First Hand Experience: The What’s What of Manufacturing as a Younger Person

Episode 262

November 21, 2023

The Kula Ring has discussed staffing issues in B2B manufacturing quite a few times now. However, this week we are sitting down with Hallie Haupt from IQ Manufacturing, she walks us through what it really looks and feels like to be a young person in the B2B manufacturing space. She shares some insight on how IQ has been able to catch some fresh, young talent on their shop floor and some of the difficulties of dealing with some of that older workforce that is so prevalent in the manufacturing space.

First Hand Experience: The What’s What of Manufacturing as a Younger Person Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir?

Carman Pirie: Look, man. I am coming in in Hi-Fi. This is… What our listeners need to know is that we’ve apparently had some audio issues. The audio engineering folks have been hard at work trying to get this sorted. So, if you think I’ve been loud and obnoxious up until now, you have not seen anything yet. 

Jeff White: The opportunities now for obnoxiousness are endless. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. We just lost every listener right there. 

Jeff White: Bye, mom. But that’s not at all what we’re talking about today, but I am glad that the editors will be happier with the consistency and quality of your audio input. 

Carman Pirie: Yes. Quality being subjective. 

Jeff White: For sure. In any event, joining us today on The Kula Ring is Hallie Haupt. Hallie is the Director of Marketing at IQ Manufacturing. Welcome to The Kula Ring. 

Hallie Haupt: Thank you, guys, for having me. 

Jeff White: Glad you could be with us. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s awesome to have you on the show. 

Hallie Haupt: Excited to be here. 

Carman Pirie: Tell our listeners about you and IQ a little bit if you would. 

Hallie Haupt: Sure. So, I’m the Director of Marketing for a company called IQ Manufacturing. We are based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. We are a job shop, so we manufacture components for the aerospace, automotive, defense, and aerospace industries, and we do some prototype work, as well, so we’re making some concept vehicles. We specialize in high mix low volume work, and I have been here for about three years doing the marketing. I do some purchasing and I help in our quality department, as well, so I have many roles, but it’s fun. Keeps the day changing, which I like, because repetitive work is always a little boring to me. 

Carman Pirie: That’s a rapid fire introduction, which for future guests, if you’re listening, that is the way to do a quick introduction. It’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? Because often we have… This is like one of those shows where you have the hunted on the show, because it’s like how many people have talked to The Kula Ring about challenges in recruiting new talent into manufacturing, making sure that your manufacturing organization is attractive to new hires, and on and on, and I feel like this is kind of like a nice glimpse. It’s like, “Okay, folks. We’re gonna actually let you talk to somebody who has chosen a career in manufacturing, is kind of leaning into it, and is pretty young.” And so, I guess do you feel, Hallie, like you’re the only one? Everybody talks about manufacturing like everybody is about five years from retirement if they’re in manufacturing or something. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. I do hear that a lot, where they’re like, “The industry is phasing out.” Which, I understand where they’re coming from with that, but I don’t feel that I’m the only one. I feel like when I first joined here there was a small number of young people in the industry, and now I just feel like it’s growing. There’s so many people advocating for it, and so many people marketing for it, and at these trade shows that I meet all the time, and it’s just amazing to see a group of people coming together and just wanting to push it forward so that we have people here in 20 years to run this industry. 

Jeff White: Are you seeing that as at the trade shows and things like that, is there a concerted effort to discuss this as a topic? Or is it simply that you’re noticing more and more people who are millennials and gen Z getting into the manufacturing space?

Hallie Haupt: I think it’s a little bit of both. I have a friend, actually, who is in the industry, and his bio on LinkedIn says Gen Z Advocate. So, he’s speaking, going to schools and speaking to people in that generation, and trying to advocate for the industry and let them know what that is, because at the time when we were growing up we were never really shown this industry, so it wasn’t really pushed towards us, and I feel like at shows it’s a little bit of both. I’m seeing a lot of young people but I’m also seeing a lot of young people talking about bringing more of us here, which is really cool to see. 

Carman Pirie: You mentioned that it really wasn’t pushed in school, and so I guess then how did you end up being attracted to manufacturing? 

Hallie Haupt: It was completely by accident. During COVID, I worked for a community college doing clerical work, and obviously schools were one of the first things to shut down, and I had some acquaintances in the industry who needed help, and I was like, “I don’t want to sit at home anymore. I’m a busybody. I have to keep moving.” So, I went and helped them with some stuff, and then I was there for a year, and I didn’t feel like there was much room for growth at that company, so then I started looking and I was like, “I want to stay in manufacturing. I really like this industry. I like learning about it.” And I found IQ and I’ve been here ever since.

Carman Pirie: Did you have any family connectivity to manufacturing?

Hallie Haupt: Yes. The family that I have, there’s a few people who had worked in the industry that I remember I would go to their shop when I was younger, and I wasn’t allowed past the door because it was dirty, and messy, and stuff like that. So, I had a little bit of a connection. I just didn’t know a lot about it at all until I got here. 

Jeff White: What do you think manufacturers need to know about attracting younger employees and younger talent? 

Hallie Haupt: I think just being open to the idea is something that needs to be there, because I feel like a lot of people in this industry are afraid to look for that type of talent, or look for that age group, because they know it’s not pushed at the school level. When I was in high school, that wasn’t even an option that was given to me. And granted, I went to a small school, so maybe that hindered me a little bit, but for me I feel like it wasn’t pushed, and I feel like that really put us in a place where we couldn’t progress and employers weren’t looking for that age  group of people, if that makes sense. 

Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. At IQ, the team that you’re a part of is also… You told us in the pre-show conversation that they’re a fairly young organization, fairly young group that you’re working within. Clearly they have been able to… Obviously, the pandemic has some outside factors to it, but clearly they’ve been able to attract some fresh blood into their industry. What do you think they’re doing right there that has triggered that kind of a response? 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah, so here at IQ there is quite a few younger individuals. Our owners are 45 and our shop foreman is 26, so we’ve got a young group of people here, but we in 2019 or 2020 enrolled for an apprenticeship program at one of the community colleges over here, so we’re grabbing that young talent from the schools. And what we do is we bring them in here and they learn, they earn while they’re learning, so they’re here working with us a certain amount of hours every week, and then they’re at school, and we pay for the whole thing. And we are able to pull students from that program who are there learning on the machines, and getting that experience hands-on at school, but also here, as well, so it’s benefiting them. 

So, I think that’s something that is good for us, and I know apprenticeship programs were really big years and years ago, and I’m really glad to see companies enrolling in those types of things to bring people back in.

Carman Pirie: I want to assume the relatively young… I’m 48, so I have a lot of vested interest in making 45 sound very, very young. But I would think the relatively young leadership would be part of the draw, as well. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. That is true. I will say when I first started I didn’t think they were 45. I thought they were much younger. So, they definitely do help. Having the same kind of mindset and being close in age really helps all of us work together, which really benefits the team on the floor. It helps us with our workflow, and the process we have in place, so it really helps a lot. 

Jeff White: What do you think… What have you found, I guess, to be some of the challenges of being a young person in this industry? 

Hallie Haupt: I think that being a young person in this industry, I think we get a lot of people that don’t credit us enough. I think when we come into this industry they think that we’re just these young people who don’t know anything, and they have a lot of years on us, so they think they know more, and they might know more. They’ve been here longer. That’s true. But they just treat us very… in a demeaning way, if that makes sense. It’s very derogatory comments about how we don’t know certain things, and especially being a young girl in the field, people will always, always be like, “Oh, you don’t know what you’re talking about.” And granted, I don’t know everything, and there’s not a time where I’m gonna know everything in this field, because everything’s changing, but I try my hardest to learn and know what I’m talking about, and when people discredit that it’s just very discouraging. 

Carman Pirie: Man, when you said that you made it sound like that happens very often. But up until that point, it didn’t sound as though you were at all… It didn’t kind of dampen your enthusiasm for the sector at all. I guess just how do you cope with that? How do you deal with that? How do you navigate that? 

Hallie Haupt: So, it can be discouraging. It definitely isn’t going to push me away from the field. I’m the type of person that when someone tries to doubt me and my skill sets, I want to prove them immediately. I feel like you have to have some tough skin in order to deal with those types of comments. Sometimes it hurts, but a lot of times I will just give them back what they’re giving to me. So, getting through that is easy for me because I have a team around me who supports me and pushes me forward, which helps a lot. 

But yeah, it does happen often. I’m heavily active on LinkedIn and there’s people in the comment section all the time saying stuff like, “You don’t belong here,” or, “You don’t know what you’re talking about,” or they’re constantly trying to test things like, “Oh, what is that?” Trying to see if I can answer quickly. So, it’s definitely… It can be hurtful, but I just push it aside and keep going because I like being here, and I like learning the stuff, and I’m not gonna let it push me down. 

Jeff White: You had a recent post on LinkedIn that received some really strange and oxymoronic feedback. Tell us a bit about that. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah, so I made a comment, so I do the material purchasing, and I needed some material, like a steel tube, and none of my regular vendors would quote it, so I was calling around to other places near me locally, and no one would answer the phone, or  they don’t work past 2:00, or they don’t answer their emails, so I made a post about that on LinkedIn, and someone commented and was like, “Take it to Twitter. Sounds like Gen Z’ers meeting Gen Z’ers.” And I just like… I sat back for a minute, and I was like every generation kind of has losers and go-getters. This isn’t a generational thing. 

Jeff White: Oh, boy, is that true. 

Hallie Haupt: It’s like I don’t understand the stereotype there, especially because… I don’t know. It just really caught me by surprise. But I have some LinkedIn followers who were kind of like going back at them, like, “There’s nothing wrong with her asking for advice or putting this out there. She’s not complaining.” And then I said something that wasn’t very nice back that I won’t repeat, but I just don’t… I don’t understand that whole generational thing where it’s like this generation does this, and this generation does that. It’s like just because I grew up in that generation doesn’t mean I’m like everybody here or vice versa. I was taken aback by that, so I don’t know. Some people just really like to make comments. 

And it’s like when I was growing up, my mom said, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all.” It’s like people don’t follow that. 

Jeff White: No. That’s for sure. It’s especially-

Carman Pirie: That is not social media at all, actually. 

Hallie Haupt: No. That’s another thing is people can hide behind the keyboard. They’ll never say it to my face. 

Jeff White: No. Pretty hilarious when you consider that our generations and older are the ones that are constantly telling your generation that you never answer the phone, and you’re the one calling them out for not answering the phone. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Exactly.

Jeff White: And it’s the sales prevention department. What are you doing? You’re like, “This is a gimme putt. I want to send you some money and you send me some material. Can we do this?” 

Hallie Haupt: And it wasn’t like I wanted to have a long conversation. I just wanted to get the sales rep so I could email them. And I can’t even get that information. But yeah. 

Jeff White: These companies need better websites, obviously. Kula Partners dot com. That’s K-U-L-A. 

Carman Pirie: I don’t know that a good website’s gonna help them all that much if they won’t answer a phone. 

Jeff White: No. That’s true. Yeah. Can’t…  no demand. 

Carman Pirie: Hallie, what’s surprised you the most about this space? You must have had some preconceived notions coming in about what it was gonna be like. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. 

Carman Pirie: Anything kind of… Anything zig when you thought it would zag, as it were? 

Hallie Haupt: I guess coming into it I didn’t think there would be as much growth as there is here. And I don’t know if that’s just the company that I work for, but I’ve learned, like cross-learned many departments in this company itself, but it helps me learn the industry too, because I travel a lot for work. I go to a lot of trade shows. I’m meeting people constantly at new companies. And that’s something that I didn’t think was available here. I thought I’d just be sitting behind a computer eight hours a day doing the paperwork and whatnot, so being able to come in here and see that has really not only boosted my confidence, but has helped me as an individual, not just an employee, so I think that’s something I didn’t see coming but I’m glad it did. 

Carman Pirie: That’s a really interesting point. I mean, I think a lot of folks would be well served to think about smaller organizations as being an interesting gateway to that kind of diversity of experience, and frankly I think manufacturing overall as a somewhat older sector means that the retirements and whatnot are going to be happening fast and furious, so I think that both sides of it are ripe with opportunity for-

Jeff White: Really serve to benefit… You know, when you accumulate that knowledge across departments as an opportunity within those smaller organizations, that might open your eyes to something you didn’t even think of doing, so having those more jack of all trades kind of roles is not necessarily a bad thing, especially at the outset of your career. 

Hallie Haupt: No, not at all. I never saw myself doing any type of purchasing career and here I am doing it. And I do like it. It’s just something I never saw myself doing. 

Carman Pirie: It’s interesting as we think about people not even being exposed to manufacturing in school. My goodness, the number of aspects of it. If you’re not exposed to manufacturing, how much more are you not exposed to how many kind of little nuances there are to it that you just don’t even know exist. Like you’re saying you didn’t consider a career in purchasing as an example. 

Hallie Haupt: Right. There’s so many opportunities. I tell people that. But you’re right about not… Manufacturing, I didn’t know a single thing about it before I got here and it’s like the pens that I use every day are manufactured in facilities like the ones I work in. It’s like I didn’t know that. I didn’t think about that. And now I look at it all the time. 

Jeff White: It’s almost a curse. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. I’m like, “How is that bottle made?” 

Jeff White: Yeah. No, I’ve certainly found that since our foray into manufacturing is almost a decade long here, and everything you look at you’re just like, “I wonder how they made that,” or where that came from, or whatever. I want to explore a little bit around the kind of marketing and sales organization that you work within from the perspective of what do you feel like you and the others that you work with bring to the table that makes your perspective or offering unique? 

Hallie Haupt: So, with marketing specifically, I feel like the team that I work with here have a really creative eye, which I feel like is something that’s not talked about much in manufacturing, even though we’re making a lot of creative things out there on the floor. But in a sense of marketing, I feel like having someone who has that graphic design background, or even a photography type background, like I’m taking photos on the floor, and videos on the floor, and I’m able to use software to edit it, and having that creative eye and knowing how to capture things, and knowing how to talk about it, and knowing how to market it in a certain way really helped. And I feel like that’s something I also didn’t see a need for when I first started in this industry. 

Jeff White: Interesting. So, just the notion of being comfortable experimenting with making things, and all of that is… I suppose it really is a bit of a… It does transcend generations and it’s not necessarily just something that young people do, but I think maybe you’re more curious at that point in your career. Like, “Oh, I can figure this out,” or, “I can learn that piece of software,” or, “I can shoot photos,” or what have you. And being open to doing all of those different tasks gives you, again, a broader perspective on the organization and the possibilities. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. And I feel like in today’s digital day and age, I feel like the kids growing up, and even some of my people my age, as well, are more apt to want to, like you said. They’re curious to learn how to do different things on technology and computers. So, I think that that was an upper hand for us. 

Jeff White: Yeah. I mean, the whole growing up with a photo editing and media production studio in your pocket, too, so it’s a lot different than people who are older than me going into an industry. What do you think the… What are the prospects for you for growth through the rest of your career? Do you have a trajectory that you have planned for yourself or is it more just kind of seeing what comes and learning as much as you can along the way?

Carman Pirie: I don’t know, Hallie. That’s a tough question. I don’t know if I’d answer it if I were you. 

Hallie Haupt: I was gonna say I’ve never been asked that question. I honestly… I just kind of go with the flow. I haven’t really thought about where I’m gonna be in five years. I hope I’m still in this industry. I really do enjoy being here. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and been able to meet so many wonderful people. So, I really like being here, and it’s given me confidence speaking to people, and meeting with new people, and I really do enjoy that, so I’ve still… I hope I’m in this space, but I really am a go with the flow type person, so if I can keep learning and just doing what I can do, I’m just gonna keep riding that wave.

Jeff White: That’s an excellent answer and a great perspective, and I realized as I was saying it that that could have been a career limiting answer based on the question, and I didn’t want to be responsible for that, so thank you for taking it in another direction. 

Hallie Haupt: Hopefully my bosses didn’t get it. No, I’m just kidding. 

Jeff White: Well, I think they would be quite pleased to hear that. 

Carman Pirie: I spent the very early part of my career in politics, oddly, which when you’re a young person in your early 20s in politics, most of the people that you’re hanging around with or working with are not in that age group, or at least it’s a mixed bag of perspectives. One of the things… So, I found I didn’t have the same experience as you in the manufacturing space, but I think there’s still some parallels in that you know you’re bringing a fresh perspective as a younger person in the space, but then at some point you also realize that you maybe had a blind spot or two that you weren’t aware of when you started. Have you encountered any of those blind spots where you’re like, “I thought I know that, and I didn’t?” 

Hallie Haupt: I don’t know other than just how things were made. I don’t know that I’ve really hit a blind spot where I was like, “I thought I knew that, but I didn’t,” because I didn’t know a single thing. I didn’t know a single thing. I remember one of the first posts I ever made on LinkedIn, it was a video of a part, and I said it was being drilled, and it was not being drilled. It was being tapped. So, that terminology was very important to learn, but I don’t… I think just coming from my standpoint where I didn’t know anything, I don’t think I really hit a blind spot like that. I was just kind of learning as I was going. 

Carman Pirie: See, I didn’t know anything either, but I was in politics, so I acted like I did. That would be the big difference between us, Hallie, see? You were more honest. 

Hallie Haupt: Yeah. I don’t want to get into that situation where I act like I know what I’m talking about and then someone tries to test me and I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t know what that is.” So, I kind of didn’t do that. 

Jeff White: It sounds like your example of the LinkedIn post about trying to buy some material is an example of you kind of owning that perspective and just being honest about the situation, you know? It’s not about trying to put on airs or anything like that. 

Hallie Haupt: Right. 

Carman Pirie: Hallie, let’s wrap up this episode with a bit of advice. So, you’re going to give yourself advice like three or four years ago or something, so imagine you’re talking to a three or four years ago Hallie. What advice are you giving yourself?

Hallie Haupt: I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give myself is step outside your comfort zone. Don’t stay in that bubble because that’s when you’re not gonna grow or learn anything new. And just go for every opportunity that’s thrown your way because it can help you in some way significantly. Career wise, as a person, just take every opportunity that you get because it’ll help you. 

Jeff White: That is such good advice for everyone, not just young people. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. Exactly right. You stop taking opportunities after a while or you don’t see them. 

Jeff White: Yeah. That would be an incredibly uninteresting way to live. 

Hallie Haupt: Right. 

Carman Pirie: Well, Hallie, thank you for joining The Kula Ring today. It’s been wonderful to have you on the show. 

Hallie Haupt: Thank you so much. It was great being here.

Jeff White: Thanks a lot. 

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at That’s

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Hallie Haupt Headshot


Hallie Haupt

Director of Marketing, IQ Manufacturing

Hallie is an energetic professional with a passion for both marketing and manufacturing. As the Director of Marketing at IQ Manufacturing, she combines her knowledge in the manufacturing industry with a strong background in media and communications to craft a compelling narrative for the company and the industry at large.

Hallie brings a unique perspective to her role, leveraging cutting-edge techniques to create and implement highly effective social media content. Her primary goal is to engage the audience, driving
increased brand awareness and ensuring that IQ Manufacturing remains at the forefront of the industry.

Hallie’s work isn’t just about promoting her own company; it’s about building brand awareness for the entire manufacturing sector. She believes in the industry’s potential to shape the future, and
her mission is to influence the next generation to consider careers in this dynamic and innovative field. With a combination of expertise in media and an understanding of manufacturing, Hallie is working towards her ambitious goals and trying to make a lasting
impact on the industry.

Learn more about IQ Manufacturing on their website

The Kula Ring is a podcast for manufacturing marketers who care about evolving their strategy to gain a competitive edge.

Listen to conversations with North America’s top manufacturing marketing executives and get actionable advice for success in a rapidly transforming industry.

About Kula

Kula Partners is an agency that specializes in maximizing revenue potential for B2B manufacturers.

Our clients sell within complex, technical environments and we help them take a more targeted, account-focused approach to drive revenue growth within niche markets.


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