Four NJ Women to be Honored by the Manufacturing Institute in Washington, DC

Four New Jersey female business leaders are among 130 women nationwide being recognized as 2016 STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award honorees and Emerging Leaders by Washington DC-based The Manufacturing Institute.

According to the organization, these women have accomplished success within their companies and have proven to be leaders in the manufacturing industry as a whole. While 100 women will receive the STEP Ahead award at an April 21 ceremony at the Ronal Reagan Building, 30 will be honored in an Emerging Leaders category – representing young women under the age of 30 who are the future of the manufacturing industry and have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments at just the beginning of their careers.

The New Jersey STEP Ahead honorees are:

Lisa Hirsh
President and CEO
Accurate Box Company
Paterson, NJ

Hirsh became President and CEO of Accurate Box in the mid-1990s. Since that time, she has been a critical force behind the company’s growth and success. She created the infrastructure and put the people in place to keep pace with the company’s rapid growth during the last 10 years and has spearheaded the nearly $50 million expansion the company is now pursuing.

Hirsh’s’s leadership style is one of inclusion. She has worked tirelessly to keep lines of communication open between the unionized factory employees and the office/management staff.  From her earliest days as president, Hirsh has always been approachable with an open door policy.  She believes in cultivating in-house talent and has encouraged people to take the leap to a higher position.  She is adamant that employees are able to get the additional education and training they need to be successful and has actively sought out programs for staff who she felt had potential to do more.

Hirsh feels giving back to the community is important. Among many other efforts, every year Accurate participates in the Paterson Habitat for Humanity Corporate Challenge. She has also been involved with the local schools in an effort to show students some of the manufacturing jobs available at Accurate Box. She also sponsors the company’s work at local vocational schools to create internships for students that prepare them for life after high school.

She has been recognized by the community a number of times, including Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2001, NJ Family Business of the Year award in 2010, and the NJ Business Hall of Fame award in 2014. Hirsh is also a trustee of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, Trenton.

In a Manufacturing Institute press release,  Hirsh comments, “I believe manufacturing is so important because it is the way to keep a middle class income. A skilled manufacturing job guarantees a decent wage, health care, benefits and full-time employment. Many of our employees have been here for over 25 years, have raised families and worked full-time and overtime.”

Lori Frost
Director of Plant Manufacturing
IPAK, Inc.
West Deptford, NJ

Lori Frost has parlayed a short-term position as an assembly worker into a 22-year career. Today, she is the director of Plant Manufacturing, managing a staff of 80.  She and her team are the driving force behind IPAK’s manufacturing prowess. Frost’s proactive and collaborative leadership fosters the kind of teamwork that is the hallmark of IPAK’s manufacturing team and approach to current challenges. Her innovative thinking has resulted in cost efficiencies that have allowed IPAK to compete effectively and win multiple projects.

Frost believes in leadership by example. While it’s been 22 years since she first toed the line of hand assembly, She still occasionally serves on an assembly line to demonstrate to her staff what it takes to get the job accomplished properly and efficiently. Not only is she an unquestionable leader, mentor and counselor to IPAK’s employees, she’s a beacon of hope for everyone who walks in the door and still believes in the American Dream.

Frost has the innate ability to recognize, refine and advance the skills of others. She fosters an environment in which many different racial, ethnic and cultural subordinates feel comfortable exercising their creative problem-solving skills. Through her mentoring and employee retention programs, she has broken a cycle of many unemployed/underemployed families in our local area.

Frost also participates in a range of community efforts, including KaBoom, where she can use her technical and project management skills to build playgrounds for children in economically distressed communities, to Alzheimer’s and breast cancer research fundraising.  She is a champion for both her teams at work, and for the community as a whole.

She comments, “I am passionate about manufacturing because I love watching concepts turn into reality. I enjoy the culmination of ideas, effort and team work as raw materials transform into finished product.”

JoAnn Mitchell
Senior Project Leader
Sandvik Coromant Company
Fair Lawn, NJ

Mitchell has a long career in outreach to people who benefit from high-technology solutions.  She has been instrumental in the US launch of the Metal Cutting Technology e-learning program, a program internationally nominated for excellence in manufacturing education, and provides this e-learning as a complimentary service to interested parties.  She is an advocate of industry collaboration and works with several machine tool builders in developing industry-leading programs for students and teachers to help them acquire better skills.  Mitchell has a unique talent for anticipating problems, and is an adept problem solver as well, often implementing creative approaches that effectively lead to solutions.

Her passion for the possibilities that manufacturing affords is a driving force in all she does. She was the project leader for the first virtual field trip from the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). She has also been a key element of the company’s outreach to the thousands of students who visit IMTS for every show, as well as an important part of the team that developed the program with The Manufacturing Institute to convert the benefits of the world’s largest coin mosaic to a program with Dream It. Do It. to sponsor four Young Manufacturing Summer Academies.

She is part of the MechaForce program in New Jersey, a joint project started with the New Jersey Institute of Technology and which includes more than a dozen New Jersey manufacturing companies. This group is working together to build an education program that helps newcomers to high technology manufacturing, as well as younger.

She comments, “I am passionate about manufacturing because it is how we solve problems that affect the world we live in. Manufacturing, the tangible expression of ideas that change the world like mechanical hearts or airbags, saves lives. Manufacturing is how we interact with the universe. Experience the universe: manufacture something!”

Jennifer Wipf
Director, Project Management
Merck & Co., Inc.
Kenilworth, NJ

From 2012 to 2014, Wipf led the Integrated Production Team and Lean Six Sigma deployment at Merck’s Swords, Ireland facility. The integrated process team included six supervisors, and a total of 70 employees supporting the sterile bulk and sterile filling of pharmaceutical products. She was instrumental in driving transformational efforts at the site and leading it to significantly higher levels of performance.

In 2014, Wipf joined the Late Lifecycle Development group as a new product development team leader.  She has demonstrated leadership in working across cultures, and has helped educate her team on cultural awareness. Jennifer is the key interface from the manufacturing process development efforts to the marketing and clinical development teams. She has earned the trust and respect of all parties and is the key leader in the product development program.

Wipf directly mentors others and also leads mentoring programs to help develop people in the organization overall.  She is a leader in the “Women in Science and Engineering” initiative in the science and technology groups of the Merck Manufacturing Division. She is also an expert in Lean Six Sigma techniques and has mentored many personnel in the company through their training and certification.

At the Swords, Ireland plant, she created and was the leader for the “Swords Community Team” to provide a mechanism to engage the staff with the local community. Among other efforts, the community teams participated in the Junior Achievement. As part of this effort, employees taught a series of courses in STEM at local schools. Across the sites in Ireland, the community teams had 93 volunteers, reaching 48 schools and more than 2,000 students.

She comments, “I love being able to see our operations teams engage whole-heartedly in improving quality, efficiency and delivery. We can literally watch the work we do whiz by every minute that allows us to better serve our customer’s needs and ultimately improve human health in the US and across the world.”


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