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Faces of Interface Featuring Melissa Enriquez

There are three staples of an Interface product: accuracy, reliability, and quality. In today’s Faces of Interface, we talked Melissa Enriquez, Quality Engineer, who is one of the engineers responsible for ensuring the third, and arguably most important staple of our products meets Interface standards. We had a wonderful time learning Melissa’s story and hope you enjoy it too!

Melissa’s journey to the engineering world was not as typical as some of our other team members. In fact, she had not really pictured herself in this type of career at all. When she applied for her first job in Michigan, there was two open positions. One was in accounting and the other in quality. She was hired for the role in quality, and the rest is history.

The opportunity to be part of a quality team really opened doors for Melissa. She received on the job training as an SPC coordinator and enjoyed the role. This also eventually led to her getting her certification in SPC, ASQ and more. She also attended community college in Michigan and got her associates degree in Applied Sciences, followed by two bachelor’s degrees a few years later. She has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, and a biomechanical engineering degree from Wayne State University.

After taking on the responsibilities of quality engineering, Melissa began to climb the ranks. She worked across multiple industries including automotive, aerospace, military and defense, and others. One of her more prominent roles was with Burtek, where her work with the company’s partners Raytheon and Lockheed Martin won awards for excellence in quality. In addition, her name can still be found across military equipment around the world due to being listed as a Quality Test Director on those products.

Her last stop before joining Interface was at Cobasys, an energy storage solution company helping to push battery technology forward in the electric vehicle market. In this role, Melissa helped to implement multiple quality standards, a supplier management program, and much more.

In September 2021, Melissa came to work for Interface. She has served as a quality supervisor and quality engineer. She joined Interface because she wanted to get back to being direct with the products and fix problems directly. Her role involves ensuring every product that leaves our doors is up to the high Interface standards. This includes supervising quality inspectors, performing root cause analysis and corrective action, problem solving, updating documents to make requirements clear and engaging in finding ways to advance our product quality processes. What she enjoys most about Interface is the people, the ability to make a difference in the company, and the quality products and services we provide to our customers.

When she is not upholding the Interface standard, Melissa can be found enjoying her two hobbies – sports and music. As a UofM alumni, she is a big supporter of all Michigan Wolverine sports. As far as music goes, she spent a lot of her younger years playing instruments, including drums, clarinet, bass clarinet, and trumpet. Today, she indulges that passion by listening to a wide variety of music and attending concerts.

Melissa is a big part of why Interface remains successful with a reputable brand known for exceptional quality. Our commitment to quality only goes as far as our people’s commitment to meet and exceed these standards. Melissa is a huge proponent of ensuring that everything that passes her desk is of the quality our customers have come to expect and demand from the leader in force measurement.

To learn more about Interface’s outstanding teams and individuals, check into our blog every month for a new Faces of Interface story.

Faces of Interface Featuring Justin Walker

Our Faces of Interface feature focuses on Regional Sales Director (RSD), Justin Walker. Justin is a United States Marine veteran who grew up in the Texas oil fields. He received his knowledge and experience in engineering while in the military. He has honed his skills in engineering and sales across a variety of roles and was recently promoted to the critical role of Interface RSD.

Growing up near the oil fields in Texas and having a father and friend work in the fields led Justin to develop an interest in the technical side of oil rigging and engineering in general. However, his goal was to remain out of the fields and instead work to optimize the process through technology. To do so, Justin opted for the Marines to serve his country and receive the training necessary to accomplish this goal.

He joined the Marines at age 17, and scored very high on the technical aspects of the entry exam. This enabled him to serve as an aviation mechanic with a unique and interesting specialty in cryogenics. The cryogenics aspect of his roles allowed him to work with the liquid nitrogen and oxygen involved in weapon systems and base support. He also got some kicks freezing stuff, as well as curing a hangover or two with the highly effective chemicals.

Justin served in the Marines for four and half years before jumping into the oil and gas industry with a company named Weatherford. In this role, he worked as a wire line operator where he helped to determine where oil could be found and then using explosives to access it. He stayed in this role until the oil market dropped, and then moved into sales.

His first role in sales was at West Texas Nissan and Justin found a ton of success in a sales position. Unfortunately, the market crashed and Justin decided it was time for a change. He moved to Phoenix, Arizona, because he was familiar with the area due to his time being stationed in Yuma, Arizona, when he was a Marine.

Justin joined Interface in July 2016 as an applications engineer. He had a desire to get back into technology and engineering, while still maintaining a sales role due to his success in the automotive industry. He remained at Interface for two years before leaving to join one of our rep firms in Florida, where he still sold Interface products. After a year and a half with Interface’s rep firm, we welcomed Justin back with open arms. First, as applications engineer; however, Justin was recently promoted to Regional Sales Director covering the Central North America region. Justin has thrived in his roles at Interface.

Justin really enjoys the day-to-day interactions with customers and our rep firms. What he enjoys the most is the differences in who and what he is working with each day. One day he could be working with a customer that works in the oil field like he witnessed as a kid growing up, another day he could be selling solutions to a company responsible for putting satellites and even humans in space.

When he’s not helping customers solve their force measurement challenges, Justin can be found spending time with his wife and six-year-old stepson. He and the family enjoy getting outdoors as much as possible. Together, they hike in the mountains, camp, take a ride on their ATVs, and boat the Colorado River.

We appreciate having the opportunity to share Justin’s amazing story. He is passionate about what he does at Interface and in life. We are thrilled to have him on the Interface team and working hard for all his customers and rep firms at ensure the highest levels of satisfaction! To learn more about our outstanding team members, check in each month for a new Faces of Interface feature.

Faces of Interface Featuring Chris Brandenburg

Interface Technical Services Manager Chris Brandenburg has not followed the traditional path into the manufacturing and engineering world. Growing up and finishing high school in Illinois, Chris worked a job in retail for a number of years. Looking for a way out of retail, Chris engaged with a family friend who worked for manufacturer that built hydraulic lifts called, Advanced Lifts. Chris was offered a job at Advanced Lifts and spent a few years helping to build these products.

This was Chris’s first foray into the manufacturing world, and while he enjoyed the industry, he quickly realized that he had a greater passion for working with people rather than actually building the machines. This is when he began to explore a career in front-end customer service.

Advanced Lifts offered him a job in a customer support role where he would be helping people troubleshoot their hydraulic lifts. With his years of experience building the product he was able to handle the technical aspect of the job, while the customer support aspect came naturally.

After nine years with Advanced Lifts and more than enough harsh Illinois winters, Chris realized it was time for a change. In 2011, he moved to Arizona on whim and got a job at Shutterfly working in customer service. Over his seven years with Shutterfly, he quickly moved up the ranks and became a customer service supervisor managing a team of more than 30 people.

Chris valued his time at Shutterfly because it helped him learn how to work with and help people of all different backgrounds. During the company’s incredibly busy holiday season, it was Chris’s job to hire more than 150 people for various roles within the company. He says that he became adept at understanding people and figuring out where they would excel in certain customer service positions.

In 2018, Chris embarked on a new journey in an industry he had little experience in at the time, force measurement. Chris was intrigued by the opportunity to join Interface because he would have the opportunity to build a customer service department from the ground up. Prior to Chris joining, Interface employees from various departments shared the role of customer service without an official department.

Chris has since helped to build a high-functioning and compassionate team of customer service professionals dedicated solely to improving the Interface customer experience. He’s also done this while balancing a few different roles simultaneously with customer services duties. He worked for a time as an application engineer, and currently leads customer service for the calibration services department. He is often praised by his colleagues as a a go-to resource to get it done. He is valued for his teamwork and willingness to do whatever it takes.

Chris says that it has been an honor to take on such a critical role in expanding Interface’s customer service function and enjoys the responsibility in helping the company continue to grow and improve every day. However, his favorite thing about working at Interface, as other have also mentioned in this series, is working with the talented people at Interface. Not only are they a kind and hardworking team, so many individuals here have been with the company for a long time and have a wealth of knowledge to share. The ability to leverage this source of insight makes his job working through customer service challenges much easier. It has also helped him develop an expertise in an industry that just two years ago he knew little about and know is an incredible resource to help others.

When Chris isn’t tackling customer service requests, he can be found at home with his fiancé and stepdaughter watching movies or catching an NFL game. Chris is a self-described nerd who loves Marvel and Star Wars movies. His football allegiances lie in his home state of Illinois with the Bears, as well as appreciating the work of the greatest dynasty in NFL history, the New England Patriots.

Authors note: the point on the New England Patriots can be debated, but as a Pats fan myself I stand by it. And Chris did describe himself as a Patriots fan – the author did not fabricate this point!

Our Greatest Resource is Our Team Members

Labor Day is important to Interface. It is our time to celebrate our most valuable resource, our talented team members. We appreciate every single person that has been part of our 51-year-old history. They are what makes us thrive, each and every day.

Our talent is diverse in skills and experience. It takes a wide range of resources to design and build the best precision force solutions in the market place.

At Interface, we are proud of the work we do and the products we provide our clients. Our force measurement tools and technology are recognized as the Gold Standard for accuracy and reliability, because of the hundreds of top-notch engineers, production team members, sales and application engineers, administrators, partners, reps, and distributors, who pour their heart and soul into their work.

On any given day, you can find our experts keenly soldering strain gages, calibrating every load cell, shipping crates of our LowProfile load cells, meeting with clients to design new OEM solutions, engineering new products and supporting our internal and external customers from our headquarter office. It takes a vast group of committed team members to do what we do, and do it well. And that is worth celebrating this Labor Day!

Our employees have been able to achieve success at such a high level because of our focus on the core values we use to define ourselves: ownership, integrity, imagination, and accountability. It’s ingrained in our culture and what we strive to represent throughout the organization.

These values dictate the way our teams interact with clients and one another, and it guides the success of our product development and R&D efforts. There are a shared vision and a common goal which makes collaboration and innovation easier, which helps us to promote a great place to work.

As a premium supplier to the critical infrastructure projects, the aerospace and defense markets, we are also happy to avowal that Interface products are “Made in America.” We take pride in leveraging American labor and contributing our economic success to the U.S. GDP. The National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) presented the following facts on the state of U.S. manufacturing, and Interface is an integral contributor to these milestones:

NAM Facts (Source):

  • Manufacturers contributed $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2018
  • Over the past 28 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exported have quadrupled
  • Manufacturers in the U.S. export nearly half of U.S. manufacturing output
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the eighth-largest economy in the world

America’s manufacturing labor force turned America into a powerhouse in the mid-1800s. They started the industrial revolution and became the backbone to American success throughout the next 150 years. It’s critical to our country’s future to celebrate and support manufacturing and labor.

We invite you to check back in every month and read our Faces of Interface blog where we celebrate the individual leaders helping us to achieve our innovation goals. The special series tells the stories and background of some of our most brilliant people. Check out the latest edition here.

Happy Labor Day, and remember to rest and relax. We appreciate all you do Interface Team!

 

 

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Michael Cobb

Michael Cobb has always been a technologist and engineer at heart from his earliest memories. He was exposed to electronics technology at a young age through his father, who worked as an Electrician and owned a small television repair business. Michael was always around while his father tinkered with TV components, which sparked his interest in discovering how things worked.

At age 9, Michael was fortunate to have access to a computer system located at the medical facility where his mother was a nurse. To keep him out of trouble, Michael’s mother would give him technology magazines to read, some of which contained code for computer programs and challenge games that he could enter. Soon Michael began creating his own programs, and at age 11 produced a small program that the office staff began to use for some of their recordkeeping.  As payment, the medical office staff bought Michael a computer kit from one of the magazines. It was the first, but not last computer he built.

Michael attended high school in the 80s where he continued working with computer programming and technology. At a time when experience with computers was hard to find, Michael founded a small lawnmower and computer repair business while still in high school. These interests led Michael to the Devry Institute of Technology, where he would go on to receive an Associates Degree in electronics.

Michael’s first job allowed him to apply his background in technology while working for a small office products company where he became the lead computer technician and began working heavily with computer networking. During this time, Michael joined a group of individuals who were developing some of the very first speech recognition software for use in a digital office dictation system. This technology and the speech recognition algorithms helped to lay the groundwork for the advanced speech-recognition services we have today like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa.

Later, Michael was hired by Circuit City Services division as the company’s very first computer technician.  Michael’s technical knowledge and experience allowed him to quickly become a leader within the company where, as National Technical Advisor, he was able to participate in the creation of service and repair programs that were implemented nationwide. After leaving Circuit City and traveling the country for a time with his wife, Michael enrolled at Ohio State University to study Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. During his time, Michael went to work at a small load cell and pressure transducer manufacturing company called SensorWerks. Over the course of several years, Michael learned a great deal about sensor technology, machining, robotics, welding and many other skills involved in the manufacture and calibration of force measurement devices.

In 2016, Michael joined Interface as an Application Engineer, and eventually found his way into the Services Department.  Michael was later promoted to Director of Services, the position he holds today, to oversee Interface’s outstanding Services Calibration Team. In this role, Michael has introduced a number of innovative methods involving process improvement, increased visibility of the calibration process, and a software application that he created himself to allow better communication, customer asset management, and proves visibility. His streamlined methods have significantly sped up Interface’s Calibration and Repair Services, retaining Interface’s signature accuracy and quality, while also putting the recalibrated products back into the hands of customers faster.

In 2019, Michael Cobb created Interface’s Tiered Calibration Services Program to expedite services and provide customer-centric solutions that match the exact requirements of our valued clients.

Michael has been able to accomplish improved efficiency in calibration services because of his leadership style. He leads by example and is always willing to work directly on the factory floor with his team. He sets the example for teamwork.  Michael also insists on an environment of mutual respect and equality among his employees in order to create a culture of openness and humility, with a “Find a Way to Say Yes” approach to customer requests and new services opportunities. This approach has allowed Cobb to bring out the best in those he leads, as well as gain their respect while adding value to the Interface brand.

This hands-on approach to work and leadership persists in Cobb’s free time. He loves to work on various machines, cars and anything else with wires and components he can tinker with and improve. He is also passing along the same traits he learned from his father to his 11-year old daughter, who is now getting into programming like her dad. The family tree is strong in the area of technical brilliance!

 

The Power of Teamwork Drives Interface Success

At Interface, teamwork is a critical element to our success—and no one understands collaboration better than our team. We recently delivered a highly-critical assignment for the oil and gas industry. Robert Fuge, a design engineer at Interface, and his team of experts were tasked with delivering an emergency order that required the typical lead time for a new design to be cut by 30 percent.

The delivery entailed prototyping, machining, assembly, and calibration, and the order was incredibly high-end and complex. What motivated the team to deliver above and beyond results despite the short notice was its unapparelled desire to please both the customer and support one another.

Although the team was successful in completing the order on time and within budget, it wasn’t without its fair share of challenges. Some of the key machine parts were behind schedule from the supplier, and technical issues didn’t make it any easier. On top of that, the most crucial part arrived a week and a half late. However, despite these circumstances, the team implemented plans to combat tasks as they arose. Nothing ever sat or waited, and each part of the process had a clearly-defined plan. Fuge attributes this success to effective communication.

“Everything was communicated ahead of time, and each team member knew exactly what was expected of them. No amount of information ever fell through the cracks, leaving all team members and customer contacts fully equipped to deliver their best work.” – Robert Fuge

The team immediately started drawing designs and building fixtures ahead of time and on top of the normal workload. Purchasing got everything ordered quickly, and the team inspected all parts right as they arrived from outside vendors. Interface’s quality department worked with machinists to get all repairs completed and continue moving through the process. As parts continued to go through, supervisors scheduled and planned for all equipment, and employees were trained and prepped before parts even arrived.

What makes this effort particularly successful is the passion demonstrated by both Interface and the customer. Completing this project wasn’t easy and it required sacrifice, but the team learned a valuable lesson in how to facilitate a proactive, company-customer partnership. By the end of the project, the team reinforced the notion that if concrete and well-communicated plans are put in place from the very beginning, there’s no limit to what can be achieved.

Meet the Interface Team

We’d like to thank Robert Fuge and his team of experts who made it all happen:

Drafting: David Connacher facilitated the quick turnaround of flexure, fixture, wiring, outline drawings and designs.

Engineering: Jim Schafer helped with the fixtures design, as well as evaluated how to repair and modify a fixture later. Rick Haun modified a fixture to work properly for the new part—and did so on top of his normal workload. Wrote the programming and stayed late to assist the machine operator in his work.

Purchasing: Tim Combs placed fixtures and hardware on the order right away to have everything in time for the rapid delivery schedule.

Quality: Kevin Armstrong executed immediate inspection of flexures when they arrived from the outside vendor and worked with machinists to repair a damaged thread on two parts.

Machine Center: Daniel Shipman repaired a damaged fixture in between jobs to keep parts moving throughout the process.

Production: Rob Udink scheduled, planned and configured production equipment for new parts ahead of time to mitigate delays in the parts. He also ensured all of his employees were trained on the new parts before they even arrived and drove these parts through at the end.

DLC Production Team: Tiger Singharath, Manny Castro, Doug Konkler, Dung Nguyen and Chris Balland came together to keep parts moving forward to meet the customer deadline.

Interface is a leader in providing custom, standard and modified force measurement solutions to the energy industry. To learn more about our applications, visit our applications page.