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Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Welcomes New Board Members, Adds New Staff Member to Government Affairs Team

September 26, 2022

Illinois Manufacturers’ Association Welcomes New Board Members, Adds New Staff Member to Government Affairs Team

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA) has named two new members to its Board of Directors and added a new government affairs staff member as the association continues to build on its strong record of leadership on behalf of manufacturers across the state.

The addition of these talented leaders will allow us to better serve and contribute to the success of manufacturers, which are the backbone of our state’s economy,” said Mark Denzler, President and CEO of the IMA. “We look forward to the impactful contributions they will make as we work to advance our industry and grow jobs and investment in Illinois, continuing our mission of boldly moving makers forward”

The new board members for the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association are:

Jeff Ahrstrom (Ingersoll Machine Tools): Ahrstrom is Chief Executive Officer of Ingersoll Machine Tools. Headquartered in Rockford, Ingersoll is a leader in advanced manufacturing processes and a global supplier of additive and subtractive machine tools for the aerospace, defense, energy and heavy industrial sectors. A Chicago native, Ahrstrom is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Following his military service, Ahrstrom joined global machine tool company Cincinnati Milacron as a field service trainee, before holding other positions including Applications Engineer, Project Manager, Proposal Engineer, as well as various supervisory roles in sales and technical groups. He led the Global Customer Parts & Service Group, Aerospace Manufacturing Division, and International Sales Development with particular focus on Brazil, Israel, Korea, and Russia. Ahrstrom also served as the President of BLM Group, a laser fabrication machinery manufacturer, with a focus on growing the business and opening a state-of-the-art technology center in Novi, Michigan.  He also led Illinois-based process equipment manufacturer Berndorf Band Group USA through the acquisition of a sister company and realignment of the firm within the market.

Ahrstrom holds a masters from Xavier University with concentrations in marketing and international management, as well as a doctorate in Business Administration with research focused on Export Control and influence within the Machine Tool segment.

Matt DiGeronimo (International Paper): DiGeronimo is the Plant General Manager for International Paper’s largest and most complex corrugated box plant. Born and raised in Hawthorne, New Jersey, DiGeronimo currently resides is Oak Park, Illinois. A Navy Veteran, he is a retired nuclear submarine Lieutenant Commander and served aboard multiple Los Angeles class fast-attack nuclear submarines. In 2003, he served on the staff of Commander Middle East Force where he contributed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in a variety of capacities. DiGeronimo’s post-Navy experience is highlighted by his successful turnaround of three businesses in diverse industries: a mergers & acquisitions company, a property management company, and a coal-fired power plant.  He served as the Vice-President of Operations at Veolia North America where he oversaw the operation and financial performance of 12 power plants in the central region of North America.

DiGeronimo is also the co-author of the Amazon bestselling book, “Extreme Operational Excellence” and the author of the “Dear Hunter.” He is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and earned a Masters of Busisness Administration from the University of Connecticut.

In addition to welcoming the new board members, the IMA is proud to announce Gabriela Garza has been hired to serve as Director of Government Affairs. Prior to joining the IMA, Garza was a policy and budget analyst for the Illinois Senate and a representative of Illinois for the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Task Force for the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL). Gabriela served six years in the Illinois Army National Guard as a Heavy Equipment Operator and a logistics specialist in two overseas missions as a Noncommissioned Officer.

Garza is from Mattoon, Illinois, and studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies with a minor in French. She is also fluent in Spanish.

About the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA)

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association is the only statewide association dedicated exclusively to advocating, promoting and strengthening the manufacturing sector in Illinois. The IMA is the oldest and largest state manufacturing trade association in the United States, representing nearly 4,000 companies and facilities. For more information, visit