Benchmarking Conference


An Uncharted Journey


Connie Podesta, Author, TV Personality, Comedienne

Connie is a game-changing, revenue-building, sales-generating ball of fire whose rare blend of laugh-out-loud comedy, killer take-away strategies, and interactive, no-power-point delivery style have made her one of the most unique and memorable speakers on the stage today. 25 years. Two million people. 1,000 organizations. Hall of Fame speaker. Award-winning author.  Seven books. Former Radio/TV personality. Therapist. Expert on the psychology of sales, leadership, change, accountability, and engagement.  Amazing ROI.  Plus (what we all could probably use in today’s crazy world )… a Comedienne.



Chris (Bash) Bashinelli, Global Explorer and Speaker

Chris Bashinelli, also known as, “Bash”, was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After a decade long acting career including an appearance on the HBO hit television show- The Sopranos, Bash decided to follow his real passion- using media to build bridges between cultures. At 20 years old he traveled to Tanzania to make his first documentary. He now traverses the globe from Uganda to Haiti, as Host of Bridge the Gap, a new television series featured on PBS and the National Geographic Channel, where he discovers what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Bash has spoken around the world- from TEDx, to Abu Dhabi, to Azerbaijan- at multi-million dollar corporations, Ivy League Universities, and in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. He has shared the stage with Stevie Wonder, Dr. Jane Goodall and the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon. He has harvested buffalo with Native Americans in Pine Ridge, lived as a nomad in Mongolia, and Sumo Wrestled heaviest Japanese human being in recorded history. He is a Moderator for the United Nations, an Eagle Scout, a National Geographic Explorer, and has interviewed some of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People on the Planet.



Joe Theismann, World Champion Quarterback, Broadcaster and Entrepreneur

Joe Theismann is an entrepreneur and the former star quarterback for the Washington Redskins. He spent the last two decades working for ESPN on their NFL broadcast and the NFL Network. The former Washington Redskins quarterback joined ESPN in April 1988, reuniting with play-by-play voice, Mike Patrick. Theismann joined ESPN after spending two seasons as an NFL analyst for CBS Sports. A 12-year NFL veteran, Theismann played in 163 consecutive games from 1974-1985 and holds Redskins’ records for passing yardage (25,206), completions (2.044) and attempts (3,602). A two time Pro Bowl selection, Theismann led Washington to a 27-17 victory over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XVII. Theismann was selected the NFL’s “Man of the Year” in 1982 for his community service and dedication to the health and welfare of children. He won the league’s 1983 “Most Valuable Player” Award for leading the Redskins to an NFL-recorded 541 points and a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. His career ended abruptly in 1985 after sustaining a broken leg during a game against the New York Giants on national television. Theismann graduated in 1971 from the University of Notre Dame where he received All-America honors and led the Fighting Irish to consecutive Cotton Bowls and was runner-up to Jim Plunkett in the Heisman Trophy balloting. In 2003, Theismann was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Theismann began his career in 1971 with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins and Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins. Theismann, a much sought after motivational speaker, also oversees a popular Washington, DC restaurant that bears his name. He is also the author of The Complete Idiots Guide to Understanding Football Like a Pro. Recently, Theismann was named the recipient of the 2013 Walter Camp Football Foundation “Distinguished American” Award.

Mike Benson, Managing Director, Stout Risius Ross 

Michael D. Benson is a Managing Director and Head of the Diversified Industrials practice within Stout’s Investment Banking Group, specializing in the full spectrum of plastics & packaging processes, product categories, and end markets. He is responsible for the execution of investment banking transactions which include mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, and the private financing of senior debt, subordinated debt, and equity securities. Benson has been involved in the successful completion of transactions for companies ranging from privately held, middle market companies to large multinational, publicly traded corporations. Additionally, he has been involved in restructuring projects, which range from providing strategic advisory services to under-performing companies to the sale and liquidation of companies both in and out of bankruptcy. In addition to his expertise in plastics & packaging, Mr. Benson also has significant experience working with industrials companies, including automobiles & components, capital goods, and transportation companies.



Tim Erdmann, Principal, Management Consulting, Plante Moran

Tim is a member of Plante Moran's Operations Consulting Team. He has more than 35 years of manufacturing, operations, and executive leadership experience. Tim has been dedicated to serving manufacturing clients across multiple industries in the areas of cost reduction, productivity improvement, supply chain optimization, and capacity utilization. As a former chief operating officer for a multi-plant molder and mold maker, Tim is experience in developing and implementing manufacturing and operational strategies and tactics, instituting advanced cost managment systems, redesigning work flows and value streams, and developing and leveraging high performance teams to drive operational and financial performance. Tim hhas served companies with core process technologies that include batch, repetitive and process manufacturing in the food & beverage, medical device, pharmaceutical, electronics, aerospace, automotive and appliance industries. Tim's blend of operational and financial expertise enables him to identify operational improvement strategies and tactics, resulting in profound financial impact. 

Ed Graham, Engineeering Manager, ProtoCAM 

Ed Graham is an Engineering Manager at ProtoCAM, provider of value-added Industrial 3D printed prototypes and additive manufacturing services based in Allentown, PA. With a BS in Plastic Engineering Technology from Penn State University and over 20 years' experience in the Additive Manufacturing industry, Graham is a problem solver - a character trait that makes him an invaluable part of the ProtoCAM team. He has extensive experience in the industry and in overall business operations by working in sales, marketing, product design, project management and engineering which makes him an expert resource.

Laurie Harbour, President and CEO, Harbour Results Inc

Laurie Harbour is President and CEO of Harbour Results Inc. and a trusted advisor to the North American manufacturing industry. She utilizes her experience and the company’s newest tool – Harbour IQ – to monitor, research and analyze the manufacturing value stream identifying strengths and weaknesses, gaps and risks, and business and operational opportunities in an effort to help the industry transform to be more successful in the global market place. Harbour utilizes this information along with her knowledge and expertise collected throughout her career to help small- to medium- sized manufacturers develop short- and long-term strategies, improve their operations, reduce risks and optimize business. As an industry influencer, she regularly speaks to companies and at  forums on topics such leadership, cultural transformation, supplier collaboration, manufacturing and overall business operations improvement. Prior to joining Harbour Results, Harbour founded Harbour-Felax Group and was Vice President and company officer at Harbour Consulting. She has vast experience with global-automotive manufacturers, tier-one suppliers and the defense industry and provided analysis and counsel in operations improvement, product and process development, competitive research and benchmarking.  Additionally, Harbour was responsible for development and management of The Harbour Report, the landmark study of labor efficiency for automotive OEMs. Harbour earned a BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in Operations Management and Human Resources. 


Bill Hyde, Senior Director on the Chemical Insight Olefins Team, IHS Markit

Mr. Bill Hyde serves as Senior Director on the Chemical Insight Olefins Team, where he leads a group focused on analyzing markets related to C4 Olefins, synthetic and natural rubber and tire raw materials. He has published a number of papers on the Olefins and Elastomers industries as well as presented at related conferences around the world. Mr. Hyde regularly provides commentary and analysis to the monthly report Global C4 Olefins & Elastomers, as well as the World Butadiene Analysis, the World Butylenes Analysis, the World Synthetic Rubber Analysis, and the World MTBE Analysis, annual studies produced by IHS Chemical. An industry veteran of more than 20 years, Mr. Hyde began his career with Union Carbide Corporation in 1990 where he had various positions including engineering, optimization, planning and logistics. He later joined Texas Petrochemicals as a Business Analyst. Mr. Hyde’s university degrees include Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Chemical Engineering from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S., and an M.B.A. from Tulane University, New Orleans, La., U.S.


Jeff Mengel, Partner, Plante Moran

Jeff is Plante Moran's national practice leader for the plastics industryJeff has more than 30 years’ experience in operational and strategic planning, as well as tax planning/preparation and financial statement audits serving the firm’s manufacturing and distribution (M&D) clients. His consulting experience includes inventory and product costing systems and inventory control systems; facilitating the development and implementation of strategic, operational and succession plans; organizational development, including team building, organizational design, and alignment issues; pre and post LOI (letter of intent) due diligence associated with joint ventures, acquisitions and other collaborative ventures; benchmarking critical data, including press rates, sales commission management, and resin cost recovery practices; and assessments of market segment, product, and technology attractiveness. Since 1995, Jeff has conducted the North American Plastics Industry Study, which benchmarks performance metrics of successful and struggling plastics industry companies. He has extended this level of benchmarking to the food and beverage industry. 

Dr. Andreas Reger, President & CEO, Durr Ecoclean Inc   

Dr. Reger has spent his whole career focusing on growth, turnaround and performance management in an international business environment. He studied International Business Management at the Universidad de Zaragoza (Spain) and the FH Wiesbaden (Germany) before starting his career in sales and project management. Dr. Reger obtained his Master of Business Administration degree from the Colorado State University and received his Doctorate in Business Administration from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan. During his career, Dr. Reger lived and worked in Spain, Turkey, Jordan, and Suriname before moving to the US to join Siemens Automotive (now Continental AG). In 2008 he became the President of Pollmann North America, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of a European-based supplier of insert-molded components. Just as he joined the company the financial crisis hit and he had to lead the organization through a major restructuring, strategic transformation and financial turnaround. This experience inspired him to study the relationship between turnaround strategies and the financial performance of plastics processing companies. Currently, Dr. Reger is the President & CEO of Dürr Ecoclean Inc. and a member of the Senior Management Group of Dürr AG.

Sadat Shami, Director for the Center for Engagement and Social Analytics, IBM

Sadat Shami leads the Center for Engagement and Social Analytics at IBM Corporate Headquarters in Armonk, NY. He has responsibility of IBM's employee engagement and employee social analytics strategy globally.  His team of researchers and practitioners focus on delivering business insights by pushing the boundaries of the inferences that can be drawn by combining large scale social media data with enterprise data. He has led several advanced analytics projects in the employee engagement and social space, showing linkage with various outcomes of interest to IBM.  Prior to his current role, Sadat worked at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center in Cambridge, MA.  Sadat has a PhD in Information Science from Cornell University, has published over 20 articles in highly selective peer reviewed conferences and journals, and has lived in five countries.

Cody Sharp, Owner, Sharp Guys Web Design

Cody has spent the last 17 years building websites, is Google Analytics certified, and has a decade of professional marketing experience generating leads/revenue for B2B’s and B2C’s. He is on the board of the B2B Marketers of Indiana and has spoken throughout the country on various topics including web design, digital marketing, database management, email marketing, landing page design, split testing, and how technology has changed the business landscape. In 2011, Cody founded Sharp Guys Web Design, a digital marketing company dedicated to providing businesses the digital marketing presence their businesses require in order to level the playing field against the big guys.