Michele Jenkins
Site Business Director
Kennametal Inc.

“Manufacturing for me is 100% about people – shop floor folks that make it happen, safety and operations leaders, engineers, sales and our customers. I am inspired by these people daily! As a team, we continuously improve and figure out innovative solutions to complex problems. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Michele has full P&L responsibility for Kennametal’s Rogers, Arkansas manufacturing facility serving major energy, mining customers, as well as servicing a large internal customer base. As a result of improved performance, Michele’s team was awarded significant capital to modernize and automate the entire manufacturing operation. As the plant modernization is underway, Michele has been instrumental in developing the strategic plan, workforce transformation process, and sharing the vision with her leadership team.

When Kennametal announced that it would be investing more than $300 million in capital to automate its manufacturing locations, Michele worked with her team to build a plant-wide automation vision and strategy to improve profitability. She also developed a leadership team that is prepared to lead through change as they make the transition to digital manufacturing of the future.

Challenging and mentoring her entire team in Rogers from day one, Michele has been instrumental in the progress made at the facility. She has inspired the group by establishing high expectations and a culture of accountability throughout the organization which has cultivated a winning team spirit.

Michele and the Kennametal team have partnered with Pea Ridge Manufacturing & Business Academy, a high school program, providing feedback on a graduate certificate and donating equipment to their program. Michele has also partnered with the University of Arkansas, College of Engineering, Manufacturing Automation Laboratory, to provide university students with internship and senior design project opportunities. Prior to joining Kennametal, in her previous plant manager role with Alcoa, Michele partnered closely with the Springdale High School’s future engineers program by hosting plant tours, speaking with the faculty and young engineers team on how their academic focus can transfer into critical skills and STEM careers in the future. Michele is also a U.S. Army veteran of the Gulf War where she served overseas in Saudi Arabia to protect our country. 

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