Board of Directors

AIAM Vice Chairman

Alex Vlielander

President, Liebherr-Aerospace Saline, Inc.

Masters degree in History from the University of Leiden, The Netherlands with studies in Air & Space Law and Computer Sciences. Started aviation career with AAR Corp. in 1990 in the Netherlands, with subsequent postings in Singapore, London England and Garden City New York. Joined Liebherr-Aerospace in 2003 in Saline, Michigan. Has overseen plant expansions to accommodate growth in 2006, 2012 and 2016. Current facilities of 160,000 sqf. Providing customer service, technical support and component maintenance under FAR145 for the Americas and assembly/light manufacturing under FAR Part21.

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AIAM Board Member

Mirko Gamba

Richard A. Auhll Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

AIAM Chairman

George Kiefer

Retired- VP/GM, Avonics- Computing & Networking GE Aviation

George was born in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with a B.S. degree in operations research. He served 20 years between the academy, active duty and the navy reserves retiring in 1994 at the rank of Commander. During active duty and reserves he was a naval flight officer where his experience included tactical coordinator and mission commander of P-3 combat aircrews. George joined Lear Siegler in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1985 as a systems engineer where he obtained his master of business administration from Western Michigan University. Lear Siegler was later acquired by Smiths Aerospace and subsequently by General Electric in May 2007. His responsibilities with Lear Siegler and Smiths Aerospace included engineering line management positions through engineering director, programs director of large-scale integration programs, product line business director, vice president of the 787 common core system program, and vice president/general manager of 787 programs. He continued in this role after the GE Aviation acquisition of Smiths and assumed the position of VP/GM Avionics North America in 2009. He assumed his current position in November 2016. He has been the site leader for the Grand Rapids facility since 2009. George is married to Wilma and they have three grown children and two grandchildren. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling together, scuba diving, and maintaining his country home.

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AIAM Board Member

Jeff Simek

General Manager of Operations, RCO Aerospace & Engineering

Jeff Simek is the General Manager of Operations for RCO Aerospace and RCO Engineering. Mr. Simek has a passion for building teams that strive for quality and delivery performance, while reducing costs. Jeff began his career working for Tier 1 automotive suppliers where he held the roles of Program Manager, Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Greenfield Site Launch Manager and Plant Manager. Following these positions, Jeff was hired as the Business Unit Manager at RCO Engineering – Automotive Plastics Division. After working for 15 years in the automotive industry, Jeff was promoted to the role of General Manager of RCO’s new Aerospace division. In this position for the last 8 years, Jeff has been responsible for developing and leading the operations offering VIP passenger seating and interior products for large cabin business class jets. He is now in charge of both the Aerospace and Automotive production operations at RCO. Jeff graduated from Ferris State University with a B.S. in Plastics Engineering and Technology.

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AIAM Board Member

Kevin Michaels

Managing Director, AeroDynamic Advisory

Kevin Michaels is Managing Director of AeroDynamic Advisory, a speciality consulting firm focused on the global aerospace and aviation industries. He has 31 years of experience, including hundreds of consulting engagements for leading aviation and aerospace companies across the globe. Kevin is a globally recognized expert in the aerospace manufacturing and MRO sectors, and has significant expertise in business-to-business marketing, customer satisfaction, M&A advisory, technology assessment, cluster development, and strategic planning. His experience spans all major market segments, including air transport, business & general aviation, and military. Previously Dr Michaels was a Vice President with ICF International’s Aerospace & MRO consulting practice from 2011 – 2016. He was a co-founder and partner with AeroStrategy from 2001-2011, until its acquisition by ICF. Previously, Dr. Michaels was Director – Strategic Development with Rockwell Collins Government Systems, and Principal with The Canaan Group, an aerospace consultancy. He began his career as a project engineer with aeroengine supplier Williams International. Dr. Michaels holds BS – Aerospace Engineering and MBA degrees from the University of Michigan, and MSc and PhD degrees in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is a contributing columnist to Aviation Week & Space Technology and chairs the advisory board of the University of Michigan’s Aerospace Engineering Department. In 2016, he joined the Board of Directors of aircraft parts distributor Kapco Global.

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AIAM Board Member

Larry Martin

General Manager, Computing and Network Systems GE Aviation

Larry Martin is the general manager for Computing and Networking with GE Aviation. Larry is responsible for program and product management while working across the organization to develop the strategy to grow and execute the computing and networking business. Previously, Larry was the product leader, Integrated Solutions for GE Aviation. Prior to this, Larry held several roles in program and product management for civil, military and new business pursuits. Larry joined Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation) in 2002. Prior to Smiths, Larry was a business team and operations leader at Eaton and spent 10 years at Amway, holding positions in Finance, Marketing, Business Development and Engineering. Larry began his career as an application engineer at Bohn Heat Transfer in Danville, Illinois. Larry holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Grand Valley State University.

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AIAM Board Member

Lorelei Richey

General Manager, AutoAir Pratt & Whitney

Lorelei Richey is the general manager of Pratt & Whitney AutoAir, with locations in Lansing and Holt, Michigan. Pratt & Whitney AutoAir, Inc. was established in 1956 and acquired by P&W in 1999. The site has grown to 900 employees. The company produces hybrid metallic fan blades and structural guide vanes for Pratt & Whitney’s game-changing Geared Turbofan engine, as well as manufacturing jet engine test equipment and offering overhaul & repair services. Richey has more than 12 years of experience in the aerospace industry with Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp. She began her career at P&W in 2007, where she held positions of increasing responsibility within facilities, strategic planning / business development, and manufacturing operations, as well as being chief of staff for the Operations senior vice president. Prior to joining PWAA in September 2018, she led one of the Geared Turbofan product lines at the Middletown, Connecticut, facility. Richey is a member of the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (AIAM) and Women in Aviation. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, especially her four nieces and nephew.

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AIAM Board Member

Mark Schmidt

Vice President, Aftermarket Business for the Aerospace Group

Vice President, Aftermarket Business for the Aerospace Group. Is responsible for strategy, customer support, and overall business results for the global military and commercial aftermarket. Prior to this role, was Director of Sales and Marketing for the Fluid and Motion Control Division ( 2 years), and Sales Director for Conveyance Systems Division (now Fluid and Electrical Division 3 years) Joined Eaton (Aeroquip Aerospace) in 1983. Initial assignment was in Product Support Engineering, then promoted to Sales Engineer responsible for customer accounts in Southern California. Worked as Product Line Manager, Manager of New Product Development, Director of New Business, and Plant Manager. Also led the Eaton Aerospace Group business development organization for military and commercial systems programs for 5 years and 1 year within the Business Development working on M & A opportunities. Holds a bachelor’s degree in aircraft engineering technology from Western Michigan University. Graduate of the Eaton and Aeroquip Vickers Executive Leadership Programs.

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AIAM Treasurer

Matt Eurich

President, Wineman Technology Inc.

Matt is the President of Wineman Technology Inc. (WTI), and oversees a staff of approximately 49 individuals. He graduated from Michigan Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has twenty-five years of experience in the field of engineering and engineering management, focusing his efforts on a wide variety of test systems and custom equipment for WTI’s diverse clientele. The key element of these systems has been a commitment to open architecture systems featuring non-propriety, off the self technology providing many benefits to Wineman Technology’s growing customer base. He has been involved in systems touching almost every industry including: Automotive, Aerospace, Consumer Products, Telecom, Industrial and Off Road Equipment. Over the last 15 years WTI has focused on developing a strong foothold in the aerospace industry by developing unique, custom test equipment for hydraulic, actuation and electronic subsystems. During his career he has participated in every aspect of test system development including system assembly, LabVIEW programming, electrical design, project management, sales, marketing and corporate management. For the past several years he has continued to use his technical skills as a First Robotic Mentor.

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AIAM Secretary

Mike Stratton

Product Line Manager, Combustion Woodward

Mike Stratton has been the Product Line Manager for ATS combustion products since 2014 and the Strategic Account Manager since 2018. For the 10 years before that, he was a combustion design engineer, module leader, process engineer, and quality manager all for GE Aviation in Boston and GE Global Research Center near Detroit. Mike is Six Sigma Greenbelt certified. Mike holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Aerospace from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Fluid Dynamics from WPI, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Grand Valley State University.

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AIAM President/Founder

Tony Vernaci

President/Founder, Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (AIAM)

For Tony Vernaci, the opportunity to establish the Aerospace Industry Association of Michigan (AIAM) is a culmination of more than 30 years of experience and passion for aerospace. Tony joined the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in 2014, as Vice President for Global Business Development. As he stepped into his new position Tony noticed aerospace was not a target industry causing him to probe deeper. He recognized the potential synergies of the automotive and aerospace industries and soon the team discovered there were nearly 600 companies and organizations in Michigan conducting aerospace business. In 2015, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) concluded their annual aerospace manufacturing attractiveness study and ranked Michigan as #2 in the nation. This generated a great deal of excitement from the Governor’s office and economic development organizations throughout the state, setting off a chain of events over the next 2 years raising global awareness for Michigan’s aerospace industry. In an effort to draw more attention to Michigan’s strength in aerospace, Tony led the effort to attract an aerospace conference to the state. As a result, SpeedNews and Aviation Week held their annual aerospace manufacturing conference in Dearborn in May 2017 and in June, Michigan had its first booth at the Paris air show. It is because of these great accomplishments, a vision for the future aerospace opportunities and a conversation with Governor Snyder, Tony decided to launch AIAM to advance Michigan’s place in the industry. Prior to joining the MEDC Tony held executive positions at Global Advantages, Doncasters, and Textron. He held positions as Senior Vice President of International, Director of Global Integrated Supply Chain, Director of Six Sigma, General Manager of Manufacturing, and Regional Director of Distribution. Before joining Textron, Tony spent 10 years in the automotive industry at both an OEM and a Tier-one supplier. Accentuating his automotive and aerospace experience is Tony’s 12 years in International Business where he further developed his networking abilities, interpersonal influence, resilience and adaptability, not to mention his proficiency in cultural diversity. His unique experiences have provided him with an opportunity to lead organizations, develop strategic plans and implement global projects across multiple industries and countries. He is a results-focused leader driven by challenge and diversity of responsibilities. He has a proven record of accomplishment in achieving financial and operational performance by leading and engaging diverse teams. It is with these skills and experience, Tony will lead AIAM to further strengthen and grow Michigan’s aerospace industry.

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