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You are Here: Finding our way in Washington

Slack seeks to grow Whitesell operation

By David Hotle | May 16, 2014
Kelly Slack

Kelly Slack said that he only took over the position of general manager of Whitesell in Washington on April 1, but has been working with the business for many years and sees tremendous potential.
Born and raised in the Chicago, Ill. area, he attended the University of Iowa, where he graduated in 1979. He has worked in the metal fabrication industry for about 30 years. He has worked formerly with Textron, and moved to Whitesell about six years ago. He had worked as part of the corporate staff as vice president of business development, which is headquartered in Naples, Fla., where he became familiar with the Washington branch. As Whitesell’s corporate office began de-centralizing and the role of the corporate staff began changing, he chose to be part of the operating unit of the business. Having been impressed with the work being done in Washington while working with the business for the last year, he chose to return to Iowa.
He has a wife, Joanie; two grown sons, Adam and Benjamin; daughter-in-laws, Jenn and Danielle; and a new granddaughter, Caia.

What made you decided to come to Washington?
I’m a Hawkeye; and this business, this group of people, this product capability, this factory environment – coming to Washington is in many respects icing on the cake, because if this group resided elsewhere, I would still want to be associated with this business, this group, and help this business to grow to its potential. That is why I am here.

Since you have been in Washington, what do you think?
I think it is a lovely little community. I am a Midwest guy and this has all of the wonderful attributes of small-town Iowa life.

What is your favorite thing about Washington?
This place, this business and this group of people – I really mean that. I think my favorite part of the town itself is the square. It is the core downtown area. That activity center, I think, is really terrific. In fact, I am looking for an apartment on the square. The other real positive attributes of the town — I think the bike path is a pretty terrific feature for a town like this, and the people I have met have just been gracious beyond words. Whether I am meeting someone in a restaurant or at a hotel, people have been gracious.

What was it about Washington’s branch of Whitesell that drew you to it?
This plant has a good core group of people and a really solid product manufacturing capability and a solid business proposition. Translate that – that is upside potential for this business and for this community in terms of its employment. It is really the potential this business possesses.

What are your plans?
We will grow this business — it will be our intention to be about four times our current size in a five-year period. The market potential is very definitely there for us to do that. The markets we are beginning to penetrate are very definitely there. We will go from simply being a wire-bending supplier to being a tooling provider to being a wire form assembly provider. We are going to change our capability footprint as well. We are going to be doing product development work here and tooling development work here. We are going to have a greater offering to the marketplace during that five-year period.

What are some of your hobbies?
I love to golf. I love to fish. I’m an avid workout guy, so I work out every day. I’m a family guy. I love spending time with my family. I spend so much time on the road, when I am not working being with my family is so important. Golf and fishing in the summertime and skiing in the wintertime are my primary hobbies.

What does the future look like for you?
Well, in many respects I am in the last chapter of my work career. I’m intending to retire from Whitesell. I want to see this five-year plan out, and we will see what happens from there.

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