Luciana Vergara understands you need more than high-quality materials to make a high-quality product. You also need to be focused on your customers – both inside and outside the company walls.
“Our materials and chemicals have a variety of uses. Depending on the use and the customer’s needs, ‘quality’ can have different meanings. It can be quite complex,” says Luciana.
Fortunately, complex problems are nothing new to Luciana, who joined Ascend in 2016 to manage the quality control laboratory at our plant in Decatur, Alabama. She holds a doctorate in experimental physics and a master’s degree in chemistry.
Luciana applies that training to lead a team that monitors the quality of chemicals produced in Decatur. Her team makes sure our customers can count on the same level of quality with each shipment.
Since joining Ascend, Luciana has earned a reputation not only as an effective leader but also as an enthusiastic advocate for her department. “One of our values is customer-focus. In a very real way, my team is a customer to me and I am a customer to them. Our work relies on each other,” she says.
Luciana has worked to focus her team’s workload on high-priority work. Through challenging Black Belt projects, she has reduced noncritical sample analyses by 20 percent, balanced the technicians’ workload, and automated the Certificate of Analysis process. This freed her team to work on new initiatives.
When Ascend recently decided to offer adiponitrile (one of the critical building blocks of polyamide 66) to new external customers for the first time, Luciana and her team played a critical role.
“It was a monumental task because we wanted to do something as a company that we had never done before,” said Ryan Hensarling, senior quality assurance manager at Ascend. “We had to teach customers how to handle the product.”
He credits Luciana with solving the problem by “exporting” Ascend’s quality control standards. “She rapidly developed test methods that could be transferred to our customers’ testing facilities to ensure they would be successful,” he says.
Luciana says one of the best aspects of her job is collaborating with other Ascend employees. “I consider them to be our internal customers. We often look for their input on how to streamline the lab’s work without sacrificing quality.”
“I see Ascend as dynamic, complex machine, and we are at the heart of that machine. Every day we work hard and enjoy doing our part to make Ascend the best company it can be,” says Luciana.