Patti Gander: How a Manufacturing Expert is Paying it Forward

As the world continues to advance, the American manufacturing industry evolves with it –– and Florida manufacturing wouldn’t be as successful without the help of the FloridaMakes Business Advisors. Sharing the mission of improving the productivity and technological performance of Florida’s manufacturing sector, our Business Advisors support the FloridaMakes Network, advising small and medium-sized manufacturers in their regions. With 67% of businesses reporting an increase in productivity due to mentoring1, FloridaMakes Business Advisors offer a unique edge to ensure growth and sustainability for Florida manufacturing companies.

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Patti Gander’s manufacturing career began at 18 years old when she started on an assembly shop floor. Accumulating over 40 years of industry experience to date, she worked her way up in the manufacturing world to Vice President of Operations. Having a passion for mentoring and teaching the future workers of America, she began teaching at the University of South Florida, instructing business management and MBA classes before joining the FloridaMakes team as a Business Advisor.

While serving the United States Marine Corps, Patti obtained an Associate in Electronics with an emphasis on technology. After her term in the United States Marine Corps, she expanded her skillsets by obtaining a Bachelor in Business Management with a focus on marketing and management information systems that was followed by a Master in Business Administration (MBA), specializing in leadership and organizational effectiveness. The combination of Patti’s academic and manufacturing achievements brings a unique perspective to her Florida manufacturing clients.

As an author and professor on the subject of organizational assessments, Patti identifies gaps within an organization. By providing clients with specific “opportunity areas”, they then work together to improve and propel forward towards excellence.

Paying it Forward: Mentoring Florida Manufacturers

At FloridaMakes, Patti mentors manufacturers because she believes in the mission –– to grow and improve Florida manufacturing. With mentoring having a huge impact on her career, being a Business Advisor allows her to pay it forward and impact not only one person’s career but an entire company. Working with mid-Florida manufacturers, Patti explains her most rewarding memory was when she assisted a company to achieve their ISO9001 and AS9100 certification. With this organizational improvement, the business was able to open up opportunities for new markets and new customers, leading them to double their business in two (2) years.

She explains that “every time you mentor a company, it’s going to be different. The current condition has created an environment where creativity is needed to interact with companies while providing the highest degree of service. Technology has been an increasing presence and some companies have not embraced it due to how quickly it has changed, however, it’s becoming essential today.”

Reflecting on her work of improving manufacturers lives and businesses, Patti shares her favorite part of mentoring and advising Florida manufacturers:

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I am passionate about manufacturing as a whole. I believe my role is to move the industry forward creating opportunities for others to become part of the industry.  Manufacturing has provided a great life for me and I want to be able to give back to the industry and to others so that they can have a great life in manufacturing as well.

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I love the manufacturing industry and love to mentor manufacturing companies. I know the key to success is having a trusted mentor to bounce ideas off of or just to get input for potential future plans. It helps to work with a mentor that has walked the same path and understands potential pitfalls. Why trip over the same obstacles and not learn from the success of others but even more importantly the failures?

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Manufacturing is such a diverse industry. Every time I walk into a manufacturing company, I learn something new.

Patti is the Business Adviser for the Manufacturing & Supply Chain Alliance, servicing mid-Florida manufacturers in Polk, Highland, Hardee and De Soto Counties. If you’re a manufacturer looking for help, contact our FloridaMakes Business Advisors by emailing or calling 407-450-7206.

More insights on: Manufacturing Mentors: Business Advisor Spotlight



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