Smeal Expands Executive Management Team

SNYDER, NE—Smeal Fire Apparatus Co. has promoted a number of its key executives and created a new executive-level position to lead the company’s customer service, product quality, and customer satisfaction initiatives. The moves are intended to align the organizational structure and leadership around the company’s core mission objectives of quality, delivery time, and customer experience.

“We prioritize our product quality and complete customer satisfaction above everything, and these moves reflect not only the critical role of these leaders and their responsibilities in achieving that, but also our confidence in their ability to lead the organization to a world-class position within the fire industry,” said Mark Huber, Smeal’s president. “Each brings exceptional experience and a true passion for serving our customers to the company.”

Management changes include:

  • Mike Bowman has been named vice president of sales with responsibility for all Smeal, LTC, and UST brand apparatus. Bowman has more than 15 years of experience in the fire and emergency response industry. Prior to joining Smeal last year, he served as Vice President of Sales with Spartan Motors USA, having joined the company in 2008 and served in increasingly responsible executive sales roles.
  • Joe Heilhecker has been promoted to vice president of operational excellence, manufacturing systems and lean. Heilhecker is a retired U.S. Air Force officer with more than 20 years of experience in leadership, operations and logistics management, and process improvement at operational and strategic organizational levels. He is a lean process improvement expert and developed the U.S. Air Force’s continuous improvement training program resulting in more than $600 million in savings in the first year. Heilhecker also co-authored the U.S. Air Force guidelines for process improvement.
  • John Kastl serves as the vice president of engineering. Prior to joining Smeal in 2015, Kastl spent more than a decade with Valmont Industries in progressively more responsible roles, most recently as product manager for equipment and lead engineer for one of the company’s major product lines. His mechanical engineering expertise, project management and engineering leadership skills were honed with time at General Dynamics and GE Aviation as well. John has a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
  • Mary O’Donnell-Voi has been promoted to vice president of organizational development and leadership. O’Donnell-Voi joined Smeal in February 2014 and has more than 20 years of experience working as a life coach as well as an executive coach in the manufacturing automotive industry. Her background is in education, with expertise in leadership development, conflict resolution and corporate chaplaincy. Her advanced certification is from Birkman International, where she is a nationally recognized consultant.
  • Paul Pieragostini has been promoted to vice president of procurement and supply chain. Pieragostini has more than 20 years of progressively more responsible experience in procurement and supplier management roles fire and emergency, defense tactical wheeled vehicle and Class 8 commercial truck industries. His expertise is in strategic procurement, supply chain management, business development, and program development. Prior to joining Smeal in 2014, he was held senior leadership roles with Textron Marine and Land Systems, Pierce Manufacturing Inc., and Oshkosh Corporation. Paul served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves as an infantry captain. He is a Gulf War veteran and has served as committee secretary for the Industrial Committee of Tank and Automotive Producers and for the National Defense Industrial Association – Tactical Wheeled Vehicle Steering Committee.
  • Sanjeev “Sonny” Tara joined Smeal in February 2016 as vice president with responsibility for the company’s Ladder Tower Co. and US Tanker Co. businesses. Tara is a highly experienced specialty truck and truck components executive with extensive experience in business strategy, business development, operations management, and supply chain management. Most recently, Tara was president, drive train product group for Berkshire Hathaway’s Marmon Highway Technologies group, and previously served as chief operating officer of Oshkosh Corporation’s $1.2-billion commercial segment.
  • Jeff Wegner has been appointed to the position of vice president of quality systems. Wegner joined Smeal in 1993. Having held increasingly responsible positions in a number of functions, most recently, Wegner was senior vice president of global sales. In that position, he oversaw significant sales growth throughout North America in a no-growth market, was responsible for the company’s revenue growth, business development and strategic planning as well as playing a key role in leading Smeal’s relationship with Gimaex International.

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