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People on the move: Hirings, promotions and awards from Briggs & Stratton, Kichler, Stihl and more

March 9, 2022 -  By

Briggs & Stratton announced that Michelle Kumbier has joined the company as senior vice president and president of its turf and consumer products business, which consists of the company’s Ferris, Snapper, Simplicity, Billy Goat, Victa and Branco brands of commercial and residential outdoor power equipment.

Kumbier joins Briggs & Stratton after more than 22 years at Harley-Davidson Motor Company, where she most recently served as COO.

“Michelle’s leadership and expertise in operations, supply chain and product development will be integral in continuous improvement efforts and positioning Briggs & Stratton as a best-in-class provider of innovative power products and solutions,” said Steve Andrews, president and CEO at Briggs & Stratton.

In addition to Kumbier, Briggs & Stratton named Chuck Marckwardt, previously the vice president of operations and supply chain with Brasscraft Manufacturing Co, as its new vice president operations for its turf and consumer products business.

Kichler Lighting creates a new role

Scott Pesta (Photo: Kichler Lighting)

Scott Pesta (Photo: Kichler Lighting)

Kichler Lighting has named Scott Pesta to the newly created role of director of landscape. Pesta, who joined Kichler in 2007, has served as a senior product manager for landscape lighting since 2017.

Pesta will oversee Kichler’s landscape product line sold across multiple channels in his new role. He will lead product management, channel marketing, advanced product solutions and sales for professional landscape products.

The Manufacturing Institute honors Stihl assistant general counsel

Erin Ashcroft (Photo: Stihl)

Erin Ashcroft (Photo: Stihl)

The Manufacturing Institute — the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers — recognized Erin Ashcroft, assistant general counsel with Stihl, with a STEP Ahead Award. The STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite.

“While not working directly on the production floor, Erin’s work behind-the-scenes — from a legal and compliance standpoint — ultimately plays a crucial role in keeping the Stihl manufacturing machine moving,” said Stihl’s general counsel Scott Tilley.

The STEP Women’s Initiative is designed to close the gender gap in manufacturing. STEP works to foster a 21st-century manufacturing workforce by empowering and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry through recognition, research and leadership, and by motivating alumnae to pay it forward by mentoring the next generation.

The STEP Ahead Awards honor exceptional women in manufacturing and motivate them to mentor the next generation through an annual awards gala and associated leadership training program. In the program’s first five years, STEP Ahead Award winners impacted more than 300,000 individuals — from peers in the industry to school-age children.

On April 28, the Manufacturing Institute will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C.

Greg Franklin (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Greg Franklin (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Ruppert announces a pair of moves

Ruppert Landscape announced the promotion of Greg Franklin to vice president of fleet, facilities and safety. In this position, he will oversee the purchase and maintenance of Ruppert Landscape’s fleet and equipment, including over 600 vehicles, 300 trailers and 5,000 pieces of equipment.

He will also be responsible for overseeing the maintenance of all Ruppert Landscape facilities, including 28 shop and office locations along the east coast from Atlanta to Philadelphia and Houston and Nashville. Additionally, he oversees the company’s safety and risk management program, working hand-in-hand with the safety director to ensure a commitment to safety is carried out in all areas of the company.

Prior to Ruppert, he served as senior distribution center manager for the Kellogg Company in Hagerstown, Md. He joined Ruppert in 2016 as director of fleet and facilities, and in 2019 took on oversight of the growing safety department as well.

Stephen DeWeese (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Stephen DeWeese (Photo: Ruppert Landscape)

Ruppert has also expanded its landscape management operations to include a new location in Alpharetta, Ga. The new location will be led by Stephen DeWeese, who has recently been promoted to branch manager. In this role, he will be responsible for the overall welfare of the Alpharetta branch, including the safety and development of his team, strategic planning and budgeting, training, customer service and day-to-day operations.

DeWeese spent the first ten years of his career with another leading landscaping company before joining Ruppert’s Lilburn branch as an area manager in 2009.

Pursell Agri-Tech adds 30-year vet as director of turf and ornamentals

Bill Abetz (Photo: Pursell Agri-Tech)

Bill Abetz (Photo: Pursell Agri-Tech)

Pursell Agri-Tech announced the addition of, a 30-year veteran of the green industry, Bill Abetz to its team. Abetz will serve the nursery, greenhouse, lawn care, golf, sod and sports turf markets in his role as director of turf and ornamentals.

Abetz brings hands-on experience in nutrient management as a former assistant golf course superintendent and nursery operations manager, plus more than 20 years in chemical and fertilizer sales and product development.

IFA presents 2021 Hall of Fame Award

Dina Dwyer-Owens (Photo: IFA)

Dina Dwyer-Owens (Photo: IFA)

The International Franchise Association (IFA) awarded its 2021 Hall of Fame Award to Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, former chairwoman and CEO of Neighborly, parent company of The Grounds Guys.

The Hall of Fame Award, given at IFA’s 62nd Annual Convention in San Diego, recognizes an individual’s contributions to franchising through successful franchising programs, innovative activities within franchising and service to the International Franchise Association.

Dwyer-Owens was selected for her business acumen, her involvement in IFA and how she continues to improve the franchising industry and community. Dwyer-Owens has served as chairwoman of the IFA Board and chair of the VetFran Committee.

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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