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February 21, 2021 / 2021 Power 50

2021 Power 50: 42. Colin Cooper, Kelli-Marie Vallieres & Ari Santiago

Photo | HBJ File Kelli-Marie Vallieres (right) is the CEO of sister companies Sound Manufacturing and Monster Power Equipment.

Galvanizing Connecticut's manufacturing industry and boosting its workforce development are two dovetailing initiatives to which these three power players play essential roles.

Colin Cooper

In 2019, Colin Cooper became Connecticut's inaugural chief manufacturing officer. The former executive chairman of Eastford’s Whitcraft Group has a mandate to coordinate state and private-sector efforts to educate and support the next generation of skilled manufacturers. His work amid the COVID-19 pandemic has included working to match manufacturers willing to produce personal protective equipment with healthcare providers in need of it.

Photo | Contributed
CompassMSP CEO Ari Santiago.

Gov. Ned Lamont in July tapped Kelli-Marie Vallieres to lead a new state office dubbed the Connecticut Workforce Unit. Under Vallieres — formerly CEO of Sound Manufacturing and Monster Power Equipment in Old Saybrook — the group collaborates with the Department of Economic and Community Development and Department of Labor to advise the governor and other state officials on workforce strategies and initiatives.

Ari Santiago is CEO of West Hartford’s IT Direct, an information-technology company that serves small and mid-size businesses. But he’s better known to Connecticut's manufacturing community for hosting the “Made in America” podcast, which features video conversations between Santiago and some of the state’s leading manufacturing CEOs — all aimed at promoting the manufacturing industry.

Kelli-Marie Vallieres

Earlier this year IT Direct was acquired by Florida-based Compass MSP, which relocated its headquarters to West Hartford and named Santiago its new CEO.

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