Associate Profiles

ATG fosters an entrepreneurial, team-oriented environment. In fact, one of our five core values states, “Our associates are high performing, entrepreneurial individuals who know how to win as a team.”
 
We empower managers to make decisions and learn from past mistakes in a non-political environment. Simply put, our associates take personal responsibility for their work and do what they say they’re going to do.
 
See for yourself by meeting some of our key team members from around the world.
 
Shelly Henson
Value Stream Leader

What I do at ATG:
I manage a team of production associates in our finishing department, which covers heat treat, polishing and packing.  A big part of my role is focusing on the safety of our associates, as well as quality, delivery and cost – the metrics that drive our business success.  I try to be on the production floor as much as I can, but I also am in the office analyzing data, reviewing spreadsheets and updating budgets.

Where I got my start:
My first jobs were in poultry processing, and I took a break from work to start a family.  I was ready to work again in 1997, and took a temp job with an ATG sister plant nearby.  I really enjoyed manufacturing and joined full time on the specialty tools assembly line.  Soon I was running two departments, and wanted more education to further my career.  I was working full time and attending classes through the company’s tuition reimbursement program, and in 2007 I completed my associate’s degree.  During that time, I took on new supervisor roles in machining and assembly, and moved over to our Springdale facility.  In 2009, I finished my bachelor’s degree in organizational management and in 2012 I was promoted to my current role.

A day in my life:
I get in at 6 am for the first shift, and the plant has a management meeting every morning to talk about delivery issues, any equipment that’s down, plus review safety programs and quality metrics.  Every week I have a meeting with the 40+ associates in my department to talk about the business and our customers, and answer their questions.  If there are any issues that need to be passed along to the next shift, I make sure I tie in to my counterpart supervisor to make sure we’re on the same page and to keep our lines running smoothly.

What I would tell a prospective associate:
Safety is an absolute must here at Springdale, and any of our plants.  We want you go to home to your family the same way you arrived.  ATG’s Core Values emphasize taking care of our customers, and continuous improvement.  We involve our associates at all levels in delivering on those promises – everyone’s feedback is important and we never stop trying to improve. 

Andreas Kowol
General Manager

What I do @ ATG
With oversight of our power tool plants throughout Europe, my team and I are responsible for sales, operations, supply chain management, finance, engineering, and human resources. Our facilities in Germany, Hungary and France manufacture tools for customers in the aerospace, motor vehicle and industrial sectors. The Apex Tool Group brands we produce include Cleco®, DGD®, Recoules® and Quackenbush®.

Where I got my start
My first job in manufacturing was at a paper company that made packaging for the food and beverage industry. From there, I went to work for a shoe company as a key account manager. In this position, I learned the importance of the connection between sales and manufacturing. I often traveled to our production plants in Poland to speed up the manufacturing process so my customers would receive their purchases on time. A decade later, after taking on roles in operations and information technology, I decided to make the leap to Cooper Tools (now ATG). I have a master of business administration degree.
 
A day in my life
We are a global team, not just locations in different countries. I often collaborate with my colleagues in other countries to create greater efficiencies. For example, we installed a new production machine in Germany and my counterparts in the United States decided they wanted to buy the same machine so we can share programming and capacity. Now we're able to maximize production in order to put top-quality innovations into the hands of our customers.
 
What I would tell a prospective associate?
When it comes to operations at ATG, we don’t believe in going on “auto pilot.” If you're willing to learn and stretch yourself every day, then this is the perfect environment for you. It's demanding, but it's also a lot of fun. You will be rewarded for your successes. We want people with entrepreneurial ideas and a willingness to reach higher than they thought they could.
 
Jill Lowe
Vice President, Sears Business Team

What I do @ ATG
I am responsible for our relationship with Sears.  I manage sales functions for the company’s various channels, including Sears’ mall stores, hardware stores, Kmart hometown stores, online, catalog, industrial, military, and repair and outlet centers.

Where I got my start
I have a business administration degree with a marketing concentration from the University of Illinois.  After college, I landed a sales position with GE Lighting and held various sales roles within the organization. From there, I joined Newell Rubbermaid, where I became the director of sales for the hardware channel and worked closely with Ace and True Value Hardware. When one of the executives I worked with at Newell Rubbermaid went to Apex Tool Group and reached out to me to help run the Sears business, I couldn't say no.
 
A day in my life
I manage a team of four professionals who handle the Craftsman Brand and Apex national hand tool brands sold into the various channels of Sears and I personally oversee the Sears and Kmart portion of the business.  The customer service department for the Sears account also reports to my group. We get involved in customer research, new product development and marketing. This is so much more than a typical sales job. I am proud to say that we are true partners with Sears and together we create solutions that help grow both of our businesses.
 
What I would tell a prospective associate
At Apex Tool Group, you are given freedom to make important decisions in order to meet or exceed your customers' expectations for quality, value and innovation. Customers come first. Everyone here is very dedicated and passionate about what they do.  I can honestly say that I love coming to work each day – I have a great team to work with both internally and with my customer Sears.
Allison Moses
Vice President, Sourcing and Operations
What I do @ ATG
I oversee operations at our Gastonia and Apex manufacturing and distribution centers in North Carolina, as well as our distribution center in Canada. I am responsible for driving results using lean tools and best practices. The end goal is the manufacture and distribution of high-quality products that meet and often exceed customers' expectations.
 
Where I got my start
My first job was with Star Manufacturing where I oversaw the industrial engineering and quality control departments. I have always been fascinated with the processes of building things. My education is in industrial engineering, so the manufacturing and distribution processes are the part of my job that I find most interesting. That includes all aspects of making tools, packaging and shipping them to be sent off to customers through our distribution channels.
 
A day in my life
Every day I’m working to find additional solutions to problems. I spend my days working with the team, thinking of and implementing how to solve challenges in the most cost-effective and efficient way.  
 
What I would tell a prospective associate
Apex Tool Group offers many opportunities for associates who want to continue to improve professionally. We are hard workers who are accountable and responsible. Continuous improvement is a core corporate value. We all believe in making a difference and improving each and every day. If you want a job where your work has great impact, then this is the place for you.
Minh Nguyen
Operations Manager

What I do at ATG:
I have responsibility for nearly 400 production associates at our hand tools plant in Dallas, Texas.  As the Operations Manager, I lead our quality, safety, delivery and cost processes as well as the people side of running a large manufacturing operation.  Five value stream managers report to me; they run our five main production lines:  our Armstrong brand along with our ratchet, hex, wrench and socket lines.  I work with them on our policy deployment objectives, action plans, and forecasting to make sure we meet our goals.  People management and communications are also a big part of my job; I am very involved in our interviewing processes, our all-associate meetings and weekly supervisor updates.


Where I got my start:
I came to the U.S. in 1995 from Vietnam.  Even though I didn’t speak English, the owners at the time hired me as a heat treat operator.  I learned the language, and worked my way up to production coordinator.  I began going to school for my degree in computer science while working full time; using the company’s education reimbursement program.  Lean was a big part of our operations, and I gained a lot of new skills in this important manufacturing tool.  I left to take an IT telecommunications position for a few years, but returned as a process engineer working in our finishing focus factory.  Every few years there was a new opportunity here – first as a Value Stream Leader, and then a Value Stream Manager and later a Business Unit Manager.  I completed my MBA two years ago, and was recently promoted to Operations Manager for the Dallas facility.


A day in my life:
We have a production meeting each morning to check on delivery status and troubleshoot any issues that have come up.  Then we do a gemba walk of one of our five different focus factories; we review safety, quality, inventory, cost and delivery for that product line.  Here at Dallas, we handle every element of hand tool manufacturing, from raw materials and forming to stamping, finishing and heat treat, and then plating, assembly and pack.  There are a lot of teams and processes to stay on top of, every day, and spot any potential issues so we can quickly address them. 

 
What I would tell a prospective associate:
The lean tools you learn in our manufacturing plants really helped me professionally, and taught me how to improve operations every day.  Associates are truly empowered at ATG, you have the ability to make a difference and change how we do things by using our policy deployment tools.  I’ve had many opportunities to grow my career here.
 

Breno Augusto Nogueira
Marketing Director
What I do @ ATG
I am responsible for all aspects of marketing for Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia. That includes pricing, trade marketing, marketing communications and product development for the ten hand tool brands we sell in those countries. Among our top sellers are Belzer®, SATA®, Nicholson® and K&F®.
 
Where I got my start
After receiving a bachelor's degree in economics, I joined Fiat Group´s global leadership program, which gave me an opportunity to live in Italy, the United States and Mexico. My responsibilities ranged from human resources to finance as a business unit controller. It was a great experience, but I always dreamed of pursuing a master of business administration degree in the United States and better understanding other aspects of business. I chose Duke University because of its focus on international management and teamwork. While studying there, I took a summer internship at Cooper Tools and was offered a full-time position, which I accepted as soon as I graduated in 2010. At that point, Cooper and Danaher Tool Group had just merged to become Apex Tool Group.
 
A day in my life
The level of autonomy I have is very high, which expedites the implementation of new ideas. I am empowered to judge whether a local solution is more appropriate than global programs that the company has to offer. For example, I recently saw an opportunity to develop a new sales rebate package that is unique to the Brazilian market. When I told the CEO about it, he said, "The only way we'll find out if it will work is to do it fast." It literally took me a couple of phone calls and a few days to make it happen. We've seen significant top-line growth as a result.
 
What I would tell a prospective associate?
ATG is a company that respects its associates and offers constant challenges. We are also a global company with a strong collaborative spirit that allows you to easily access colleagues outside your country to get their perspective on a project. There are no boundaries when it comes to what we can accomplish. This philosophy is what allows us to grow through innovation.
Cindy Sachse
Director, Human Resources
What I do @ ATG
As a Human Resources Director with ATG, I partner with the North America Hand Tool Commercial team and support more than 300 sales, marketing, and product development associates.  My primary focus is to align the organization and resources to support and drive strategic initiatives. I also provide support for corporate functions including information technology, legal, finance and human resources.  
 
In a fast-paced workplace, change is critical – and constant.  In my role, I help deploy and support that change. The most successful companies implement new ideas effectively by balancing discipline with the ability to be nimble. I see that balance in practice in ATG with our focus on policy deployment and continual improvement. 
 
Where I got my start
My first job was as a legal secretary with a law firm, where I learned the value of being thoughtful and thorough. My career path moved to human resources, where I found my calling. I learned that people are truly the differentiating factor in any successful organization.
 
Before joining ATG, I was the director of human relations for a leading, global consumer products company. Throughout my career, I’ve had several great mentors who really invested in my development, and I’m thankful for the wisdom and support they shared.  Much of what I learned from mentors is still applicable today, such as having the mindset that you interview for your next job every day and therefore it’s important to always be aware of your attitude and actions. Another important lesson learned was to go beyond what’s asked of you each and every day. 
 
A day in my life
Working in HR is varied and exciting. I’m fortunate to be working with a team of best-in-class HR professionals. We are in the process of defining many of our programs to empower our associates to achieve their full career potential. It’s exciting to be part of a growing company in the midst of developing its culture.
 
What I would tell a prospective associate?
There is a wealth of talent throughout ATG. Here, folks are willing to work together, lend a hand and welcome new associates warmly. Your co-workers are always the differentiator, and ATG has great, knowledgeable people!
 
If you are a creative, independent thinker who wants to be a valuable contributor at an industry-leading company, ATG may be the place for you!
Moe Shepherd
CNC Machinist

What I do at ATG:
As a CNC machinist, I keep critical parts and processes running smoothly.  I work four days on and three off.  Most of my job involves supporting the forging operations here at Springdale, where we forge mechanics hand tools.  But when parts wear out on a machine, or if we need new cutting dies or press and bolster plates, I make sure the manufacturing cells have what they need.  I’m in the tool and die shop at the plant, and there’s variety all the time in what I do.


Where I got my start:
I’ve been here nearly 24 years, mostly as a CNC Machinist but also in the finishing and forging departments.  I went to technical school for milling, electrical, machining and welding training, and spent time in the heating and cooling service business before coming to ATG.   All of those skills have helped me on the job.  I sometimes have to spot weld a part that needs repair, and my electrical training has been put to use many times.  Plus I’ve gained many new skills by being able to learn on the job here at Springdale.


A day in my life:
There is a weekly flow of scheduled CNC projects, but any day I might be asked to do a repair. That means I adjust my jobs to meet our production needs.  All the areas in the plant rely on me to keep our forging and production lines operating on time.  I like my job because it’s very self-directed, and I am always working with engineers and programmers to make our work flow more efficient.  There are lots of problem solving opportunities – one weekend a critical tooling part went down that was needed for a rush production order on Monday. I’m not a programmer but have been around it enough – I was able to re-calibrate the program, and got the line operating again.


What I would tell a prospective associate:

ATG has good pay and benefits, and the work environment requires you to ask questions and solve problems.  You can’t be shy as a CNC Machinist.  You need to share your experiences and opinions with the engineers and supervisors to make sure we are continually improving and finding the best answer.  Math skills are very important in my job, I am working with prints and dimensions and enjoy the challenges ATG gives me.  There isn’t a day that I’m not thinking and figuring out a better way.

Jackson Wang
Product Manager

What I do @ ATG
I oversee the Dotco®, Cleco® and Master Power® brands of pneumatic tools. This includes managing the product lifecycle, profitability and new product introductions. I see myself as the conduit that connects all global functions involved in the supply and sales chain, which includes engineering, sourcing, operations, and sales. I have an engineering degree, technical experience, and a diverse business background therefore I can effectively influence the various functions involved with the design, manufacture, and distribution of three of our power tool brands.

Where I got my start
After graduating from Lehigh University with a degree in mechanical engineering, Ingersoll Rand selected me to participate in its engineering Leadership Development Program, which involved an assignment in their manufacturing facility in China. Being born there and speaking Mandarin fluently, this experience was invaluable in shaping my future. After returning to the United States, I became more involved in marketing and product management. After IR, I joined one of the largest suppliers of tools to the vehicle service sector as a technical product manager.  I traveled extensively and worked closely with manufacturers in Taiwan.  Before I joined ATG, I owned and operated a tool and equipment distribution business for the automotive aftermarket.

A day in my life
I like being hands-on with the products and brands that I manage and as a result, every day is very different.  Because of my diverse background in engineering, sales, sourcing, and marketing, I am involved with every step of a product’s lifecycle, from ideation to obsolescence.  I enjoy meeting with global suppliers and customers because it provides me with a greater understanding of how our products are built and used in everyday situations. Entering new markets, tackling the unique needs of our customers, and creating excitement around a product introduction are some of the favorite aspects of what I do.  

What I would tell a prospective associate
There is immense opportunity that exists within the company and potential for each associate to add value in their own way as long as they also understand how to win as a team. It’s a non-hierarchical work environment, which means every voice is heard and anyone can drive change. This is a good fit for those who can look at the big picture and understand how to drive results for the long-term.

Cynthia Waymyers
Lead Person - Second Shift

What I do at ATG:
We have about two dozen Machinist and Machine Operators on second shift, and as a Lead Person I make sure they have everything they need to do their job and stay on schedule.  I do part inspections; run machines if someone is out that day, assist others with programming fixes, and manage the work flow for Lexington’s machining operations. Most of our work is on CNC machines, but we have manual machines, grinding and honing equipment, heat treat and deburring processes, too.


Where I got my start:
I took machinist courses at a technical school, and worked at a few machine shops.  But I had friends working here, who encouraged me to apply.  I was hired the same day I interviewed!  Over the years I have worked in many machining areas at Lexington.  I earned a degree in education and left for a few years to teach, but manufacturing was what I really enjoyed and came back.  I was promoted to a Lead Person role last year, and had the opportunity to take leadership courses to develop my managerial skills.


A day in my life:
On the second shift, I start at 3:30 and review that day’s scheduled jobs, anything that’s been tagged a rush, and check if anyone’s out that shift.  If we are shorthanded, I run the machine myself.  I work with operators to quality check our first and last pieces coming off the machines.  We run a lot of small quantity machining, so new cutting parts are always needed to change out the next job on the schedule.  I make sure first shift knows about our completed work and any issues they’ll need to handle so there are no surprises.


What I would tell a prospective associate:
ATG has a lot of good opportunities for women in manufacturing, just set your goals and keep learning.  In a job like mine, you need training in tooling and machining, and quality is of course a big focus here to produce good parts and hit our daily goal.  Every day, we want to put the best product out the door, and working efficiently helps us do that.  Apex Tool Group has a lot of talented people and you can learn a lot from them. The more you learn the more beneficial you are.