 3rd party certifications for sustainable content, impact, ingredient transparency, and social responsibility. Ranae led efforts to systematize UF’s Breathe-3DP subsidiary and to prepare it for ISO 9001 certification.

“Manufacturing, especially today, is a tough environment. To borrow from our USMC, Respect is earned, never given.” Across countless instance and a myriad of settings, Ranae has shown the ability to lead by example, to roll up her sleeves, to not quit ’till the job’s done, to be as hard as steel, to be as polished as glass, and above all, to genuinely care for others.” – Brendan McSheehy, VP – Innovation and IP, Universal Fibers