Women in Manufacturing: A Family Business Reimagined

Sisters Kristin Jenkins and Kimberly Koeth began to take over Universal Metal Products (UMP) a year and half ago as Director of Sales and Director of Administration, respectively.

“It was an exciting time,” says Kim, “because we knew how much it meant to our father.” 

UMP: A Father’s Dream Realized

Their father, Scott, bought UMP in 1987. The sisters grew up watching him invest much of his time and energy in the company over the years.  “We saw how much passion he had for growing the company and making sure it ran successfully,” Kim adds. “We feel very lucky to be able to learn from him and have this opportunity to be part of this company that he created.”

“He’s an amazing role model, always putting his employees and family first,” says Kristin. “Working at UMP after growing up watching my dad work so hard to create such a successful business means everything to me.”  When they had the opportunity to step in and own UMP themselves, they felt both honored and excited for the challenge they were taking on. 

A Family Involved

Growing up, talks of Universal and how the business is doing was part of family conversation.  “We would have summer jobs in the office,” says Kim.

“Going into the office and spending time learning from my dad is time I will always cherish,” adds Kristin. “Kim and I have been involved with the company’s board meetings since 2006. I also worked in the Toledo (Pemberville) facility during college at Bowling Green. I became more involved with UMP as my kids grew older and went to school full time.”

Keeping the business in the family and not only becoming women owned, but family owned, makes all the hard work my dad and family has put into UMP so much more special. We would like to keep UMP in the family for as long as possible.

Career Pivot into Manufacturing

Prior to UMP, Kristin was a teacher with a Master’s in School Counseling from John Carroll, and Kimberly a pediatric congenital cardiac nurse for 10 years.  Both took time off to raise their families, and when the time came to re-enter the workforce they began looking at the family business opportunity before them, and how their skills might translate to this male-dominated industry.

“The shift in careers for me came down to perfect timing. My kids were off to school when this great opportunity was presented to Kim and I,” said Kristin. Moving from the education field to business was definitely a change, but being involved with UMP for such a long time made the full transition “smoother than we anticipated.”

Kimberly adds, “Nursing taught me how to work well with people and how to remain calm in stressful situations. I think women are great for manufacturing.  They have great organizational skills and an ability to see the big picture in a different way.”

Women Owned, WBENC Certified

The sisters are both proud of UMP’s certification as a Women Owned Business through the WBENC.  “I am so proud that UMP is a women-owned business, not only for the fact that it shows we are diverse, but for the fact that it empowers women and proves that women are welcome in any type of business, including manufacturing!  I am proud to be a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

When asked what advice they have for women looking to pivot into manufacturing, it becomes clear that immersing yourself in your career choices is paramount to making a difference, both in your chosen industry and personally. Their advice for women who are thinking about changing careers is to do what you are passionate about or interested in trying. “Set aside the gender biases and be passionate and confident about your career choice.” 

It doesn’t hurt to follow your dreams either, even when they lead to your own backyard.

Universal Metal Products is a certified WBENC Women Owned Business specializing in taking your metal stamping requirement from concept, to design, tooling and production.  universalmetalproducts.com


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