President and CEO, Thixomat in Ann Arbor. LeBeau has spent his entire career in manufacturing and materials processing development and previously held positions with USX Steel, Caterpillar Tractor, Babcock & Wilcox, and Peerless Metal Powders. He holds seven U.S. patents and has published numerous articles in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He joined Thixomat in 1998 as the company's technical director and was elected to his present position in 2004. Thixomat's Thixomolding process in metal molding technology offers parts manufacturers and end-users a viable alternative to plastics injection molding and die casting. Thixomatís recently announced NanoMag, an environmentally friendly process for the production and marketing of high strength, light-weight magnesium sheeting with nanometer microstructures, was developed with the University of Michiganís Department of Material Science and Engineering and National Science Foundation (NSF) sponsorship. In January, the company was granted a phase two grant from the NSF. Thixomat also has a military contract to research lightweight ballistic systems. A fellow of the American Society of Materials, LeBeau was recently named a distinguished alumnus of the University of Wisconsinís College of Engineering. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and American Society for Materials. He holds a bachelorís degree in metallurgical and materials engineering from Michigan Technological University, a masterís from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
WHERE BORN: "Bark River, Michigan, near Escanaba. Iím a Yooper."
MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: "My teachers and family. I watched a video as a junior about chemical engineering. My friend and I decided weíd go to Michigan Tech and do that. Then he moved. But I guess the video was good. Iím the first generation in my family to go to college. There were seven of us and all but one went to a university. Three brothers are engineers. Also, Iíve had some great professors. One at Michigan Tech said, ĎYou grew up here, went to school here, go elsewhere to get exposure.í Iíve had great training, great experience in the corporate world."
LAST BOOK READ: "Good to Great by Jim Collins. I do a lot of audio tapes in the car Ė I call it the Ďautomobile university.í And I also recently read a Tom Clancy book.Ē
WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: "Energetic, enthusiastic, entrepreneur, sales-oriented, storyteller."
WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: "Probably to everyoneís household. Lightweight magnesium parts are in phones, cameras, and computers. Weíve licensed the technology and have sold over 50 licenses in several countries. Thereís a misconception that manufacturing is dead in the United States but if you look at the percentage of GDP, manufacturing has gone up consistently since 1985. Itís not going to turn into a service economy. People still have to make stuff to use and consume. Certain things will be commodity driven. Innovation, high technology, and high value-added engineered materials are a great opportunity. One of our new businesses hopes to launch new technologies and a new manufacturing facility. Thereís opportunity there."
FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: "My new GoCycle. Itís made of magnesium parts. A guy said, ĎI have an idea for a bike and need to make it lightweight.í Itís an electric plug-in bicycle. The front is electric, the back is a 3-speed bicycle wrapped in magnesium so you donít see the sprockets or chains. It runs 20 miles each way at 15-20 miles an hour and can recharge in four hours."
FAVORITE PLACE: "Lake Michigan beaches. After swimming in the ocean, the salt is nasty. Itís a treasure that Michigan has."
FAVORITE HOBBIES: "Iím an expert at nothing and like to do a little bit of everything. Golf, cycling, getting outdoors, and enjoying the weather."
FAVORITE FOOD: "We have 24 customers in Japan, and Iíve probably made three dozen trips there, so Iíve acquired a taste for sushi. Or a pasty from the Upper Peninsula."
MY HIDDEN TALENT: "When I meet people, theyíre shocked to hear I have a PhD in engineering. I come across more as a promoter and salesperson than a technogeek."
HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: "That Iíve enjoyed myself and been enthusiastic about what Iíve done throughout my life. People around me enjoyed working with me and I helped them bring out the best in what they can do."
At the annual awards reception in May 2015, one Leader & Innovator from the previous 12 months will be selected as the Leader & Innovator of the Year.