Lisa Zelt spent 10 years in the printing industry — she studied at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich., where she earned a bachelor's degree in print management — and held roles in customer and imaging services and production scheduling. She saw the manufacturing fundamentals in plastics to be transferable with the skills she had grown in the previous decade of her career.
She started as a production scheduler, then operations planning manager, and production and planning manager for Teel Plastics LLC in Baraboo, Wis. Recent accomplishments include leading the operations function to successful implementation of a new companywide enterprise resource planning system; designing the operating layout and establishing facility readiness and deployment of the injection molding department expansions, resulting in nine new presses and about 15 molds; facilitating the expansion of Teel health care extrusion by supporting a Class 8 clean room expansion and commercializing four new extrusion lines in the new facility.
The coronavirus pandemic had a large impact on the extruder and injection molder, giving Zelt the opportunity to grow the company with new equipment to meet the urgent demand: "We more than doubled our equipment footprint in a short period of time in our molding department."
Zelt's current challenge at work "relates to leading directly and indirectly upwards of 100 other teammates."
"I must provide leadership and coordination to achieve department initiatives. Success requires communicating effectively across all shifts, days and layers of the organization on a constant and consistent basis," she added.
Zelt hasn't given up on printing, though. "I own two antique letterpress printing presses and enjoy hobby printing. One of them is a 'tabletop' model that I have been able to take directly to shows or events to teach people about antique printing methods," she said.
"The 'mold' I break is being a female, LGBTQ+ production manager in a traditionally male-dominated space," Zelt said. "I am proud to be in this role and am very cognizant of being the only woman in the room many times. I own this as my responsibility to represent and advocate for all the others who work here in my manufacturing departments."