Recognized for his lifetime of leadership and investment in research that led to advances in machine tool and factory technologies, Brian J. Papke, former Chairman and now Executive Advisor to the Board of Mazak Corporation, received the prestigious M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal of ASME/SME.
Throughout his career, Papke has promoted, supported and expanded applications of machine tools and manufacturing technology in ways that set the stage for digital manufacturing, drove standardization for manufacturing interconnectivity and improved the overall competitiveness of U.S. manufacturers.
Established in 1986, the award recognizes exceptional individuals who have had significant influence and responsibility for improving the productivity and efficiency of manufacturing operations. The honor results from Papke’s long, distinguished career in the machine tool industry that began after his graduation from the University of Illinois. He then entered the machine tool industry in a management training program, then progressed through various sales and management positions, eventually becoming president of Mazak, a position he held for 29 years. In 2016, he was named Chairman.
In his leadership position at Mazak, Papke created and sustained a pattern of continuous growth and improvement for the company through the establishment of three core business strategies. Those strategies included a lean production-on-demand approach to manufacturing, implementation of the industry’s first digitally connected Mazak iSMART Factory, an all-encompassing customer support program and a unique network of eight Technology Centers and five Technical Centers across North America, anchored by a National Technology Center in Florence, Kentucky.
Papke was also active in numerous trade association committees. He served on the Association of Manufacturing Technology (AMT) Board of Directors – an association that recently presented him with its Al Moore Award honoring his lifetime of dedication to the advancement of the manufacturing industry. Papke also served on the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association (AMTDA) Board of Directors and is currently a member on the board of Gardner Business Media.
At the local level, Papke served on the Board of Advisors for the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and is a former member of the Advisory Board of the College of Business of Northern Kentucky University, where he also taught MBA courses on leadership and ethics. Throughout his tenure at Mazak, Papke has developed relationships with local leadership and educational institutions to support workforce development through apprenticeship programs and community awareness.
NKY Magazine and the NKY Chamber of Commerce inducted Papke into the Northern Kentucky Business Hall of Fame. It celebrates the business accomplishments of the men and women who have made a lasting contribution to the Northern Kentucky community and the Tri-State area.
In receiving the M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal, Papke extended heartfelt thanks to his family, friends and especially to the entire Mazak team and the Yamazaki family that founded the company. With a passion for the manufacturing industry, machine tools and Mazak, he never considered his career a job, but instead a way of life for 55 years.