Tom HoffmanIn an effort to highlight an accomplished contributor to equipment manufacturing industry product safety and compliance, AEM recently sat down with Tom Hoffman, design, IP & product regulations engineer Kuhn North America, Inc.

Hoffman touched on his personal and professional background, his path to the equipment manufacturing industry and his responsibilities within it, as well as his involvement with the Association.

AEM: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into the industry?

Hoffman: I grew up on a farm in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. We transitioned from dairy to beef to custom raising heifers and then back to beef, as well as always cash-cropping. Being from a farm and good at math, I decided to do my undergraduate degree in agricultural engineering. Eventually, that led to me further focusing my education on biological systems engineering, which is what I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degree in. From there, an agricultural engineering was a career that seemed to be the best choice.

AEM: How did you arrive at Kuhn? What does your role there entail?

Hoffman: My family always had equipment on our farm that was manufactured at the Kuhn plant in Brodhead, Wisconsin. We thought very highly of it, as it never seemed to break down, but I never knew much about the company itself. As I approached graduation, I was looking for opportunities in the area that would allow me to use my experience and education, which led me to Kuhn.

It was very impressive to see the progress and investments in order to be a manufacturer of quality and reliable equipment – it was something I knew I could be proud to be a part of. In the farming community, if a neighbor knows that you work there and they have a problem, you’ll surely be hearing about it. But at the same time, I could also feel a great sense of pride in watching the same people using the equipment that I helped design and develop.

I started as a design engineer and then transitioned into a role involved in coordinating safety, standards and regulations, and intellectual property for Kuhn North America. I work with our engineers to review designs for compliance and I also conduct risk assessments to make sure our products are meeting our high standards while also exceeding our customers’ expectations.

AEM: What is your involvement with AEM? What association/industry tasks or initiatives have you helped support?

Hoffman: I participate on various APSCC committees and working groups to guide the industry forward on safety and compliance. The most recent initiatives were standards updates supported by AEM working groups which included the lighting and marking on ag equipment as well as the ag braking standard.

AEM: If you could give one piece of advice to someone entering the industry, what would it be?

Hoffman: Always think past yourself. In anything you’re approaching, whether it be from a safety aspect or a functionality aspect, work hard to place yourself in the shoes of others.  Work hard to understand how they’ll use it and what they need from it. The field of agriculture is challenging, but if you position yourself in a way that will allow you to truly understand the challenges, you’re much more likely to succeed in being part of the solution.

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