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Interviews

Richard Coffman: Doing Business with Humor and Humility

Richard Coffman at workLike so many of the people involved in the valve industry, 40-year-veteran Richard Coffman can trace much of his success to being in the right place at the right time, and being confident enough to take advantage of an opportunity.

Coffman received his Bachelors of Science in Electrical Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and began his career as a mechanical designer at GE in the Specialty Controls Department. There he worked in the value engineering department where he designed GE-printed circuit boards used to drive servovalves, which controlled the turbine speed on many GE turbine control systems.

Notes on a Notable Career: Former VMA Chairman Tom Mignogna

1968-A-New-Era-Electronic-Actuator-San-Diego 300pxLike many of the valve industry icons we’ve interviewed, Tom Mignogna’s notable career in the valve industry started out not so much by design, perhaps, but by good fortune.

Ken Chickering: Oil in his Veins?

1972 enhanced headline photoKen Chickering’s affinity for the oil industry came naturally. “My father, for whom I had a lot of respect, worked for Oilwell Supply. My great grandfather helped start that company in 1862. Three generations of the family worked for the company in Oil City, PA. I didn’t work there, but I started my oilfield roustabout work near Oil City and spent other summers as a roughneck and working for Halliburton.”

A Twist of Fate Leads to a Long Career

Gil at Richards Industries“The valve industry is all about people. Hands on, manufacturing, selling, that’s what appeals to a lot of us. It’s a no-nonsense industry, with many high-quality people,” said an enthused Gil Richards, Chairman Emeritus of Richards Industries, in a recent interview with VALVE Magazine. “It’s a pleasure to work and associate with them.”

Success is a Family Affair

Randy solo editedRandy Cowart took up the mantle of 8 predecessors when he became President, CEO and Chairman of the Wm. Powell Company.

In an age when companies change presidents more frequently than burger chains come out with new offerings, it is refreshing to speak with a man who is only the 9th president of a company that has endured for 167 years.

A.K. Velan: A Universal View of an Earthly Industry

Mr.VelanWithout these ubiquitous objects, we would have no electricity, no oil, no gas and no water. Most people don’t notice them, and if they do, rarely give them a second thought. It is fortunate, then, for the human race, that there are people who spend their lives thinking about them, inventing and perfecting them. Of course, we’re speaking about valves.

VMA Through the Eyes of Morris Beschloss

Then Morris Beschloss1966 Vice Chairman VMA Morris Beschloss was the youngest incoming VMA Board member ever when he attended the VMA’s 25th Anniversary event at the Waldorf in New York City in 1963. In 1988, he was the speaker for the past chairmen in Washington, D.C.

These are but two of the milestones Beschloss has achieved since he first started work as an assistant sales manager at Hammond Valve Corp. in Hammond, IN. "It started when I got a call from Chuck Kennedy in 1960," he said. "He was chairman that year. He asked when I was going to be in New York. The Board of Directors would like to see you."

Keeping an Eye on Valves and More: Fluor’s Ron Merrick

ronmerrickRon Merrick, P.E., is one of those increasingly rare individuals: he has spent his entire professional career at one company. Merrick has been at Fluor for 34 years and is currently director of piping material engineering and a Senior Fluor Fellow. In that capacity, he explains, “[I’m] the person at the corporate level who keeps an eye on valve requirements and other piping material; not just valves, but basically anything that’s round with liquid in it.” But his involvement in the industry runs deeper than his job at Fluor: he’s vice chair of the American Petroleum Institute’s Downstream Piping and Valves Manufacturers and Contractors subcommittee, and he’s president of the PVF Roundtable.

 

Engineering Woman: Lori Garrett of Eastman Chemical

lori garrettFrom her early, trying days in construction to a challenging yet rewarding position as manager of the Eastman Valve Shop at the Eastman Chemical plant in Kingsport, TN, Lori Garrett’s career path shows there are no barriers—gender or otherwise—when you “go for it” with all your heart.

Manufacturing Woman: Colleen VanderVelde

With manufacturers facing shortages of skilled workers, women are being increasingly recruited to fill the gap. Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers reports that the number of women-owned manufacturing firms has almost doubled in the past decade. Nearly one out of five firms is owned by women, and they employ one-sixth of the nation's manufacturing workforce.

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