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Next Generation: David Ledesma, manager of DuPont's Town of Tonawanda plant

The face of local manufacturing is changing. More women and minorities are stepping into prominent positions in the sector, leading plants and helping manufacturers grow, and in the past couple of years, new plant managers have been named at bedroom manufacturers and smaller operations alike. The trend also applies to places that train manufacturing workers for jobs and help companies innovate. Below is one of the names that is becoming more familiar in the local manufacturing scene; click here to see the rest.

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David Ledesma took over as plant manager for DuPont's Town of Tonawanda facility after a difficult period for the site.

During 2017, the plant was rocked by revelations that members of management's contract bargaining team had kept a notebook with demeaning drawings about union workers. The plant manager, Warren Hoy, denounced their actions, and some employees were fired. Hoy retired in January 2018.

Unlike his predecessor, Ledesma was new to the area. He had most recently worked for Oxy in Texas. At DuPont, he became a plant manager for the first time. Ledesma has worked in union-represented plants before, including sitting on management's side of the bargaining table.

Now he leads a plant that is a prominent manufacturer in the local economy, producing Tedlar and Corian. Tedlar is used in thin-film applications like solar panels, and Corian is a tabletop material.

In June, corporate parent DowDuPont will split into three independent companies. The Tonawanda plant will join a specialty products company that will keep the DuPont name.

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