R&D Machine Management Team
Meet the Team
Justin Kovscek, Vice President & General Manager
Justin joined R&D Machine in May 2022 after a nearly three-year stint as plant manager at Nemak’s Sylacauga, AL works. He previously worked at FPD Company, a precision CNC machining and forging firm in McMurray, PA serving the implantable medical device and aerospace industries. While employed for nearly twenty years at FPD, Justin rose through the ranks from machinist to operations manager.
Justin graduated from the California University of Pennsylvania with Bachelor of Science degree and completed Fayette Area Career Technical Institute’s program in Machine Technology. He has served on Fayette Area CTI’s advisory board to continually improve the machine technology program since he has graduated, and is very passionate about growing effective systems, people, and teams.
Debra Schmidt, Sales Administration Manager
Deb started working at R&D Machine in 2008 after her youngest child began kindergarten. She previous served as a purchasing agent at Anchor Glass Container in Tampa for eight years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Deb responsibilities at R&D Machine have steadily increased during her tenure to the point where she has complete responsibility for inside sales and customer service.
Originally from New York and an avid Yankee fan, she describes herself as a hands-on person who prides herself in having a good rapport with all her customers and coworkers. Deb looks forward to the challenges ahead serving all existing and new customers.
Thom Amend, Production Manager
Thom joined R&D Machine in 2003, left two years later, then rejoined the company in 2007 as lathe supervisor and programmer. He was instrumental in efforts to grow the company’s turning capabilities, both in terms of capacity as well as adding machines with Y-axis, live tooling. In 2021, he was promoted to his current position.
He began his career as a machinist in the US Army in 1985. After a four-year enlistment, he received an honorable discharge and moved to the Clearwater area. He the earned a 2-year degree at St Petersburg Vocational Tech to learn the CNC and programming aspects of machining.
Tim Carter, Production Control Manager
The “Ben Zobrist” of R&D Machine (plays many positions), Tim oversees the flow of the company’s machined parts through outside processing as well as purchasing of raw materials and maintaining all necessary paperwork right through shipment of completed components. He previously worked for Pall Aerospace and two painting vendors serving local Pinellas County machine shops before joining R&D Machine in 2013.
He has Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology Management from nearby St Petersburg College. Tim grew up in St Petersburg and never needed to move very far in search of rewarding employment. His family occupies much of this time away from work.
Nate Hogue, Quality Manager
Nate has responsibility for R&D Machine’s AS 9100/ISO 9001 certified quality system. He also oversees the inspection of final and in-process parts. Nate has an extensive machine shop background, having worked as a quality manager, CMM programmer, and CNC programmer/operator at his family’s CNC machining company in Kansas City for seven years prior to moving to Florida. His most previous position was senior quality engineer with Attenti US in Odessa, FL before joining R&D Machine in May 2022.
Nate attended Purdue University on West Lafayette, IN where he majored in electrical and computer engineering.
Jackie Benwitt – Office Manager
Jackie joined R&D Machine in June 2022 and assumed responsibility for the company’s administrative and accounting functions. Originally from New Jersey, she moved to Palm Harbor as a teenager. She has held numerous administrative and accounting positions with local firms, including Inspecs USA in Clearwater, where she worked between 2014 and 2019.
Like Deb (who also hales from the New York metro area), Jackie is very people oriented and works hard, going the extra mile to please customers, vendors, and co-workers.