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ChemDesign’s Career Development Program Helps Students Explore Jobs in STEM

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM includes 102 different careers that can be applied to a multitude of industries. ChemDesign believes it’s important that students learn about STEM careers and make educated decisions when deciding their after-school plans. As a part of ChemDesign’s Career Development program, we frequently recruit at Michigan Technical University, UW-Green Bay and Northern Michigan University, among other colleges, to offer the experience to aspiring undergraduates.  

This summer, ChemDesign had five incredibly bright interns working with us in our HR Department, Engineering, HES Department, and Quality Control lab. Ali Christian, our HR intern, worked on human resources projects for a chemical manufacturing plant to include scheduling, interviewing and candidate screenings. Our HES intern, Ben Caithamer, conducted respirator fit tests, created emergency kits for four of our buildings. David Jaszczak, our engineering intern, designed a magnetic fire door release system and planned the removal of the vessel. At his final presentation, he expressed “ChemDesign helped me learn the importance of workplace relationships, how to apply my academics, and what it’s like to work in a chemical plant. I am so thankful for the opportunity they have given me to learn and grow.” All our interns this summer have expressed interest in working at ChemDesign, or in the chemical manufacturing industry in the future.

In addition, ChemDesign runs a job shadowing program for high school and college students who would like to see what working in chemical manufacturing involves. Just this summer, we had two students job shadow at ChemDesign. Pictured to the left, is Logan Mikesell from Michigan Technical University. He connected with us after talking with ChemDesign representatives at his school’s career fair. Logan told us he wanted to shadow because he was thinking of pursuing a second degree in engineering- along with his almost complete chemistry major. Our Human Resources and Employee Development Manager invited him onsite to shadow. First, he toured the QC lab where he and Mindy Doubek, our QC Lab Supervisor, then discussed the type of instruments they use for conducting chemical analysis. He recognized the instruments as he used the same type in his class’s chemistry labs. Later, engineer Bob Martins, took him through the plant to discuss the larger equipment used to manufacture the chemicals. During our lunch discussion, Logan said his favorite part of the tour was our Quality Control Lab. With this valuable job shadowing experience, Logan expressed that he feels more confident in his after-college plans.

When students visit or intern at ChemDesign, they discover a beacon of light when navigating the uncertain seas of numerous career pathways. When it comes to STEM, ChemDesign believes it’s important for students to see as many aspects of the industry as they can so they can make the best career choice for a prosperous and challenging future.

Tags: Chemistry Job Shadow, Engineering Job Shadow, Michigan Technical University, UW-Green Bay, and Northern Michigan University, STEM Education

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged Academic and Career Planning, Chemistry Job Shadow, Engineering Job Shadow

ChemDesign “Helps make Science Make Sense” in STEM Education.

As the new school year begins for most students, we want to wish everyone well on their back to school journey. This article reflects on the ways we enjoy sharing our core values: learning, teaching, and coaching with our community, starting with the students. This past year, ChemDesign has made a significant effort in helping students in the Marinette/Menominee area learn about science, technology, engineering, and math. Through sponsorship and chemistry demonstrations, ChemDesign has invested in our future generation’s interests in the science and manufacturing industry. We look forward to another school year and the opportunity to inspire today’s youth about STEM. Here is a look back on the past year’s events.

STEM DAYS at UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus

On January 26th, 2019 STEM Days Program was held at UW-Green bay Marinette Campus. Over 350 students toured through the campus to learn about the applications of STEM. During the three days, students watched chemistry demonstrations by our very own chemists, Erica Beaumier, Lauren Anderson, and Mindy Doubek. Students reported afterward that ChemDesign was an inspiration for their future educational pursuits in STEM. 

The First Annual St. Thomas Aquinas Science Fair

On April 4th, 2019, ChemDesign was assisted in the St. Thomas Aquinas Academy Science Fair.  The 5th-8th-grade students each had booths to display their research, experiments, and findings. This event helped students develop critical thinking skills, and practice using the scientific method. ChemDesign is proud to be involved in this event because these brilliant developing minds are our future.

Sponsorship of the Stephenson Robotics Team

On June 28th, 2019, ChemDesign sponsored the Stephenson Eagles Robotics Team. Engineers Paul Neilo and Dereck Norkoli volunteered to judge the competition. Student involvement is so very vital to our industry. Robotic building competitions prepare students for careers in engineering and technology, improves their problem-solving skills, and boosts confidence levels in science and math. Not only does this competition provide a fun way to learn science but also provides educators a practical way to apply strategic thinking skills outside class. This year the kids from the Stephenson Eagles Robotics Team, made 2nd place in the competition & won an Excellence in Engineering Award based on their robot.

Family Engagement in Chemistry with ChemDesign

ChemDesign sponsored and participated in the third annual Family Recreation Days at the Menominee Marina Park. ChemDesign partnered with the Tri-City United Way to provide three displays of chemical reactions and several active games for the kids and adults alike. These displays served as ice-breakers to invite families to ask questions about the chemical reactions they observed, and many other general science questions. It also opened several questions about ChemDesign as a company in the community. When it comes to STEM, ChemDesign believes it’s important for students and families to see as many aspects of the industry as they can so they can make the best career choice for a prosperous and challenging future.

How to Change the Safety Culture – ChemDesign Takes the Lead

Here at ChemDesign, we know that safety is of primary importance for all employees and stakeholders of our company. We have implemented multiple programs to keep safety top of mind for everyone at our plant. 

Training: Recently we conducted Emergency Response Training with a representative of Lakeshore Technical University.  This training consisted of 3 days in the classroom and 40 hours of hands-on training activities covering topics including evacuations, headcounts, rescues, explosions, how to safely fix leaks, spills and more. Operators, supervisors, and management learned how to properly put on and take off hazmat suits and respond to any chemical contamination that could happen while at work or during an emergency. Participants in the class were Chris Kanikula, Matt Smiley, Harrison Krueger, Shane Parish, Mike Hinterberg, Vince Schackmann, Ryan Beamer, Bill Coleman, and Done Jones. They all enjoyed the training sessions on how to respond in an emergency and fix multiple problems- they also liked the lunch break with pizza!  Participants noted it was helpful to have an outside perspective on what could go wrong and how to respond.

Communication: Another way we maintain our positive safety culture, is through ChemDesign TV. We installed a screen in the lunchroom that updates site safety statistics, safety tips, and reminders. It updates and refreshes daily for new content-based on our safety performance. This way, employees can actively assess the health of our safety environment and be informed of related safety topics so they can respond accordingly.

Cultivate Ideas: The third way we encourage a safety culture is through our Continuous Improvement Program. Every year, we encourage employees to take a survey. The site leaders consider the responses and create action plans to improve the workplace. This program also involves a reimbursement plan for employees who share their ideas on how to improve the plant. Any employee who comes up with a better or safer way to complete a process is reimbursed when their idea is implemented. Our listening demonstrates that our safety culture is one that takes accountability, learns, and encourages every team member to be a leader in safety.

Visit ChemDesign at Chemicals America 2019

ChemDesign representatives will be attending the Specialty and Agro Chemicals America Show in Charleston, South Carolina from September 4th -5th. They will be at booth #800. Come, meet representatives Dave, Rae, Bryon, and Joel. They will explain how ‘We Make Chemistry Work’.

This show has two major goals: to focus on chemical manufacturing, technologies, and related services that have specific applications for the agrochemical and specialty chemical markets.  

Tags: Specialty and Agro Chemicals America

This entry was posted in News and tagged Specialty and Agro Chemicals America.

ChemDesign Annual Fishing Derby 2019

Fishing is a verb, noun, and a favorite hobby of Wisconsinites. According to, this beloved hobby gained traction in the 19th and 20th centuries as one of the first commercial enterprises to achieve some level of success in Wisconsin. Fisherman earned a livelihood within the fish abundant waters of Lake Michigan, Green Bay, and Lake Superior. Today, fishing is still a major industry in Wisconsin, but now, experts to amateur hobbyists enjoy waiting for the perfect catch.

ChemDesign’s Annual Fishing Derby happened on August 24th. Teams consisted of 2 people, one required to be an employee of ChemDesign. Fishing was limited to the Menominee River. The species caught at this event were: Perch, Crappie, Bass, Northern, Walleye, Trout, and Salmon.  Prizes, sponsored by ChemDesign, were awarded for top 3 catches determined by total weight. The winners for the best catch were:

1st place:  John Ruehs/Brandon- 14.0 pounds total

2nd place:  Codi Needham/Butch- 11.6 pounds total

3rd place: “Team Catalyst” Kurt Paris/Derek- 5.0 pounds total

The biggest fish registered that day was a 3.1 lb Northern Pike. There was a second prize for the best work-related team name that went to “Breaking Lines” consisting of Shane Johnson and Adam McDonald. They won a grill and the Black and Decker project pack. Dennis Kaufman won the door prize, a Milwaukee screwdriver kit.

Adam McDonald & Shane Johnson sporting their
“Breaking Lines” team teeshirts.

John Ruehs, chemical operator, comments on the event saying, “A lot of us here love to fish. This event was a great opportunity for employees to spend time out of work doing something together. We are thankful for the sponsorship to make this event possible”. We had 6 total teams participate this year. If you missed this year’s fishing derby, make sure to join us next time!

Tags: Fishing, ChemDesign, Wisconsin

This entry was posted in Blogs and tagged:

New Reactor Installation Signals Investment in Reliability

Investing in Reliability, Expanding Capacity

ChemDesign is pleased to announce our investment in a new glass-lined chemical reactor for our multi-purpose chemical manufacturing plant in Marinette, WI.  This new reactor is the latest step in a series of investment activities to support and maintain the reliability and growth of our Marinette operations. This investment adds 3,000 gallons of Glass Lined Reactor capacity to our Building 52 operations.  This addition provides an opportunity to support additional demand from customers, as well as ensure reliability.  Investing in reliability is an action taken in support of ChemDesign’s mission of providing the highest quality platform for chemical manufacturing services to our customers. We plan to continue adding to our plant’s capabilities in various forms in the upcoming years.

At ChemDesign, we have three main manufacturing areas: Buildings 52, 38 and 69 with 36,000/23,000/12,000 gallons of reactor capacity respectively. Our manufacturing areas consist of glass-lined reactors, stainless steel, and Hastelloy (Monel) reactors. Reactors range in size from 500 to 6,000 gallons, with a temperature operating range of -7 to 150C.  We run a range of reactions in our plant, for a more detailed list of our reactions visit our processes page.

Tags: Reactor, Capital investment, growth

This entry was posted in Blogs and tagged: ChemDesign

ChemDesign Employees Graduate from NWTC-CTED Leadership Academy

On June 20th, ChemDesign supervisors and managers gathered at the North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center. These employees graduated from a specialty leadership course sponsored by NTWC’s CTED-Cooperate Training and Economic Development in Marinette, Wisconsin. This Leadership Academy was presented by Renee Butrym, Corporate Trainer at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College for CTED. (link)

Leadership Academy classes consisted of eight separate 4-hour sessions for a total of 32 hours of classroom training with two additional 1-hour individual training sessions. The graduates from this program were Vince Schackmann, Mike Hinterberg, Dennis Kaufman, Jay Therriault, Paul Neilo, Ryan Wondergem, Kevin Possi, Kevin Harris, Mindy Doubek, Tina Odea, Todd Smith, Gretchen Smith, Wendy Swanson, Roman Leiser, and Jordan Parker.

ChemDesign wishes to recognize and thank everyone for investing their time to become a better leader and mentor. Programs like this are significant for developing the leaders of the future and helping our employees be the best they can be.

About the Academy:

According to NWTC’s webpage, “CTED Training and Seminars are focused on meeting the ever-expanding continuing education needs of adult professionals in Northeast Wisconsin.” Their sole mission is to provide flexible training at a cost-effective price for organizations. CTED offers seminars, customized training courses, online training, conferences & special events including many topics from categories such as business, performance, technical, safety, and health.

The Leadership Academy features training units that focus on Challenges with Leadership, Communication for Leadership, Coaching and Development of Others, Resolving Conflict, Problem Solving, Peer to Boss, High Performing teams, and Using Failures to Leverage Success.

Strong Leadership is the backbone of any successful organization. Leaders determine the vision and direction for a team, company, or the world. Jack Welch, a leader, and former General Electric CEO wrote in his book, Winning: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” With that, we congratulate our leaders at ChemDesign for their work in completing this training. 

A Culture of Learning:

ChemDesign is proud to support education in our community and to support the continued education of our employees. Our core values include continuous improvement by encouraging an environment of engagement, learning, and teaching. Interested in joining a work culture based on learning and achievement at ChemDesign? Check our available positions on our Careers page. (link)

Tags: ChemDesign, CTED- Cooperate Training and Economic Development, North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Leadership, Training, Careers

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged: ChemDesign, CTED- Cooperate Training and Economic Development, North Coast Marine Manufacturing Training Center, and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

ChemDesign Achieves Best-In-Class Performance Award for Healthcare Cost Control

ChemDesign, a custom chemical manufacturer in Marinette, Wisconsin, has received a best-in-class healthcare performance award, being recognized in the top nine percent of mid-sized manufacturers who responded to Gallagher’s 2018 National Benchmarking Survey. The award comes from Gallagher, a global leader in insurance, risk management and consulting services. This designation is awarded to survey respondents who score among the upper 25% in controlling healthcare costs and managing human resources. Over 4200 participating organizations from across the country responded to Gallagher’s annual survey, considered one of the most respected and comprehensive surveys in the industry.


The journey to achieving affordable healthcare coverage became a top priority for ChemDesign in 2016. The mid-sized employer of 115 was facing a 20 percent increase in health insurance premiums for the coming year.

Randy Christl, Chief Financial Officer, decided it was time to do something different and assembled a task force to evaluate options.  An exciting option of belonging to a group healthcare captive was found. A “insurance captive” is a means to gain the benefits of being self-insured while mitigating the risk by allowing a mid-sized employer to spread out their risk as part of a bigger group. The team found a captive that was unique, carefully selective of its members, and focused on wellness. From the outset, ChemDesign has been committed to being engaged and following the captives recommended framework to control costs.

Captive membership led ChemDesign to be a leader in their community with instituting a new healthcare pricing system for the organization. The new system came with two major cost-management initiatives:  Pay fair prices for provider services and increase transparency of costs both for the company and the employee. ChemDesign and their insurance consultant, Gallagher, have been successful in securing agreements with not one, but three of the most prominent health care systems in the area.

ChemDesign, additionally, “carved out” their pharmacy benefits, following a non-traditional program. All employees have prescription coverage as part of the medical benefits, but the pharmacy program is carefully managed by the Captive’s expert pharmacy benefit manager. The majority of employees have made the change to generic prescriptions, often using mail-order as a successful way to obtain the medications needed.


Christl also joined a sub-committee in the insurance captive to understand and implement wellness programs for their employees.

ChemDesign developed benchmarks to understand the overall wellness of their employees. Employee awareness of the connection between getting healthier as a whole and lower healthcare costs is key to the continued success of their program. ChemDesign stresses the value in healthy habits leading to a decrease in the collective risk to their insurer. They offer employees up to a 20 percent discount from their premiums if they complete an annual Health Risk Assessment and see their doctor for an annual wellness exam.   Other wellness incentives and programs also exist.

Victoria Seligmiller, Benefit Consultant for Gallagher, is impressed by the sincere care Christl and his team have for their employees. “For a group of their size, they have accomplished a great deal in ways that many others struggle to succeed. Their desire to progressively take steps to manage costs, while always putting employees first provides a framework that others can emulate.”

ChemDesign has kept their healthcare premiums stable (no increase) for the last three renewals. In January 2019, ChemDesign started the year off strong by providing a premium-free month for insured employees. With the latest round of renewals in May 2019 employees saw a five to ten percent premium reduction. Christl states, “Today, we feel like we are in control of our plan. Our message to employees continues to stress that improved health truly leads to savings from decreased costs coming back to us.” Get your copy of the executive summary of the Gallagher 2018 U.S. Benefits Strategy & Benchmarking Survey

Chemicals America ChemDesign

Chemicals America Preview: Logistics Among Key Topics

Chemicals America, in partnership with SOCMA, will host the Specialty and Custom Chemicals America conference and expo from February 11-14 in Fort Worth, Texas

ChemDesign, a sponsor and exhibitor, will have representatives specializing in logistics, materials management, safety, compliance and commercial development available to evaluate client needs. The team will be conveniently located in the first row (#201) for the full duration of the conference.

Chemicals America ChemDesign
Featured from left to right: Rae Johnson, Bryon Leggett, David Mielke, Joel Salzman

The event, focused on showcasing the distinctive value of the American chemical industry, will be the first for Wendy Swanson, materials manager and Kevin Possi, production manager. Joining them will be David Mielke, President and CEO, Joel Salzman, Vice President of Operations, Rae Johnson, Vice President – Sales and Marketing and Bryon Leggett, Vice President – Business Development.

Kevin Possi will participate in a panel discussion, Emerging Leaders’ Outlook on the Future of Specialties. He will be joined by: R.J. Wolcik, Director, EH&S, Strem Chemicals, Brooke DiDomenico, Technical Manager, Nation Ford Chemical, and Austin Hutchinson, Business Development Manager GFS Chemicals.

Kevin is looking forward to the opportunity to participate in the newest panel topic created by the organizers of Chemicals America. He states, “I’m looking forward to learning from professionals in each of the functional areas of our field. I think the breadth of experience will provide comprehensive view of important human resources issues facing chemical producers today.”

Wendy Swanson will be meeting with ChemDesign’s existing suppliers and potential new suppliers. “As we grow with new markets and customers, it’s important to realign our supply chain to better serve our customers.  Wendy and her network of suppliers are critical to ChemDesign remaining a reliable and cost-effective service provider,” states Bryon Leggett.

Click here for the full conference schedule. ChemDesign will provide industry updates from their Twitter account, @chem_design, during the conference.

ChemDesign Internship Spotlight: Quality Analyst

Sylvia Sartorelli competed her 2018 quality analyst internship working the night shift in the Quality Control Laboratory at ChemDesign. A full-time student studying occupational therapy at Central Michigan University, she came into her position with laboratory experience (she had worked the day shift at ChemDesign the previous summer).

Sylvia took inventory of her strengths before her summer working the night shifts began. She knew her most productive work time was in the evening. Her self-awareness of her peak productivity time actually has a biological component as well (the normal daily body temperature is at its highest at that time). She knew she’d be most alert during her night shift.

As it turned out, the night shift was the “most comfortable” for Sylvia. She liked starting on a Sunday night and finishing by Friday morning. This schedule made it possible for her to pick up two or three shifts a week at a popular restaurant in the Marinette region, The Landing. She was also able to spend time with her family and her youngest brother.

Sylvia also preferred working alongside one other technician for each shift. The quiet evening work environment with an occasional surprise visitor (a night frog) was the right fit for her.

The hallmarks of her experience include the use of multiple instruments and a team that leads by example. “The members of the lab have an amazing work ethic. They are also the smartest, kindest and most driven individuals that I have ever met.”
As Sylvia reflects on her experience, she feels beyond blessed to have been immersed in such a special environment. She’s already put in a request for consideration for a summer 2019 internship (during the night shift).

ChemDesign has opportunities for internships during the day and evening shifts. Submit your application online on our website.

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