John Ikhaml has established a noteworthy career in the manufacturing industry, leading teams to enhance operations and safety. He began his career as an Engineering Intern at Sheldahl Inc., where he quickly implemented process improvements that foreshadowed his future success. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Engineering Technology from Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he worked on a fuel-efficient engine project.

Since 2017, he has served as the Senior Production Manager at Proto Labs Inc., where he has improved efficiency and innovation through effective management practices. Before this role, he played a key role in improving production and safety at The Bergquist Company and Boston Scientific. He earned a “Lean Leader” certification.

Interview with John Ikhaml

How do you define success, and how long did it take to find it?

Success to me means consistently achieving favorable outcomes while making a meaningful impact on the lives of others. It’s about hitting targets and fostering a culture of safety, innovation, and continuous improvement. Finding success is an ongoing journey that started early in my career and continues to evolve as I encounter new challenges and opportunities.

What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur?

A good entrepreneur possesses resilience, adaptability, and a keen sense of vision. They must pivot when necessary and remain focused on their goals despite setbacks. Effective communication and leadership skills are also crucial, as they need to inspire and guide their teams toward achieving common objectives.

What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

One of the biggest challenges was earning the trust and respect of more experienced colleagues. As a young engineer, I had to prove my capabilities and demonstrate that my ideas could bring tangible improvements. Additionally, navigating the complexities of manufacturing processes and implementing changes without disrupting operations required a lot of learning and adaptation.

What is one current trend that excites you?

I am excited about the advancement of automation and intelligent manufacturing technologies. These innovations can potentially revolutionize the industry by increasing efficiency, reducing waste, and improving product quality. Embracing these technologies allows us to stay competitive and meet the ever-evolving market demands.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to be patient and embrace every learning opportunity, no matter how small. It’s essential to stay curious and open-minded, as the knowledge and skills you acquire will be invaluable. Also, never underestimate the power of networking and building strong professional relationships.

What is one habit that helps you be productive?

Maintaining a structured daily routine is key to my productivity. I prioritize tasks, set clear goals, and allocate specific time blocks for different activities. This helps me stay focused and ensures that I make steady progress on various projects without getting overwhelmed.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

When I feel overwhelmed, I take a step back to reassess my priorities and break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps. Taking short breaks to clear my mind and engaging in physical activities like a quick walk can also help me regain focus and reduce stress.


John Ikhaml’s journey in manufacturing showcases the importance of perseverance, continuous learning, and effective leadership. His contributions to improving production processes and enhancing safety standards have significantly impacted the industry. As he continues to lead and innovate at Proto Labs Inc., John remains committed to driving progress and fostering a culture of excellence in manufacturing.

About John Ikhaml

John is the Senior Production Manager at Proto Labs Inc., where he has improved efficiency and creativity by being a good leader. John has a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Engineering Technology from Minnesota State University, Mankato.