Mindy Kaiser is the Operations Manager at Hohman Plating in Dayton, Ohio.
Kaiser has worked at Hohman since 2012 and leads a company that was established in 1918, The Nadcap facility sees about 65% of its annual sales volumes in the aerospace industry.
How did you get your start in the finishing and coating industry?: After college, I was hired as a process engineer for a local competitor to Hohman. I knew nothing about the industry but quickly learned.
What does your job entail? I am responsible for driving the financial performance of our Product Focus Teams (PFT). I actively manage the PFT resources in operations, engineering, quality, and product management as we make and execute plans that will grow revenue and profitability.
Can you walk us through a typical day for you? Keep in mind we’re a job shop with over 1,000 customers that turns orders in 3 days on average. Every day is busy, fast-paced and none are the same. With that said, it looks like this:
- We are very metric-driven, so each day starts with morning PFT huddles, reviewing the previous day's performance and highlighting any urgent needs for the day.
- Directly after, the leadership team meets to discuss how we can best support the teams and any upcoming events that may cause strain to the operation or customer satisfaction.
- The rest of the morning is spent checking in with team members, discussing deadlines, project status, and customer issues, providing guidance/support, or removing obstacles.
- Afternoons are typically for my tasks, reviewing performance metrics, continuous improvement efforts, emails, or other correspondence, and always being “on-call” to the shop.
- There are always meetings to attend, but they are scheduled weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, and we attempt to keep them focused and to a minimum so people have time to keep up with customer and business demands.
What do you like best about working in the finishing and coating industry? I find it very satisfying to know we touch every other industry in ways most people aren’t even aware of. Coatings make everyday life easier, safer, more functional, or simply prettier to look at for all of us.
What preconceived notions about the finishing and coating industry have changed since you started working in it? That it was unsafe by its nature and caused harm to the environment. This is only true if people act in irresponsible and unsafe manners.
Can you describe a particular project you have been involved in that made you most proud? I’ve been involved in countless projects involving coating applications and their uses. The complicated ones or those with high-profile customers using hardware in exotic environments were always exciting, but I wouldn’t say it made me “proud.” What makes me proud is growing people. I know many people say that, but when I get groups of people doing things they never thought they could or producing results better than they believed were possible, then seeing their personal satisfaction, I feel proud – of them and of my part. If I must point to one project, it would be Hohman’s restructure several years ago. I helped coach individuals to come together as teams, and the business boomed.
Why would you recommend to a friend a career in the finishing and coating industry? It’s dynamic and important.
What is the toughest part of your job? Working with the teams to stay one step ahead of new flow-down requirements so the business is primed and ready for new opportunities.
How do you describe what you do in your job to family and friends and the importance of it? I tell them I get to run an organization full of a bunch of great people that coats components used in engines, machines, on airplanes or in space.
Are you involved in any industry associations or trade groups? Not anymore.
What was the first job you had in your career? Process Engineer.
What type of college, school, or training have you had? I have a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering, a Master’s degree Business Management, and a 6-Sigma Blackbelt.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years? 5 years, still with Hohman, building teams and growing the business. In 10 years, I’ll be enjoying retirement.
What is your most humorous day/event in the finishing and coating industry? Laughter should be a part of every day. I honestly can not think of one “event.”
What was your favorite subject in high school or college? Math.
What motivates you to work hard at your job? Success.
Tell us about your outside hobbies and interests: Time at the lake with family and friends.
What three things do you think of the most each workday? Does everyone have what they need to be successful? Is there a customer who isn’t being satisfied? What do I need to do next?
Who has been the biggest mentor in your career? My Dad. He had the strongest work ethic of anyone I know and taught me long ago to “respect your people, give them what they need, and get out of their way.”
What is your favorite book you have read? For work/career-related books, it is Principle-Centered Leadership. For personal, I enjoy so many different genres that I don’t have one favorite.