Name: Andrea Lewis

Region: Americas

Position: Senior Finance Manager

Years of Service in CE: 2 years 9 months

Can you tell us about your current role and responsibilities?

I make business decisions that best steer the Americas Region and thus overall Clear Edge toward meeting and exceeding AOP by participating in the day-to-day activities at the plant, working with cross-functional teams, and managing the accounting team. I am responsible for reporting the financial performance of Clear Edge Americas and helping support other leaders in all areas of the business in any way I can.

Can you tell us about your journey at Clear Edge?

I came to Clear Edge at the kick-off to move the Tulsa plant to Minnesota in May 2021, which tossed me directly into a very busy time in Clear Edge Americas, and it has not slowed down since. After this project wrapped up, we went right into implementing a new ERP System which took all of 2023 and still is lingering today. It’s been a season of changes but I’ve had the privilege to travel to other Clear Edge sites to gain knowledge and build relationships. It has been a whirlwind of hard work so far, and the upcoming growth will be the next challenge. 

What first drew you to want to work for Clear Edge?

The potential – I wanted to see if a company was truly all Nikhil Tamhane advertised it to be. The idea that a leadership team could handle tough conversations and make difficult decisions successfully is a challenge. I was drawn to the team and have not been disappointed. Also, the challenging projects Clear Edge was undertaking were a draw because not every company changes this much in such a short amount of time, it sounded like fun to help be a part of that. 

What is the driving force behind everything you do… What keeps you motivated and driven daily?

Growth and Overcoming Challenges – I love solving problems and the sense of achievement that comes with that. I love learning new things, gaining more perspective from experiences and people (even when it may seem uncomfortable, that’s where the personal growth lies), along with a little fun with those people, and being rewarded for the hard work that is put into overcoming those challenges. 

What’s something you do to start your workday?

I have a long commute, so I usually start my day with a quiet ride reflecting on issues I am trying to tackle. Upon arriving at the office, I dive into prioritizing emails, checking my calendar, and then I’m off to tackle whatever the day throws my way.  It’s usually a flurry of tasks and meetings throughout the day. 

Tell us about your biggest achievement/the proudest moment at Clear Edge to date

Successfully merging three separate companies into one unified entity. We used to be running three distinct companies and navigating through separate accounting systems, bank accounts, audits, tax returns, and payrolls, among other challenges, was a tedious process. Eventually, merging into a single entity marked a big success. As we step into 2024, the benefits of this consolidation are becoming increasingly apparent, positioning us to enhance competitiveness through streamlined pricing strategies and expand our market share in the target market  – very exciting. 

Who has been the biggest mentor in your professional career and what was the most important lesson they taught you?

My Dad taught me that people come first in any business. You need to look at and think first about how the decisions being made affect the people you depend on. Keep as many people employed as you can financially handle and give back when and where you can, because it will always be returned to you in some way or form. He was a great businessman and saw many downturns and times of prosperity, so he has a lot of wisdom and perspective to share – much of it I saw first-hand. I still consult him today on occasion when I am working things through my mind, and I want a new perspective.

What advice would you give to new employees joining the organization?

Be Curious! And stay vocal with ideas as they come to you. Leaders depend on input and don’t have all the answers, input is needed (especially new fresh sets of eyes) to speak up about what they see. Even if there is a reason it’s done a certain way, it’s worth asking and finding out and learning more about the organization.

If you could sit down for dinner with anyone, who would it be and why?

If I could pick anyone, they would most likely be deceased, for example: Albert Einstein, Cleopatra, or Madeleine Albright. It would be so hard to pick, I would have so many questions just out of pure curiosity. If they had to be alive today, I would say Elon Musk because he seems a little bit crazy with his ideas and still goes against the grain in many cases, which intrigues me.

What is one thing that very few people know about you?

I’m quite uncomfortable with small talk in social settings, and I enjoy a deep or meaningful conversation or better yet being QUIET more than anything. I am most comfortable spending time with my own thoughts… I am an introvert and when possible, I enjoy silence because that is what energizes me. Most people find they must fill the silence because it makes them uncomfortable, where I am quite happy sitting quietly with others or getting into real conversation that has meaning and adds value to a relationship.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I love to be with my family, to be outdoors when the weather allows, and to travel and see new places.

What do you feel is the company’s biggest strength and how is Clear Edge contributing to making the World Safer, Healthier, and More Productive?

Our biggest strength is the willingness to change and adapt. We have leaders that are getting more and more comfortable with change, and I think that is a good thing because the world and business is changing faster and faster as technology advances. The biggest contributor in my opinion is the technical fabrics we offer – at first when I came to Clear Edge, I thought it all looked the same, like any other white fabric, only to discover the truly intricate details that go into how and where we apply different fabrics. Our mission statement i.e. to make the World Safer, Healthier, and More Productive mission is very applicable with our products and what they are used for, it’s quite impressive.

Provide an example of Clear Edge’s customer first mentality. Please quote.

“Has the Customer been made whole?” or is the question we ask on quality calls when there is a claim. That question is the first and foremost question that pushes the quality process while we work to find the root cause and put into place preventative measures, so that particular incident will not happen again. 

How will you use your skills and experience to shape the future of Clear Edge?

I aim to prepare Clear Edge for growth. As much as cost-cutting to preserve in economic downturns is a challenge, so is growth, and the challenges are very different. It’s a good challenge to have, however people think growth is easy and inherent when it is not. I also hope to help bring about more ‘global’ cooperation and use of our large footprint across the world, we have advantages we have yet to really use to their full potential and could be useful in growth mode. 

Where do you see the company in 5 years?

As ‘THE’ leader in the mining and chemical industry and likely other markets as well. I believe we have a quality product and with the right steps forward we can be bigger and more recognized than we are today. With our cost structure projects behind us, we are more forward-looking, which gives us a huge advantage for growth and a solid team steering the ship toward success – I see good things.