In his own words: Gerd G. Poppinga of Vineburg Machining
July 5, 2010
Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company its specialties, its history, the size of its staff:
Gerd G. Poppinga: Vineburg Machining, Inc. is a 33-year-old, family-owned and certified full-service machining job shop. We serve multi-industry original equipment manufacturers and manufacturers throughout the U.S. We currently machine 7 to 10 million custom parts a year from all types of metals, for companies like Schlage-Lock (Ingersoll-Rand). We moved to Mound House from Sonoma, Calif., in 2003, with a staff of 18, plus their families.
NNBW: What role do you play in the company?
Poppinga: My responsibilities specifically include ownership concerns, project estimator, oversee sales and marketing, and technical and engineering; support of staff and customer service.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Poppinga: Through a trade school and apprenticeship in Germany.
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NNBW: What is something no one knows about your job?
Poppinga: The amount of knowledge needed to perform all aspects of running a machining business from technical, to accounting, to sales and marketing. Even more so, the smarts to survive the ups and downs of business cycles and challenges like offshore outsourcing, 9/11, and the most recent recession.
NNBW: If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
Poppinga: After my apprenticeship in machining, I wanted to become an engineer. Instead I first came to the U.S. to learn English, and stayed after two years in the military. I continued on in machining, started a family and eventually started my own business. At one time I wanted to be a forest ranger because I love the outdoors, then a cook because of my love of different foods. The only solid opportunity at the time though was to continue in machining.
NNBW: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Poppinga: Motorcycling, hiking and golf.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Poppinga: It’s a tough choice but rewarding if you’re good with your hands and love to create something people will use.
NNBW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why would you want it?
Poppinga: I would just love to have the power to improve the human condition.
NNBW: What person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with, and why?
Poppinga: Multiple people actually; mainly those who wrote the U.S. Constitution because they changed my thinking about what freedom and opportunity mean.
NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Poppinga: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
NNBW: What do you like most about your job? What do you like least?
Poppinga: I enjoy technical challenges, and dislike repetitive aspects of the job.
Name: Gerd G. Poppinga, president, Vineburg Machining Inc.
How long have you been in this job? Since 1977 (33 years)
How long in the profession? Since 1961
Education: Trade school in Germany, then college in the U.S.
Best book you’ve read? “Birdman”
What’s on your iPod? Diverse selection…oldies, rock, country western, classical, and opera.
The best movie ever? “Airplane”
Spouse, kids or pets? Ismenia, wife of 42 years and two kids. No pets.