Matt Redmann has had a love affair with motorcycles since he was a kid watching daredevil Evel Knievel jump over obstacles with his motorcycle on TV. So it’s only fitting that Matt has built a career at Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
Over the years, he’d had jobs managing environmental compliance and waste reduction at GE Healthcare, Navistar International, and Grede Foundries. The pull of the legendary motorcycle company was so strong, though, that he kept an eye on job listings there. In 2005, he struck gold and was hired as a corporate environmental engineer and soon thereafter became the environmental manager for the company’s Powertrain Operations.
Matt works at a factory near Milwaukee that employs 1000 people to manufacture parts and assemble powertrains (the engine and transmission) that are shipped to other U.S. factories for final assembly into bikes.
Compliance with municipal, state, and federal environmental laws is one of his key responsibilities, but he takes it further to see how Harley-Davidson can reduce or eliminate waste and emissions into the air or water beyond regulatory requirements. If it saves the company money along the way, all the better.
Case in point: the manufacturing process creates dime-sized pieces of aluminum waste that are coated with “cutting coolant” to protect tools and materials from the extreme heat generated during processing. These waste chips are now put through a “chip wringer,” a sort of centrifuge that spins off the coolant, which is reused. The scrap aluminum fetches a better price in the recycling market, because it is cleaner.
Matt has also worked with other employees to reduce energy consumption in the furnaces that heat-treat the steel for gears and countershafts, and likewise Matt collaborated with others to reduce energy and water consumption in the powder-coating process, which applies special finishes to powertrains.
This is not a job done in a vacuum. To know how to prevent waste and pollution, he has to learn how and where it is created in the company’s manufacturing environment. “I get some of my best ideas from people on the shop floor,” he says.
At key points in his career, Harley-Davidson has supported Matt’s development through continuing education, including his training in the Six Sigma problem-solving methodology (in which he is now a black belt), his training as a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager, and his advanced degree from the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. When searching for a master’s program, Matt was impressed with Duke’s emphasis on leadership as well as environmental management. It’s the leadership skills that he learned at Duke, he says, that have enabled him to realize what he can learn from other people on the job. “Ask questions and be humble,” he says. “That’s a key.”
He chose the Duke Environmental Leadership/Master of Environmental Management degree, a low-residency program designed to keep environmental professionals on the job while studying for a degree.
“What a terrific program. I was able to keep my job, keep my family commitments and get an advanced degree in my field from one of the most prestigious schools in the world, Duke University.”
Matt finds that working at Harley-Davidson is a good fit. The company that employs him makes one of his favorite products and shares his passion for protecting the natural environment. “That’s because people who ride want to see scenic vistas, want clean air and clean water.’”
“It’s a dream job. Harley-Davidson really makes me feel my work is important and my opinion counts. I get so much joy doing what I love to do, for a company I’ve admired forever.”
- 2011, Duke Environmental Leadership Master of Environmental Management degree
- Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University
Master’s Project: Develop sustainability tool for Harley Davidson dealer network
- 1990, B.S., Biology, Valparaiso University
- 2006-present, Environmental Manager, Powertrain Operations, Harley-Davidson Motor Company
- 2005-2006, Corporate Environmental & Safety Engineer, Harley-Davidson Motor Company
- 2003-2004, Environmental Health and Safety Program Leader, GE Healthcare
- 2000-2003, Senior Safety, Health, Environmental Engineer, Grede Foundries, Inc.
- 1999-2000, Environmental Systems Manager, Navistar International
- 1995-2000 Environmental & Safety Engineer, Navistar International
- 1993-1995 Environmental Engineer, Grote Industries
- 1991-1993 Field Chemist, Laidlaw Environmental Services
Accreditations & Memberships
- Six Sigma Black Belt
- CHMM® Certified Hazardous Materials Manager
- Five-time recipient of Champion of Excellence Award, Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals
- Board of Directors, Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM)
- Chair, Waukesha County Local Emergency Planning Committee