Donna Koebel: Hands-on Leadership Gets Results

An industry veteran is properly recognized for a lifetime of hard work and success.
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As chief executive officer of Rancho Cucamonga, CA-based Prestige Mold, Inc.-a high technology plastic mold manufacturer-Donna Koebel has made it her mission to keep Prestige in the black as this moldmaker has emerged as an industry leader over the past decade. This acumen coupled with perseverance through a difficult time also has garnered her the Mold Designer of the Year 2003 award from SPE Moldmaking and Mold Design Division-further testament to the fact that her peers view her as an industry leader.

Born in Texas, Donna has lived for the past twenty-six years in Southern California-attending California State Polytechnic University for accounting and working for a local accounting firm. After she graduated, her journey into the moldmaking industry began.


A Perfect Partnership

Donna and her husband Mike started the company twenty years ago in their two-car garage-he took care of the moldmaking and she handled the business side. Within the first year, operations had expanded beyond the couple's garage, so they moved into a fourteen-hundred square-foot facility. During this time they also expanded their family with a daughter and son, both currently twenty and sixteen.

Two years later, the Koebels found themselves looking for another facility-a five thousand square-foot building. Donna notes that by this time they had some well-established customers and approximately twenty-five employees. "In 1990, we expanded our operations again and purchased a twelve-thousand square-foot building to accommodate our needs," she notes. "Prestige has been in its current location-a custom-built twenty-eight thousand square-foot facility-since November 1995. We have approximately sixty-five employees; some, have been with the company since its beginning."

Unfortunately, Mike succumbed to cancer five years ago, but with the "support of a terrific crew," Donna has been able to keep the business thriving despite her terrible loss. "I hold the unique identity of being a woman-owned, privately-held company," Donna states. "That is a very rare distinction in the mold manufacturing industry. As CEO, I actively participate in the daily hands-on management of the company. I believe that I bring a unique influence in the operations and management of Prestige."


Smooth Operations

Donna has ensured Prestige's long-term success by keeping current with technology and making the company a one-stop shop for its customers. "We pride ourselves on our state-of-the-art facility-from the design and engineering phase all the way through to job completion," she continues. "We use robotic automation manufacturing cells in our CNC, EDM and CMM departments to ensure ultimate quality, interchangeability, on-time delivery at a fair price. Our engineering department-along with the rest of the company-is focused on keeping up with the latest technology. The engineering department has enough resources to handle anything from a single mold to multiple mold projects."

Besides mold design, Prestige's engineering department's resources include mold flow and product design assistance. "This service allows the engineering department to form partnerships with our customer's engineers and product designers," she emphasizes. "The partnership-style approach is one of the principles on which the company was founded. By doing this, a favorable outcome of both mold and product design is assured.

"Beyond the engineering partnership-approach, the designs are more than just drawings-they are process-related 3-D databases that integrate with the automation on the manufacturing floor," she continues. "Our engineering department's application of 3-D technology and its partnership approach help to maintain customer design intent while designing for manufacturability-again supporting our focus-a successful outcome for both Prestige and its customers."


Industry Involvement

Donna does not hesitate about giving back to the industry that she has been a part of for so long. In addition to being a founding board member of the AMBA California chapter, she has served as its treasurer since it was formed in early 2002. She also sits on the Western Regional Board of Directors for the Society of Plastics Industry (SPI) and is actively involved in the SPI Western Moldmakers Division Board.

"We were instrumental in the founding of the Annual Mike Koebel Moldmakers Trade Fair and the Annual Mike Koebel Golf Tournament," she says. "The profits from these two events-along with matching funds from SPI's National Moldmakers Division-enable the board to award grants to Southern California schools that provide programs in the moldmaking field."

Additionally, Donna is a charter member and treasurer of the Ladies in Plastics Golf Organization (LPGO). "As its name implies, LPGO is a group of ladies in the plastics industry who also happen to enjoy golf and are dedicated to enriching the lives of those touched by breast cancer," she states. "LPGO combines its interests to host an annual golf tournament. The 2002 event raised $12,000 for this worthy cause."

Clearly this industry mover and shaker shows no signs of slowing down. Her simple business philosophy is to treat others as you would expect to be treated. "This applies to employees, vendors and customers," she states. "Everyone enjoys working with or for a company that offers them, respect, honesty and fairness."

The future looks bright for Prestige under Donna's leadership. "Challenges continue to face the moldmaking shops of this country," she stresses. "We are relying on both our well-proven past track record and the vision for the company. I believe our management reflects our forward thinking. We will continue to stay on track to provide the excellence in customer service that we are known for as well as continue to keep up with the latest in technology."