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2023 30 Under 35 Profile: Matthew Finke

Matthew Finke, 34
Value Stream Manager, Communication Integrators (Tempe)

Upon earning his mechanical engineering degree from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Matthew joined Makino. “After evaluating options from Emerson, Toyota, MEP building designer, and Makino, I ultimately decided to join Makino,” said Matthew, noting that the company’s global leadership in CNC equipment and promise of hands-on experience were the key factors influencing his choice. “I spent a rewarding six years there, with stints in Chicago and Phoenix. The extensive travel eventually motivated me to explore new opportunities.”

That search led him to Atkore. “Upon the recommendation of a friend who recruits for manufacturing positions in the Midwest, I became intrigued by Atkore as a robust manufacturing company boasting an array of product lines. My curiosity led me to explore the website, eager to understand the intricacies of each product’s manufacturing process. After submitting my application, I was invited for an interview for a role as a mechanical engineer,” Matthew recalled. “I was truly impressed by the vastness of the site and the range of forming mills they had. It was an exciting environment to work in.”

Eighteen months later, Matthew was promoted to the role of quality manager. “In this position, I took charge of the Phoenix operations ISO 9001 certification and also completed SAE ISO 9001 lead auditor training, further enhancing my skill set,” he said.

In 2022 he took on his current role of value stream manager and became the site leader for Atkore’s Communication Integrators facility in Tempe, Ariz. In September 2023 he was awarded the company’s “Top Small Plant” award out of 27 facilities. “For the past year and a half, I’ve been successfully fulfilling these responsibilities, and I am looking forward to further challenges and growth within the company. I look to take my five years of experience in the electrical industry and continue to make an impact.”

Asked what continues to appeal to him about his job, Matthew explained: “It was a humbling realization that there is always more to learn in this ever-evolving field. Now, I find myself enthusiastically pointing out Atkore’s products to friends and family, even though they might be a bit tired of my excitement. Nonetheless, the enthusiasm fuels me to delve deeper into Atkore’s operations, quality standards, and processes.

“Currently, I am thrilled to witness Tempe’s journey toward lean principles, emphasizing continuous improvement,” he continued. “The changes that have already taken place are impressive, and I eagerly anticipate the future transformations. The prospect of being a part of this dynamic environment motivates me to keep pushing my boundaries and embracing every learning opportunity that comes my way.”

Matthew said one of the major challenges the manufacturing industry is currently facing is the ongoing global supply chain disruptions caused by natural disasters, trade disputes, geopolitical tensions, and the COVID-19 pandemic. “As an operations leader in my manufacturing company, I am actively working to mitigate the impacts of these disruptions and help solve the problem through several strategies,” he explained. “Because diversifying suppliers reduces reliance on single-source suppliers and minimizes the risk of disruptions, we are actively seeking alternative suppliers both domestically and internationally. We are also strengthening current relationships by hosting district sales managers to foster better communication and product demand and conducting resilience planning that includes risk assessments.”

Continued labor shortages are another challenge, noted Matthew, who is addressing this issue by cross-training the existing workforce. “This enables our existing employees to develop new skills, making them more versatile and adaptable to changing roles and demands,” he explained. “By continuing Atkore’s talent development initiative through investment in training and upskilling programs, we equip our team with the skills necessary to adapt to changing circumstances.

“I also looked at equipment and process changes to improve our overall throughput to reduce the need for additional laborers,” he continued. “I created value stream maps to find current waste in our business and then held Kaizen events with diverse teams to eliminate or improve current processes. By proactively addressing these challenges and adopting a resilient and agile approach to our operations, we aim to navigate the current supply chain disruptions and position our manufacturing company for sustained success in a rapidly changing global landscape.”

As for his career plans, Matthew’s next step is plant manager. “Presently, I am deeply involved in learning about and managing my site’s finances (P&L), as well as actively participating in crucial corporate leadership decisions that impact areas such as new hires, EHS (environment, health, and safety), quality, maintenance, and continuous improvement,” he said. “Recently, I completed reading Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, which has further fueled my determination to not only transform my current site into an exceptional company, but also uplift the entire Atkore organization.”

Matthew added that his ultimate objective is to achieve the position of director of operations and, to that end, is currently exploring MBA programs.

Asked what he would say to someone just entering the industry, he said, “Remember: Safety first! The manufacturing and electrical industries are exciting and dynamic fields that play a crucial role in shaping the modern world. You must be willing to continuously learn, problem-solve, and adapt to new technologies. They offer diverse opportunities for growth and impact. Embrace the challenges, stay determined, and keep learning, and you’ll find a rewarding and fulfilling career in this field.”

Matthew enjoys maintaining a healthy work-life balance. “It holds utmost significance in my life,” he said. “One of my top priorities is traveling, and I make time for it regularly. My destinations often include southern California and northern Arizona for camping, while during the winter, I venture to Denver and Salt Lake City for skiing adventures.”

Staying active is also a constant drive for Matthew, who is always up for a good run or exercise class. “In Arizona, when the weather allows, you can find me on the golf course, and I’ve had the pleasure of participating in group trips along the West Coast,” he said. “Recently, I’ve discovered the enjoyable sport of frisbee golf, which I love playing with my friends.

Sports-wise, I’m a dedicated Cincinnati Bengals fan, eagerly awaiting another fantastic season.”

Each year tED magazine recognizes 30 of the industry’s best and brightest under the age of 35. Please visit tedmag.com/30Under35 for nomination information and updates about the 2024 program. Questions can be sent to tED Editor Misty Byers at mbyers@naed.org.


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