Alumni Spotlight Archive
Switching career gears at Triton College
Photography was a passion of Janet Kaiser growing up. The Glenview resident studied photography, receiving her B.F.A. from Columbia College in 1980, before working a couple years as a retail photographer. But it wasn’t long after graduating that Kaiser decided to pursue a completely different and more challenging field as it related to her family’s business in metal manufacturing. From 1981-1986, she began taking continuing education classes and certification courses in AutoCAD and mechanical drafting at Triton College to prepare her for her change in careers.
Today, she is president of Ex-Cell Kaiser LLC, of which she acquired from her family, as well as Century Metal Spinning, a contract manufacturing shop based in Bensenville that supplies custom spun metal products to aerospace, military and scientific research industries and industrial and commercial manufacturers.
Through her line of work, Kaiser has received some prestigious awards: She was the first recipient of the Rose Mottl Leadership in Manufacturing Award from the Tooling and Manufacturing Association (TMA) in 2010 and was named the 2012 Manufacturer of the Year from the Alliance for Illinois Manufacturing (AIM)/NORBIC, of which she serves on the board. She’s also a member of TMA and the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA).
What or who has inspired you both in your career and personal life?
With regard to sources of inspiration in both my career and personal life, I’d start with my father and former President of Ex-Cell Metal Co., Mr. Morton L. Goldberg. My father taught me good accounting practices and business management skills based on sound guidelines, such as “Never borrow money if you don’t have to” and “Keep the company’s bank balance and profit margin higher than the liabilities.”
At Triton College, my mentors were teachers Mr. Roland Bossert and Mr. McKenna for Geometry. I was taught good, basic shop principals; and how to break down, simplify, and implement a step-by-step production process. Ms. Antigone Sharris, a current faculty member at Triton, started her manufacturing career as an intern at Century Metal Spinning!
What would you describe as your strong suit?
My strong suit is technical knowledge and the ability to solve problems for the customer.
How has Triton College impacted your life?
Going to a trade school, such as Triton College, after four years at a liberal arts college, taught me how to conceptualize a part, and then draft and produce it with efficiency and precision.
What advice would you give to someone who would like to pursue a career in your field?
For someone just starting out in metal manufacturing, I would advise them to develop a solid foundation in technical skills. These skills provide a base and framework for growth in the technical fields of manufacturing and engineering and prepare individuals for ownership in these fields. As a manager or an owner, one must also have a good grasp of who one manages and be able to connect with their employees using honed people skills. Overall, it’s important to stay current with industry trends, refresh professional skills, and re-educate oneself to know about and use the newest technology.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans for the future focus on enlarging our niche, raising the top line in sales, and implementing “Lean Manufacturing” operating strategies to maximize production efficiency.
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