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Finding Champions and Changing Perceptions in Manufacturing

Empowering Women in Industry
Stock photo courtesy of Anamul Rezwan

Finding Champions and Changing Perceptions in Manufacturing

Author: Cieana Detloff

I’m really excited about a book I just bought, and of course, I just have to share this with the #PumpTalk Community. I ordered this book (which is available from Amazon), titled Finding America’s Greatest Champion, because I had the great fortune of recently speaking with the author, Terry M. Iverson. Mr. Iverson is the President & CEO of Iverson & Company, a machine tool distributorship and rebuilder in Des Plaines – which is a ‘hop, skip, and a jump’ away from my hometown of Chicago, IL.

I’ve talked with many people over the years about the ‘image problem’ that obscures career opportunities within the pump industry (read this previous post “I’m too sexy…”), so it is extremely refreshing to meet a man on a mission to change perceptions about manufacturing and careers within the manufacturing industry. Mr. Iverson started a non-profit organization – CHAMPION Now® – and this very powerful word is actually an acronym. CHAMPION stands for

Change How American Manufacturing’s Perceived IOur Nation.

This organization is actively working to “change the image of manufacturing from the unrealistic, stereotypical “dark and dirty” industry to one that is filled with extremely advanced technology, innovation, with exhilarating and well-paying careers available to the next generation.” You can learn more at

Iverson has published this book to help find the ‘next great champion’, to find the heroes (and truth be told, there are many). Our team at Empowering Pumps & Equipment is always working to find the heroes, to shine a light on the PEOPLE behind the pumps and pumping systems that tangibly impact our lives every single day (an immediate one that comes to mind – Water Heroes – First On-Site, Last to Leave). Talking to Mr. Iverson, we realized we held a common belief…that among the next great Champions are Women. In fact, he dedicated an entire chapter of his book to recognizing the potential of Women in Manufacturing.

(left) Carrie Kurczynski, with GE Power Services, shares her story in a new book from Terry Iverson (right). "Carrie gew up in our church..." explains Iverson, "...and went on to get an engineering degree from Purdue University."

(left) Carrie Kurczynski, with GE Power Services, shares her story in a new book from Terry Iverson (right). “Carrie grew up in our church…” explains Iverson, “…and went on to get an engineering degree from Purdue University.”

He shared this chapter with me right as the holidays hit, and I greatly appreciated the inside look. Iverson interviewed several women, including Jennifer McNelly (former President of the Manufacturing Institute) and Allison Grealis (Founder and President of Women in Manufacturing), in between exploring why girls rarely go into stem-related fields, discussing the revolution that is currently taking place, and vocalizing the ferocious need to encourage girls and minorities into stem fields – both from parents at home as well as school counselors. Iverson himself is active when it comes to reaching students on this matter. Traveling all around the Chicago suburbs to Niles North and West High Schools, New Trier, Elk Grove, Wheeling, and others, Iverson doesn’t just ‘talk the talk’. He ‘walks the walk’. And there’s video to prove it! I especially loved this one where Mr. Iverson speaks at the Heavy Metal Tour at the Milwaukee Area Technical College.

I cannot truly express how deeply happy it makes me to see manufacturing companies take an active approach to talking with high school students. This is a phenomenal way to reach the next generation of champions and help change perceptions about industry. This is why we celebrate Engineers Week (#Eweek2019), Manufacturing Day (#MFGday19), International Women in Engineering Day (#INWEDIntroduce a Girl to Engineering Day (**Coming up February 21st!!) and engage socially through Empowering Women in Industry — to change our culture, build up the workforce, build up each other, and BE the champions we need.

Bridging the Gap: Getting (and Keeping) More Women in the Manufacturing Sector

I want to hear from you – please use the comments section below.

How will you help change perceptions about your industry?

What can you do to inspire the next generation to pursue a career in engineering, manufacturing, or technical trades?

How can you support the women who work in your department?

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