(Waupaca, WI) April 4, 2015—Waupaca Foundry, Inc., a Hitachi Metals Group company, announces several leadership changes coinciding with the start of its fiscal year 2015 on April 1. The changes will positively impact operations and further accelerate the company’s strategic growth and continuous improvement initiatives.
Waupaca Foundry and Hitachi Metals Automotive Components USA, LLC will be part of new parent company, Hitachi Metals Foundry America, Inc. The new parent company will unify the North American operations of all affiliated companies within the high-grade functional casting components business to provide the most value for current and future customers. “The leadership changes allow our organization to be better positioned for growth and to serve a global base of customers more effectively,” said Hitachi Metals Foundry America President and CEO, Eiji (Eddie) Nakano.
Gary Gigante has been appointed to serve on the board of directors for Hitachi Metals Foundry America. Gigante will remain as CEO of Waupaca Foundry, Inc. and will continue to have responsibility for finance, human resources, sales & marketing, IT, supply chain management, and international business development. He joined Waupaca Foundry 1981 as a metallurgist and served as plant manager in Marinette, Wis. from 1986, until he was promoted to vice president of manufacturing in 2002. Gary held the position of president and COO from 2004 until accepting the position of CEO in July of 2007.
Michael (Mike) Nikolai has been named president and COO of Waupaca Foundry, Inc. and will have expanded responsibilities for operations including safety, quality, engineering, and research and development. He will also become president and CEO of Hitachi Metals Automotive Components. Nikolai has worked at Waupaca Foundry for 22 years, beginning his tenure as metallurgist in each of the company’s gray iron foundries in Waupaca, Wis. From there, he was promoted to management positions including assistant plant manager in Tell City, Ind., plant manager in Etowah, Tenn., and most recently as the vice president of operations for all six ductile and gray iron foundries. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin—Madison and holds a masters degree in metallurgical engineering as well as an M.B.A. from the University of Louisville.
Robert (Bob) Jezwinski has been promoted to vice president of engineering and will be responsible for all engineering functions within Waupaca Foundry Inc. Jezwinski is a 26-year employee at Waupaca Foundry and has held a variety of management positions in engineering, maintenance, and continuous improvement in the foundry. 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 technology. Jezwinski holds a degree in Industrial Technology from the University of Wisconsin—Platteville.
Additionally, three current executives have been named executive vice president and are: Kris Pfaehler, Sales & Marketing; Joey Leonard, Human Resources; and John Wiesbrock, Supply Chain Management. Each of them will have expanded roles due to the integration with Hitachi Metals and the establishment of new parent company, Hitachi Metals Foundry America.
All will lead the company and be based at Waupaca Foundry headquarters in Waupaca, Wis.