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Honoree Headshot

Jon Wehrli

Retired President Power Systems Division
Eaton Corporation

Location: Waukesha, WI
Founded: 1911
Industry: Power Management

Jon Wehrli sees one common trait that has helped carry him through his 37-year career with Eaton Corporation, where he has experience in sales, marketing, plant management, operations and general management.

That trait is persistence.

“Many successes in my career and life have been because of persistence,” said Wehrli, who is the retired president of the company’s Power Systems Division. “Oftentimes, the ‘others’ don’t have the stamina it might take to succeed. Keep working and trying different angles. My favorite leadership story is from ‘Leading at the Edge’ by Dennis N.T. Perkins. One of the lessons in the book is that you should never give up — there’s always another move.”

Wehrli is an established thought leader in the power management industry. He is frequently sought out to provide perspective on broad and deep topics, such as Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things, the future of electric vehicles and the infrastructure challenges in the utility industry. He is part of a group of industry experts working with the Department of Energy on solutions to provide single-phase transformers to the utility industry.

Wehrli helped lead the creation of a one-of-a-kind training program for a specific skill set in the power management industry. “In the manufacturing process of building transformers, the inner workings require coils wound with a variety of materials from copper to cardboard,” the company said. “Most coils are unique, each engineered to meet the needs of the customer’s order. The individual who creates the coils is called a coil winder. Historically, there has been a shortage of coil winders due to the complexity of the role and time needed for training.” Wehrli worked to form a partnership with the Waukesha County Technical College on a new coil winding course, which launched in July 2022. The aim is to provide a constant stream of qualified candidates, effectively addressing the historical staffing shortage of coil winders.

“(Wehrli) graciously shares his expertise and guidance with countless individuals early in their career to help better position them for success,” the company said. “Within Eaton alone, many of the new leaders in the organization have benefited from Jon’s mentorship. Thanks to his strong personal beliefs in learning and personal development, he has helped foster a new generation of leaders who will continue to shepherd the digital transformation of the industry.”

Wehrli serves on the board of United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties, where he has spent the last eight years helping to support the annual pledge drives, recruiting companies to conduct United Way campaigns. He works on various industry groups, including the Waukesha County Business Alliance, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce. In 2021, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly presented Eaton with a Key to the City of Waukesha.

“Wehrli’s leadership style is to treat people with respect, maintain an inclusive and diverse workforce and focus on employee engagement,” his team said. “He believes in having fun each day and serves as a strong role model.”

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Honoree Fun fact

At the age of 10 when Jon was living in Hawaii, he attended Boy Scout camp. One of the activities at the camp was learning how to shoot a gun. The scouts were given the assignment of shooting at targets hanging from strings. They were to take five shots standing up and five shots lying down. Jon was new to shooting and didn’t quite know how to look through the site of the gun appropriately. During the stand-up portion, after his third shot, all 12 targets on the range fell to the ground. They were all suspended from two strings strung between two trees. Jon had hit the strings, seemingly an expert marksman! Next, the group laid on the ground for the second round of shots. With his seventh shot, all the targets once again fell to the ground when Jon shot the two strings. At that point, the range instructor thought Jon was doing it intentionally, and said if it happened one more time, Jon would be kicked off the range. At the end of the day, looking at his target, Jon hadn’t hit it once, but he left feeling like a real sharpshooter.

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