Leader Under 40: Michael De Boer
Division Manager, Interstates Control Systems Inc. - AAS Industrial Instrumentation, Northwest Iowa Community College
Mr. Michael De Boer, 34
Division Manager, Interstates Control Systems Inc.
Sioux Center, Iowa
AAS Industrial Instrumentation, Northwest Iowa Community College
De Boer served as lead programmer, supervising both PLC and HMI programming for a series of biodiesel plant projects. As relationship with the client developed, he continued to work with them to implement controls for seven plants that were either newly constructed or procured and commissioned. Their work at one of these locations earned an Award of Excellence from Associated Builder and Contractors, Inc. (ABC). Recently, De Boer was project manager for a team challenged with upgrading the control system and hardware in an operating flour mill from one controls manufacturer to another. They had just 30 hours to complete the final changeover. The team designed and constructed a custom wiring arm that would allow them to move 4,300 I/O without disconnecting any of the wiring. In addition to the speed with which they could complete the conversion, they also had added benefit of fewer opportunities for error. De Boer has had the opportunity to research the company’s development of mobile HMI applications. De Boer tested and evaluated software options that could run on everything from Android devices to iPods and iPads, to Windows mobile solutions in order to determine what would work best in different environments.
De Boer enjoys coaching his daughter’s soccer team. He also loves to tinker—give him a wrecked or non-running snowmobile or ATV and he’ll get it working. There is always something (usually multiple things) in progress in his garage. Through the process, he has managed to get his wife interested in snowmobiling, which some would consider as much of an accomplishment as rebuilding one.
De Boer likes to help others find what they are good at and identify what drives them. “Choosing the right career path start is so important,” said De Boer. “Young adults benefit from advice from those in the field as they work through these major life decisions. That is why I mentor high school and college students as they job shadow or complete their degree-required internships.” He also serves on the advisory group for Northwest Iowa Community College’s Industrial Instrumentation program where members provide direction and input about what the industry is looking for in terms of training and educating new graduates.
De Boer joined Interstates after graduating from high school and started classes at Northwest Iowa Community College. In his 13 years with the company, De Boer has held 7 different positions. Not many at Interstates can say they have changed business cards that many times.
De Boer’s grandfather also liked to tinker in his spare time. He was good for bringing home old equipment for the fun of making it work again. De Boer was in high school when he started working with PLCs and single loop controllers on a project with his grandfather. “Grandpa built a grinder for plastic bottles and started his own plastic recycling and extruding business,” explained De Boer. “Somewhere he came across an old extruder with a PLC that included a manual. That’s where I figured out how to program as we worked on his plastic grinder. From that point, I was hooked on controls programming.”
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.