Leadership Team

Without its vibrant team of talented individuals, First State Manufacturing would amount to little more than four walls and a roof. The people form the pulse of First State, breathing new life into this ever-expanding transit seating and upholstery company each day.

Through the extraordinary vision and dedication of our leadership team and more than 80 full-time employees, First State Manufacturing is reaching new heights and securing positive growth for our company, our clients and the community at large. We serve commercial, government, and military customers with premium seating and upholstery services – backed with a commitment to the highest quality.

ELI VALENZUELA
President & Chief Executive Officer

As a young boy in his neighborhood he was known as the “go-to guy” for building fighter kites. Now, he’s known as the guy with a nationally recognized ability to create, design, and manufacture, and who brings over 30 years in both private industry and federal government experience to the company he founded; First State Manufacturing. An acknowledged craftsman, he is responsible for numerous Aircraft Engineering changes currently accepted by the U.S. Armed Forces. Starting with nothing more than a dream and the best intentions 15 years ago, his small business – based in Milford, Delaware – now employs more than 80 associates and has secured over $10 million in government contracts – from military aircraft seating to mass transit system refurbishment. His firm’s commercial customers include Amtrak, Rail Plan, Keolis, Procter & Gamble, Amazon, pharmaceutical companies and restaurant chains. Known for being intent on “finding a better way,” Eli finds fulfillment in enabling the entrepreneurial dreams of others, and places a special emphasis on enabling youth to succeed.

SHER VALENZUELA
Executive VP, Marketing & Administration

Sher owns First State Manufacturing with her husband Eli. The company may have been birthed in 1998, but she’s been married to it for a bit longer than that! A nationally recognized business strategist, Sher is known for her ability to form close, effective relationships with community, business and media liaisons.

In addition to being named “2012 U.S. Small Business Administration Small Business Person of the Year” for Delaware, she also ran for the office of Lieutenant Governor for the State of Delaware and was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention.

As a child, Sher learned the sense of limitlessness results that creativity, intention, and hard work – when combined – can bring. Sher has not wavered. Today she remains committed to delivering solutions to other small businesses.

ASHLEY WOLFE
Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Ashley Wolfe oversees the daily operations of First State Manufacturing.  Second in command, he leads associates and departments to achieve maximum performance and dedication.  As an experienced leader, Ashley plays a lead role in expansion initiatives; designing business strategies that consistently promote the company’s culture, vision and mission.

Ashley Wolfe
Greg Boyce

GREG BOYCE
Chief Financial Officer

Greg joined First State Manufacturing in February of 2018 and is a Finance and Manufacturing Executive with over twenty years’ experience providing advisement, leadership and solutions to leaders in industry and sectors such as Industrial, Textiles, Hi-Tech, CPG, Pharmaceutical, Oil & Gas.  He is considered an expert in every aspect of the manufacturing process, its operations and has completed company turnarounds, focusing on the financial strategy and operations of a company.

A graduate of the Ivy League with a Master’s in Business Administration, he also has extensive international experience. Client history includes IBM, GE (General Electric), Bausch & Lomb, Saint Gobain, Loreal, Fortune Brands, British Petroleum (BP), Sun Microsystems, Cadbury Adams, Bemis, ABB.

He was previously a Plant and General Manager, is also an expert in Lean, Six Sigma, Continuous Improvement and the DMAIC process, TPM, Demand/Supply Planning, S&OP, IT/ERP Systems, Inventory Management, Lean Design, Procurement/Strategic Sourcing, Supply Chain, Transportation, Warehouse, 3&4 PL, Contract Manufacturing, Business Analytics and Performance Improvement.

MICHELLE BLATTENBERGER
VP of Contracts, Sales & Marketing

Michelle joined First State Manufacturing in February of 2018 and brings 20+ years of experience with both government & commercial marketing and sales and her knowledge of government contracting will directly fall in line with the FSM’s vision for growth.  Her voice of the customer platform will ensure customer satisfaction, leading the way for growth opportunities.

Michelle Blattenberger

PAUL FAZZINI
Director, Sales Operations and C-5 Refurbishment Program

Paul has 11-plus years of experience with FSM and has worked in every area of production, project management, planning and quality. His complete understanding of processes, materials and quality control has proven to be invaluable to our ability to fulfill our contractual obligations. His understanding and eye for quality driven solutions is the foundation of every initiative and the success of our manufacturing operations.

As FSM’s Director of Sales Operations, Paul executes and manages sales operational processes to enable the Marketing Department to run efficiently in support of business objectives. He reviews and analyzes opportunities and statements of work and develops proposal strategies to meet customer requirements. Paul also works with the Project Management Department to develop cost estimates and suggests pricing strategies.

As the Director of the C-5 Refurbishment Program, he executes the contract which includes serving as the primary liaison between FSM and the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR), AMC Scheduling and subcontractor representatives to plan, create and publish the aircraft refurbishment timeline/schedule for each aircraft.

Paul’s 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force prepared him to be a key player at FSM. His drive for excellence and commitment to the discipline that gets you there has put FSM not only on a track for growth and continuous improvement in existing markets but also in making strong entrances in new markets. Paul is the epitome of what we mean when we say “and then some” at FSM.

KIMBERLY TAHA
Director, Human Resources

Kimberly Taha, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), leads our Human Resources efforts at FSM. Kim’s human resources background, which includes 16 years in an industrial manufacturing environment, is proving to be invaluable and essential as the company goes through an unprecedented growth and expansion phase. Kim has extensive experience working with all facets of human resources, including workplace safety, but is especially passionate when it comes to recruitment and career counseling. She believes that employees are a company’s greatest asset and the more diverse a company is the more creative and successful it will be. She refers to this as “Smart Hiring”.

With a background that includes active duty service as an Air Traffic Controller for the United States Air Force, Kim is well suited to the challenges of her occupation.

Jennifer Rose

JENNIFER ROSE
Comptroller

Jennifer returned to FSM March of 2018, and as comptroller, Jennifer is responsible for the timely and accurate reporting of financial statements, working closely with the Chief Financial Officer to support preparing and compiling of budget and forecast information. If there is a system FSM uses, Jennifer owns it! If there is a system FSM is considering, Jennifer vets it! From controls, quality and training to inventory, payroll and audits, she digs into the details until she is the master.

 

Jennifer is known for her analytical perspective, but also has an outstanding ability to think outside the box. Her determination to build long term relationships and to get the best of everything for FSM contributes to FSM's long term growth and success.

TSE A. NKWENTI
Quality Engineer

Tse Nkwenti joins FSM with over 12+ years’ experience as a chemical engineer, quality control analyst, and lecturer providing engineering innovation, quality management and solutions to various international companies and research agencies in Europe and the US.

He holds a master’s degree in Nanotechnology and Polymer engineering. He has an extensive knowledge in quality management tools and engineering designs due his working experiences in engineering, testing, validation, client liaison and project evaluations.

EDITH SANTORO
Production Manager

Edith Santoro brings over 20 years of expertise in production management to the FSM Family! Before coming to FSM, Edie (as she is affectionately referred) worked ILC in Frederica.

Her ability to simultaneously manage the multi-faceted processes of a manufacturing facility with five lines of production, troubleshoot and address daily operations, and supervise a staff of over 50 employees, is a feat met by few. Her calm and steady nature exudes to those in her charge and is key to the success of this fast-paced environment.

Edie lives in Milford with her husband, Bobby. Although she says she is too young, her favorite pastime is serving as Mom-mom to her "she lost count" grandchildren.

ANDREA CISNEROS
Assistant Manager, Materials
& Supply Chain Coordinator

Andrea joined FSM 4 years ago on the production floor, working in Quality Control. It soon became evident that her attention to detail and eye for quality would work well in the marketing department where we were developing processes and procedures which we have come to rely upon as we grow.

Andrea is a list maker with a strong work ethic and her ability to juggle multiple tasks is well known at FSM. Due to her knowledge of FSM practices, production abilities and scheduling, she is perfectly suited to her role, sourcing materials to keep us running along seamlessly.

COREY MCGILL
Assistant Manager, Shipping and Material Handling

Corey likes to say that he "came with the building" when FSM moved to its current location 5 years ago! Corey's attention to stocking levels and inventory practices were well-honed skills that have only developed over time. He knows exactly what is in his stockroom and can put his hands on it at a moment's notice.

Corey also oversees shipping and receiving and is a master at finding a place for everything. His skills include developing, sourcing and implementing cost saving measures for our end users. Corey's processes are what FSM relies upon to produce and ship product on a daily basis.