By Carla Short
When Kim Brenner was thinking about college, he wasn’t sure about a major. His parents had blue collar careers and just didn’t have the awareness of choices he could pursue. A couple of aunts were nurses, so Kim thought about becoming a doctor. He quickly discovered that medical school was not for him. Kim’s roommate was an Industrial Engineer, so he thought he would give IE a chance. He found his major.
When Kim graduated, he went to work for Alcoa. His interests were in operations research and Kim become involved in capacity planning, capital spending projects, and similar “big picture” project areas. Kim developed a linear programming model for one entire plant.
For the first 16 years of his career, Kim worked in 3 Alcoa plants in Arkansas, Alabama, and Iowa. Eventually Kim’s career moved more toward product management. He was also involved in buying, costing, and pricing. This gave Kim more of a business perspective.
A friend of Kim’s recruited him to join Hansaloy, a manufacturer of blades used in bread cutting. They are the world’s leader in bread slicing technology. Originally Kim was hired to be in charge of sales, a job that he never experienced before. “When you think about it, sales is the other side of the table from buying, which I had done before,” Kim says.
Eventually Kim’s influence at Hansaloy grew and he is now the President of the company. When asked about the transition from a larger company to a smaller one, Kim comments: “It’s tough. In a big company you have a lot of technical assistance that you don’t have in a smaller company. You have to find the right size for the business systems you install.”
Kim credits mentors for the success of his career. “I felt like I got a graduate degree through my mentors.” Kim also credits the case study approach used in the WVU IE program for his success. “I thought the case studies gave me a real understanding of the practical side of engineering.”