Our Leaders

Meet Cadence's Leadership Team

Alan Connor

President and CEO

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA so I am obligated to insert a “Go, Steelers!” here.  Actually, I remain a Pittsburgh sports fan even though I moved south to Virginia in 2009.  My wife was my high-school sweetheart (still is!) and we have two daughters.  My education includes a degree in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.

My early career experience included manufacturing, quality and project engineering and supply chain consulting.  I also have more than 15 years of experience in a variety of management roles within large and medium-sized medical device companies, including supply chain management, manufacturing, marketing and new product development.  I joined Cadence as President in 2011 to help continue the growth of the organization while maintaining its unique entrepreneurial culture.

Professionally, I am passionate about building great organizations and developing a culture of continuous improvement.  I was fortunate to spend ten years of my career with an organization which received the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award where I learned how to build a sustainable, long-term culture of excellence.  Among other consulting and volunteer experiences, I was a volunteer for the Pittsburgh Regional Healthcare Initiative, working with hospitals and other healthcare facilities to apply lean manufacturing principles to improve the quality and efficiency of the delivery of healthcare services. I currently also serve as a Director of the Virginia Biotechnology Association (VABIO) and as an advisor to several start-up medical device companies.

The majority of my spare time is spent with my family, observing my youngest daughter’s activities and chauffeuring her back and forth and missing doing the same for my older daughter who is now off at college. 

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I am also a pilot – a lifelong dream I fulfilled in 2009 and continue to pursue.
  • When forced to fly commercial and during other spare time, I enjoy reading, particularly spy fiction, autobiographies and military history.

Ken Cleveland

CFO

My Story

Born in Virginia, I grew up within 10 miles of our current Virginia plant. I graduated from Virginia Tech in 1988 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and was fortunate during my college days to spend a summer working for a one-machine, 3 person start-up called Specialty Blades. I caught the “fever” for small business that summer and probably learned as much in 3 months as I had the previous three years. After graduation, I was lured by the bright lights of “big company” life and went to work for Westinghouse in Aiken, SC. But the “fever” never went away and after going back to school and receiving an MBA from the University of South Carolina, I came to work for Specialty Blades (now Cadence) in 1996 as Controller and several years later became CFO.

My wife has endured my “noise” since 1990 (supposedly I’m so tight I squeak when I walk). We have been blessed with two wonderful kids, a son and daughter, and we think Joshua said it best - “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Something that not many people know about me…

  • Relaxing for me is flip flops, shorts, a camper, no cell service, no internet, and no TV…I call it Linked Out.
  • One college summer, I wrote a budget program in basic computer language on IBM’s first “laptop” (IBM’s Portable  Computer 5155) for my personal use…what a geek!  I guess it should have been a sign!

Carl Palermo

Executive Vice President Strategy and Corporate Development

My Story

I was born, raised and schooled in Texas which is a place where fried food and red meat are basic daily staples and bacon is a condiment. My father was a naval aviator and I was a military brat and as a kid relocation was a norm. I’m very married with children and deny the rumors of grandkids. Life has afforded me the pleasure of living in Texas, Ohio and Virginia and find that I prefer the quality of life in a smaller community.

My career began working summers for an oil field production company. Upon entering college I worked nights for an oil field equipment manufacturer and was lucky enough to be selected for a journeyman machinist program. The combination of business studies, summers in the oil patch and becoming a journeyman machinist were the catalyst for my passion of manufacturing. Later in my career I  followed some of my mentors through other industries including nuclear, automotive, aerospace and finally settled in the world of Medical Device manufacturing. I joined Cadence in 2003 back when we were primarily an industrial focused Specialty Blades manufacturing company and have thoroughly enjoyed the journey to the world of medical device contract manufacturing.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I played alto saxophone and briefly was part of a garage rock band.
  • In college I may have once or twice been mistaken as a hippy
  • I got my first motorcycle at 14 and raced motor cross and flat track for 10 years
  • In 2006 I rode my Harley over 5,000 miles in 13-days through 17-states
  • I love classic cars and am restoring an old Porsche

Chip Harvill

Vice President

My Story

I was born and raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  I have been happily married for many years, have two grown sons, and three spoiled dogs. I graduated with honors from Virginia Tech in 1983 with a degree in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and received management certification from the Darden School of Business in Charlottesville.

I have significant experience in the Life Science market (focused on medical device and diagnostics), beginning work in 1986 as one of the first employees for a start-up company known as Specialty Blades. 

Following successful efforts in many evolving roles within a new and growing company (Manufacturing Engineering, Operations Management, and Sales and Marketing Management), I led the launch of a new division in 2005.  IncisionTech was focused on serving the growing medical device market in new and unique ways.  As the VP of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development, I was responsible for leading our company into many new areas of the medical device market.

In early 2011, Cadence Science, IncisionTech and Specialty Blades were combined to create a truly unique partner for the healthcare and life science markets...  This company now goes to market as Cadence, Inc. providing sketch-to-scale solutions for medical device and diagnostics companies.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I have a passion for college football, especially when it relates to Saturdays in Blacksburg, Va watching the Hokies play.

TM Dickinson

VP, Sales

My Story

It’s not misspelled. My name is T.M. Compound that with the fact that I speak with a southern accent and nearly no one gets it right on the first try.  However, I will respond to anything remotely close such as Tim, Tom, or even Steve.

After graduating in 1992 from Hampden-Sydney College, I began a 12 year career in sales and engineering with a wireless communications company (the logical career choice for every English major).  After moving 11 times in 7 years across the United States, I decided that my boys should be from somewhere and to have some roots. As a native Virginian, the “Old Dominion” was the first choice.

I was fortunate enough to join Cadence in 2004. Since then, we have experienced terrific growth, and we have positioned ourselves as a premier broad-line metals provider with a focus on minimally invasive surgical sub-systems, finished devices and automotive, consumer goods, and industrial components. 

Something that not many people know about me…

  •  I enjoy playing golf and bird hunting.
  •  I am a fly-fisherman of average ability, living and raising two boys in Central Virginia.

Jeff Crist

VP, Quality and Regulatory

My Story

I’m a Virginia boy, born and raised. Growing up I spent most of my time playing sports, on the water fishing, or in the woods hunting.  I am a graduate of Virginia Military Institute with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.  I was commissioned as a United States Naval Officer and enjoyed a few luxurious all-expense paid Mediterranean cruises, visiting many exciting far off lands.  After leaving the Navy, I moved back to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, which is still home to me. I joined a metals manufacturing company in Verona, VA, where I worked as an Applications Engineer and then soon worked my up to Engineering Manager.  My wife and I both decided to go back to school together before we started a family; me for an MBA and my wife for a Master’s in Education.  After completing my studies, I found an opportunity with a small company in the Shenandoah Valley called Specialty Blades, Inc. - now known as Cadence, Inc.  

I have been with Cadence since 1998 and have had the pleasure of serving in many different roles with the company.  I am extremely proud of our accomplishments, growth, constant change, the people who work here, the support we have for the community, and the products we make.  I believe that the work we do makes a difference in the lives of others and it’s nice to work hard for a good cause.

My wife and I have two high school age boys that we are very proud of.  Our family is always on the go and rarely is there a ‘lazy’ day to be had.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • Die hard Redskins fan – I remember the glory days and can’t bring myself to give up on them.  Go Skins!
  • I’m passionate about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the preservation work they do.

Keri Rankin

VP, Human Resources

Another local here!  I grew up in the tiny town of New Hope, VA, just about 15 minutes from the Cadence headquarters.  I had big city dreams growing up, but now that I am mostly a grown up, I am happy to say that I still call the Shenandoah Valley my home.  I live a stones-throw away from the VA plant with my husband, our twins, and a bulldog mix who thinks she runs the house.

I am a proud alum of James Madison University (insert obligatory J-M-U Duuuuuuukes cheer here).  I started my college career in biology, and it was actually my mother who suggested that my social butterfly skills might be best put to use in the field of Human Resources…I still wonder if she was just trying to get out of paying for medical school.  Whatever her intention, I went on to receive a degree in Business Management and a Masters of Education in Human Resource Development, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

Not long after finishing my undergrad degree, I started a career at a local company in Waynesboro, VA and discovered that I had a passion for manufacturing to go along with my passion for people.  I was blessed to find a home at Cadence in 2011, and I’ve had fun working with the Cadence team to grow and expand the Human Resources function ever since.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • My husband and I love spending Saturdays each fall throwing purple and gold streamers in support of our beloved Dukes while we cross our fingers for another NCAA Division I Football Championship title.  We also love reminiscing about that time JMU beat Virginia Tech.
  • My husband and I tagged along on our best friends’ honeymoon several years ago with a few other friends.  We call ourselves the “Honeymoon Eight” and we still get together every few years for a much-needed friendaversary trip.
  • I spent several years serving as a CASA volunteer advocating for abused and neglected children.  My husband and I now coordinate an annual event in our community called Operation Over the Rainbow where we collect new personal and comfort items to fill “journey bags” that are given to children as they enter the foster care system.

Jack Abato

VP, Operations

My Story

Though I was born in Buffalo, NY I actually grew up in Anaheim, CA and was a typical California kid; surfing and riding dirt bikes. I knew early on that I wanted a career in manufacturing and a close family friend insisted that the best place to study manufacturing was Japan. So, proving once again that I had more guts than brains, I was off to Japan. After graduating from Osaka University I spent 10 months with Panasonic before heading back to California. Once back in the States, I spent a few years consulting and then 20+ years managing plants across 5 states and 3 countries.

My wife, Beth, is a massage therapist and a master gardener. We’ve been married for twenty-something years (please don’t tell her I can’t remember the exact number) and have an amazing daughter who recently graduated from Auburn University and moved to Denver to start her career. My off-hours are spent tinkering with a 44-year-old hot rod and fly fishing, so not only do I get to work for a great company, I also get to live at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains only minutes away from some of the best fly-fishing waters in the country.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • My first real job was at Disneyland, running around the park in a costume. How many people can say they worked with Happy the Dwarf?
  • I met my wife when she took a temp job at my plant. Three weeks later I asked her out and when she accepted I told her she had to quit because dating an employee was against company policy.

Jeff Kelly

VP and General Manager

My Story

I am originally from Denver but have lived in several places during my lifetime.  I studied finance and management at the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and I received my MBA from the Fuqua School at Duke University in North Carolina. I have also lived in Washington DC and spent three years in the Netherlands for an ex-pat assignment, but Pittsburgh has been home to me and my family for the past fifteen years.

I was very fortunate to meet my wife during our first college class (Economics 101), and we are blessed with a two great kids, a daughter and a son.

My career began in management consulting that included advising companies on how to adopt new technologies and channels to market, as well as conducting economic analysis for companies in a variety of industries.  In 2003, I made the transition from management consulting to healthcare with Medrad, a medical device company based in Pittsburgh.  Over the past fifteen years, the focus of my career has been to help healthcare organizations grow.  I have held global roles in business development, marketing, sales management and product development with MEDRAD, Bayer Healthcare, Quest Diagnostics and Immunetrics.  During this time, I have managed the launch of several medical device and diagnostic products in the U.S. and international markets.  I joined Cadence in 2015 and continue to enjoy working in healthcare, knowing that the work that we do, and the devices that we manufacture, have a very profound impact on people’s lives.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I was born in Heidelberg, Germany (my father was in the military).
  • My time living in Europe gave me the travel bug, so I love to explore new countries and cities.
  • I enjoy watching football and college basketball when I am not playing sports (basketball and golf), or coaching or watching my kids (basketball, baseball and volleyball).

Brian Plummer

VP, Manufacturing (Rhode Island)

My Story

I was born in Massachusetts and have lived here all my life but for one year skiing the mountains of Vermont disguised as a college freshman. I’ve been married for 25 years and have 4 children who keep my wife Martha and me very busy. I graduated from the University of Lowell with a BSEE degree in 1987 and from Northeastern University with an MBA in 1993.

I’ve worked in a variety of industries including semiconductors, lasers, electronics, life sciences, and plastics prior to joining Cadence. I also moonlight part-time as adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts in the Charlton College of Business teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in operations management and am a member of both the UMASS  Business Advisory Board and Business Innovation and Research Center. 

Since joining Cadence in 2009, I’ve found my career here highly rewarding…we have a good team and you tend to feel really good about what you do for a living based on the impact it has on people’s well being.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • My wife and I met studying for a calculus final at the library in college – hopeless romantics, both of us.
  • I’ve succumbed to the gravitational pull of the ocean. Each time I move it’s further east…another couple hundred yards, a little global warming and I’ll be under water.
  • If it floats and has engines or sails, I’m available this weekend.

Tom Nelli

VP, Manufacturing (Virginia)

My Story

I was born and raised in Gastonia, NC where ACC basketball, NASCAR, and BBQ reigns.  It was once the textile capital of the world, but it is most notable for being the birthplace to the elixir of the gods – Sundrop! (I never leave home without it).  I graduated from UNC-Charlotte with a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology and my first job was with a small contract manufacturer… I’ve been a ‘plant rat’ ever since.  My career has taken me back and forth from Virginia to North Carolina several times, but the tug of a local girl kept pulling me back to Virginia.  I’ve been happily married and deeply planted in the Shenandoah Valley since 1995.

I’ve been fortunate in my career to experience diverse industries and career growth.  I’ve worked in electronics, textiles, automotive, and military aerospace; all with an underlying metal-trades component.  I’ve been an engineer, supervisor, manager, operator, truck driver, and chief bottle-washer… whatever it took to help the company succeed.  Most importantly, along the way I’ve become adept at implementing Lean Manufacturing and the Toyota Production System in a multitude of business environments.  I’m truly privileged to join Cadence which has such a strong culture of entrepreneurial spirit, technology, continuous improvement, and great people.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I was foolish enough to play rugby in college; tackling with no helmets… which probably explains a lot.
  • I’ve been an Assistant Scoutmaster for over 22 years.  Volunteering in Scouting is a great community service and quite rewarding in the development of the leadership skills of our youth, but it’s really just an excuse to go camping every month.

Sandy Sekadlo

VP, Manufacturing (Wisconsin)

My Story

I was born and raised in Wisconsin’s beautiful Door County, also referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest.  Being a Wisconsin girl, it is safe to say that that I am a die-hard Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers and Wisconsin Badgers fan.   Oh, and I do love my cheese, so I guess I can technically be classified as a “cheese head”!

Thirty-four years ago I was fortunate enough to be standing up in a wedding and was paired up with this really cute guy.  What can I say, the rest is history and today he (Jay) is still standing by my side.  Our family grew from two to five as we added three beautiful daughters to our family.  They have been the highlight of our lives and make us proud every day.   All adults, two are in the healthcare field and one making her way up in the business world.  I keep hinting that I’d love to see our family continue to grow through the addition of some sons-in-laws and perhaps a grandchild or two, but none of them have taken me up on my suggestion yet.

Over the past thirty years, I’ve been working in the metal stamping industry, servicing diverse markets that include medical, automotive and industrial products.  I have held positions in a variety of roles including customer service, scheduling, human resources, and operations management, to today serving as VP of Manufacturing for our Sturgeon Bay, WI plant.  When I walk through my plant and hear the presses running, it is like music to my ears!  I am passionate about keeping both our internal and external customers satisfied and am pleased to say that due to trusting relationships that have been fostered over the years our company has many long-term employees and customers.

It is with great excitement and optimism that I joined the Cadence team in August of 2014 when they acquired the Wisconsin stamping operation that I manage.  It is very evident to me that this is a company with the highest integrity that doesn’t just talk the talk.  They exemplify the results that can be achieved when a business culture is developed that supports principles such as innovation, involvement, balance, flexibility and open book management.

Something that not many people know about me…

  • I am an avid antique collector.  My husband and I enjoy going on antique “hunts,” looking for our next treasure, which might be lighting, artwork, or furniture.  We have done our fair share of restoring many pieces of furniture to its original beautiful condition.
  • A few years ago we purchased a 100+-year-old house that we have spent restoring over the last few summers.

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