Sifting through the dozens of nominations we received for the Products Finishing 40-
Under-40 recognition program gave me not only the sense that the industry is going to be
in great hands as the years move forward, but also that we sometimes truly have no idea
what people have gone through to get to where they are today.
As you read through our 40-Under-40 package in this issue, and see the smiling faces of
the young men and women we are recognizing this year, note that there is a story behind
each of them that tells what they went through to achieve their successes. Some paths
are more typical: college, internship, job somewhere else, and then finally landing on their
feet and falling in love with the finishing industry.
There are also those who have come up through the family ranks, and, as I have said
hundreds of times before, pay no heed to the cynics. Being born into a family business
takes nothing away from who a person is; oftentimes, it can be even tougher working your
way up in that business. I can testify that I would never have wanted to work with my
parents or siblings. Not enough coin in the bank for that one.
Some of the stories we heard were triumphant, some exuded perseverance, and
some toasted great luck and meeting the right people. Some of the young professionals
deserve a tip of our caps: Nothing came easy, and hard work was borne into them.
Take for instance John Lopez Jr., the quality assurance manager at EME in Compton,
California. He is one of the best managers in the business, the guy who gets things done
at one of the top aerospace processing houses on the West Coast. Owner Wesley
Turnbow hired him more than 11 years ago straight out of In-N-Out Burger; he went from a
teenage cook to learning about Nadcap certifications. Turnbow knew of Lopez because
his father, John Sr., also worked for EME. The father had been a hard-core gangbanger in
Compton before escaping the life and taking the job at EME some 30 years ago. Because
John’s mother was not in the picture during his childhood, his aunt raised him, and she
raised him well. John the father has tattoos that cover most of his body and bullet
fragments still live inside his body. John the son is soft-spoken, compassionate and
“The two Johns could not have been any more different,” Turnbow says. “One tough and
intimidating, the other able to bring people together. What they shared was an eye for
quality and strong intellect.”
John Jr. became a respected employee at EME that quickly rose in the ranks and soon
become his father's supervisor. Potential conflicts? No way, says Turnbow. “I believe this
made his father more proud than anything,” he says.
John Jr. also is respected in the quality field, working with the top prime contractors in the
aerospace industry, and often attends Nadcap meetings to partake in ongoing quality
discussions. Perhaps more importantly, John Jr. also is a well-respected person in the
Compton community where he lives with wife of 11 years, Elizabeth, and their young son
and daughter, while also mentoring local high school students at his local church.
Amy Barnard, Therma-Tron-X’s head of information technology, has another compelling
story. She is the first female in three generations to step into the nearly 50-year-old family owned
business after getting her degree in biomedical engineering. She is immersed in
TTX with her knowledge and expertise in IT, engineering, programming and technology
development. Nothing moves at the company without Amy knowing about or programming
But her story goes deeper: Growing up, she struggled with nearsightedness and night
blindness from myopic degeneration, but those around her saw her improvise, adapt and
overcome in almost every situation thrown her way. However, hers is a progressive
disease, one that will eventually take her sight altogether. She loses some every day, but it
doesn’t deter her from working her job, homeschooling her three children, working in her
garden or teaching Sunday school. Given a problem, she is wired to find a solution, and
who better to have on your team than a problem-solver like Amy?
“She is a lifelong learner, and is always developing a ‘new normal’ with regards to her
eyesight,” says Lizabeth Bjarnarson, TTX’s marketing manager who nominated Amy. “To
her, it is a catalyst pushing her to think outside the box.”
Antonio Beniquez, an engineering manager from Mighty Hook, also caught our attention.
A native of Puerto Rico, he has been designing hanging and masking solutions for OEM
and job shop industrial coaters for a decade. When he isn’t on the CAD machine, though,
Antonio is a gallery-represented street artist who has impressed people all over the
Midwest art scene with his signature modern calligraphy aesthetic projects. His work is on
the walls of many galleries throughout the region, and as a muralist, he also creates
larger-scale projects, some measuring as long as 130 feet.
As you read through this year’s list of Products Finishing 40-Under-40 honorees, realize
not just who they are now, but where they came from. That is the fascinating part of the
process and one in which we are proud to be a part.