Board of Advisors
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Meet the Board of Advisors

Kelly Ayotte Kelly Ayotte
Board Member
John Blackford John Blackford
Board Member
Steve Burke Steve Burke
Board Member
Gerardine Ferlins Gerardine Ferlins
Chief Governance Officer
Tom Manero Tom Manero
Board Member
Joyce Manley Joyce Manley
Board Member
Andy McMillan Andy McMillan
Chair of the Advisory Board
Erika Ferlins Mills Erika Ferlins Mills
Carl Proescholdt Carl Proescholdt
Chair of the Compensation Committee

Kelly Ayotte – Board Member

Kelly Ayotte

The Honorable Kelly A. Ayotte is a member of the Board of Advisors of Cirtronics Corporation.

Ayotte was appointed to the Advisory Board in June 2017. In this role, she brings a distinctive blend of skills and experience from her tenure in public service as an elected U.S. Senator, three appointments as New Hampshire’s Attorney General, as well as her highly regarded expertise in national security and advocacy for military readiness and our service men and women.

As a U.S. Senator from 2011 to 2017, Ayotte worked across party lines to sponsor independent and collaborative legislation to address some of our nation’s most challenging domestic and foreign policy issues. Ayotte chaired the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security. In these leadership positions, she supported budget certainty, opposed defense sequestration, led efforts to strengthen our defense industrial base across the nation’s public shipyards, and oversaw the Federal Aviation Administration and domestic aviation infrastructure and security. Ayotte also served on a number of other committees, to include the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Budget, Transportation, and Commerce Committees, where she worked to advance policies that encouraged private-sector innovation and job creation, particularly in high-tech manufacturing and STEM-related sectors.

From 2004 to 2009, Ayotte was appointed by both a Republican and Democratic governor to serve as New Hampshire’s Attorney General, the first and only woman to serve in this role. As New Hampshire’s chief legal and law enforcement officer regarding civil and criminal matters, she argued before the United States Supreme Court, as well as the New Hampshire Supreme Court in multiple cases. Prior to her appointments, she was the deputy attorney general and chief of the Homicide Prosecution Unit, and she previously served as legal counsel to Governor Benson after beginning her career as a law clerk to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and as an associate in the litigation department of McLane Middleton.

Ayotte currently serves on the Board of Directors for News Corp, the Advisory Board for Blink Health, and as a Visiting Fellow for the Harvard Institute of Politics and Belfer Center at the Kennedy School of Government. She is also a board member of not-for-profit organizations, to include the McCain Institute, the International Republican Institute, and Veterans Count New Hampshire. A native of Nashua, New Hampshire, Ayotte graduated with honors from Pennsylvania State University and earned a Juris Doctor degree from Villanova University School of Law.

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John Blackford – Board Member

John Blackford

John Blackford has been an advisor to Cirtronics for just over 30 years, starting when the company had 20 employees and whose business was largely hand-stuffing printed circuit boards. Experiencing Cirtronics growth from its early beginnings to the present sophisticated and successful company has been one of the most satisfying episodes in his business career.

After an engineering degree at Purdue, a time in industry, the Air Force and graduate business at Harvard, John came to New Hampshire in the mid 1950s to help start a machinery manufacturer. The company designed and manufactured special sawmill machinery and grew over some 26 years into a well-respected position all over the Eastern US with up to 100 employees. During that time John was involved in product development, manufacturing operations, finance and became the CEO and major stockholder. The company was sold in the early 1980s.

John moved to management consulting focused on counseling CEOs of small owner-managed manufacturing companies in the Northeast. Over the next 20 years he served over 50 clients. The bulk of this work was with some 15 clients involving long term multi-year relationships, as with Cirtronics. Other clients were on a project basis and covered a wider range of business challenges.

Also, in the past 20 to 30 years Mr. Blackford is involved in many state-wide non-profit organizations, on Boards of Trustees and in several instances serving as the Chair.

John is an avid sailor, skier, hiker/climber and most recently a budding musician. He is married with three grown children and six grandchildren living in Exeter NH at The Riverwoods Retirement Community.

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Steve Burke – Board Member

Steve Burke

Steve Burke is a director in the Tax, Trusts and Estates and Corporate Departments at McLane Middleton. For over the last 25 years, Steve has devoted his practice to advising on business, governance and tax planning, transactions, business succession and sophisticated executive compensation. Also a CPA, Steve advises high net worth individuals, families, and fiduciaries on estate planning, trust administration and wealth preservation. He also serves as counsel for the trustees of significant charitable, educational, and tax-exempt institutions, offering advice on fiduciary, governance and tax matters. Also a Certified Public Accountant and a CGMA, Steve represents businesses and individuals before the IRS and New Hampshire and Massachusetts Department of Revenue and has assisted clients in obtaining administrative rulings from the IRS.

Steve is a Fellow, American College of Tax Counsel, member of the New Hampshire Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, United States Tax Court. Certified Public Accountant, New Hampshire, New Hampshire Bar Association (Past President Taxation Section), American Bar Association (Member Taxation Section), New Hampshire Society of Certified Public Accountants (two-time Past President and Trustee), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (Member of Governing Council), New Hampshire Employee Benefits Council (Past Chair). He is also a Distinguished Professor of Taxation at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

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Gerardine Ferlins – Chief Governance Officer

Gerardine Ferlins

In 1979, Gerardine Ferlins founded the contract manufacturing company, Cirtronics Corporation, on the belief that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when given the opportunity. After 40 years of service to Cirtronics as the President and CEO, Gerardine recently moved into the role of Chief Governance Officer. At the beginning of her career, Gerardine was a social worker committed to helping people reach their full potential. When the opportunity to build printed circuit boards was presented, she knew that Cirtronics could be the vehicle to not only serve the customer, but also to provide people with quality jobs.

For decades, Cirtronics has been driven by the mission “to serve and continuously improve under the Do Unto Others philosophy.” To accomplish this mission, each employee is motivated to balance service to the “6 We Serve” – Supplier, Employee-Owner, Environment, Customer, Corporation, and Community.

Unique in her approach to building a team, Gerardine focused on hiring people who exemplified the Cirtronics values, and adapted positions to match their individual gifts. This has resulted in a strong, team-based environment where everyone contributes their natural talents while being provided opportunities to learn and grow. All relationships both within and outside Cirtronics are based on mutual respect, collaboration, and honesty. In 2002, Gerardine transitioned Cirtronics to an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) to share the company’s success directly with employees. Today, the employees own 40% of the company.

Over the years, Gerardine served outside of Cirtronics practicing the “6 We Serve” through her board participation including NH Catholic Charities, Business Industry Association (BIA) of NH, NH Community Loan Fund, Vested for Growth and most recently Rivier University Board of Trustees.

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Tom Manero – Board Member

Tom Manero

After graduating from Babson College in 1980 with a BS in finance, Tom went to work in commercial lending. Tom spent the first 14 years of his career in middle market commercial lending at Indian Head Bank, Bank of Boston, and Fleet Bank. Tom learned the importance of differentiating himself through the level of advice and support he could bring to the companies he worked with. Just providing funding was only part of the solution, you need good outcomes for the companies as well.

In 1994 Tom left banking and spent the next 22 years working with three different middle market companies supporting their growth and creation of value:

1994 to 2001 – Blue Fin Technologies - Blue Fin was one of Tom’s customers from banking. He ran operational and financial functions of the company. In many ways, Blue Fin was the second half of his education. During Tom’s time at Blue Fin the company tripled in size over 24 months, bought out a partner, opened (started up) two divisions outside its core area, made some mistakes and closed after some reversals in the market. Tom was the last of four employees from a high point of over 100 staff members.

2001 to 2007 – Certified Parts Warehouse – Tom was the Chief Operating Officer during a time when the company doubled sales, established its brand as a high quality provider of spares into the lap top and retail point of sale market, build a management team and moved to a company owned distribution and repair facility that supported the quality brand image of the company.

2007 to 2016 – VXi Corporation – Tom joined VXi as its Chief Financial Officer. Tom was placed at VXi by one of its venture capital investors to help turn the company around. At the core of VXi’ issues was that the rest of the management team was accepting of the mediocre performance of the company that kept its stockholders trapped in the investment. In the first year of Tom’s time at VXi the rest of the management team was replaced including a CEO, VP of Operations, VP of Sales, VP of Engineering and VP of Marketing. With a new team in place management was able to move ahead and solve the company’s issues starting with changing the company culture of just getting by to demanding excellence and focusing on the customer and other stakeholders including employees, vendors, support providers and stockholders. Everyone had to share in some part of VXi’s success. Block and tackle issues were solved including quality control, manufacturing costs, brand image, going out and selling, not just taking orders, sales channel strategy and bringing new products to market to hit defined niches and required margin contribution. During the ten year period sales more than tripled, EBITDA went from zero to 10% of sales. The company was sold twice. The first time the original inventors sold to a private equity group. Through that transaction not a single person lost their job as the new owners wanted to keep a highly performing team in place. Four years later the company was sold to one of its strategic competitors. This time about a third of the work force was retained by the new owner. Those that did not stay had at least a six month runway to find their next opportunity.

In 2017 Tom formed Structure Business Advisors, LLC, a boutique consulting firm focusing on middle market companies that are transitioning from their entrepreneurial phase to a more mature phase of their business. Tom looks to leverage his banking and management experience to provide advice and change methodology around management team development, capital structure, brand identity, operating procedures, financial reporting, sales compensation plans and forecasting. In the end, it is about creating a functional management structure where good decisions are made where sales, operations, and finance overlap to produce outcomes where risk and return are in balance.

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Joyce Manley – Board Member

Joyce Manley

Joyce joined the Cirtronics team in 1984, and shared in the Cirtronics vision of instituting a culture that fosters individual growth. Joyce’s gift in realizing the potential of each person and shaping a position around that uniqueness has allowed Cirtronics growing team to flourish in success. Specifically, Joyce developed hiring practices to attract, acquire and retain talent that aligns with Cirtronics values. Joyce continued devotion to the Cirtronics family by creating mechanisms which allow our people to reach their fullest self. Serving on the Board of Advisors, Joyce will provide insight into sustaining the culture and employee ownership. Cirtronics is an Employee Stock Ownership Program (ESOP) company with employees owning 40% of the business. Joyce serves as a Trustee and has been an instrumental influence in ensuring Cirtronics serves the employee, customer, supplier, environment, community and corporation. Joyce enjoys her time in Maine and having her grandchildren visit her on the coast.

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Andy McMillan – Chair of the Advisory Board

Andy McMillan

Andy has a broad professional background including executive leadership, management and key contributor roles in both commercial and not-for-profit organizations. He has worked in high tech and manufacturing companies ranging in size from startups to global industry leaders. Andy has founded several companies and holds a dozen patents in sensors, systems and software. Currently, Andy serves as President and Managing Director of a global data communications trade association. He also maintains an independent business strategy and marketing consulting practice.

Throughout his career Andy has built strong, collaborative relationships crossing commercial, geographic and cultural boundaries. He has been an invited speaker at numerous conferences on manufacturing automation and open systems around the world. His formal education includes engineering and business degrees from the University of Michigan.

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Erika Ferlins Mills – Secretary

Erika Ferlins Mills

Erika Ferlins Mills is the Director of Financial Aid and Associate Director of Admissions at Middlesex School in Concord, MA. At Middlesex, Erika is also an English teacher, head of house, and varsity rowing coach. Prior to working at Middlesex, Erika worked in the admissions office at Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, CT and as a research associate at Harvard Business School, where she co-authored a number of business cases and teaching notes. Erika holds a B.A. in psychology from Connecticut College and an M.A. from Harvard Business School. The daughter of Cirtronics’ founder, Gerardine Ferlins, Erika spent several summers during high school and college working at Cirtronics in manufacturing, purchasing, and sales. Currently, she chairs the advisory committee of the Mindfulness Director Institute and volunteers with Concord Prison Outreach. She lives in Concord, MA with her husband and three sons.

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Carl Proescholdt – Chair of the Compensation Committee

Carl Proescholdt

Carl has broad experience in electronics manufacturing. He spent 17 years with Harris Corporation in San Antonio, Texas, and Quincy, Illinois. At Harris, Carl filled many roles such as: production supervision, new product team leadership, service, manufacturing team leadership.

Once joining DCA Manufacturing in 1999, Carl took the role of Director of Manufacturing. After he and his partners purchased DCA in 2000, he handled the responsibility for the overall corporate direction, as well as, providing engineering and information systems support. Carl retired from DCA and sold the operation in 2017.

In addition to his role on the Cirtronics Advisory Board, Carl has been a long time Board of Directors member of the Cumberland Federal Bank.

Carl received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering at Iowa State University. He also completed a Graduate Program in Business at University of Florida/Harris Corporation and a Masters in Business Administration at Quincy University.

Carl’s and his spouse, Katie, reside in Wisconsin, where she has a history of community volunteer work. Their two daughters, Anne and Laura both work in the Non-Profit sector in Madison, WI, and St. Paul, MN.

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To learn more about the Cirtronics culture and working at Cirtronics, visit the Careers section of our website.