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New Inductees to the Pioneer Hall of Fame - MFG recognizes three teammates for leadership in forging new frontiers

  • CEO Richard Morrison presented Dave Denny, Executive Vice President/COO with a plaque that will be displayed in the Hall of Fame at corporate headquarters in Ashtabula.

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  • Rich LaFountain, MFG Pioneer 2014

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  • Chuck Kappelt, MFG Tray

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Dave Denny
In 1995 Dave joined MFG as Executive Vice President/COO. His first assignment was to administrate a skunk works development program at MFG Research for General Motors. His focus since then has primarily been overseeing MFG’s custom (OEM) businesses, however he has managed every entity in the company at various times.

Dave is a respected expert in the implementation of world class manufacturing practices, in particular for automotive/truck and wind energy components. MFG’s customers frequently turn to him as a trusted resource for his understanding of composites technologies.

In 2012 he received the composite industry’s 2012 BEST Award for his leadership achievements with composites businesses, including turnarounds, greenfield development, joint ventures, and championing industry-wide initiatives in the area of Manufacturing Excellence. 

For more than 45 years Dave has influenced the manufacturing side of the composites industry as perhaps no other. His business acumen, mastery of manufacturing disciplines, integrity and commitment have had positive impact on the industry as a whole, as well as the companies he has worked for.

Richard LaFountain
Rich LaFountain’s 29-year career at MFG has included various roles in support of three of MFG’s most publicly visible businesses – from boats to brands to blades. 

He initially joined MFG in 1972, bringing a strong background in leisure boat production. When MFG exited the boat business, Rich pursued opportunities with other boat builders– first CrisCraft and later Dixie Boat Works.

In 1991 he returned to MFG to join Gerry Bender and Wes Shamp at MFG’s architectural division that was producing facades and signage for brands like Times Square NYC, Disneyland and restaurant chains Wendy’s and Bob Evans. 

MFG got involved producing turbine blades for the wind energy business in the 80’s, and in ’97 moved the production from Southern California to a new factory in Texas. Rich was a key player in launching the 24-meter wind blades at that factory, as well as expansions in later years. In 2008 Rich did a tour of duty in Aberdeen, SD supporting the launch of MFG’s newest blade factory.

In addition to his manufacturing production expertise, Rich has enjoyed involvement with internal R&D projects.  His professional passion is taking hold of an idea and making it real – whether an improved process, a new product or a whole new business.  

Chuck Kappelt
Chuck Kappelt joined MFG Tray as a tooling engineer in 1965 when the company was still in its adolescence.  Forty-nine years later, evidence of Chuck’s brilliance can be seen everywhere – the manufacturing processes, product designs and the generations of teammates touched by his charming wit.  

As technology changed over the decades, Chuck’s willingness to apply his engineering prowess and energy to technical challenges of every kind contributed greatly to the company’s competitive edge in the market.  Among teammates he is affectionately referred to as the company’s “beautiful mind” because his resume of innovations goes outside the standard boundary of tooling engineer.

A few of Chuck’s interesting and notable achievements; design and build-out of a combo SMC festooner/winder; installation and integration of the company’s first robotic form-in-place gasket machine; design of a first and second generation fruit fly tray used worldwide; design of an improved starch tray preferred by many world’s foremost confectionery producers. Four of his innovations have been awarded U.S. patents.  

And if Chuck’s pioneering way of thinking doesn’t quite impress you, his horse jokes will win you for sure.