Susan R. Kelley


Kelley, Susan 1448759

Senior Engineer
Mechanical Integrity group
U.S. Operations division
Praxair, Inc.
Tonawanda, NY, USA
Industry: Manufacturing
Field: Equipment Design and Selection

Susan R. Kelley was born in Florida and grew up in North and South Georgia, finally settling into the Atlanta suburban area when she reached her teens. As a youth, Ms. Kelley always enjoyed her science classes, and in high school, she discovered a love of chemistry, but did not have much affection for labs and lab reports. When a family friend mentioned that engineering was a real-world application of science, she was intrigued and applied to Georgia Institute of Technology as a chemical engineering student. Graduating in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Ms. Kelley went on to gain 22 years of experience in her field. She currently serves as a senior engineer for the Mechanical Integrity group in the U.S. Operations division of the industrial gas and technology company, Praxair, Inc.

Ms. Kelley joined Praxair in 1992 as an operations management trainee in the Theodore, Ala., facility. She was promoted to plant engineer in 1993, and became responsible for handling small projects and day-to-day operations of the facility. She also helped to implement the ISO 9000 quality system at several facilities. In 1996, she was transferred to Praxair’s central engineering office in Tonawanda, N.Y., where she began specifying equipment for new cryogenic production facilities of various sizes. After several years, she was shifted from project work to revising global equipment standards, and, in 2001, she rejoined the U.S. operations team as a cost reduction engineer. In this role, she estimated, solicited funds for, and executed projects of varying complexity to reduce production costs, primarily focusing on reduced power consumption and increased equipment reliability. She also provided non-project technical support for the production facilities. After 10 years in that position, she transferred to her current position as a member of the mechanical integrity team.

Ms. Kelley has honed her expertise in equipment design and selection, and for the past three years, she has been involved with the Mechanical Integrity program for Praxair’s Process Safety Management (PSM) locations. She provides technical assistance to operating facilities and works in the division focusing on the refinement of atmospheric gases and CO2. She also audits information for existing locations and closes gaps where necessary. She remains current with trends in her field through her affiliation with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Giving back to the community is important to Ms. Kelley, so she volunteers as a cantor and choir member at her church. She also participates in a local bicycle ride for charity, called Ride For Roswell, and contributes monetarily to many charitable organizations. Additionally, she previously participated in a visiting scientist program for a local elementary school that was sponsored by Praxair. She attributes her success to having good mentors and good problem solving skills. As her career progresses, Ms. Kelley intends to continue learning new skills and broadening her existing skills. Continue reading

Debra Stellar


Stellar, Debra 532954

Director of Sales and Marketing
Starlite Sign, LP
Denton, TX, USA
Industry: Manufacturing
Field: Marketing and Sales Management

After realizing that working as a receptionist would not suffice to raise her five children, Debra Stellar set a goal to become involved in sales by the time she turned 30. Beating her own deadline, she was selling lumber by the age of 28, a position she held for 10 years. She later moved to Texas and began working in the sign industry, which led her to the position of director of sales and marketing for Starlite Sign, LP, a sign manufacturing company that provides the design and installation of interior and exterior electrical signs.

Holding 25 years of experience in sales management, Ms. Stellar spends her time carrying out many tasks, including working with high-profile companies, looking for new business prospects, coordinating with municipalities, negotiating, managing projects, and writing proposals. She is also charged with overseeing sales and partakes in obtaining large signage for the best price and value available. She takes time to develop and maintain client relationships, which ultimately results in returning customers. “I have good rapport [with my clients] and [strong] customer service skills,” she says. Her main motivation stems from seeing a customer satisfied.

Ms. Stellar has completed college coursework in business, accounting and psychology. In recognition of her exceptional skills in sales, she was named Vendor Sales Representative of the Year by Hastings Entertainment in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She also supports Susan G. Komen for the Cure. When she is able to find a moment away from work, she enjoys watching football and basketball, and spending time with her seven grandchildren. Though she intends to retire at the age of 70, Ms. Stellar plans to continue working as a consultant. She also plans to write a book, something she has always wanted to do. Continue reading

Craig Hrkal


Hrkal, Craig 507981

Chief Executive Officer
HN Holdings LLC
Zimmerman, MN, USA
Industry: Manufacturing
Field: Cellular Concrete Production and Distribution

Growing up in the concrete business, Craig Alan Hrkal’s decision to join the ranks came as no surprise. Previously a salesman at his father’s flagship company, Lightweight Distributing Co., Inc., Mr. Hrkal helped establish Midwest Cellular Concrete in 1992, which is now doing business as Cellular Concrete, Inc. He worked within and acquired 49 percent ownership of both companies in 2001, and purchased the remaining holdings for both in January 2007. He also started another company called Highway Safety Zone, which distributes highway work zone safety equipment as well as permanent safety equipment for highway safety. With 25 years of experience, Mr. Hrkal currently serves as the chief executive officer of HN Holdings LLC, which owns and operates Cellular Concrete Inc, Lightweight Distributing Co., Inc., Hwy Safety Zone LLC and its newest acquisition, Concrete Chemicals Inc.Cellular.

Mr. Hrkal is skilled in the production and distribution of cellular concrete, lightweight aggregate applications, lightweight concrete and construction materials. Heading three companies simultaneously, he oversees credit monitoring services and production and concrete construction, manages finances, and builds relationships with customers. To keep himself updated in the field, he remains affiliated with the National Utility Contractors Association, the Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association, the Aggregate and Ready Mix Association of Minnesota and the Minnesota Utility Contractors Association. He attributes his successful career to his hard work, industry knowledge and financial discipline, and looking ahead, Mr. Hrkal hopes to expand his reach nationwide and offer consulting services internationally. Continue reading

Kevin S. Carr


Carr, KevinRichmond, VA, United States
Industry: Manufacturing
Field: Industrial Mechanics

Starting his career in 1977 as a mechanic’s helper, Kevin S. Carr has worked his way through the industrial trade industry. He has always loved mechanics and through the help of a friend, he was brought into the field of automation. He has also briefly worked for himself. He currently works for a manufacturing company that provides cigarettes and smokeless tobacco. He enjoys the challenge of working with equipment and machines that require a high amount of detail and finesse. Serving as an industrial mechanic, Mr. Carr is always looking at a problem in order to find the solution.

Mr. Carr has studied mechanical engineering at the Richmond Technical Center and has received Reliability Green Belt Training at Honeywell International Inc. Certified in Roto line and Opti line laser alignment, he has also completed reliability maintenance training. As an industrial mechanic with his current company, he handles production support, and works with machines that package cigarettes, analyzing and correcting any machine issues. He is also entrusted with handling the maintenance of the equipment.

Mr. Carr currently has two patents pending: one for a steerable trailer and the other for a stop stick that will work behind a moving cruiser. He attributes his success to his parents’ support, and those he has worked with, who have recognized and made use of his abilities. Looking ahead, he intends to continue working and advancing in the industry. He would also like to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors and work on his own designs. Continue reading