Tag Archives: Featured Employee

  • Helping Customers or Working a Puzzle, Terri Gentile Sees the Big Picture

    terri_gentileProject Manager Terri Gentile started with SMW Autoblok in 2001 as a customer service representative. A stint with the engineering department followed, where she helped coordinate and expedite projects. After seven years with the company, she took some time off, but came back to us as a full-fledged Project Manager in 2011.

    In this position, she takes orders “from cradle to grave,” keeping the parts moving through engineering, manufacturing, shipping, inspection and shipping. Terri continuously updates the customer on the order’s status as she carefully guides its progress.

    In her free time, Terri likes to plug away at picture puzzles, bit by bit, until she has the satisfaction of placing the last piece. “It can become addictive,” she said. “I just finished one puzzle after two months and have to take a break to work on other home projects.”

    Picture 040Terri also likes hitting the open road on the back of her husband’s motorcycle. They take local day trips or trailer the bike to scenic spots like Tennessee, South Dakota or Sturgis for more adventurous rides.

    Another favorite mode of transportation for Terri is horseback, when she can find the time and a trail to ride. In fact, she enjoys almost any outdoor sport. After discovering kayaking four years ago, she and her husband have explored local forest preserve lakes and sections of the Fox River. More quiet pastimes include walking, reading and spending time with her young grandchildren.

    Terri’s favorite travel spot is Jamaica. Her brother-in-law knows the island well so she gets to see some of the exotic spots that are not found on the tourist maps. She finds the atmosphere both relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. After four trips, she and her hubby have decided to head for a change of scenery in the mountains of Colorado for their next trip.

    Whether expediting a job or biking down the road, Terri is always looking for what is around the next curve – and totally enjoying the view along the way.

  • Mike Wood Always Looks for the Brighter Side of Life

    Mike WoodInside Sales Coordinator Mike Wood has been with SMW Autoblok for almost 20 years, starting out in the warehouse as a shipping and receiving clerk. After two years, he was promoted to supervisor and has continued accepting additional responsibility ever since. In 2008 he was offered a job with inside sales. He could have started out with a territory right away, but decided to establish himself first and work his way up. His first territory was Ontario, Canada, but within the year he took over all of Canada and added Michigan and northern Ohio and more, gaining the confidence to truly understand his customers unique needs.

    Mike loves helping customers and being a team player. He attributes his success to dedicating himself to doing his job to the best of his ability. This involves learning as much as he can about the company and its products. He learned that “knowledge is power” after taking online classes offered by the company. The courses he took from “Tooling U” helped him understand the basics of the industry and SMW products as he continued to grow in his career.

    My Hamer Special electric guitarIn his free time, Mike likes to rock out with his guitar and Yamaha electronic keyboard/synthesizer. He has all the toys and likes to blow the house out with his friends. His late wife, Pam, used to say his face would light up like Stevie Ray Vaughn when he played.

    Although life has thrown him some hard knocks, Mike has learned to be grateful for what he has and takes things one day at a time after losing his wife two years ago. Just when things seemed darkest, he met Tammy, a widow who was working through her own loss. She is a lot of fun and makes Mike laugh. Their new relationship has helped them both look towards the future.

    When not jamming with his friends, Mike enjoys building up his house with Tammy’s help, and grilling and entertaining when he can. He also takes snapshots of skies, sunrises and sunsets. “Sometimes things just take my breath away and I have to try to capture them.” He’s learned that beauty is still all around and he is wise enough to capture it when he can.

  • Tim Velander: Equally At Ease with CAD-CAM or SCUBA

    Tim Velander has always been fascinated by mechanical devices and how to make them work faster and more reliably. Before joining SMW Autoblok as design engineer almost four years ago, he worked in manufacturing fields as diverse as newspaper machines, injection molding and consumer products. His job here entails taking rough designs for workpieces and determining exactly how they will be machined and assembled using the equipment available in our shop. He makes sure there are no issues with tool fit, stock size and workpiece dimensions.

    Tim enjoys working with the design team and clients to make sure the work holders function within the customer’s parameters. One of the most rewarding aspects of his job is visiting clients to see the products move from the digital world to real life applications.

    Family Man. S.C.U.B.A. Man. Piano Man.

    Away from work, Tim and his family love the outdoors. With two young children, Tim does not golf as much as he would like, but does find the time to play and compete in two softball leagues during the summer. The whole family enjoys water sports. Tim’s wife is a competitive water skier, so everyone travels to tournaments to watch her each year. While not in her league, Tim does enjoy wake boarding.

    S.C.U.B.A. certified, Tim goes diving with his wife on most of their tropical vacations. Most recently they performed a 100-foot dive in Maui and got to swim through what they call the “Apartments.” It’s basically a reef that looks like an underwater city where the coral grew straight up like a series of buildings. Tim has also explored a sunken World War II fighter plane, sharing the space with sharks and sea turtles. His all-time favorite excursion was a night dive off the coast of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii in the company of a group of Manta Rays. They ranged in size from about 6 feet to 10 feet in wingspan and flew right over everyone’s heads.

    During the winter season, the family enjoys gathering around the piano, which Tim has played for over 20 years. Since the kids are young, the current selections tend to center around Disney favorites. Next to playing solo for his family, Tim enjoys being part of a six piece band that plays for events at his church. At work or enjoying his family and hobbies, Tim is a man in harmony with his surroundings.

  • Kyle Zellman: Chips and Coolant Are in His Blood

    From growing up in his father’s machine shop near Milwaukee and working as an application engineer and machinist to his career as our national sales manager, Kyle Zellman has always had “chips and coolant in his blood.” Kyle has been with us for 15 years, starting out as an inside sales rep. After gathering specs and information and putting together quotes for the regional manager and other sales reps, he got the opportunity to go out and meet the customers. He needed no help with the engineering and information side, but he shadowed a senior sales rep to pick up the sales side of the business. It didn’t take long. He loved the customer contact from the beginning. He knew at once he preferred relations to calculations.

    But more than just meeting new people, Kyle welcomed the opportunity to come up with solutions to his customers’ unique challenges every day. He considers spreading knowledge to be a big part of his job. He says he would rather educate a customer about a part than sell it to them. Small machine shop owners who are usually distrustful of sales reps readily opened their doors to Kyle as he spoke their language and showed them new ways to increase their profits. And at each stop, he would learn something that he could pass on to his other clients that would help them increase productivity and grow their business as well.

    A Private Island – The Ultimate Get-a-Way

    When not working, Kyle is a DIY Jack-of-All-Trades who has just finished remodeling a house. If he’s not working on something mechanical, he loves to be on the water, doing anything that has to do with boating and fishing. He shares a 36’ boat with his two brothers and has a 24 footer that he uses for Great Lakes fishing. You can find him out there every summer, searching for King Salmon, Coho and Brown Trout.

    If he’s not on his boats, he and his four buddies can be found camping on their own private island in Northern Wisconsin. Putting in bids on a whim, the group found themselves the proud owners of Frog Island, located on a river near Park Falls, Wisconsin. The six acre island has great Muskie fishing, no buildings and a “no rules” rule.

    Kyle loves his life on the road and at home, with his four year old son and a super-supportive wife who holds down the fort as he travels across the country doing the job he loves.

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