According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, women make up about 47 percent of the total workforce but only 30 percent of the manufacturing workforce.
At Versa Pak, women have always been a key part of our team in the front office as well as on the manufacturing floor. We sat down with three of the women of Versa Pak – sales executive/office manager Heather Hoffman, quality technician Holly Tonkin, and line operator Jodi Youngs – to learn more about their experiences and what women bring to a manufacturing role.
Watch the video or read a summary of the conversation below.
Q: Tell us about your roles at Versa Pak.
Heather: My name is Heather Hoffman. My role here at Versa Pak is in the office. I oversee customer service, the quoting team, purchasing, and our shipping department. My day consists of supporting each of those departments. I also provide sales support to our sales manager and help with a few marketing functions. As a manager, my goal is to make improvements in all these areas.
Holly: Hi, I’m Holly Tonkin, and I am a quality technician here in the office. Three years ago, I started as a line operator, and from there, I moved into setup and did two-hour quality on the plant floor. And now I am in the quality department in the office. I help customers with any questions or concerns that they have, as well as the production floor with any questions or concerns that they have.
Jodi: Hi, I’m Jodi Youngs, and I am a line operator here at Versa Pak. I help mentor the new employees that come through the door on a buddy system. I lead with a positive and free-spirited attitude during shifts.
Q: What are some of the changes you’ve seen since you started working here?
Heather: In the last three years, I watched a 56,000-square-foot addition be added to our facility. Four new lines were built to give us a total of 30 lines. We’ve created many positions throughout the facility, from the office through the floor, just to help manage the expansion and support the growth of the company.
Holly: The expansion gave us four new lines, which has given us more job opportunities from within. And I’ve also seen our culture and our core values being more and more implemented, which has made the environment a more positive and friendly place to work.
Jodi: I agree with all the changes that the other two ladies have mentioned. I’m most excited about the 5S initiative. I have been fortunate enough to be a part of that, and being able to help form an overall more organized and safe workplace is important to me.
Q: A lot of people think manufacturing is a male-dominated industry, but what has your experience been working at Versa Pak?
Heather: Our workforce here at Versa Pak is 45% women. So these are various roles from line operators up to our Chief Strategy Officer of the company.
Holly: Since I’ve started here, I have never felt like my options were limited by being a female. I have taken on roles and positions that were [formerly] more male-dominated, and I’ve also seen other women take on the different production roles that would otherwise be male-dominated. This place has never made me feel like I’m limited by where I can go or what I can learn. And I’ve seen the number of women working here double, if not more since I’ve started.
Jodi: In 2023, manufacturing is no longer male-dominated. Women at Versa Pak are strong-willed, focused, and know what they want to achieve. There is all-around good support from everyone at Versa Pak to help women achieve what they want here.
Q: What would you say to other women considering a manufacturing-related job?
Heather: Well, I think the word manufacturing can be intimidating to some women. I think a lot of times we think it just means heavy lifting, dirty work, repetitive work. We all have strengths that fill the void of someone else’s weaknesses, which makes teamwork. And then teamwork is a success. So I don’t think you should be afraid to try anything.
Holly: I think that I try my best to reach out to the new women who are applying and starting here to be really supportive and welcome them with open arms, and to just be an example for them and reach out where I can.
Jodi: Like Holly, I feel like I am a very positive person here at Versa Pak. The new women and men that come in, I try to encourage them to try different things and let them know that they can do things that they don’t think they can do. Overall, I think that in manufacturing, women need to know that it’s an open schedule. They don’t have to work at eight to five behind a desk. They can do and accomplish anything that they put their minds to.
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