Empowering Pumps & Equipment is thrilled to announce the distinguished winners of the EPIC 2023 Awards. These awards aim to recognize and celebrate outstanding individuals within the pump and equipment industry for their exemplary contributions and achievements.
This year’s award recipients are as follows:
**Tradesperson of the Year – Tiffany Noel Orff**
Tiffany Noel Orff has demonstrated exceptional skills and craftsmanship in the industry, earning the well-deserved title of Tradesperson of the Year.
Tiffany Noel Orff is a welder, fabricator, custom automotive builder & welding instructor. She is the Founder and Host of Welding Women Syndicate and the Founder and Executive Director of The Exploratory Academy.
**Operator of the Year – Crystal Harness**
Crystal Harness‘s dedication and expertise as an operator have made her a standout choice for Operator of the Year.
Crystal Harness started in the wastewater industry a little over seven years ago as an electronic technician I. Crystal worked her way into being a senior electronic technician and obtained her B wastewater license. In July 2021, she stepped into the role of Chief Operator of the solids dewatering facility at the Ten Mile Creek Regional Wastewater System located in Ferris, Texas. Crystal is the captain of the first ever all-female operations challenge team, the Trinity River Authority TRAilblazers. Crystal is a U.S. Army veteran who enjoys spending time learning, growing, and training other employees. When Crystal isn’t in the office, you can find her fishing, going on little adventures with her partner and their three teenagers, and doing what she loves most—just being a mom!
Crystal is a Chief Operator for Trinity River Authority of Texas. She is also the Captain The TRAilblazers, a WEF Operations Challenge team of women.
**Engineer of the Year – Benjamin Moss**
Benjamin Moss‘s innovative approach and engineering prowess have earned him the prestigious title of Engineer of the Year.
Benjamin is a self-proclaimed water nerd. Currently, he leads the Garver’s water operations in Georgia and manages a variety of water projects for his clients. His civil engineering career started with travels across the country where he has visited every major city in the United States and most of the others ones too! He then moved into the municipal industry where he designed, helped construct, started-up, and operated large water/wastewater projects. He is a graduate of Southern Polytechnic State University and Kennesaw State University. After receiving his master’s degree he served for 5 fives years as a professor where he taught Fluid Mechanics and Fluid Mechanics Laboratory (while consulting). Benjamin also currently serves as the chair of The Water Treatment Committee for the Georgia American Water Works Association and the Georgia Association of Water Professionals. He has been an active member of the Pumps Committee and GAWP in general. An adventurer at heart he and his wonderful wife (also a water engineer) and almost 4-yr son are his expedition crew these days. They are always out in nature every chance they get.
**Emerging Leader of the Year – Gakuo Ndonga**
Gakuo Ndonga‘s exceptional leadership skills and commitment have made him the Emerging Leader of the Year.
Gakuo Ndonga is an application engineering expert with SKF USA Inc. He has spent over eight years working in the fluid industry with expertise in rolling element bearing applications for pumps. Gakuo is a graduate of Rowan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering. Early in his career Gakuo was exposed to working in the industry as mechanic and later as a sales engineer. This early exposure helped him understand technical problem solving from different perspectives and segments of the business. As an application engineering expert, Gakuo contributes to industry publications such as Pump and Systems, Pump Engineer, and Plant Services magazines. He also helps train and mentor others in the field. Gakuo is also passionate about fostering diversity, equity and inclusion and is helping his organization drive meaningful change both internally and out.
**Maintenance & Reliability Professional of the Year – Greg Mecomber**
Greg Mecomber‘s commitment to maintenance and reliability sets the standard for excellence in the industry, making him the Maintenance & Reliability Professional of the Year.
As an IDCON Reliability and Maintenance Management Consultant, Greg uses his excellent leadership and team development skills at diverse client sites. Greg’s knowledge and ability to explain technical details are critical to the success of client projects.
He has been instrumental in developing client Bill of Materials, spare parts nomenclature, and preventive maintenance inspection and essential care routes. He has developed IDCON’s latest training class, Troubleshooting Techniques and is working with team members to create new Condition Monitoring Standards.
He has 21 years of experience in the maintenance field. He began as a Field Supervisor and Permit Manager for the Civil Engineering Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, CA. His career in the private sector has included maintenance technician, reliability engineer, maintenance supervisor, and ultimately maintenance manager.
**Distributor of the Year – Harry Warren of Georgia**
Harry Warren of Georgia‘s outstanding performance as a distributor has earned him the coveted title of Distributor of the Year.
Harry Warren of Georgia, LLC is a manufacturers’ representative organization marketing quality products by providing superior service to our customers, our principals, and our employees. Through innovative sales solutions and attention to detail, our goal is to provide value to every relationship.
**Mentor of the Year – Naomi Jabbari**
Naomi Jabbari‘s exceptional mentorship and guidance have made her the deserving winner of the Mentor of the Year award.
Naomi Jabbari, P.E is a Mechanical Engineer with Master of Science in Energy from Texas A&M University and has 15 years of experience in oil and gas and energy transition projects to reach Net Zero Goals. Naomi was Chairperson and Coordinator of NET ZERO Forum in Valve World Americas Conference, Chairperson of the Heat Exchanger World Americas Conferences and Expos and steering committee member for industrial conferences. Her areas of interests are heat transfer in process technologies for oil and gas and clean energy such as hydrogen production, carbon capture technology and biofuels for sustainable energy production to reach Net Zero by 2050.
**Salesperson of the Year – Brad Hitselberger**
Brad Hitselberger‘s dedication and success in sales have earned him the title of Salesperson of the Year.
Brad Hitselberger graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering with a concentration in Industrial and Systems Engineering. He has been working in some capacity with pumps for 6 years in various roles. He started out working in the wastewater side focusing on collection systems and pumps for a leading manufacturer in the industry. At the beginning of 2022, he took a role with Industrial Flow Solutions as their Municipal Business Development Manager to focus on building out their Municipal strategy. Currently, he lives in Charlotte, North Carolina but enjoys traveling, meeting, and learning from many people in the water industry!
**Leadership in DEI – Taylor Allen**
Taylor Allen‘s significant contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion have made her the recipient of the Leadership in DEI award.
Taylor Allen joined SKF in 2018 in the Application Engineering group and currently is a Rotating Equipment Performance Engineer. In the role she provides dedicated reliability, maintenance, and engineering support to performance contract customers. She is also a member of SKF’s DEI Council and serves as the LGBTQ+ and Allies in the Workplace committee chairperson. The first Pride flag raising by SKF in NAM took place in June 2022 and since then the committee has been committed to advocating for and supporting LGBTQ+ employees, families, and the community. Fundraisers supported by SKF Group have raised money for The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia and The Trevor Project; organizations aimed at supporting LGBTQ young people. In addition the coordinating Pride month celebrations at the corporate headquarters and local manufacturing sites, continued dialog and conversation is facilitated to ensure continued progress, education, and advocation.
**Industry Person Of The Year – H.J. Dewes**
H.J. Dewes‘ remarkable impact on the industry has led to their recognition as the Industry Person of the Year.
Howard (H.J.) Dewes, Business Development Manager, HVAC- Hydronics for the ABB Drives business, has spent more than thirty years at ABB, where he has contributed to the growth of the business, from the factory floor and logistics to channel management, sales, business development, marketing and acquisition integration.
A tenacious learner with the capacity to view matters from multiple perspectives, H.J. leverages in-depth research, critical thinking and strong analytical skills to develop effective, broad-based plans. As an independently motivated, customer-focused, team player with strong interpersonal skills, he has a proven track record as a strategic leader, who leverages cross-functional teams to optimize results.
H.J. served in the United States Navy and holds a degree in from Marquette University with majors in Organization Leadership and Communication Studies. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Hydraulic Institute (HI), which drives quality, performance, and energy standards for the pumping community, and on the National Electrical Manufacturers’ Association’s (NEMA) Artificial Intelligence Task Force. Previously, he actively participated in The Water Council and Midwest Energy Research Consortium’s Strategic Energy-Water Nexus Task Force.
These remarkable individuals represent the best in their respective categories and have made invaluable contributions to the industry. Empowering Pumps & Equipment extends its heartfelt congratulations to all the award winners and looks forward to their continued success in the field.
For more information about the EPIC 2023 Awards and the winners, please visit (https://www.empoweringindustry.com/awards).