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Heather Pugh: Jumping into Workshops with Both Feet

New MASWM Director Heather Pugh brings a full and varied background to her work as workshop manager in Richmond and helping lead the Association.
Just over a year after becoming executive director of Ideal Industries in Richmond, Heather Pugh has taken the giant step of volunteering as MASWM’s Area III director, replacing long-serving Pam Martin from Butler.

Her logic is straightforward. “This organization has meant so much to me in my transition,” she explained. “They have given so much help and support.”

A native of Richmond, Heather has also been around workshops nearly all of her life. Personally, her aunt was among one of eight founding employees at Ideal Industries when it was formed in the 1970s. Professionally, she brings 15 years in elementary education and administration, work that shares many traits with workshop management, including multiple levels of responsibility.

At workshops, those challenges include both a major business component and an ever-present human services role. Balancing those challenges is one of the reasons MASWM support is often critical, she said.

“It really is a multi-faceted job,” she explained. “There are so many areas to our work. I think that’s the power of MASWM: having individuals who provide a collaborative environment.”

Heather’s background in education has also given her a strong belief in professional development. With MASWM, that may involve something as simple as a phone call or a visit to another workshop to learn how they have dealt with a particular challenge.

“It’s so nice to have been able to get out into other workshops and see what everyone else is doing,” she noted. “Several managers have taken me in and taken time to mentor and encourage me. That’s just invaluable.”

Heather and her husband, Russ, reside in Richmond with their 11-year-old daughter, Autumn. Heather is also a third-generation auctioneer with her own company, Wrisinger Auctions. And yes, she can “sing,” although she doesn’t use auction chanting at the Richmond workshop!

“We primarily do benefit auctions and estate sales,” she said. “I enjoy it.”

Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville in 2004. She later attended auctioneering school and then earned a master’s degree in elementary administration from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

This diverse portfolio also helps explain why she takes a comprehensive view of workshops. One MASWM effort she strongly endorses involves legislative efforts.

“Perceptions are huge, and workshops have to work hard to ensure our presence is understood,” she explained. “MASWM’s legislative work is phenomenal, and keeping that at the forefront is really important.”

She doesn’t see this changing soon. “We have to be ready for where the future is going,” she concluded. “We need to work together to address things like declining markets for recycling. The organization is challenging us to push forward and make decisions based on what’s best for our individuals. It’s a big job, and I’m glad to help.”

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MASWM The Missouri Association of Sheltered Workshop Managers
If you have questions, please contact:
Executive Director Katie Jones, – (314) 369-5244 or
President Aaron Martin – (816) 796-7070 or;
or Legislative Chair Brian Hogan – (816) 483-1620 or