A Minute With … Diana Perreiah, General Manager of Kawneer North America
June 4, 2010

Diana Perreiah, who took on the role of general manager for Kawneer North America in Norcross, Ga., in April, has spent 24 years with the company in a variety of roles, from plant manager to operations manager to, most recently, vice president of business operations.

"I feel as though I have had several different careers without having to change companies. Now I am able to take those experiences and that knowledge and apply it to my current role as general manager for Kawneer North America," Perreiah told USNN.com™/USGlass magazine in a recent interview.

Q: How did you get started in this industry?

A: My 24-year career in the aluminum industry began after I graduated from Hollins University where I received my bachelor of arts in computational science. Armed with a liberal arts degree with an interest in technical fields, my mother encouraged me to attend a job fair that focused on leveraging liberal arts degrees in industrial and technical companies. Alcoa was at this job fair and that was my introduction to the company and how my career in the aluminum industry began.

Q: What duties does your new job include?

A: As general manager of Kawneer North America, I have the overall responsibility to lead the business. Specifically, I am responsible for guiding the executive management team and oversight of company operations, as well as leading operational excellence, capturing productivity gains and delivering exceptional customer service …

Q: What has been your first priority in your new role? What are your goals for moving the company forward?

A: My first priority is to continue to pursue an aggressive investment agenda. Recently, Kawneer embarked on a carefully planned initiative to provide the best customer experience in the industry and upgrade its service centers to provide greater flexibility. We are committed to improving and expanding Kawneer's operational capabilities, growing its wide range of products and solutions, and advancing the company through technology and people. And we are seeing the results of that commitment. Our investment in new product development is beginning to pay off and we expect to launch a significant number of innovative, sustainable products in 2010. Our more efficient footprint is delivering improved lead times and delivery performance …

Another ongoing goal of mine is to continue to strengthen Kawneer's footprint and better position the company for the future. We need to take complexity out of managing the business and fully take advantage of our capacity to produce increased volumes and deliver a broader range of products and services. That will ultimately result in a Kawneer that is more responsive to market cyclicality and is more capable of servicing our customers.

Q: What is one professional pet peeve?

A: To hear "I can't do that. That's impossible" is incredibly frustrating to me. I like to look at how we can make the seemingly impossible, possible. Markets continue to experience an unprecedented decline. And even though there is a great deal we can't control, it's important to focus on what we can control and what we can do to create opportunities. Things like managing our investment strategy and recognizing that people are our most important asset …

Q: What advice would you give someone just starting in the glass/aluminum industry?

A: Learn how your industry works through hands-on roles. Try to get as broad experience as you can. If you aspire to lead, the breadth of experience and knowledge you gain from a variety of roles is invaluable when you are making bigger/broader decisions.

Bring an unrelenting passion for continuous improvement. Change is inevitable so it is important to embrace it, to keep moving and be a part of the change-from how work is being done to how a product is being used in the industry. It's also important to constantly renew and regenerate yourself. Learn something new at every opportunity and recognize the importance of benchmarking-understand what drives customers, markets and your competition. That's how you stay competitive as a company as well as a person.

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