A Snapshot of My 20 Years in Manufacturing

A Snapshot of My 20 Years in Manufacturing

Twenty years with VistaTek this month and manufacturing continues to amaze me with its excitement, experience and opportunities. Through it all I have seen four different U.S. Presidents, the enhancement of data transfer and engineering software, the birth of #SocialMedia and the end of fax machines, to name a few. So, where do I start? A blog probably shouldn’t be that long, so I will just hit a few of the highlights. Buckle up, it has been one hell of a ride for this 43 year old!

Lessons Learned

Give before you take. Always try to buy the first lunch. Trust everyone once, as there is more good than bad in the world. Match your belt with your shoes. Keep up with technology and local sports. Respect your elders, but be sure to tease them and call them out when they are wrong. Know that being old doesn’t equal being right, but that it does equal more experiences, which helps provide better answers. Understand that it’s okay to admit that you do not know or understand. Believe that failing is learning and you should never stop learning.

Travel and Industry

My work in manufacturing has lead me to 46 states and more than 15 countries while meeting countless people and creating lifelong friendships. I have seen products in early development from medical devices to gaming consoles. I have worked with Fortune 100 companies to inventors who started on Shark Tank. I have stayed in roadside motels to being bumped up to first-class flying next to Usher.  I have had a customer fly me in his self-assembled plane over Mt. St. Helens while doing a barrel role. I have been exposed to extreme experiences from following the steps of Christ in Jerusalem to drinking Sake shots in Tokyo. Hey, both left an impression.

Press and Publicity

I have presented endlessly regarding trends in manufacturing and have been published in numerous trade publications. I have made the front page of the New York Times and have graced the local papers just enough to annoy my family. Was honored to present my first ever TEDx Talk regarding sustainability and innovation at Horace Park. Finally, my favorite pastime is discussing career paths with high schoolers and college students.


I have been a part of buying, selling and launching a new company SelfEco.com and SelfEcoGarden.com, and learned how much attorneys make for understanding old English language (i.e. Et al, whereas and forthright). I have realized that employees are the greatest assets for winning and losing. I now understand the value of a mentor in your life.



Industry Involvement

My father told me that if I was going to be in an industry, I needed to be involved. So, on top of writing articles for trade magazines, I became involved with SPE, AMBA and SME, and served on advisory boards for 3D printing companies, trade magazines, local trade schools and universities. All of this gave me exposure and confidence.



One of my greatest experiences through manufacturing was joining the AMBA (American Mold Builders Association) on a conference and lobbying effort in Washington D.C. This event exposed me to the importance of being informed and involved. I quickly learned that those who talked the most and the loudest were the ones that made the rules. It showed me that one voice can make a difference and the change will happen if you fight for it. No fight, no change!  I was honored to work with both sides of the aisle while seeing the importance of a true third party. My top honors are (not in any particular order) shaking hands with President Barrack Obama, and working with Senators’ Coleman, Franken, Klobuchar, Baldwin (Wisconsin), Governor Pawlenty, the Vadnais Heights City Administrator Gerald Urban and the Stillwater City Council.

After 20 years, my biggest takeaway is that the people in power do not really have that much power. We can make bigger changes in our lives than any president, church or celebrity on social media. Our voice counts and we need to focus on what is relevant and not just what is cool. Our legacy should be based on how we treat each other and Mother Earth. Our current decisions are based on cost and convenience without considering their impact on the next generation. Namely, social divide and a polluted planet.  Manufacturing can make a difference and should be used as a viable tool regarding sustainable products.

I want to thank the loyal customers, vendors and friends who have made my journey epic and encourage the rest of the world to embrace manufacturing and sustainability. I am thankful and blessed for my last 20 years and look forward to the next 20.

– Danny Mishek (President & Co-Owner, VistaTek)

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