Volvo Penta and Premier Marine Employees to Receive STEP Ahead Award in April

Two members of the recreational marine industry have been named among the top women in US manufacturing for 2016. The Manufacturing Institute has announced that Marcia Kull, Vice President of marine sales for Volvo Penta of the Americas as well as Lori Melbostad, President of Premier Marine are among its top 130 women in US manufacturing for 2016.
Both will be recognized at the 4th Annual Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Ahead Award at a gala dinner April 21 in Washington, D.C.

The STEP Ahead Awards recognize women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers in all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite.
"These 130 women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing,' said Jennifer McNelly, Executive Director, The Manufacturing Institute. "We chose to honour these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through a positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole. The STEP Ahead Awards are part of the larger STEP Ahead initiative, launched to examine and promote the role of women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership for attracting, advancing and retaining strong female talent.'

Marcia Kull – Volvo Penta
As Volvo Penta's Vice President of marine sales for the Americas, Kull has profit-and-loss responsibility for marine engine sales in a competitive territory that covers Canada to Panama and the Caribbean. Before joining the marine engine sales division in 2011, Kull served as the company's general counsel and prior to that role, acted as vice president of dealer and consumer relations.
"Marcia Kull has leveraged all of the experience she's gained working across the industry to help her succeed as a commercial leader to promote Volvo Penta,' said Ron Huibers, President of Volvo Penta of the Americas. "She is highly respected by her peers, customers and even competitors for her depth of knowledge of Volvo Penta products and markets, and she has taken on great responsibility with her involvement in industry and governmental organizations that serve the national marine community.'
At Volvo Penta, Kull has facilitated year-over-year diesel engine unit growth averaging 14 percent while increasing profitability; created a regionally-based dealer development team to generate pull-through sales of Volvo Penta-powered gasoline sterndrive boats; developed Volvo Penta's North American marine commercial segment; restructured the commercial distributor network; and mentored young employees through the Volvo Penta International Mentorship Program. She also developed a national program to promote recreational boating as a leisure activity for women. Called "Women Making Waves,' the turn-key program provided boating skills classes for women in over 1,600 marine dealerships across North America.
Kull chairs the National Marine Manufacturer's Association (NMMA) Engine Manufacturers Division – the first Volvo Penta employee and the first woman to serve in this role. Prior to this appointment, she served as chairwoman of the NMMA Boating Industry Risk Management Council for six years – the first woman to chair that committee as well. She also serves on the six-member NMMA executive board of directors. She was appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security to serve on the National Boating Safety Advisory Council in 2007. In that role, she chaired a team that drafted a compliance section for the US Coast Guard Strategic Plan to reduce recreational boating casualties.

“Our marine and industrial engines create exceptional experiences for people in recreation and at work,” says Kull. “During my 10-year experience at Volvo Penta, we have dramatically improved boat performance while reducing environmental impact. Our goal is easy boating through safety, quality and care for the environment.'

Lori Melbostad – Premier Marine

Melbostad has over 20 years of experience in the marine industry. She has an extensive cross-functional management background and has been involved in all aspects of manufacturing, sales and product development. Melbostad is being recognized for demonstrating her skill as a catalyst for positive change and ongoing efforts for her company's continuous improvement.

"Manufacturing gives you a total sense of accomplishment,” says Melbostad. “Months, and often time's years, of planning go into designing and preparing to build a product. The very complex behind the scenes systems that are required to properly account for and build a product are extensive and challenging.'
Through her leadership, Premier Marine has brought competitive and innovative products to the market. Her vision to provide a web-based customer portal has provided the company a competitive edge within the industry, while her constant focus on reducing costs and improving the customer experience are admirable.
When Melbostad started with Premier Marine, women held only sewing jobs and clerical positions. Throughout her tenure she has focused on placing women in all roles within the organization. She has always been willing to share stories with other women within the company, as well as those within the industry. She is also particularly known for her support and insight into effectively balancing work and family.
Living and working within the community has increased Melbostad's awareness for the need to support students for future manufacturing roles. Premier Marine has implemented an apprenticeship program to provide local youth the opportunity to earn a certificate in manufacturing while at work. Local colleges and training centers provide remote and on-site training.
Melbostad currently resides as a Director on the National Marine Manufacturer's Association (NMMA) Boat Manufacturer's Board, and serves on the NMMA Hall of Fame Committee. She is also on the American Boating Congress working to support and improve state and federal regulations that impact the marine industry.
The Manufacturing Institute, a non-partisan organization, is committed to delivering information and services to American manufacturers.