As Northwire reaches 50 years in business, Agency Compliance Engineer Harold Gjerning has been with the company for the last 47. His story takes you through his amazing career journey, blends with Northwire's history, culture and values, and prepares for the future of Agency Compliance.
Northwire Reaches 50 Years
Through the Eyes of Northwire’s Longest Employed Member, Harold Gjerning, 47 Years.
In 2014 the LEMO Group acquired Northwire, a wire and cable manufacturer known for excellence in design engineering, meeting clients’ connectivity solutions, and its quality manufacturing practices. Since 1972, Northwire has grown from nine employees to 250 within two facilities: Osceola, WI and Santa Teresa, NM, USA. This year marks Northwire’s 50th Anniversary. Celebration events are in the planning phases for both locations later this year.
Northwire employs great people. Among them is Northwire’s longest employed member, Agency Compliance Engineer, Harold Gjerning. He’s mastered a variety of roles over the course of 47 years! Learning from three generations of Northwire leadership and participating in its evolution, here’s a bit about the company’s history, and why Harold has made it his career home.
After graduating from Wisconsin Northwood Technical College, Harold learned about Northwire and Founder Ormund Kravik from a family friend. When Harold went to Northwire, Ormund asked if he could begin work the same day. “I didn’t even apply for a job,” says Harold. “That’s how I started in 1975.”
Harold began his career learning the wire and cable industry from Ormund, first as a Cable Operator and then as an Extruder Operator. “Ormund was a real Entrepreneur,” says Harold. When he saw a cable that looked intriguing, Ormund would say, “I want to figure out how to make this myself.”
After Ormund retired, his son Mark led Northwire with a strategic vision and business mindset. This led to a shift in focus from simple power and flex cords to more diverse and complex control cable. “Northwire met the goal they were after and kept pursuing it,” says Harold. “And even branched out more with more specific control cable.”
Harold’s Northwire career also began to grow. “You get the opportunities with the expansion,” says Harold. “There was more and more growth and education.” Harold impressed his supervisors with his efficiency and ability to train others with what he had learned. Then Harold stepped into a new role as Quality Assurance Technician and later promoted to Agency Compliance Engineer–his current title.
Three generations of leadership have inspired Harold’s career in the wire and cable industry including Kevin DePratter, Director of R&D, who has been with Northwire for the last 27 years. Harold says, “These management personnel made you feel important to the team.”
Harold played an integral role in growing Northwire’s credibility significantly through the development of the cable manufacturer’s quality manual, written procedures, and explanation of tests. From this Harold began managing and supporting the Underwriters Laboratory inspectors who reviewed Northwire cable products. Harold and the UL team pioneered the field together as few Midwest wire manufacturers existed during that time. “I really became engrossed in all these specifications where no one else had done any of this,” says Harold. Through his agency compliance efforts, Harold has helped grow Northwire’s UL listings from 2 to 20.
“One of the things that I’ve always liked about Northwire,” says Harold. “They seem to have a lot of trust and faith in what you do. Through learning experiences and contacting people and making relationships.” Harold also saw Northwire grow in areas as internal testing and REID capabilities, proactive product development, design engineering for innovative solutions, and robust wire and cable assembly services.
“They gave me a good opportunity to help Northwire gain a great North American representation and a high level of quality. That’s what everyone expects,” says Harold.
In 2010, Harold earned the Northwire Ormund A. Kravik Award, which recognizes work ethic, commitment to quality, innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit–all characteristics he excels in demonstrating. Harold’s commitment to these values is recognized in the certifications he holds with Certified Quality Technician from the American Society of Quality and Certified Testing Technician from the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).
As a Quality Control expert for over four decades, Harold began to wonder who he would be teaching the agency compliance knowledge he holds. It takes a unique person to excel in this role: someone who is eager to learn with an astute attention to detail; self-motivated and diligent to accomplish requirements; and passionate about quality.
As Harold answered Ormund’s hopes in 1975, Jennifer Lehman, a seasoned Northwire cable expert with 15 years of experience, became the difference maker for Harold. “Northwire is very fortunate to have her within our Compliance Team,” says Harold. Jennifer brings QC inspections, electrical testing, and excellent computer skills to her new role as Agency Compliance Technician. “She’s extremely hard working,” says Harold. “She is willing to take on any task.”
Harold Gjerning teaches Jennifer Lehman another chapter from his wire and cable agency compliance knowledge spanning four decades.
Beginning as a part-time Northwire Quality Control employee, Jennifer assisted other departments to increase her hours until a full-time position became available. “I have worked in many different areas within QC including Inspection, VQC, Electrical Testing, QC personnel on the Safety committee,” says Jennifer. “I am currently training with Harold to become a certified Agency Compliance Technician.”
With continued training Jennifer hopes to continue the UL and CSA programs Harold has established for Northwire. “I really like working with Harold,” says Jennifer. “I hope that I can retain as much information as he can give me to help me to advance in my career as an Agency Compliance Technician.”
Jennifer says, “Every day I learn something new.”
Perhaps Jennifer will one day be teaching a future generation of Northwire Quality Control and Agency Compliance Technicians.
Written by Jennifer Klitzke, Northwire Marketing Communications Specialist