Oct. 30, 2006

President of Delano’s Industrial Louvers receives international appointment

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

Jo Reinhardt, president of Industrial Louvers in Delano, was named the first female president of the Air Movement and Control Association (AMCA International) Wednesday.

Until recent years, AMCA International has been comprised primarily of male members throughout its more-than-50-year history. Reinhardt was elected to the position at the association’s annual meeting in Santa Barbara, Calif.

For most of her career, Reinhardt has been an active supporter of AMCA International. She served on numerous committees, and regularly attended annual meetings. 

She served as chair for the Sales and Marketing Executives Council from 1997-1999, and chair of the Air Control Division from 1999-2001. 

Reinhardt was elected to the AMCA Board of Directors in 2001, and has served on the executive committee since 2004, including this past year as AMCA International’s vice president.

“It has been a very rewarding experience,” Reinhardt said. “AMCA International’s members and staff have enriched my life both professionally and personally.  I truly hope my experiences as a woman business leader involved in AMCA will have a positive impact on future leaders within our industry.”

Reinhardt began her career right after high school, working in manufacturing and construction related companies for several years before joining the “family business” in May 1982 part-time. 

“I was a part-time, stay-at-home mom,” she recalled. “After about four months, I started working full-time. Working in the family business presented many new challenges. I was told upfront that there would be no special attention or perks because I was a family member.

“In fact, I was expected to work harder so there would be no cause for complaint from other employees. I was also told there would be no promotions unless a position I was qualified for became open as a result of someone else leaving or retiring.”

She learned the business from the ground up, starting in the drafting department, later estimating, and eventually moving into positions of increased responsibility. 

In 1990, determined to follow in her father’s footsteps, Reinhardt entered college, while working full-time, balancing career, school, and family.

“When I first expressed interest in taking over the business, my father tried to discourage me, but eventually agreed to consider it if I took a few business classes, developed my management skills, etc.,” she said. “I went a step further and earned a college degree in business.”

In 1995, she graduated from St. Thomas University with a bachelor of science in operations management. After graduation, she continued her career with Industrial Louvers, eventually taking over as president in April 1999.

“In 1998, Barry Eklund, the president of Industrial Louvers, advised that he planned to retire in March 1999, and recommended to my father that I take over the reins of the company,” Reinhardt said. “The rest is history.”

Reinhardt and her husband, Keith, have two children, Brett and Jamie, and currently reside in Chanhassen.

Keith is part owner and president of Specialty Systems, a custom architectural metal contractor.

Brett, also a graduate of the University of St. Thomas, is employed with Industrial Louvers as a sales coordinator.

Jamie graduated from the University of California-Santa Cruz, has also recently received a masters degree in school psychology, and is now attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire pursuing an education specialist degree, in order to become a licensed school psychologist. 

The Reinhardts are avid golfers, often planning golf vacations together, as well as enjoying tennis and other outdoor activities.

Now that Reinhardt is president of AMCA, she said she plans to focus her efforts on working to maintain and further develop AMCA’s global presence and recognition. 

“AMCA’s greatest resource is its members,” she said. “AMCA’s newly revamped, redefined strategic plan is aligned with these goals, and with increased member involvement in committees, task forces, and leadership roles, we are anticipating much success.”

Reinhardt also serves as president of Industrial Finishing, an architectural finishes company. In addition, she also serves on the board of directors for Precision Air Products Company, a company that provides engineering design and products meeting requirements for critical air environments. 

She also helped found, and is currently chair of WINGS, a networking group consisting of women business owners in the Twin Cites area.  The group meets monthly and often provides speakers on topics related to business development, including unique women’s issues ranging from health to personal business experiences.

The AMCA is a notforprofit international association of the world’s manufacturers of related air system equipment — primarily, but not limited to fans, louvers, dampers, air curtains, airflow measurement stations, acoustic attenuators, and other air system components for the industrial, commercial, and residential markets.

The association’s mission is to promote the health and growth of the industries covered by its scope and the members of the association consistent with the interests of the public. AMCA International, with origins dating back to 1917, has members in most industrialized countries throughout the world.

Industrial Louvers was founded in July 1971, and has manufactured in the same location in Delano for more than 30 years. Reinhardt’s father, James Sterriker, who was born and raised in Annandale, was the company’s founder.

Sterriker previously worked for Louver Manufacturing Company in Eden Prairie, and in 1971, it decided to sell the industrial division and move its headquarters to Little Rock, Ark. He was given the opportunity to buy the division, and with the help of a few other investors, did so. Today, the stock is held by family members and one outside investor.

The company has undergone three major expansions, resulting from market demand, growing from 10,000 square feet to the current production facility of approximately 60,000 square feet.

In 1984, a sister company, Industrial Finishing, was created to handle the finishing requirements of Industrial Louvers.

Industrial Louvers specializes in the manufacture of custom architectural metal products including air handling louvers, decorative grilles, equipment screens, sun shades, and column covers. These products are produced for the commercial construction industry nationwide.

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