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Miriam Kmetzo: Passionate About Performance Excellence

Miriam Kmetzo

This blog is part of series recognizing the contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders to the manufacturing industry.

Born and raised in the beautiful Philippines, Miriam Kmetzo’s family immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. Miriam’s parents encouraged her and her siblings, paid for their educations, and made sure they were prepared to be successful in all their endeavors.

“Well, I was passionate about classical ballet!” says Miriam. “Needless to say, my parents successfully convinced me — and I’m thankful they did — to continue enjoying dance but to consider completing a bachelor’s degree in a more technical field.” Miriam has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a Master of Science in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Working harder and smarter every single day

Miriam’s manufacturing career began in process and quality management, and she has held various manufacturing positions for more than 30 years. Eventually leaving the East Coast where her family had settled, she and her husband moved to Michigan to be at the heart of major manufacturing activity and the automotive industry. Being an immigrant and a woman didn’t help her early on. “My biggest challenge working in manufacturing has been getting into it,” says Miriam.

In 1996, she joined Welding Technology Corp., a small manufacturing and technology company based in Farmington Hills, Michigan. “Once I found that employer who was willing to take a chance on me, I worked harder and smarter every single day to make that employer not to regret the decision. Pursuing higher education, continuing to take classes, networking with all gender groups, and volunteering helped me feel and exhibit more confidence in my personal and professional interactions,” says Miriam.

Taking pride in quality

Starting out as a Quality Manager, Miriam rose to become Executive Vice President at Welding Technology Corp., with responsibilities for human resources, operations, and quality. Welding Technology Corp. prides itself as being the global leader in resistance welding with advanced technologies and manufactured products benefiting a cross section of customers around the world. Being a small business has not prevented the company from extending its reach and providing customers with imaginative solutions.

Her parents helped Miriam draw important connections. “They recognized that my natural curiosity, even at an early age, of how things were made and put together to create a totally different product would always surface to the top and manifest itself later in life. I now realize that ballet and manufacturing are not so different after all. Both rely on discipline, choreography, movement, and each part of the total ensemble to perform at their highest level to achieve an end product that satisfies the customer,” says Miriam.

Passion for performance excellence

In addition to her passion for manufacturing, Miriam is equally passionate about performance excellence. She is honored to have served a three-year term on the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award judging panel and continues to be actively involved in both the national and state Baldrige programs. Miriam also currently serves on the national MEP Advisory Board.

Who wouldn’t love manufacturing?

Miriam doesn’t wonder who would love working in manufacturing — she wonders who wouldn’t love it! “If you think about it,” says Miriam, “other industries need and depend on manufactured and tangible products to perform their functions. Manufacturing serves a very crucial purpose that makes it indispensable to any economy. Regardless of category — i.e., developed economies, economies in transition, or developing economies — manufacturing is the backbone of social and economic development.”

Miriam acknowledges that manufacturing is still often perceived as a male-dominated industry. She notes, “While great strides are being made to ensure diversity and inclusion in manufacturing, it takes those who have succeeded to continue to lead by example and be ambassadors for promoting the field of manufacturing.”

What’s Miriam’s advice for someone interested in pursuing a manufacturing career? “Just go for it! Get your foot in the door, work harder and smarter than anyone else, and at the end of the day, leave work knowing that you were part of a team that converted a raw material into a tangible product important for someone else. Enjoy the choreography and the role that you play!”

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