20 under 40: Adele Onken

Adele Onken

Senior production planner at Maintainer Corporation of Iowa in Sheldon


ASHTON—Thousands of parts are required to build the specialized trucks coming off the production floor at Maintainer Corporation of Iowa in Sheldon.

Making sure those parts and pieces are always where they need to be comes down to the work of senior production planner Adele Onken. At any given moment she is tracking hundreds, if not thousands of truck parts to make sure production continues at a smooth pace.

“I’ve always described my job in the past as making sure the right parts are in the right place at the right time,” Onken said. “The idea behind that is to help make sure people everything they need to keep working on what their current projects and help take out any headaches they might deal with — it’s process refinement, keeping things moving.”

Onken graduated from George-Little Rock High School in 2005 and during college started working at Diversified Technologies just outside George.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, a combination of the economic downturn in 2008 and her experience working at Diversified steered her toward her career path.

“I never really thought I’d be working in manufacturing,” Onken said. “I always thought I would go to college, get a four-year degree then find a glamorous job where I could travel all over the world. I went where I knew would have a solid job with a good paycheck and I had lot of great experience and help getting started from Diversified.”

While Onken said she does use her history degree in some aspects of her job, much of her career so far has been learned on the job.

“Knowing what I know now I probably would have gone to school for logistics, supply chain management, something like that,” Onken said. “But it’s also nice that Maintainer is really great at working with anybody who has an interest. It’s a great company.”

Onken is in charge of Maintainer’s custom line.

“One of the things I really like about Maintainer is the custom nature of our trucks. Not everything is the same, so you’re dealing with new challenges and opportunities every day.”