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Women Who Inspire Us

One of MHEDA’s most important undertakings in the last several years has been to increase the diversity of our industry and our membership. Material handling has a reputation as a “boy’s club” but increasingly, women are joining the industry and moving up the ladder and into positions of authority. MHEDA has been a tireless advocate of women joining the industry, starting the Women in Industry MHEDA-NET Group, hosting multiple Women in Industry events and much more. This year, we wanted to recognize the women in MHEDA organizations who inspire our members. Each of these women was nominated by a colleague in the industry as a “Woman Who Inspires.” If you have a woman in your organization that you’d like to nominate for a future feature, please email sguglielmo@naylor.com.

Jennifer Hansen
Client Services Manager, Commercial Web Services

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
My work inspiration is to be someone that others can rely on. I know that if I can give even one ounce of kindness, support and encouragement like I have received through the years, that makes it all worth it.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I think overall it is probably just having a work ethic that keeps me going. I can’t say I am the most organized and I don’t always have the mind to ask the tough questions, but I think that I understand people, and can read what people need, be it a customer or a co-worker.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I think I have made this job my own by just being myself. I find that leading with my individuality and helping others to be their own individual self, promotes the best functioning and most reliable of teams. I think that humanizing work should be a priority, and I work hard to keep it real.

Carol Fontanez
Rental Manager, Jamco

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work? 
Another day full of opportunity.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
Member relation, I build a relationship with all Jamco members.

How have you made this job “your own?”
With the trust and support of the Owners.

Cherie Shepard
Director of Packaging, Material Handling & Food Processing, Direct Recruiters, Inc.

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
I like to work. Direct Recruiters is a great environment full of positive, motivated people working together. Every day I get to help companies grow by finding the right talent for their needs and their culture. I manage a wonderful team with a spirit of fun and drive. Watching their success is my driver.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I feel that I have a strong emotional intelligence. Listening to what people are saying between the lines. Being able to see both sides of an issue gives me the ability to find out what candidates and hiring managers want to accomplish in the end. Making people feel they are important and their input matters.

How have you made this job “ your own?”
The relationships I have with the companies we partner with are exciting as I watch my clients grow and succeed. Perhaps being even the “tiniest bit” part of their success motivates me to my next success. Adding new people to their teams and seeing the industry flourish is rewarding. I have had the good fortune of learning the recruiting industry from some of the best in the business. That along with starting from the ground floor has given me the tools to do this job from the roots of sourcing candidates to the close of the deal. While my goal is to continue to grow my team and delegate several of the steps; I feel that when I roll up my sleeves to do the job, my team knows they will succeed by doing the same.

Amy Cunningham
Marketing Coordinator, SpaceGuard Products

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
I love what I do because I can use my creativity in a variety of ways. From a simple social media posts to developing “big-picture” campaigns, I influence the decisions of buyers and hopefully make a difference. Also, the excitement & satisfaction I experience when a marketing project takes off, is fantastic!

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
With 8 years of Material Handling industry experience, I continue to bring a fresh new way to market and present established solutions that captures the eye of the customer.  I bring creative ways to market a very established product. My creativity feeds off of our talented and creative owner that loves to think outside of the box.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I’ve made this job my own by adding my unique personality and creativity. I try to have fun and encourage others to see the “brighter” side of situations by infusing a little laughter. I stretch others within the company to become more creative in their outlook of our industry and how to add a new freshness to our brands making it fun to sell and buy.

Nancy Smith
Owner, Forklift Services of America

What is your “work inspiration” i.e. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
I like the feeling of success when it comes to solving my customers’ needs and getting the job done right – the first time. Making a profit is also a driving force as is being successful in a “man’s world of heavy equipment sales.”

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I am best at developing close working relationships with my customers. I have had repeat customers for years who keep coming back because they know they can depend on me to get the job done!

How have you made this job “your own?”
For me it was learn as you go. I left a 20 year teaching career on Friday, my husband passed away from a heart attack on Saturday, and I became president of Washington Liftruck on Monday. That was 34 years ago so I must have done some things right over those 34 years. We have grown from a company with one location and 18 employees in 1985 to a staff today of 71 with two locations (Seattle, WA and Portland, OR). I have been at this job for 34 years, led by example, gone to work every day, and even if I didn’t know the answer, I found it out and got back to my customer. I did what I said I would and customers knew they could count on me to provide the highest quality products and service to them.

Tracey Haeseker
Vice President – Accounting and Administration, Gregory Poole Equipment Company

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
My inspiration is the opportunity to encourage and contribute to the synergy and collaboration of our employees as we create positive change and growth within our organization and the communities we serve. Playing a part in another’s success is my most rewarding work experience. As employees and as a company, we evolve and improve daily creating a dynamic environment and a motivating culture that I embrace.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I see a unique combination of strengths in each person, and I am often effective at helping individuals to recognize, utilize and exploit their strengths to excel in a job role or overcome a challenge. This proficiency also allows me to build diverse yet skill-balanced teams who can produce extraordinary results. In that light, I would say that coaching or mentoring is my best skill.

How have you made this job “your own?”
My education is in Business Administration, and I am a CPA and CGMA, so my original job position in the industry was as an accountant. While I learned the business from the financial perspective, it is the human perspective that I’ve always found intriguing and the most enlightening. Thirty-three years later I am in a newly created position which gives me the opportunity to practice my trained trade of accounting plus allows me to lead and coach several cross-functional support teams from an executive level. It truly is “my own” custom job position designed to utilize and refine my personal strengths.

Karrie Simonton
Operations Administrative Assistant, Heli Americas

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
What inspires me the most are the people I get to work with everyday, and the challenges we face together so that we can provide our customers with the best service possible. I take my job very personally so when a customer is not satisfied or a co-worker is upset, so am I. I’ve been with Heli Americas for eight years and consider it an honor and a blessing to work for a great family oriented company that cares about their employees.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I’m very organized and can multi-task which is a key component in providing great customer service to our dealers. This skill is also critical in supporting my co-workers while managing all the daily office responsibilities that come with being an Operations Administrative Assistant.

How have you made this job “your own?”
When I began this journey at Heli Americas eight years ago I didn’t have any International Business or Forklift training. I had been in the HVAC wholesale business for 26 years. But when I met with Bruce Pelynio, the President & CEO of Heli Americas, I realized that I could bring my strong work ethic & people skills and really carve out a spot in the company that needed this type of attention. I have made great relationships here at Heli Americas and with the dealers and customers we support. We are a team and I hope to have many more years of success with Heli Americas.

Amanda Miller
Systems Integration Engineer, Cisco-Eagle

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
There are two things that I get most excited about my job; I never do that same project twice and being able to watch projects come to fruition. We may tend to see similar jobs from time to time or be able to look back on previous jobs and use that knowledge again, but no two jobs are ever the same, and that keeps things fresh and interesting. And when a project that I’ve spent many hours on comes to life, it is incredibly rewarding.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I feel that I offer great support to my salesforce by being able to help the customer grasp concepts they may not otherwise understand. I can show a drawing or an animation to a customer that helps them visualize the project as well as offer an explanation without the technical details so they can fully understand what solutions we are offering.

How have you made this job “your own?”
Though I am not the direct contact for the customer, I strive to build a good relationship with them so they know they can call on me if ever they have any technical questions about the product we provided them. Also, when time allows, I want to make sure and provide a visual representation of what the customer is requesting (rack, conveyor, shelving, etc.). Often times, even on the smallest of projects, it can be what sets us apart from our competitors.

Brenda E. Pinto
CFO/Vice President, Quality Material Handling, Inc.

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
My inspiration every morning is…..a burning desire to give 50+ employees that depend on this business, the opportunity to put food on their tables every day and support their families. They depend on us to make the right decisions. I strive for a successful business so our team can succeed, because if they succeed in life, that truly excites me! I believe the right people will come into our business even if it’s for a short season. I take that opportunity to feed into their lives in a positive way each and every day!

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
My best skill is the ability to motivate those around me. We all know that our words can be both a blessing and a curse, so I try to encourage people daily to stop living a firecracker life when they have atomic bomb potentials!  I strive to show those around me that even if they have nothing, they still have hope!

How have you made this job“ your own?”
The reality is, this job is not my own.  This job is a combination of many hard working QMH employees coming together to offer warehousing solutions to many different customers for over 27 years. This job has an awesome group of people who focus on commitment and team work. They are the truth behind our success.  I often say to our QMH team, “we are all ONE big beautiful puzzle, and if ONE piece is missing, then the puzzle is incomplete. Every piece counts, every piece matters, and every piece is just as important as the others. Every employee at QMH is our valuable piece of puzzle!

Helen Elliott
Vice President, Service & Admin, Hurricane Industrial Equipment Inc.

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
Watching our company grow, year after year, with exceptional people on our team, has been my work inspiration. We have overcome many challenges and use of technology in the field has been our greatest reward. I have a great support network of family and friends, who personally inspire me each and every day.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
Our business is an extremely logistical business where attention to detail is key. I would say this is a definite strength. In addition to accepting responsibility and committing to the task on hand, while still encouraging a team atmosphere to achieve the common goal.

How have you made this job “your own?”
Willingness to learn about the industry coupled with the desire to implement technology in the field has allowed me to create a niche that has become my own. This is in addition to knowing that I am part of an amazing team and has been most rewarding.

Suzanne Leighton
Human Resources Manager, Maybury Material Handling

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
I love my job and the career I have chosen since I am constantly learning and growing and no two days are the same. The material handling industry is ever changing so I am always looking for new ways that I can respond to these changes and positively impact our organization.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
Connecting with our associates . . . I have made it a point to get to know every one of our associates. Being in a service industry, our associates are our most important assets so I want them to know how much we appreciate what they do each and every day. I strive to give them the very best internal customer service while still balancing the business needs of our organization.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I am fortunate to have a great amount of autonomy in how I get my job done. This has allowed me to try different things and get involved in all aspects of our business. The result is that I really feel like I am able to make a meaningful impact on our organization and contribute towards our success.

Linda Anlauf
Director of Inside Sales, Wholesale Pallet Rack Products

What is your “work inspiration” ie. What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
Learning, educating and problem solving…I love to wake up in the morning knowing I am going to learn more than I did the day before, knowing that I can pass on the knowledge I have and work through challenges to find a solution that helps someone.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at? 
Education through communication, whether with customers, our internal rock star team or while networking.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I’ve spent many years watching and learning about processes, interactions internally and externally, the key players in our industry and the trends in our industry.  Now, it is exciting to put all the puzzle pieces together to make our own path for the future.

Courtney Burford
Corporate Secretary, Cardinal Carryor, Inc.

What is your “work inspiration” ie What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
People inspire me. I truly enjoy helping others. I come to work with the mentality that we can all work as a team and strive to make the company as a whole better than we were yesterday.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I think the skill I’m best at is analyzing a situation while reviewing multiple scenarios and perspectives, rather than just what I personally would like to happen. I try to weigh pros and cons for each option and work towards what will provide the most productivity or the best resolution.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I have worked in my current role for 8 years now. Each year is a little different as many changes evolve in me personally and within our company. I think you just continually have to find motivation to give your best and work hard. I try to find laughter in everyday and know that most obstacles are really just an opportunity to improve.

Irene Holley
Chief of Staff, Alliance Material Handling

What is your “work inspiration” ie What gets you up in the morning and excited to come to work?
I am inspired every day by the people I work with. We have created an amazing culture at Alliance that drives us all to succeed. As an employee owned company, we strive to act like the owners that we are and meet each task with the highest level of leadership and expertise. We all value each other and look forward to working together every day.

What is the skill you feel you’re best at?
I feel that one of my strengths is establishing a positive company culture. Assessing the needs of the staff, being their partner to listen to and implement new ideas, addressing concerns in a positive way, and assisting each member of the team to plan for future success within the company are skills that I use to mold and enhance our unique work environment. We owe our success to our great people.

How have you made this job “your own?”
I feel I have made this job my own by actively seeking out cost saving, working to enhance and improve our company culture, improving hiring and onboarding practices, and most importantly, bringing more fun into the workplace. I always look for ways to improve the company and the lives of our employees.