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Wyoming Machine: At this Woman-Owned Business, Staff Development Comes First


People are often surprised to learn that manufacturing offers great career opportunities for women, from the executive suite to the plant floor. Traci and Lori Tapani are co-CEOs of Wyoming Machine Inc. in Wyoming, Minnesota. The precision sheet-metal fabricating company has about 55 employees.

In a recent media report, Traci said, “My greatest source of pride is staff development. For the past 20 years, I’m most proud of my ability to serve as a role model for women. I love showing women that they, too, can succeed in a male-dominated career. Watching employees and others accomplish this is exceptionally rewarding for me.”

Traci is a recipient of the Manufacturing Institute’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Production (STEP) award, which recognizes women who have demonstrated excellence and exercised leadership in manufacturing careers. In addition to her leadership role at Wyoming Machine, he is involved in mentoring problems, and has brought attention to the skills shortage through her public speaking.

Wyoming Machine also understands that job applicants may not walk in the door with all skills needed to perform a job. By evaluating an applicant’s work history and previous training, the company is able to determine if the applicant has the aptitude to learn to do the necessary work. That can mean hiring candidates with unconventional backgrounds. For example, one recent hire came with a background in automated food preparation at McDonalds.

Traci and Lori have co-led the company since 2000. Its services include laser cutting, CNC punching, press brake forming, welding, and machining. Despite fierce global competition, they have grown the company by an average of 6 percent yearly since then.

One example of Wyoming Machine’s work is a mounting plate for a flight simulator that was commissioned by a computer and peripherals company. The company cuts, forms, welds, grinds, machines, and assembles the mounting plates, all to specific tolerances. The customer now orders 50 such assemblies per year.

With women as owners and as plant-floor equipment operators, Wyoming Machine is a great example of women in manufacturing.