Avanceon is a team of talented, creative, and fun people dedicated to driving innovation and value to manufacturing automation and information systems. We focus on our customers’ challenges and the best way to overcome them. Whether you work with our engineers, solution architects, project managers, business managers or support associates, you will find all are focused on providing you, the customer, with the most supportive, engaging, friendly and interactive project experience possible. Despite today’s sanitized and transactional world of system development, we believe that projects are still people working with people and commitment, accountability, and customer service are the foundations of a successful relationship. We believe the journey is equally as important as arriving at the destination. Our people are key to our success and we love them for it.
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Bob Zeigenfuse (Founder / Chairman) is known worldwide for his foresight and thoughtful leadership. Throughout his 40+ year career, Bob has helped to revolutionize the System Integration community. As the founder of Advanced Automation Associates (Avanceon’s predecessor), he created one of the country’s largest and most successful independent System Integrators, with a global presence on three continents. As a founding member and two-time chairman of the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA – www.controlsys.org) he has driven systematic changes in standardization and stability in what was once an underdeveloped engineering segment of the industry.
Bob and his wife Banjira (Ben) have three children. Bob is an avid (some would say rabid) Philadelphia Eagles fan and sports enthusiast, Jersey Shore beach bum, Florida Man, bad golfer, dancer wannabe and world traveler. He never misses the opportunity to work hard and play hard, be it by guiding Avanceon’s board as Chairman, envisioning a progressive approach to solving a manufacturing problem, or figuring out how to pack a vacation with an exceptional amount of fun activities.
Bob’s vibrant zest for life is clear in his ability to make the best out of any situation. He believes in lessons instead of excuses, and that opportunity is “now here” instead of “nowhere.”
Matt Ruth (President / CEO) is Avanceon’s top “matchmaker” and longest tenured “Avanceoner”. With that experience he guides the company’s direction and champions our culture. Matt works with our teams to support and teach customers about the possibilities and benefits of Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation. He is an expert at understanding manufacturing business problems, identifying the right path, and aligning resources to get the job done. After years of developing trust, Matt is adept at matching our key partners with Avanceon’s team to provide our customers with robust and innovative solutions. In addition to those skills, Matt is a member of Avanceon’s Executive Steering team, ensuring we “walk the talk” and drive value, innovation and advancement of our people.
Matt has been happily married to his wife Kelly for over 25 years. They have two adult children and a Springer Spaniel named Nova. Matt is a Villanova basketball superfan and an avid outdoor enthusiast. Be it on the ocean fishing for a big catch, in the woods searching for big game, on the trail conquering the next mountain or in the board room envisioning the next automation and Industry 4.0 solution, Matt throws his passion and experience wholeheartedly into all of his pursuits.
Matt has a ingrained curiosity for how all things work and the “why” behind them. He transfers that interest, and a propensity to connect the dots, into a foundation to solve complex problems.
Brian Fenn (COO) enjoys solving varied and complex problems, whether they involve people, processes, operations or technology. You know that girl or guy who seems to know everything about anything? Brian loves working with those folks and finding ways to synergize his know-how with their expertise to help our customers and ourselves achieve awesomeness. As CBIO (Chief Bad Idea Officer), Brian routinely comes up with bad ideas that others mold into productive initiatives. Employed by Avanceon since the age of thirteen, Brian has held almost every engineering position in the organization. Early experience with batching, SCADA systems, MES and reporting helped shape his interest in the business side of manufacturing.
Outside the office, Brian enjoys spending time with his stupendously wonderful wife (and Avanceon editor-in-chief) Jenn, energetic toddler Zadie and stoically indifferent (yet incredibly friendly) Scottish terrier Marley. When not on the racquetball court or in the kitchen, Brian can be found enjoying the outdoors, cheering on Pitt, completing odd home or engineering projects, creating noise-pollution to be passed off as music, appreciating music created by people who’ve mastered the wondrously infinite musiscape (if that’s not a word, it should be), writing much too long (but somehow grammatically correct albeit not reader-friendly) sentences riddled with spelling errors (since corrected by aforementioned grammarian super-wife) and using too many parentheses.
Tracey Johnson (Vice President of Operations) joined Avanceon in 2007 as a recruiter, became a project manager in 2010, and began a leadership role in operations three years later. She has quickly climbed the ranks from Business Unit Manager, to Director of Operations, and now serves as our Vice President of Operations. Tracey has such diverse career experiences to broaden and strengthen Avanceon’s approach to project and support execution as well as her team’s career development. Tracey values directness, efficiency and results and applies them to the processes and systems she implements as well as her relationships with coworkers and customers. Tracey is responsible for our 6 operational business units and our Project Management Office (PMO).
Tracey lives with her fiancé, Michael, and three dogs (Roxie, Penny and Barkley) in Downingtown, PA. Their daughter, Shayla, is a business major and plays basketball at Rowan University. In her downtime Tracey enjoys watching Shayla play basketball, cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles, and relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine.
Around the office Tracey can be found dressed down in her “uniform” (jeans, sneakers and an Avanceon fleece) and spends a large part of her day collaborating with and mentoring her team of engineers and project coordinators. Seeing her team stretch outside of their comfort zone, to see a lesson finally “click”, or witness enthusiasm that comes from a hard earned “win” is her favorite part of the job.
Susan Schlegel (Vice President of Sales) prides herself in being an attentive listener and investing the time to get to know our customers on both a professional and personal level. Sue knows both our customer’s concerns and her team’s strengths and works closely with both parties to build the perfect long-term partnership.
Sue has three children, two grown daughters and a son in college. Sue and her husband Dave, of 30 years, are smoothly adjusting to the life of empty nesters by spending more time together. When she is not traveling to see her children, you will find her spending time outdoors, going for a run, or baking up a sweet treat. Sue loves a challenge and is happiest when every moment of her workday is filled.
Bryan Little (Operations Manager) is a wizard with systems integration – a career path he’s followed for more than 20 years. But when it comes to paths, Bryan prefers the off-the-beaten variety. A Marine Corps veteran, Bryan avidly hikes, camps, and lives off the grid (or at least pretends to) whenever possible. As the famous naturalist John Muir said, “of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.” If you can’t find Bryan out on the trail, odds are he’s at home working on the “Farmette” helping to create the world’s best pickles.
His 20+ years of systems integration have spanned many industries and technologies: from contact lenses and pharmaceutical to pizza and cereal, and even few oddballs in between. For the past 10+ years at Avanceon, he has been primarily focused on the Food & Beverage industry.
Bryan lives with his vibrant and wonderful better half Christine who share their life path with their constantly busy Border Collies Maddox and Dakoda. Bryan also has two teenage boys and, yes, a turtle named Henry.
Nic Imfeld (Operations Manager) came to Avanceon in 2000 as an intern from Drexel University. An awesome accomplishment, he has spent his entire career here building his SI skill set for the benefit of our customers. In those 20+ years he has impressively worked his way up and now serves as the Operations Manager of one of Avanceon’s key business groups, Pod 2—the Consumer Packaged Goods team. Throughout his time at Avanceon he has mastered the design of complex systems, developed hundreds of solutions, captured the details in countless technical writings, saved the day by troubleshooting problems, and tied it all together with a commitment to customer service. Of specific note is Nic’s expertise in all things batching. He is Avanceon’s S88 Batching guru and has solved some of the most complex batching challenges imaginable while keeping to the tenants of the model. It’s a rare and special gift (curse?) to think like a Phase and a Unit Op! 😊
Nic is happily married to his wife, Charity. They have four sons that keep them very busy! In addition to his family man commitments, Nic finds time to be an active member in his church, serving in the children and youth ministries. The Imfelds like to vacation with their extended family in Outer Banks where they get to spend hours digging holes in the sand and riding boogey boards together (even when the ocean temperatures are freezing). He loves spending as much time with his family as possible.
Bruce Slusser (Operations Manager) graduated as Nittany Lion from Penn State with a B.S. in Electronics and Computer Engineering. Fresh out of Happy Valley, he spent the early days of his career wielding his Electrical and Computer skills in a variety of manufacturing / process / technology companies (iron foundry, oil and gas pipelines, solar and a furnace manufacturer). In all of his roles he focused on solving business problems with a wide variety of software solutions spanning the OT and IT layers. With each system he placed an emphasis on future-proofing the designs, reducing cost, and making the systems easier to troubleshoot. His passion, skills, and experience led him naturally to becoming a Digital Transformation expert. Joining Avanceon in 2017, Bruce has leveraged that diverse background to lead Avanceon’s MES and Digital Transformation practice where he focuses on what he always has. Solving complex business problems with robust and well planned software solutions and programs.
Bruce lives in Exeter, PA with his wife Willow, their daughter Meadow, and many animals, including; chickens, ducks, and rescue birds (an African grey parrot, Fletcher, and 2 parakeets). As a self-proclaimed “total nerd”, his office is decked out in pop culture icons from Marvel, DC, and Star Wars. Feel free to ask him about which Avengers movie rules them all! Not to mention, he’s always down to nerd out about building computers or gaming with zeal.
Michael Fazzini (Operations Manager) joined Avanceon in 2013 after graduating from Penn State University with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Michael spent several years working exclusively for Avanceon’s largest long-term customer where he gained valuable experience in the design, development and commissioning of large, complex systems. In 2017, based on those years of experience, Michael’s strong technical skills and poise in high pressure situations made him a perfect fit to move into Avanceon’s Food and Beverage Business Unit. Michael expanded his leadership skills to include creating technical solutions, leading projects and the mentorship and supervision of other engineers. With a natural business acumen, high emotional intelligence and understanding of customer needs, Michael has since assumed the leadership role as Operations Manager for Avanceon’s Industrial & Water / Wastewater Business Unit.
Michael lives with his fiancé, step-daughter and 3 dogs in Chester County, PA. Michael is a fan of good whiskey, fast cars and watching sports, especially the Eagles and Sixers. At home Michael is always on the go, constantly tinkering around the house and kitchen, playing with the dogs, and buying grown up “toys”, such as a drone and flame thrower.