Boys’ Club No More – Ladies of Harley Make Their Mark on the Biker World

Michael Reader

An excerpt from Life in Rock County – Great People, Great Stories, Volume 4, Issue 3, Fall 2015

While motorcycle riding primarily was a man’s world decades ago, more and more female riders have grown to love the purr of an engine beneath them. These bikers have firmly embraced the femininity of the hobby and have inspired ever-growing lines of clothing and gear made especially for them.

In the South Central Wisconsin Janesville Chapter of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), about 30 percent of the members are female. The Ladies of Harley have become a major player, meeting monthly as a group for rides and planning their annual Poker Run, raffle and silent auction at Boardtracker Harley-Davidson’s (formerly Kutter Harley-Davidson/Buell) Spring Open House. The event, held every May, raises money for CAMDEN Playground, a play area for children with special needs.

One of these ladies, is Precision Plus’ Laura Farnsworth, the company’s Shipping Manager. She is an active member of the community who combines her love for riding motorcycles with the riding club’s mission of raising money for the CAMDEN Accessibility Playground in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Laura Farnsworth, 56, loves to brag about her dedication to riding. She has become well-known in her H.O.G. chapter for her long rides: In 2013, she won the female prize for logging the most miles in one year (20,000).

A resident of Darien, Wis., Laura points out that up until a year ago, her bike was the only one in the parking lot at Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wis., where she works as a shipping manager. “I thought it was funny that the only motorcycle there belonged to a girl,” she says. “Years ago, when I used to ride, I turned heads. People would look at me and say, ‘There’s a woman on a motorcycle!’”

While Laura has been riding since she was 17, it took her daughter Sarah Conroy, 34, of Elkhorn, Wis., a little longer to obtain her motorcycle license — she got it just three years ago. “When you think about it, riding a motorcycle is a really expensive hobby,” she says. “I spent years in college and earning my master’s degree in counseling, and I was so far in debt that buying a motorcycle was the last thing I was thinking about.”

Sarah had ridden as a passenger on her mom’s bike for years. Eventually, she found the allure of the open road to be irresistible and started taking classes. Shortly after obtaining her license, she tagged along with her mother to an event at what is now Boardtracker Harley-Davidson in Janesville and met John Harris. “He said, “You wanna go for a ride tomorrow?” Sarah remembers. She did, and now the two are engaged and planning a wedding for February 2016.

Sarah was able to solve her financing issue, too: She bought a Honda last summer, and this spring, she bought Laura’s first Harley from her. “Her bike is classic, and it’s a keepsake,” says Sarah. “It’s kind of neat to say it was her first Harley, and now it’s my first Harley.”

The article also features two other women, Kellie Sinks, who teaches other women to ride motorcycles and is a motorcycle safety instructor at Boardtracker Harley-Davidson, and Jody Sterr, who has logged thousands of miles together with her husband. Precision Plus celebrates the Ladies of Harley and applauds their cause.

For a PDF of the article, click HERE.

Precision Plus on the Move: Barry Butters Visits Area Schools

Michael Reader

As part of the continuing effort to bring attention to the manufacturing industry as a viable career option for today’s youth, Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, and other representatives from Precision Plus Inc. have been traveling to Wisconsin area high schools and technical colleges.

On November 1st, Butters spent the day at Burlington High School’s Career Day Fair.  The event allowed students to gather information from the booths of various prospective employers from a wide array of industries.

“It was evident from the discussions with the students, that there are still a number of misconceptions about manufacturing,” said Butters.

Butters then traveled three and a half hours to Eleva Strum High School on November 7th. Technology Education teacher Craig Cegielski, has developed an operational manufacturing company run by the students within the school. The Eleva Strum staff, students and community were filled with pride about what their program has accomplished to date.  Cegielski’s outstanding efforts bring real-life manufacturing experiences into his classroom.

Butters and Production Supervisor Charles Lankford, traveled to Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville on November 19th.  They took a tour of the CNC Machine Program facility and met with CNC Technician Instructor Rich Grossen.  The entire manufacturing program at Blackhawk will be moving to a new facility in nearby Milton in the near future. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Milton will result in larger capabilities for the program.

On November 26th, both Barry Butters and Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus, traveled to Richmond-Burton High School to speak to an “Introduction to Business” class about the manufacturing industry.  Mike shared the challenges of running a manufacturing business in the current economy, and Barry focused his remarks on employability skills.

Subsequently, Butters traveled to East Troy High School on December 1st to speak to Mark Beilman’s “Introduction to Engineering” class about the manufacturing industry and specifically what is manufactured at Precision Plus Inc.  East Troy is a first-year Project Lead the Way (or PLTW) school with just one-course offering. Beilman shared that East Troy High School plans to add an additional PLTW course each year.  Precision Plus Inc. is a big supporter of the PLTW Program, which follows the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Initiative to promote the field of engineering. The PLTW curriculum strives to provide experiences to stimulate interest in the manufacturing industry.


Reader and Butters attended the State Project Lead the Way Conference in Pewaukee on December 9th, for which Precision Plus is a “Friend of STEM” donor.  At the conference, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch addressed the state’s PLTW teachers, where she acknowledged the skills gap that companies, such as Precision Plus, are facing.  It was encouraging to see the sheer number of high school educators working in conjunction with the PLTW program through the Milwaukee School of Engineering to stimulate interest in the youth of Wisconsin toward this field.

On January 7th, Precision Plus representatives, President Mike Reader, Director of Sales and Engineering William Wells, Production Supervisor Tom Lankford, Director of Education, and Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, traveled with Elkhorn’s District Administrator Jason Tadlock and Assistant Principal Dan Kiel to tour Beloit Memorial High School’s Technical Education facility. What has been accomplished at this facility in a short period of time is remarkable. Steve McNeal, Beloit’s District Administrator, said it was truly a partnership between the school and local industry leaders.  Beloit Memorial High School has also hired Ryan Rewey to be the Technology Education Coordinator to ensure the program’s success.

Butters again traveled back to Beloit Memorial High School to speak to PLTW teacher Tammy Spoerk’s classes on January 10th.  Butters message centered on the potential for a great career in the manufacturing industry and specifically, what is manufactured at Precision Plus

Butters went back to East Troy High School to speak at their Career Day on January 14th. He and fellow manufacturer Jerry Heckel from Heckel Tool & Manufacturing Corporation gave a presentation to 40 students on the skill-set needed to join the manufacturing industry, including problem-solving skills, a significant background in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as experience in traditional metals classes.

Butters plans to visit Delavan-Darien High School and Woodstock High School in the near future.  Mike Reader is committed to the cause of re-introducing the manufacturing industry to the next generation of professionals, dispelling the misconception that manufacturing is a dirty and dangerous profession. Precision Plus Inc. invites any individual or group interested in learning more about the manufacturing industry to their facility for an informational tour.  Furthermore, Barry Butters and Mike Reader will travel to speak to any group interested in learning about the manufacturing industry.  Feel free to contact them with any requests at 262.743.1700 or via email: Barry ButtersMike Reader.