Karen Norheim

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

President & Chief Operating Officer
American Crane and Equipment Corp.

I am passionate about all things manufacturing. As the 2nd generation coming into the leadership role for my family’s company, American Crane & Equipment Corporation, I have sought to solidify the “Founder’s Legacy” while putting my own stamp on the company culture.

After joining American Crane 17 years ago, Karen was named president and COO in 2019. As a woman in manufacturing, her career progression has been rapid and inspiring—but anyone who knows Karen is not surprised by her success. During those 17 years, she worked tirelessly to advance and promote the industry and company she loves.  As executive vice president, she oversaw day-to-day operations of the 180-person facility. She also created a new cultural movement, “GRIT Matters,” which incorporates the three principles that guide American Crane: Perseverance, Heart, and InteGRITy. This newly defined company culture has brought the American Crane family together, resulting in a more collaborative environment and further streamlining efficiency and processes.

Karen is a leader in the manufacturing industry not only because of accomplishments in the workplace, but because of her accomplishments mentoring young people—especially young women. A frequent speaker at schools and professional organizations, Karen is a valuable resource for STEM programs in her region. She began the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Women in Manufacturing (WiM) and quickly developed it into one of the premier chapters for encouraging women to enter manufacturing and developing the talents of women already in the industry through mentoring and peer-to-peer networking. Karen currently serves as Chair of the National Board of Women In Manufacturing.

Karen plays a key role in the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance’s Next Gen Advanced Manufacturing Industry Partnership. This initiative brings local manufacturing companies together to identify and address common challenges and opportunities. Karen’s is a natural leader in the partnership and brings solutions to the table at every meeting.

Karen has published articles on manufacturing and leadership, and in one she talks about how spreading small influences can lead to greater ones—the ripple effect. Karen works every day to be the ripple that builds greater awareness about the manufacturing industry.