New Leadership for New Haven Area Manufacturers

If the pendulum for Connecticut manufacturing is swinging in the right direction, women may be a good part of the reason why.  That dynamic was in evidence last week as the New Haven Manufacturers Association, the state’s largest manufacturers association, elected its officers for the coming year. Katherine Houlihan was elected as president.  She is a partner in Insurance Provider Group, a Wethersfield insurance brokerage serving clients in manufacturing and other industries, serving as Chief Talent Officer.

Elected as vice president was Jill Mayer, CEO of Bead Industries in Milford.  Bead Industries is comprised of two divisions: Bead Chain and Bead Electronics, and a wholly-owned subsidiary, McGuire Mfg. Company.

Overall in Connecticut, the manufacturing sector includes 4,500 businesses that employ 156,000 workers.  Each year, manufacturers export more than $15 billion, representing 96 percent of the state’s exports.  Manufacturing generates 11 percent of the state’s gross state product.

The election is yet another milestone for Mayer in just the past six months.  The great granddaughter of Bead Industries, Inc. founder, W. Calvin Bryant, she was promoted to CEO of the family-owned company at the start of this year. In addition to her duties as CEO and as an officer on the NHMA Board, she is a board member of the University of New Haven’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program.

“To be the first female CEO at Bead after more than a century of continuous operation isn’t lost on me,” she said in a statement in January.  Previously serving as Comptroller and Corporate President, Mayer is responsible as CEO for overseeing and supporting both divisions’ executive management teams as well as leading the company into the future through customer-focused growth and innovation.

At that time, the company also announced that Kristen Sawyer was being promoted to Chief financial Officer after serving as Corporate Controller for the past two years at Bead.  Prior to that, Sawyer served as Audit Manager for nearly 8 years at CohnReznick, where she served a variety of both public and private companies, primarily in the manufacturing sector.

In May, the company launched a new website as part of an overall re-branding initiative. Its responsive design makes it compatible with all digital devices, such as tablets and mobile phones.  The new website is part of the company’s reinvigorated look and strategy. 

“Our goal was to create a fresh, online experience with easy access to information, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” said Mayer. “It gives a nice overview of our product divisions, governance and long, family history that we hope will encourage people to engage with us.”

Founded in 1914, Bead started out developing and manufacturing Bead Chain® for electric light pulls. Using the same innovative metal-working process, it began fabricating products for the electronics market in the mid-1920s.

Bead, with 300 employees, celebrates its 104th year in continuous operation this spring. Bead Chain® is used on vertical blinds, securing marine parts, key chains and many other products. Bead Electronics, a division of Bead Industries, manufactures end to end, solid wire, and tubular contact pins for the telecom, automotive, connector, and lighting industries. McGuire Manufacturing Co., based in Cheshire, is a producer of high end, commercial grade plumbing fixture trim.

Also elected to the NHMA Board this month with Houlihan and Mayer were: second vice president, Roy Jaoude, planning manager for Radiall USA Inc., in New Haven; treasurer, John Ermer, principal in New Haven/Fairfield accounting firm Beers, Hamerman, Cohen & Burger PC; and secretary, Marcy Minnick, chief operations officer, Excello Tool Engineering & Manufacturing Co. in Milford.

The New Haven Manufacturers Association membership includes manufacturing and non-manufacturing companies, including firms in fields such as electronics, pharmaceuticals, instrumentation, information systems, consulting, metalworking, gas and electric utilities, banking, insurance, education and more.  Current members employ over 12,000 people.