Candid Conversations

Manufacturing companies across the nation are facing industry-wide talent shortages, struggling to transition away from legacy sales, and remain relevant in the age of digital marketing.

Candid Conversations brings together leaders in manufacturing, higher education, leadership development, and the Southeastern Wisconsin community to address key industry issues.

Join us for candid conversations about these challenges as we share strategies from industry leaders on how we can reinvigorate manufacturing in Wisconsin and nationwide.

Check out our most recent Candid Conversation:

It’s an exciting time to be a manufacturer serving the automotive industry. In this week’s Candid Conversation, Chris Zuzick, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Waukesha Metal Products, gives us an inside look at the company, why he loves the manufacturing industry and where he sees it headed in the next year.

Success and Growth in Automotive Manufacturing

Founded in the early 1970’s, Waukesha Metal Products is a supplier of metal parts, assemblies, fabrication and tooling for various industries worldwide. They currently serve the automotive, appliance industry, security, and air filtration industries.

There have been many changes in manufacturing since the 70’s but Chris noted they’ve continued to grow throughout the years. Despite tumultuous times in the industry, Waukesha Metal Products has seen the most success working within the automotive industry. As automotive grows, with new technology and innovation, so does the business. Chris and his team have also seen success in the security and industrial industries over the past several years.

Building Industry Relationships In A Global Economy

There’s no doubt technology and the way we communicate is shifting. In an industry like manufacturing, which still relies on a more traditional approach to building industry relationships, new technology has left many businesses figuring out how to adapt.

Chris told us that Waukesha Metal Products still heavily relies on word of mouth referrals and building relationships in person. He’s even gone back to tried and true relationship building techniques. “I've done more personal letters these days because not a lot of people get mail anymore. To get a little note that says, ‘Hey I've been thinking about how can we work together.’ gets people's attention.”

Chris’ new strategies use more tech-focused communication methods. His team has begun hosting online and interactive conferences and using LinkedIn to connect with their customers in new ways.

As manufacturing becomes more of a global economy, the need to make connections with customers abroad has become even more important. “Relationships and making sure that they're gonna be long-term is a big deal.” Waukesha Metal Products ships globally and the company continues to see growth as their offices expand across the world.

Making an Impact in Manufacturing

It’s always great to talk with someone who is passionate about their industry, the impact their products have on the world and the success of their company. Chris is one of those people.

“We're making things that have an impact on everyday lives. Whether you are drying your clothes, driving a car or traveling, we're making things that make life better,” Chris said.

As for where Chris sees Waukesha Metal Products and the industry headed in the next year he had this to say: “Manufacturing continues to grow and is continuing to become more prevalent in the marketplace. So as that continues to grow we will continue to grow. Being part of cutting edge is kind of cool.”


More Candid Conversations

Waukesha Metal Products - Chris Zuzick

It’s an exciting time to be in the evolving manufacturing industry. In this week’s Candid Conversation, Chris Zuzick, the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Waukesha Metal Products, tells us why he loves the industry and where he sees the company headed in the next year.

Kapco Metal Stamping - Mike Kenny

This week’s Candid Conversation focuses on how Kapco Metal Stamping’s VP of Sales is managing growth and how his team is searching for the right customers to grow with.

Kapco Metal Stamping - Jenny Wenger

At Kapco it’s all about the people. Jenny Wenger, Kapco’s Senior Director of Talent and Development, talked to us today about the company’s growth and how they’re working to attract talent to their family owned business.

Hani Malek - Kapco Metal Stamping

Hani Malek, VP of Corporate Development at Kapco Metal Stamping, is ready to change the perspective of manufacturing and build a new brand image to reflect it. Find out more in this week’s Candid Conversation.

Waukesha Metal Products - Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark, CEO of Waukesha Metal Products talks community, education and company culture in this week’s Candid Conversation.

J Deet - UWM

In this week’s Candid Conversation we’re talking with J Dietenberger about talent attraction and retention. J discusses the innovative and successful technology talent programs he’s helped build and gives us insight into how to align organizations with the right professionals.

Reginald Reed - Mindful Staffing

In this week’s Candid Conversation we’re talking to Reginald Reed from Mindful Staffing Solutions. Katie and Reginald had a really exciting conversation about the disconnect between employees and employers and the unique approach Reginald is taking to bridge that gap

Lucas-Milhaupt - Richaad Reed

Richaad Reed is currently spearheading both the Inside Sales and Technical Services department. He shares insight into his unexpected career path in manufacturing, and the aspects of company culture that keep him dedicated to Lucas-Milhaupt.

Lucas-Milhaupt - Sara Brown, Marketing Specialist

Sara Brown Shares the story of her transition from the insurance industry to manufacturing as the new Marketing Specialist at Lucas-Milhaupt. Sara shares which aspects of the role she found most appealing and some of the exciting new marketing strategies she's rolling out.

SussexIM - Nicole Nettesheim, HR Generalist

Nicole Nettesheim, HR Generalist at SussexIM provides insight into the most effective strategies for attracting and retaining key talent in light of rapid growth within the organization.