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Manufacturing is woven into the structure of the American economy. For generations, the strength of our nation has rested on the power of our factory floors, both the machines and the men and women who worked them. Here in the 21st century, manufacturing stands on the threshold of a major transformation. The number of women in manufacturing and automation steadily increased between 2010 and 2020, and those numbers are still on the rise. As the nature of these jobs evolves into using more tech and automation, it’s important to encourage more women to pursue careers in this exciting and rapidly growing field.

Lauren (Rinne) Van De Mark: “There are so many opportunities available for women in manufacturing and automation today. I see so many more women at trade shows and on sales calls in a variety of positions than I did even 10 years ago. So it is so nice now to see women in engineering doing the design and programming of robotic systems and conveyor systems and entire plant layouts, and also in the maintenance department, heading up maintenance teams and really being involved in every part of the process.”

“I think the number of women in manufacturing has grown in the last decade, primarily because as a culture we have made a big push to stop telling women that all we can be are nurses or teachers or secretaries. There’s also been a push for STEM education, especially towards women, which has been really helpful. And social media, too, has been immensely valuable in giving girls and young women the idea that they can do these jobs and an idea of what the jobs are.”

Established in 1983 and headquartered in Chester, Illinois, Flex-line Automation is a women-owned, multi-generational family business on the front line of the automation industry, creating quality equipment, custom-built to serve you.

Cathy Rinne: “Flex-line Automation was born in our family’s farm shop in a bay literally right next to our combine. It has been our mission to bring our strong farm work ethic and rural values like ingenuity and tenacity to our automation business. And while our success has definitely been a team effort, Lauren and I have a special connection to Flex-line as a family business. They’ve grown up together, and I feel like I gave birth to both of them.”

Women-led in a male-dominated field, Flex-line offers the best-tested solutions and the most innovative designs to create a unique product for every customer.

Lauren (Rinne) Van De Mark: “You really wouldn’t think to find a woman-owned and women-led company doing what we do here in a flyover state in rural Illinois, but the ingenuity and the service, which are a part of the culture here, have been instrumental in us being as successful as we have been.”

“You know, whenever I was in high school, I didn’t ever see myself doing this. If you would have asked me then, I would have told you that I did not want to come back home after college, and work at Flex-line. And I would have never dreamt that I would love it as much as I do now. Whenver I was in high school and I was choosing a career path, STEM and STEAM wasn’t really pushed. That has changed so much since then,

“If I had to give any advice to a young woman wanting to study STEM and pursue a career in manufacturing and automation, the best thing that I could say is to not get in your own head and don’t think that just because you are interested in this field that you have to be an engineer and that you have to do the four-year degree pathway to success in this industry. Because there are so many different ways to be involved in the manufacturing and automation industry, and they don’t all require an engineering degree. Really, the only limits that we have as far as career advancement in this industry are the ones that we put on ourselves.”

From design and engineering to assembly, installation, and maintenance, Flex-line’s knowledgeable staff has the experience, ingenuity, and proven track record to help you accomplish great things.

Jeremy Smith: “The Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center, or IMEC, is a non-for-profit organization that has the mission of keeping manufacturing competitve in the state of Illinois. Flex-line Automation is one of what we refer to as a third-party resource. Those third-party resources provide a trusted avenue for us to refer to small- to medium-sized manufacturers. To say, ‘We know this is a challenge in your operation. We know and have vetted a group of people that can help support you, and Flex-line Automation is one of those organizations that has our complete trust.'”

Pat Thomas: “I have been working with Flex-line Automation off and on for the past 10 to 15 years through multiple different companies. I have used their self-driving forklifts, their mover bots, a lot of their conveyors, and other armed robots. Flex-line simplifies a lot of the process of getting automation set up in to your industry. They take the process of taking menial tasks or complex tasks and automating them quite quickly.”

Cathy Rinne: “Manufacturing is constantly changing and evolving, so we are in a continual state of metamorphosis, and we’re really dedicated to being the best partners we can be for our customers. And to do that, we will continue to collaborate with other industry leaders so we can bring really solid solutions to whatever challenges our customers might face.”

Lauren (Rinne) Van De Mark: “If there was one other thing that I could say to women and girls who were interested in getting into this industry, it would be to go for it. Because this is an incredibly interesting industry to work in. There’s a lot of change, there’s a lot of growth, and we need your insight and your innovation now more than ever before.”

The only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves. This is the industrial automation company to turn to for state-of-the-art, cutting-edge gear that will serve you for years and years. We don’t sell conveyors, we sell solutions. Learn more today about Flex-line Automation: Innovate, Integrate, Automate.

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