Woven Metal Products’ Heather Bennett Named Honoree in Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Awards from The Manufacturing Institute

Mar 1, 2022 | Press Releases / Media

10th annual awards program recognizes women for excellence in manufacturing

HOUSTON, March 1, 2022 — The Manufacturing Institute (MI) — the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers — announced it will award Heather Bennett, vice president of strategy and marketing for Woven Metal Products (WMP), with the Women in Manufacturing STEP Ahead Award.

The STEP Ahead Awards honor women who have demonstrated excellence and leadership in their careers and represent all levels of the manufacturing industry, from the factory floor to the C-suite. The program is designed to motivate women to mentor the next generation through an annual award and associated leadership conference.

“I’m humbled to be recognized as part of the select STEP Ahead Award recipients and support the goal to bring more females into the manufacturing sector,” said Heather. “It’s an honor to stand alongside other females working within manufacturing and all business disciplines across a variety of industry sectors.”

Heather joined WMP in 2011 as vice president of business development, bringing her background of public relations, advertising, sales and marketing from multiple global companies and agencies to the company. In 2019, she transitioned to her current role, where she not only focuses on business development and marketing, but also on the company’s growth strategy.

“In her 11 years with WMP, Heather has been instrumental in articulating our long-term vision and goals, helping turn a family-owned fabrication business into an industry-recognized solutions provider,” said Russell Hillenburg, president of WMP. “She has transformed our company’s marketing and sales strategy, as well as helping to restructure our business divisions to position WMP for long-term growth.”

The biggest challenge facing manufacturers continues to be the growing workforce crisis — the shortage of skilled talent to fill open positions. Manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50% simply by bringing 10% more women into the industry. Women account for about half of the U.S. labor force but represent less than one-third of the manufacturing workforce.

“The 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees and Emerging Leader awardees are excellent representatives of the exciting opportunities available in manufacturing,” said Denise Rutherford, 2022 STEP Ahead chair. “These remarkable women and the leadership they show help inspire next generation of female leaders to consider careers in manufacturing.”

“Our Honorees and Emerging Leaders serve as role models and have their own multiplier effect on the number of women in the workforce, paying it forward to help others find their way into a successful, rewarding career in modern manufacturing,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “After 10 years of STEP Ahead Awards, we’ve honored more than 1,100 women leaders in manufacturing, who in turn have impacted hundreds of thousands of individuals through mentoring and volunteer work. We’re so proud of all these women, and we can’t wait to see what STEP and its Honorees and Emerging Leaders will accomplish in the next 10 years.”

On April 28, the MI will recognize 130 recipients of the STEP Ahead Awards in Washington, D.C. The STEP Ahead Awards program will highlight each Honoree and Emerging Leader’s story, including their leadership and accomplishments in manufacturing.



Woven Metal Products (WMP) is a state-of- the-art fabrication facility in Alvin, Texas. Established in 1967, WMP has grown with its customers. With that growth has come increased expertise, capabilities, and state-of- the-art equipment. Known for reactor and tower internals for the oil and gas industry, WMP can also custom fabricate for any application and need across multiple industries. For a quote or more information, contact WMP at wovenmetal.com or call 281-331- 4466. For the latest news and announcements, follow WMP on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/wovenmetalproducts and on Facebook at facebook.com/wovenmetalproducts.


The Manufacturing Institute grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all American workers, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges.

For more information, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org