Team Leader Paula Pinkelman stands in L&M Radiator's Yankton, South Dakota facility

Employee Spotlight: Paula Pinkelman is the Picture of an Engaged Leader

Paula Pinkelman, the first woman supervisor at L&M Radiator promotes camaraderie and fosters a supportive environment for the whole team.

Yankton, South Dakota – Everybody – even the world’s greatest leaders – must start somewhere.

When Pinkelman first started working at L&M Radiator 11 years ago, she had no prior experience working in a factory. At the time, she held a position at Walmart. After her friend and colleague got hired at L&M Radiator, she heard such rave reviews that Paula soon followed her lead.

“My friend had great things to say about the company,” said Pinkelman. “That is what got me into working here.”

With her chin up and her best foot forward, Pinkelman was hired on to join the team.

Walking in on her first day, she admits she was nervous, but her nerves were soon quelled when she realized just how much support she would have on the job.

“They make you feel welcome and there is a lot of training available. When I started here, I didn’t know anything about factory life. But they connected me with a mentor to be my go-to person,” said Pinkelman. “If you need anything or have any questions, they are there for you. The environment is very accepting and, if you need anything, everybody’s really willing to help you out.”

Team Leader Paula Pinkelman stands in L&M Radiator's Yankton, South Dakota facility

It didn’t take long for Pinkelman to feel at home. After putting in the work and learning new skills such as how to work the lathe or press, Pinkelman was promoted to team leader. In 2021, she became the backup supervisor on the day shift.

In October 2022, Pinkelman’s drive to learn combined with her strong leadership abilities were rewarded when she was named the company’s first woman supervisor. In her role as Tubing Supervisor, she is in charge of coordinating, managing, and supporting her crew. In her words, “helping them out when and where needed.”

“It’s such a feeling of accomplishment and it makes me proud that they felt I was right for this position,” said Pinkelman. “I mean, it’s something nobody’s ever done before, so that is really cool.”

You Get What You Give, You Give What You Get

Anyone who knows Pinkelman knows that ‘cool’ is an understatement of her talents. Day in and day out, you can always count on Pinkelman to give her all to her team. This leader is engaged, organized, positive, and entirely supportive.

“I’m always out there with my team,” said Pinkelman. “If they have problems or issues, I’m there for them. I’ve got their backs. My job is to guide them and help them out.”

It’s clear that the support Pinkelman received when she was a rookie in the shop is not lost on her. She spends every day making sure that everyone feels supported and uses her position as a leader to build a positive environment.

“Everybody knows everybody here. If I need anything or anybody needs anything from us, you can go to the other department and they’re willing to help you out,” said Pinkelman. “It’s a family owned business and it shows. You actually feel like you’re somebody, you’re not just another person out there on the floor. It’s clear that you are valued, and there’s a lot of opportunity for advancement if you want to.”

At home, Pinkelman puts her thoughtful leadership skills to work as a grandmother to two amazing granddaughters whom she adores.

“Lydia (3 years old) is full of personality. You never know what she’s going to come up with. She’s so much fun. She’s such a smart little girl and just loves spending time with grandma,” said Pinkelman. “I also have a little four-month-old granddaughter, MacKenzie, who is just starting to smile and laugh. It is so fun spending time with them.”

When she isn’t grandmother of the year or holding it down on the shop floor, you’ll find Pinkelman cheering for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. She reportedly wishes they would win more games, and, with her cheering them on…they just might.

Meet the L&M Radiator Team

Interested in a career at L&M Radiator? Visit our Careers page for more information.

For more stories similar to this one, visit The Mesabi Exchange.


Get the performance you require, reliability you need, productivity you demand, and competitive edge you desire.

Learn More Contact Us