Fighting words

Mona Pappafava-Ray, president and CEO, General Carbide

As president and CEO of General Carbide, Mona Pappafava-Ray isn’t afraid to go against the grain of conventional wisdom to keep her company delivering on its promises to employees and clients. By setting high standards for herself and her team, Pappafava-Ray has grown the company through two recessions, the loss of the company’s largest commodity product to China and exit of three major customers. Though her management style is one that consistently challenges the status quo, her philosophy that “You do not deserve a win, you earn a win,” has guided General Carbide to overcome obstacles and achieve growth.

As CEO, Pappafava-Ray has led four acquisitions, created a real estate partnership and made strides to grow the company’s brand image internationally to its strongest point since it was founded in 1968. She believes in investing in General Carbide and its people to ensure the company’s sustained growth and long-term success.

In February 2009, Pappafava-Ray saw that General Carbide’s top line was moving toward a 30 percent decline as a result of the recession. While investing was the last thing many executives were doing at this time, Pappafava-Ray developed a plan to navigate the economic downturn by investing in capital, plant improvement and training. Though part of the plan involved cost reduction with pay cuts for employees and staff, she showed her team her personal commitment by reducing her own pay by 30 percent and giving up all corporate benefits. Using the motto “fight,” Pappafava-Ray rallied everyone at General Carbide to implement and execute the plan. Under her leadership, the company was able to keep every hourly employee in place throughout the recession. By making the company and its people the number one priority, she succeeded in putting General Carbide on track for explosive growth, ending 2009 with top-line organic growth at more than 90 percent and increasing 2010 net sales by 60 percent.

How to reach: General Carbide, (724) 836-3000 or