Team & Advisory Board


  • Michelle Kakacek, CEcD
    Center Director
    Watertown Office: (605) 868-1201

    Michelle is the Center Director for South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. She brings an extensive background in business, economic, and workforce development and experience in sales. Prior to coming to MTS she served as the Executive Director for the Watertown Development Company. Michelle is no stranger to manufacturing. In addition to working with area manufacturers in her role with WDC she also worked in production planning and supply chain for a multi-national electronics manufacturer.

  • Brad Fischer
    Senior Business Advisor
    Rapid City Office: (763) 226-6331

    Brad Fischer covers the western region of South Dakota. Prior to joining SDMTS as a business advisor, Brad served as a Plant Metallurgist, Quality Control Manager, Tool and Die Manager, Engineering Manager, Technical/ Sales and Marketing Director, Director of Operations and Regional Manager with nearly 30 years of experience in manufacturing.

  • Pete Menke
    Business Advisor
    Sioux Falls Office: (605) 261-2831

    Pete Menke is a Business Advisor for South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. Pete has spent his career working in the manufacturing industry, focusing on process improvement and scheduling process. Pete helps organizations identify opportunities, develop sustainable processes, and can also help uncover if automation makes sense for different parts of their processes.

  • Stuart Giere
    Business Advisor
    Aberdeen & Watertown Offices: (320) 894-6464

    Educated as a Mechanical Engineer at South Dakota State University, Stuart has spent over 30 years in a variety of executive positions in the areas of engineering, product development, quality, marketing, sales, and new business development. Stuart is also a successful entrepreneur. Stuart holds certifications with; The Scrum Alliance as a Certified Scrum Professional, the International Coaching Federation as a Certified Associate Coach, and most recently with The Table Group, Patrick Lencioni’s organization, as a Working Genius Facilitator. Stuart currently holds the position of Business Advisor with South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions. He specializes in Lean Leadership, Lean 101 (simulations), and Strategic Planning. His focus is on helping improve the performance of small and medium-sized companies across South Dakota.

  • Angela Allen, PMP
    Business Advisor
    Watertown Office: (605) 770-3049

    Angela Allen is a Business Advisor for South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions specializing in Supply Chain. Her background includes experience in product design, sales, customer service, and project management. Before coming to SDMTS, she worked in manufacturing in the plastics and engineered wood products industries. In addition to her manufacturing experience, she spent several years as a designer in the civil engineering field. Using her project management expertise, she will be working to develop the supply chain program and supply chain business solutions for SDMTS. Angela recently earned her Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from Project Management Institute (PMI).

  • Tammy Rohde
    Project & Events Coordinator
    Watertown Office: (605)882-5284 ext. 320, or (605) 520-1583

    Tammy Rohde is the Project and Events Coordinator for South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology Solutions. This is a shared position with Corporate Education at Lake Area Technical College. Tammy has previous experience with all things customer service along with planning and executing various events. She will be doing a variety of things for MTS some to include, planning advisory board meetings and taking minutes, scheduling events, and marketing them, along with website updates.

  • Travis Thiex
    Business Advisor
    Brookings, SD: (605) 695-0207

    Travis J. Thiex is a seasoned Manager known for his expertise in manufacturing and process innovation. With a successful background, Travis served as the Process Engineering Director at Houdek Manufacturing, overseeing new product development and operational enhancements. As President of Impact Engineering Solutions, he led automation and robotic integration projects. In his role as a Business Advisor at South Dakota Manufacturing and Technology Solutions, provided valuable insights on workforce challenges and implemented automation solutions. His experience as Operations Supervisor at Manitou Group showcased his proficiency in lean techniques and new product development. With two degrees from South Dakota State University, Travis brings a wealth of practical knowledge to the realms of management, robotics, and automation.

Advisory Board Members

Tim Hanigan, Banner Engineering

Eric Hansen, Sioux Corporation

Gary Larson, Electronic Systems, Inc.

James Girard, DeSCo Architectural

James Sebert, Dakota Pump

Dean Jensen, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

Joe Fiala, South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development

Mark Slade, South Dakota Small Business Development Center

Doug Prairie, South Dakota State University AG & Biosystems Engineering Instructor