Mike Valz brought a big-company background to Cascade Engineering when he joined the privately held, entrepreneurial injection molder in May 2000 as executive vice president. Six months later Cascade owner/founder Fred Keller promoted Valz to president and chief operating officer of the 800-employee Grand Rapids, Mich., firm, which reported sales of $170 million in fiscal 2001.
Valz came to Cascade Engineering which injection molds systems and components for the automotive, furniture and container industries from a three-year stint at Herman Miller Inc. He was executive vice president of operations for Herman Miller, a $1.8 billion international manufacturer of furniture systems and seating for business and healthcare.
Valz previously spent seven years with Batesville Casket Co., a $680 million subsidiary of Hillenbrand Industries, in Batesville, Ind.; and 19 years with General Motors Corp. At Batesville, he served as VP of manufacturing, VP of design and engineering, and general manager. At GM, he worked from 1983-85 as engineering group manager in the automaker's technical center, and from 1985-89 as general superintendent and team lead for operations.
Valz earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute in 1975 and also graduate-level coursework at Xavier University and Columbia University.
Meanwhile, Cascade, which has earned much recognition for its social (welfare-to-work) and environmental (alternative energy) policies, won Plastics News' 2001 Processor of the Year award.