Staff and Board

Manufacturers need quick access to current information and proven resources for wide-ranging needs. Presently comprised of 9 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.

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
bzider@vmec.org

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 serving in challenging positions at sea and ashore as a U.S. Coast Guard Officer, he voluntarily resigned in 1977 to move to Vermont with his family and pursue a career in manufacturing. Bob joined VMEC as a Field Staff at Large when the Center first opened its doors for business in January 1996 and he became the Center Director/CEO in November of that same year.

Bob has held a variety of key management positions in manufacturing companies where he gained diverse practical experience in operations, finance, sales & marketing, human resources, 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, national and regional non-profits, the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC) and with its predecessor, the Modernization Forum. In Vermont, he is an ex-officio and active member of The Vermont Technology Council.

(802) 279-6103
pgiavara@vmec.org

Patricia joined VMEC in January 2003 and has been the Assistant Director since July 2009.  For the past 6 years she has led 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
rstygles@vmec.org

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.

(802) 793-2078
ralbert@vmec.org

Robynn has more than 25 years of broad, 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
awood@vmec.org

(802) 299-1456
lhenderson@vmec.org

In July 2012, Lisa returned to VMEC, having previously worked for us from November 1996 – June 2009. With over 25 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 gardening at her home in Norwich or even perhaps entertaining a crowd while singing with her husband Chris in their mixed A capella quartet, The Honeymooners.

(802) 431-3323
dpaul@vmec.org

Don has over 25 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 a partner in a startup technical services business and 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 both manufacturing 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. Don works from a home office based in New Haven, Vermont.

(802) 289-2890
kwalker@vmec.org

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 decade with VMEC, Ken has 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.

(802) 363-3982
kswanke@vmec.org

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.

Drawing 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.

In the community, Karl serves as a board member at the nonprofit, Technology for Tomorrow (T4T).

Advisory Board

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.

2016 VMEC Board members include:

  • Dave Blittersdorf – All Earth Renewables, Inc. (Williston, VT), CEO / Founder
  • John Burton – Network Performance Inc. (South Burlington, VT), President and Co-owner
  • Ben Clark – Ann Clark Ltd. (Rutland, VT), CEO
  • Bob Flint – Springfield Regional Development Corporation (Springfield, VT), Executive Director
  • Rob Green  – Vermont Precision Tools (Swanton, VT), Operations Director
  • Tommy Harmon – Sonnax Industries (Bellows Falls, VT), CEO / Owner
  • Greg Maguire – Revision Military (Essex, VT),  Sr. Director of Legal and Government Affairs
  • Pat Moulton – Vermont Technical College (Randolph Center and Williston. VT), Interim President
  • Mike Rainville (Chairman) – Maple Landmark, Inc. (Middlebury, VT), President / Owner
  • Brenan Riehl – GW Plastics (Bethel, VT), President and CEO
  • Mike Schirling –  State of Vermont, Secretary of Agency of Commerce & Community Development
  • Ed Townley – Agri-Mark/ Cabot Creamery, Inc (Waitsfield, VT), President and CEO
  • Pat Wheeler – Kaman Aerospace Group, Inc. (Bennington,VT), Vice President Strategic Initiatives
  • Steve Wildermuth – Global Foundries (Burlington, VT), Vice President of FAB Operations
  • Bob Zider – Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center (Randolph, VT), Director & CEO