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Okay Industries Vice President Donna Lasher Rutola to Retire

Trailblazing Executive Saw Company through 44 Years of Change, Growth

Donna Rutola

New Britain, Conn., April 24, 2017 – Donna Lasher Rutola, who over the course of a distinguished and trailblazing 44-year business career with Okay Industries rose from working the phones as a receptionist to becoming one of the Central Connecticut region’s leading female corporate executives, has announced her retirement.

Rutola’s last day at the company’s 200 Ellis Street, New Britain plant will be Friday, April 28.

“Words cannot quite capture the enormous contribution that Donna has made not only to this company, but to our community,” said Okay Industries President Jason Howey. “During her remarkable career, Donna has been integral to Okay’s success and growth, has inspired fellow women business leaders and has served as an extraordinary example of professionalism and dedication.

“She will be sorely missed.”

“Okay Industries and the people I work with and have worked with for so many years have been such an important part of my life,” said Rutola. “I am so proud to have been part of Okay’s history and growth, and to be leaving at a time when new technologies, new competencies and new talent, all good harbingers for the company, are on the horizon.”

Rutola’s career at Okay Industries embodies the classic American success story, beginning in the early 1970s when women in American business leadership roles were scarce and ending nearly half a century later in the executive suite. Over the years, Rutola took on most every job from accounting to sales and emerged as a skilled negotiator, handling every government contract for Okay since 1976.

Rutola began at Okay in November, 1972, assigned by then-owner Ed Okay to be “put on the phones because she doesn’t know a thing about business.” Rutola’s potential, though, was obvious, and after submitting her notice after six months due to boredom, Ed Okay changed her mind by offering a chance to grow with the company.

Rutola moved into accounting and then purchasing, learning the process that turned raw materials into finished parts. She moved on to personnel and then sales, where she learned, in her words, “valuable lessons about analytic thinking and seeing the big picture.”

When Ed Okay suffered a massive heart attack in 1984, the company was sold and Rutola was named a vice president. “Over 12 years I went from bored and wanting to leave to being totally engaged and excited about my career and the company,” she said.

In 1988 Rutola played an integral role in yet another company sale, making presentations to prospective buyers and being afforded the opportunity to make the final selection. Rutola chose a company suitor by the name of Greg Howey whose intention was to be a hands-on owner/operator. The Howey family assumed ownership in 1990 and continues to own and operate Okay Industries to this day.

In addition to her accomplishments at Okay and in the manufacturing industry, Rutola has been a major force in the Greater New Britain community, serving in leadership roles over the years for a wide variety of community organizations and programs including the Boys & Girls Club of New Britain, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, Community Chest of New Britain and Berlin, Trinity-on-Main, CCARC, American Savings Foundation, YWCA New Britain and others. Rutola emphasized that following retirement, she plans to continue her community involvement in the area.

Rutola is proud of having been a primary catalyst in Okay’s participation over the years in the United Way’s annual company campaign; Okay and its employees now contribute in excess of $50,000 annually to the cause. She is the former co-chair of the YWCA New Britain capital campaign, and has been recognized by numerous organizations for her contributions to the community, including the YWCA Women in Leadership Award (1991), YWCA Volunteer of the Year (1992), Athena Award (1998), YWCA Women in Leadership Special Honoree (2007) and Distinguished Community Service Award (2009).

Rutola is a member of the Manufacturing Leadership Council, a national group of senior level manufacturing executives, and the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). In 2010 she was a finalist in the Hartford Business Journal’s CFO of the Year award competition.

OKAY Industries (www.okayind.com) specializes in producing complex metal stampings, CNC Machining, automated mechanical and welded assemblies and surgical blades and scissors using OKAY’s Accu-Blade® Technology. The company has expertise with titanium stamping services. R&D, product development with concurrent design and build, Production Proven Prototyping and rapid tooling services are also provided. All tooling and assembly machines are designed and built in-house. OKAY prides itself on innovation, and has won the Precision Metalforming Association’s (PMA) award in Product Development three times as well as the PMA Quality Award in 2008. OKAY has many other awards, including the Hartford Business Journal/Metro Hartford Business Champion in the overall category (Business Growth, Sustainability, Workforce Development & Innovation) in 2009 as well as being named a Progressive Manufacturing 100 Award winner, also in 2009. Okay has another facility in Berlin Connecticut for medical product manufacturing and another in Costa Rica.