SPE Awards Honor Moldmaking Careers, Contributions

The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Mold Technologies Division recently awarded its annual Mold Maker and Mold Designer of the year awards.


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The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Mold Technologies Division recently awarded its Moldmaker and Mold Designer of the year awards for 2017.

Renee Nehls was named SPE’s Mold Designer of the Year. Renee is a tooling engineer at SussexIM in Sussex, Wisconsin, and has worked as a mold designer for more than 20 of her 30 years in the plastics industry. According to her nomination form, Renee is a state-of-the-art mold designer with experience in molds for injection molding, blow molding, cold and hot runner, gas assist, shuttle, spin and stack spin, two material and unscrewing molds. She became active in the SPE when she joined the organization’s Milwaukee Section sometime in the 1990s. She served on committees and eventually served as chair of the section from 2013-2014, and was elected to Milwaukee Section’s Hall of Fame in 2015. Renee was also instrumental in helping to organize three joint TOPCONS (a kind of trade show with conference programs) jointly hosted by the Milwaukee and Chicago sections of SPE. Renee currently serves on the board of the SPE Mold Technologies Division in addition to remaining active with the Milwaukee Section. As Mold Designer of the Year, she received a plaque from the Mold Technologies Division and a grant in the amount of $500 that was donated in her name to the industry-related school of her choosing. In this case, it was the Waukesha County Technical College. To learn more about Renee, her accomplishments and vision for the future, read MMT’s feature article titled Women Impacting Moldmaking, which ran in our May 2017 issue.

Andrew Baker is this year’s Moldmaker of the Year. Andy is the strategic account manager at Byrne Tool and Design in Rockford, Michigan. He began his career as a moldmaker in the mid 1990s, working at Legacy Precision Molds. He joined the team at Byrne Tool in 2000 and never looked back, moving from project management to operations manager and eventually strategic account manager at Byrne Tool, a division of Byrne electric. Andy has had leadership roles in the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA), both at the Chapter level (He is president of the AMBA’s West Michigan chapter, a position he’s held since 2010) and at the national level where he’s served on the board of directors. According to his nomination form, Andy is “quick to volunteer to test drive new certification curriculums and tests, as well as share best practices with his colleagues in national forums.” I asked Andy how it feels to be named SPE’s Moldmaker of the Year after also being named the 2010 AMBA Mold Builder of the Year, and he replied, simply, “Honestly, I’m more humbled than excited. I know a lot of truly incredible people in our industry that have accomplished way more than I have. I am amazed that I am counted among some of them. I have a lot to live up to in the next 20 years.” Like Renee Nehls, Andy received a plaque and a $500 grant check that was presented to Lary Shoemaker, the industrial technology education instructor at Byron Center Public Schools.

Congratulations to Renee and Andy!

The SPE Mold Technologies Division is always looking for mold industry professionals to join the division and help promote careers in manufacturing, organize technical programs, and more. Visit the Society of Plastics Engineers, Inc. to get involved.