Meg Zehringer

2020 STEP Ahead Emerging Leader

Manufacturing Management Trainee
National Gypsum

To me manufacturing means innovation. Manufacturing companies that want to stay on top of their respective markets must always find ways to maximize the efficiency of their plants, personnel and production line equipment. This drive to constantly improve processes is what drew me to the industry upon leaving the military.

As a Coast Guard veteran with a degree in civil engineering, Meg is the perfect fit as a manager for maritime projects at National Gypsum. While she is still early in her career with National Gypsum, her skill, tenacity and innovation are already improving the company’s handling of material logistics.

After only a few weeks with National Gypsum, Meg was named as the project engineer to help reopen an inactive plant, with a specific focus on improving the infrastructure of the dock. Meg expertly managed design issues, materials sourcing, contractor challenges and more. She also displayed hands-on engineering savvy when she identified an issue with one of the buoys; she redesigned the mechanism that would anchor the buoy so it was more effective. Meg’s work has been vital in improving supply chain optimization and has resulted in significant cost savings.

In addition to her regular job duties, Meg is working to enhance a National Gypsum initiative to recruit and retain former military members. She hopes that the expanded program will encourage more veterans to consider manufacturing as a career path, when leaving the military. Meg is also working to optimize National Gypsum programs aimed at recruiting women with STEM backgrounds with the intent to greatly expand the number of women in STEM within National Gypsum. Outside of work, Meg volunteers her time to help fellow veterans, especially those transitioning from the military to civilian life. As a member of several local veterans’ groups and the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association, Meg supports veterans leaving the service with building their resumes and finding positions within companies that support veterans. Meg is always willing to offer words of encouragement and to share her own challenges in transitioning to civilian life. She says, “Leaving the service can be stressful. I want these veterans to know they are not alone, and that support is available to them.” Over the summer, Meg also worked with LinkedIn and a group of veterans to create an online course called ‘Grit: How Teams Persevere to Accomplish Great Goals’ to help companies, especially those in manufacturing, identify the tools needed to build effective teams that are able to persevere and dig deep to accomplish collective goals.

In addition to her work with veterans, Meg has served as a STEM tutor for middle school students, helping them with engineering projects like building bridges and designing hovercrafts. Meg also acts as the primary Coast Guard Academy Admissions partner for the Charlotte area, where she works throughout the year with local congressmen/congresswomen and high school counselors to mentor and develop high value candidates, with an interest in STEM, for potential admission into the U. S. Coast Guard Academy.