Cascade Engineering leader honored as 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan

Jo-Anne Perkins, Cascade Engineering’s Vice President of Cascade Cart Solutions, both based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been named as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by Grand Rapids Business Journal. The event, which honors the region’s most influential women business owners, leaders and decision-makers, was held at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids March 8.

The honorees were selected from more than 100 nominations submitted by coworkers, employees, community organizations and area business leaders. Once selected as finalists, the Grand Rapids Business Journal says it surveyed hundreds of deserving women throughout Kent, Ottawa and Muskegon counties in order to select the top 50 in the region.

“We are thrilled for Jo-Anne to receive this well-deserved recognition and honored to have her as a member of our team,” says Mark Miller, president and CEO of Cascade Engineering. “Since joining Cascade Engineering over 15 years ago, she has strengthened our executive team, demonstrated exceptional leadership skills and developed impactful programs such as an internal Women’s Networking Group and The Pink Cart program for breast cancer awareness.”

Perkins was born in Montreal where her father owned a manufacturing company. She began her career in the family business where she learned all aspects of the company and was eventually inspired to found her own company in 1985, KCI Mechanical. At that time, a local hospital was looking for a system to contain biomedical waste and Perkins realized there was a need for ancillary products for the solid waste industry.

In 2000, Cascade Engineering recruited Perkins to serve as its regional sales manager for the Canadian and northeast U.S. territories. Within five years, she was promoted to general manager, which required her to move to West Michigan at the age of 47. Since joining Cascade Engineering, Perkins has focused her energy on how communities can improve their recycling efforts.

In 2009, she developed The Pink Cart initiative in honor of her mother who died of breast cancer at the age of 51. Cascade donates $5 for every pink cart purchased to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS’s) breast cancer awareness fund. Since its inception, more than 100,000 pink carts have been purchased and $500,000 has been donated to the ACS. Additionally, Perkins won the Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Award in 2015, given to the top 100 women demonstrating excellence and leadership in manufacturing.

To read the 50 Most Influential Women issue of Grand Rapids Business Journal, click here.