About Us

leaders at the helm


​For more than 60 years, Waupaca Foundry has benefited from strong, decisive leaders at its helm, Waupaca is dedicated to making the highest quality castings by taking care of its people, relentlessly innovating and using unrivaled technology. Today, Waupaca has the industry's most experienced management team.


Michael Nikolai: President, COO and CEO

Michael began his career with Waupaca Foundry in 1993 as a metallurgical engineer at each of the company's gray iron foundries in Waupaca, WI. He was promoted to the position of Production Manager in Tell City, IN; Plant Manager at the Etowah, TN operation and was most recently Vice President of Operations for all Waupaca Foundry plants. Michael graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1992 with a Masters Degree in Metallurgical Engineering. He added an M.B.A from the University of Louisville in 2003. Mike is also President of Hitachi Metals America​ F-Company. 



Rob Johnson: CFO and Vice President, Finance

Rob Johnson graduated from the University of Oklahoma State with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting in 1999. Rob started his career with Waupaca Foundry as a Financial Analyst. He has held progressively responsible positions including Plant Controller and most currently served as Director of Accounting. Rob has served on the board of directors of the Northeast Wisconsin Chapter of the American Foundry Society.


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John Wiesbrock: Executive Vice President,

Sales, Marketing, and Supply Chain Management

John brings more than 30 years of experience in foundry and machining operations. He has previously held manufacturing management positions in operations, sales and marketing, and supply chain management. In 2002, Wiesbrock joined Waupaca Foundry and has held positions in sales, including Director of Sales. In 2010, John assumed supply chain responsibilities, and in July 2012, Wiesbrock was promoted to his current position as executive vice president. Today, John has responsibility for sales and marketing in addition to supply chain management.



Robert Jezwinski: Vice President of Engineering

Since joining Waupaca Foundry in 1989, Bob has held a variety of management positions in engineering, maintenance, and continuous improvement; most recently he served as director of manufacturing. He is the lead designer of the firm’s greensand vertical molding machine and holds one of the company’s four active patents on the dual index and dual molding technology. Jezwinski holds a degree in Industrial Technology from the University of Wisconsin—Platteville and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt.



Rick Sutton: Vice President of Operations

Rick Sutton joined Waupaca Foundry in 2016 and brings 30+ years of experience in manufacturing operations, specifically a strong background in engine and casting manufacturing. Prior to joining Waupaca Foundry, Rick held progressively responsible positions with General Motors. He started his tenure with GM as a metallurgical engineer in 1980. In 1999, Rick was appointed plant manager of the Saginaw, Mich. metal casting foundries. Beginning in 2005, he managed engine manufacturing at GM’s engine plants, and most recently served as plant manager for General Motors plants in Defiance, Ohio. Rick has a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering from Western Michigan University. In 2015, he received the William Grede Award for major contributions in the field of management and education resulting in the expanding the effective use of metal castings. Rick is responsible for manufacturing operations, lean manufacturing and change management across the Waupaca Foundry enterprise.