Women of Influence: Jessy Coffeen

A view from the top…
Uremet Corporation is a worldwide supplier of polyurethane industrial wheels. Founded in 1992, the company provides the amusement industry with customized multiple wheel types, including those on some of the tallest and fastest rides in the world. Headquartered in Orange County in Southern California, Uremet also has branched out into people movers and motorized handling of high-speed crane operations. 


In April, the company announced that it has named Jessy Coffeen its new CEO. Coffeen has worked her way up at Uremet in her 12 years with the company, serving first as a temporary receptionist.

Accomplishments and affiliations…
• Member, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA)
• Member, AIMS International
• Member, SCORE, a local CEO networking association, part of the Small Business Administration
• Member, Ellevate, a local professional women’s organization

Coffeen rises to the top
SANTA ANA, Calif. —Jessy Coffeen still has those moments that stop her in her tracks. She looks around and thinks: “Oh, shoot, they are actually listening to me.”

Yet her climb to the top of Uremet Corp. was no accident and, apparently, no mistake. Last year, as the president and COO, Coffeen reported that Uremet experienced its largest growth in business in one year since the company was founded with a 30 percent increase over 2017.

This year she has worked to get the company ready for a move that would be comparable to the growth. As soon as the necessary permits are issued, Uremet is moving from its current 28,000-square-foot building to a 44,000-square-foot facility in nearby Garden Grove. The current business takes up three buildings with an alley running down the middle of it, Coffeen said. After the move, the company will be under one roof. 

“We are doubling up on our equipment,” she said. “It will help us with our flow and efficiency.”

Finding the right building and making sure all adjustments could be made has been a little stress producing, but Coffeen said she didn’t do it alone. She formed committees. She had all the employees go through it. It was certainly a team effort.

“I love it here,” Coffeen said.  “It has been fun to watch us grow from 18 people to 64 and to go from pen and paper to the new technologies.”

Her career at Uremet came almost as a default. It wasn’t like she didn’t like the manufacturing side, she did. She said she has always loved to watch machines work, to take raw product and produce something you can put on your shelf. 

She had that opportunity as a youth when her parents, Scott Coffeen and Cindy Cockerill Coffeen, began manufacturing beach chairs in their home town of San Diego. 

“They decided to pull out of that because it wasn’t sustainable through the winter months,” she said. 

She also was familiar with Uremet. Her grandfather, John “Tim ” Cockerill was a founding partner as an investor. 

In 2007, Coffeen graduated from the University of Arizona, Tucson, with a degree in communications. She was in the process of moving back to California when she got a call from Uremet asking her if she would like to fill in for the receptionist who had decided to take a month leave of absence. The invitation came at a good time since she really hadn’t decided what path she wanted to take. 

She filled in for a month and left. 

“Five months later, the receptionist decided to leave for good so they called me back up and asked me if I wanted to come back,” she said. “I did.”

There it began.

 She spent her first years in the accounting department and became the account manager. She went from there to operations and became the vice president of operations. In 2016, the board decided to bring in an outside person as CEO. 

“He lasted only nine months,” Coffeen said. “I think he realized he had gotten in over his head.

“Then, I started thinking about it,” she said. “l thought ‘if I stepped up, I could take that role.’ I knew the financial part and operations. I spent a lot of time on the floor.”

She also had continued her education along the way. She had taken courses in accounting and in human resources. But she said her top work experience was being mentored by Mark Moore, another company founder. 

 “He was the brains behind the operations,” Coffeen said. “We used to call him the mad scientist. We never knew exactly what he was working on, but it was always good.

“I learned so much from him, how the company worked and just generally how to work,” she said.

His mentorship opened other doors for her. In 2012, she was called in to help create software programs for the company.

Moore passed away in 2016, but Coffeen pressed on.

“As a woman and, as a young woman, I knew I had to work hard to get people to rally behind me,” she said. 

At the end of 2017, Steven McAllaster, who had worked for Uremet for about 10 years, was named CEO and she was moved up to president and COO. 

Then in April of this year, that changed again. She and McAllaster ended up swapping titles. She became Uremet’s CEO at 37 years old.

“I think, at first, the board was sort of following up behind me, but I told them I needed to experience this on my own,” Coffeen said. “I told them that I needed to succeed or fail on my own.”

But failure doesn’t seem to be an option she is looking towards. She puts in about 10 to 11 hours a day. Last year was the first year in six she had taken a vacation. 

“I went to Italy and it was great,” she said, adding it is something she would like to do more. 

Coffeen also is not afraid to reach out when she needs help. 

“You will never hear me say that I know everything. You never stop learning.”

—Pam Sherborne

This article appears in the SEPTEMBER 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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